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DuPage County adoption attorneyEvery child deserves a safe home full of people who care about him or her. For many children, adoption is their best hope of finding a loving home. The decision to adopt a child can be one of the most consequential choices a person ever makes. It is important to remember that adopting a child is also a major legal decision. Before you start the adoption process, it is essential to know the law in Illinois regarding adoption.

Who Can Adopt?

If you want to adopt a child, you should know about the adoption requirements established by Illinois law. To adopt in Illinois, you must:

  • Be an adult over the age of 18

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Wheaton, IL family law attorney for Safe Haven Law adoptionBeing a parent is one of the greatest responsibilities in the world. Parents who worry about their ability to take on this tremendous responsibility may make the decision to relinquish their parental rights and place their children for adoption. Many parents choose to do this because they realize that financial problems, addictions, or other concerns will prevent them from giving their child the life he or she deserves. However, some parents are not in a position to go through the traditional methods of adoption, and they may choose to take advantage of Illinois’ “Safe Haven Law.” If you are considering adopting a child in Illinois, you may want to learn about this law and how it can affect your adoption.  

The Illinois Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act

Making the decision to give up an infant is one of the hardest things a person can do. Parents may not only mourn the loss of their child, they may also fear retribution for giving the infant up for adoption. Sometimes, a mother chooses to relinquish her parental rights at the hospital immediately after the infant is born. Other times, a mother cannot or will not place the baby for adoption in the usual manner. 

In order to allow parents to relinquish infants safely and without fear of prosecution, Illinois passed the Illinois Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act, which is nicknamed the “Safe Haven Law.” This law allows parents to relinquish their babies at police stations, fire departments, and emergency medical facilities. The purpose of the law is to prevent infants from being dangerously abandoned in unsafe places. It allows parents to relinquish infants anonymously, without facing criminal charges for child abandonment.

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DuPage County private adoption attorneyChoosing to adopt a child can be a wonderful, life-changing decision. However, the adoption process can be full of legal complications and potential pitfalls. If you are considering adoption, it is important to educate yourself about the obstacles that you may encounter. It is also important to work with an adoption attorney who has experience successfully addressing these issues.

Relative Adoptions

One of the most common types of adoption in Illinois is relative adoption. Adopting a stepchild or other relative is often more straightforward than other types of adoption, but it can also involve many legal challenges. A child can only have two parents, so in some cases, the child’s biological parent or parents may need to relinquish their parental rights before the adoption can occur. However, many parents are unwilling to do so, or they may choose to contest the adoption in court. If parents do not voluntarily relinquish their parental rights, they may lose their parental rights after being deemed “unfit” by the court. Neglect, abuse, abandonment, severe drug addiction, and other issues that may lead a court to terminate a parent’s parental rights.

Private Adoptions

In a private adoption, the adoptive parents adopt a child directly from the biological parents. In most cases, no adoption agencies or outside organizations are involved. Unfortunately, private adoption scams and fraud are not uncommon. Birth mothers may misrepresent themselves, take money from adoptive parents with no intention of ever following through with the adoption, or even pretend to be pregnant for financial gain. Birth mothers may also change their minds about the adoption after giving birth. It is absolutely essential to work with an adoption attorney if you plan to pursue a private adoption.

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Wheaton step-parent adoption lawyerDeciding to adopt a child is undoubtedly one of the most consequential decisions you will ever make. Whether you are thinking about adoption because of fertility issues, a desire to formally adopt your stepchild, or any other reason, you probably have many questions. The adoption process varies significantly depending on the type of adoption and the circumstances of the case, but there are a few basic steps that are almost always involved in an Illinois adoption.

Avenues for Adopting a Child

One of the most common types of adoption is a relative adoption, such as a stepparent adoption or grandparent adoption. A child can only have two legal parents. If you wish to adopt a child related to you, you may need to first get consent from the child’s biological parent(s). One or both parents may need to voluntarily terminate their parental rights before you can adopt the child. A biological parent's rights may be involuntarily terminated by the court if the parent has abandoned, neglected, abused, or consistently failed to show any interest in the child. 

An agency adoption involves adopting a child from a private or public adoption agency after the birth parents gave the child up for adoption or had their parental rights terminated. A private adoption involves adopting a child directly from the birth mother. Legal guidance from an adoption attorney is recommended for any type of adoption. However, it is especially crucial to get reliable legal support when pursuing a private adoption.

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DuPage County family law attorney parental rights

When a mother gives birth to a child, she automatically receives legal privileges and responsibilities referred to as “parental rights.” If the mother is married, her husband is presumed to be the baby’s father and therefore he gains parental rights as well. Unmarried fathers can establish paternity and obtain parental rights by signing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP). However, there are some circumstances in which a parent may wish to give up his or her parental rights. Often, a parent seeks to terminate his or her parental rights so the child can be adopted.  

Voluntarily Giving Up Your Parenting Rights

Parental rights include the right to parenting time, the right to object to the child being placed for adoption, and much more. However, being a child’s legal parent may also incur certain responsibilities such as a child support obligation. Children can only have two legal parents. If a stepparent wishes to adopt his or her stepchild, the other parent may need to terminate his or her parental rights. The court also has the authority to terminate a parent’s rights against his or her will in situations involving abandonment, abuse, or other issues that endanger the child. 

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