The Adoption Project Aims To Improve Adoption Policies In Tennessee

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The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –

A new organization in Tennessee is working to make the adoption process easier for families across the state.

The Adoption Project was launched in March by Jeremy Harrell, a former advisor for Governor Bill Haslam, and Jennifer Donnals, who served as a spokesperson for Haslam and chief of staff for the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.

As an adoptive father, Harrell is able to use his personal experiences combined with his professional knowledge to help work towards policy changes for adoption in Tennessee. 

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“Our hope is that we are able to develop a system that works in the best interest of everybody,” said Harrell.

The adoption of his two daughters led him to question how things could improve in the state.

“How can we bring those kids who are in the most vulnerable situations into permanent families faster and make sure, as best we can, that no kid ages out of the system?” Harrel asked. “We want to reunify every family we can, but when we can’t, how do we get them to permanent homes faster?”


Donnals, also an adoptive parent, says the group simply wants to help to eliminate some of the barriers that families face when trying to adopt.

“The past few months we have been meeting with a lot of different stake holders, a lot of different organizations, attorneys, non-profits, adoptive parents, foster parents, just to learn and gain an understanding, maybe what are the barriers they are facing to adoption and trying to work through those and help bring some positive public policy changes,” Donnals said.

The program focuses on updating policies in three “bucket” areas: issues with private adoptions, issues with foster care and foster-to-adopt situations, and post-adoption support services for birth families.

“There are a lot of good organizations, state agencies, and individual people who are doing a really good job and a lot of hard work to find families for children and help families adopt children in Tennessee,” Donnals said. “But they’re working within a system that could be improved and streamlined. We have an opportunity to focus on that part while they continue the good work they’re doing.”

About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative  ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career.  Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others.  He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History.  Contact Jason at

One thought on “The Adoption Project Aims To Improve Adoption Policies In Tennessee

  • May 21, 2022 at 7:06 pm

    I spent 4 years in the system with teens and younger. It is broke. The reason there are problems is because you cannot keep parents in because of parent abuse and the sickness of the workers in the system. This is a strange move by Lee; if you really want to help kids, help the parents. Many of these kids never get over losing a parent(s). The worse problem, is the quality of people who run the system. I was “fired” for not giving my 10 year old (functioning at age 7) 3 different psychotropic meds. She did not need them. I had NO problems with her. I consider the system to be barbaric and abusive, and the fact Lee want to support it is suspect as to his true motives, imo, if he even knows what he is thinking and doing. I do not buy his “christian” reasoning, and I am a devoted christian…


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