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What Steps Are Involved in the Illinois Adoption Process?

Posted on in Family Law

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.

Filing an Adoption Petition and Attending Hearings

The first step in the adoption process is filing a petition for adoption with the circuit court where the adoptive parents, biological parents, or the child lives. This petition is served along with a summons to the individuals required to attend the adoption hearing. Depending on the circumstances, these parties may include the child’s biological parents, and, if he or she is over 14 years old, the child to be adopted. An interim order hearing is then held to determine who the child will live with while the adoption proceedings are ongoing. 

The judge may assign a guardian ad litem (GAL) to represent and protect the child’s best interests. The GAL will interview the individuals involved in the case and file a report stating his or her recommendations. The court will also appoint an investigator to interview the adoptive parents, perform a home study, and ensure that the adoption is in the child’s best interests. If the adoption is being conducted through an agency, the agency is typically responsible for this investigation. 

At the final order hearing, the court will examine the GAL’s report, the investigator’s report, and the affidavits of the parties involved, and make a decision about whether or not to allow the adoption. If the adoption is granted, the adoptive parents may acquire a revised birth certificate for the child through the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Contact a DuPage County Adoption Lawyer

Adopting a child is a complicated legal process. For dependable legal representation and support throughout the adoption process, contact Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C. Call our office today at 630-462-9500 and schedule a consultation with a skilled Wheaton adoption attorney to discuss your needs.

Sources:

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

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

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