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What Are the Illinois Adoption Laws?

Posted on in Adoption

Winfield family law and adoption attorney

The act of adopting a child can transform lives. Couples who cannot have biological children of their own often provide a loving and safe home for a deceased family member's child, an orphan, or a neglected child. Due to the nature of this responsibility, adoption can be a long and complicated process. Regardless if it is a related, domestic, or international adoption, there are many legal steps to complete. Approximately 135,000 children are adopted in the United States every year. Adoptions can take place through the foster care system, private domestic and international agencies, or between family members. It is important to understand the legal steps for adopting in order to achieve your dream of becoming an adoptive parent. 

The Illinois Adoption Act

The Illinois Adoption Act is the law that governs adoptions in Illinois. This law applies whenever adoption is finalized in Illinois, regardless of where the child was born. As stated by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), adoption “establishes you as a child’s legal parent with all the rights and responsibilities of a child born to you.” A “child,” per Illinois statute, means a person under the legal age of 18. As an adoptive parent, you assume all rights and responsibilities for your child, such as, but not limited to:

  • Education

  • Consent to major medical care and treatment

  • Consent to marriage if the child is a minor

  • Consent to enlistment in the Armed Forces

Adoption is a permanent decision, and it is only possible when the birth parents have willingly given up their parental rights or have had their rights terminated by the court.

Who Can Adopt?

According to the Illinois Adoption Act, anyone who is not classified under a legal disability (a minor, incompetent or incapacitated, an unborn individual, or whose identity or location is unknown) is eligible to adopt a child. In addition, the prospective parent cannot have a criminal record. 

In certain situations, parental rights can be taken away from the biological parents, and children may be placed in foster care. In many cases, a “termination” proceeding is required before an adoption can take place. Some of the grounds for terminating the biological parents’ rights include the following:

  • Abandonment of the child in the hospital or any setting where the parent intended to give up his or her parental rights

  • Failure to sustain interest, concern, and/or responsibility for the child

  • Desertion of the child for more than three months

  • Continual or substantial neglect

  • Allowing the child to live in a cruel or harsh environment

  • The courts have found the parent(s) or guardian(s) unfit by reason of finding them guilty of cruelty, insanity, or death of a different child by cruelty or insanity

If the adopting parent is unrelated to the child, or if there is no adoption agency involved, the individual who is looking to adopt must be an Illinois resident for at least six months, or 90 days if he or she is a member of the military. 

Contact a Winfield Adoption Attorney 

Adoption can be a life-changing event for adoptive parents as well as their new child. There are many avenues to become a family, but it is imperative that you follow the required legal procedures. The Law Office of Christina Martell represents clients looking to adopt, and she can ensure that you meet your legal requirements while protecting the rights of all parties involved. If you need assistance or have questions regarding the adoption process, speak with our compassionate Cook County family law attorney by calling our office today at 630-717-2772.

 

Sources: 

https://www2.illinois.gov/dcfs/lovinghomes/adoption/Pages/default.aspx

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2098&ChapterID=59 

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/parenting/a35860/adoption-statistics/

 

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