If you live in Illinois and want to adopt, your options and the process are dictated by 750 ILCS 50/, known as The Adoption Act. However, your next best step is not to just read up on the law. As comprehensive as the statute is, it will not answer all of your questions. You should contact an experienced adoption attorney from Fay, Farrow & Associates, P.C. to learn about the law and how it applies to your situation. We can explain your rights and legal options as a potential adoptive parent.
Who Can Adopt in Illinois?
You are entitled to pursue adoption if you are a legally competent adult. Whether you are male or female, married or single, you can try to adopt. You are not required to have a certain level of education, type of career, or own a home. You are not prohibited from adopting based on having a disability. However, if you work with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) or a private agency, you can expect your life, skills, and preparedness to be judged in regard to whether you are ready to be a parent.
When is a Child Available for Adoption?
There are a number of situations during which a child becomes eligible for adoption, including:
- A child was surrendered to social services or an agency by its biological parents. This often happens at birth. However, parents may surrender their children and voluntarily terminate their parental rights later in life if they are unable, unwilling, or unfit to care for their kids.
- A court terminated the child’s biological parents’ rights. This can occur if a court has found the parents guilty of abuse or neglect and there is no way to remedy the situation and reconnect the family.
- A child’s biological parents are deceased. When children’s biological parents are deceased, they may become a ward of the state until another arrangement can be made.
- A child’s biological parents placed him or her in a prospective adoptive parent’s custody. There are many circumstances that can lead children’s parents placing them with other trusted adults.
Types of Adoption
There are numerous types of adoptions in Illinois, and the rules and process can be different for each.
- Domestic infant adoptions: Most adoptions are of U.S.-born infants. You can work with a private agency or DCFS to find the right child for your family.
- Domestic waiting adoptions aka special needs adoption: There are older children waiting to be adopted. You can work with a private agency or DCFS to be matched with an older child, typically between 7 and 17 years old, who is in need of a family. Many of these children have previously suffered neglect and abuse by a biological or foster parent. You should be prepared for special circumstances and needs.
- International adoptions: While many adoptions are domestic, you may choose to adopt a child from another country. You can work with a private agency and state authorities to be matched with a child in another nation. This type of adoption may have to be formalized in both the other country and Illinois. It is often more time-consuming, complex, and costly.
- Family adoptions: Not all adoptions are between strangers. You may be interested in adopting a minor family member because his or her parents are not in the position to care for him or her, or you may be a step-parent who wants to adopt your spouse’s child.
The Adoption Process
The adoption process will differ depending on whether you work with a private agency, DCFS, or were connected with a potential adoptive child through the community.
If you wish to work with DCFS, you will have to go through an initial screening, which includes a home visit. You must become a licensed foster parent so a child can be placed with you. This requires some training and usually takes a couple months. If an adoptable child is placed with you, and you wish to move forward with the adoption, this can usually be approved after six months.
If you work through an agency, the process may differ based on that agency’s internal rules and processes. You will likely be interviewed and undergo a home visit. The agency will then work to match you with a child that best fits your situation.
For any type of adoption, you must go through the legal process to finalize the legal relationship between you and the child. This includes filing an adoption petition in the appropriate jurisdiction and attending multiple hearings. Once the adoption is finalized, you can obtain a revised birth certificate for your child. The entire process may take as little as a few months or as long as multiple years.
Let Our Naperville Adoption Lawyers Help You
If you want to expand your family through adoption, do not hesitate to reach out to us at Fay, Farrow & Associates, P.C. We are happy to review your situation and advise you on the next best steps. Contact us online or call us at 630-961-0060 to schedule an initial consultation.