BRISTOL, Tenn. (WJHL) — Tennessee lawmakers have introduced bills to make adoption easier in the state.

There have been 16 new bills introduced that lawmakers say would benefit both the adoptive children and the parents.

Gina Mello, executive director of Appalachian Family Outreach, says the legislation would improve the adoption process.

“It’s a process, it’s a very thorough vetting of a family to determine that they’re suitable and fit to take on a child who will be adopted, who may have issues down the road, that they’re equipped emotionally and financially so that they have supports ready to do that,” Mello said.

One of the bills proposed will allow adoptive parents to receive paid time off.

“You know if they’re going through with an adoption then they need that time off when that happens to be able to bond just like if they had a child of their own,” Mello said.

Chelsey and James Graves of Bristol recently adopted two girls.

“The process took about two years, so we started in September of 2020 and then it actually ended on September 23 of 2022,” Chesley Graves said.

The Graves said although the adoption process was long and trying, they encourage people to adopt.

“Adoption brings so many blessings in ways you can’t even imagine,” said Chelsey Graves. “If you feel any poke or any desire to adopt, do it, because that’s the Lord talking to you and telling you that you should adopt. Don’t be afraid of the hoops you have to jump through or even financially, don’t be afraid.”