The Petitioners filed to adopt the minor child ("Child") and the Department of Children's Services ("DHS") then filed a Waiver of Guardianship that gave the department's approval of the adoption. Partial guardianship was given to the Petitioners before the trial. The Appellants here filed a Petition to Intervene, which was granted, allowing them to be added as parties. However, the actual Petition was dismissed at the trial and the adoption was finalized. An appeal followed.
The Mother executed a voluntary surrender and a home study was done on Petitioners. The foster parents filed the Motion to Intervene. After hearing evidence, the trial court ruled that the proof for the intervening petition was not sufficient and entered a dismissal on the intervention. The Appellants then appealed, arguing that the trial court refused to do a comparative fitness analysis between the two families, which was in error.
The Tennessee Supreme Court has previously ruled that when a court faced two competing adoption petitions, a comparative fitness analysis was to be used. The Appeals Court had also held that when DCS was given guardianship over a child, T.C.A. §36-1-102 and 113 allows DCS to place the child for adoption and to consent to the same. Here, the foster parents tried to intervene in the Petitioner's adoption, but the foster parents did not attempt to terminate the guardianship of DCS or the Petitioners. Therefore, the trial court here was correct in dismissing the intervening petition because the evidence did not support a finding sufficient to justify termination of the guardianships.
Therefore, if a parent surrenders their rights to a child to the adoptive parents and if the court gave partial guardianship to the adoptive parents, then the former foster parents are not entitled to a comparative fitness analysis.