Illinois Lawyer Referrals and Legal Guidance
Illinois Adoption Lawyers
The legal process of adoption creates a permanent parent-child relationship that did not exist previously. Once the adoption process is complete, the adoptive parent assumes all the responsibilities of a biological parent. The biological parent relinquishes all of his or her responsibilities or rights regarding the child. Note that the laws of adoption in Illinois are the same for every county. In other words, the laws followed by a Chicago adoption lawyer are the same as those of adoption attorneys in every other part of Illinois.
The following is the basic criteria as to who can adopt:
- Age: Anyone 21 years or older may adopt a child.
- Marital status: There is no requirement of marriage. Single, married, and divorced people may adopt. You may be a parent or childless. Disabled people are not disqualified so long as they can prove that their disability will not prevent them from providing proper child care. Same sex couple may also adopt.
- Income: there is no income requirement, but you must prove that you have sufficient income to properly provide for a child.
- Mental health: previous history of marital or personal counseling will not disqualify you from adopting. However, the court will inquire further to determine whether you can provide a stable environment for a child
Although there are minimum criteria for all adoptions, the criteria may be extended, depending on the method of adoption.
- Legal state and local criteria: The law of the state and county in which the adoption takes places will mandate its own legal requirement. These requirements must be complied with in all adoptions.
- Agency criteria: A private agency may impose more rigorous requirements above and beyond state and local requirements. For example, a private adoption agency may mandate that only persons between the age of 28 and 45 may adopt, or disqualify single people. A person or couple seeking to adopt will need to shop around for an agency whose criteria match the adopter’s profile.
- Birth parent criteria: In situations where the birth mother works individually and privately with an adoptive couple, she may also impose criteria above and beyond the state and local requirements. These individualized criteria may include whatever the birth mother chooses.
There are several situations that may give rise to adoption:
- Step-parent adoption: This is the most common form of adoption, where a step parent adopts his step child. The biological parent who the step parent is seeking to replace must consent to relinquishing his or her guardianship. The biological parent also relinquishes any requirement to support the child. If a biological parent won’t relinquish their parental rights you may have to file a motion to terminate them. A judge will be more inclined to do this if he/she believes that the biological parent isn’t playing a role in the life of the child. This can be a complex process and usually requires an attorney.
- Adult adoption: One adult may adopt another adult (usually a step parent adopting a step child 18 years or older). Adult adoption may occur without termination of the biological parent’s rights, but does allow for inheritance rights between the adopted parent and child.
- Grandparent or relative adoption: Circumstances may sometimes dictate that grandparents or other relatives of the biological parent may adopt their relative’s child. Contact may be maintained between the child and biological parent, depending on the situation.
- Interstate or international adoption: Adoptions may, and often do, occur between parties of different states and countries. Interstate adoptions require an understanding of the differing laws between the states. However, an international adoption is finalized in the country in which the child was born. The child is legally adopted once the child leaves his birth country. Countries that have a healthy adoption relationship with the United States include Vietnam, Ethiopia, and Kazakhstan. However, international adoptions may be more tenuous than US adoptions because a country may suddenly change its adoption policies with regard to the US, without warning.
- Second parent adoption, back up planning, and standby adoption: The purpose of these forms of adoption is to allow for planning in the event of a biological parent’s death or incapacitation.
Secondary adoption and back up planning adoption is a preventative measure. The secondary person adopts the child as a preventative measure in case the biological parent’s guardianship preference is not honored upon their death.
Illinois is one of two states in the country which provides for standby adoption (otherwise known as standby guardianship). This method of adoption is a method of ensuring that the proper guardian will be installed upon the death or incapacitation of a biological parent.
- Foster parent adoption: When a foster parent adopts his or her foster child, several things change. First, the relationship is now permanent. The foster child is now the legal child of the foster parent. Second, the foster parent now has full parenting responsibility, and no longer shares that responsibility with an agency. Third, the foster parent also has full financial responsibility for the child, though he or she may apply for subsidies and tax credits. Finally, the foster parent will have legal responsibility, whereby the foster child may inherit as a biological child, and the foster parent will become liable for the child’s actions.
Please remember that the information on this page and website is general in terms and every case is different. If you would like a referral to an adoption lawyer in Illinois please contact us.
Since 2001, findgreatlawyers.com has been the leading service for Illinois attorney referrals and legal guidance for every area of Illinois law including adoption. When you speak with us you can talk to one of our staff attorneys for free. We will answer your questions and if needed, refer you to a lawyer that fits your needs. The attorneys that we recommend are not free (they all charge by the hour), but they have a track record of success in helping people with adoptions. If you would like our help please complete our contact form or call us at (312) 346-5320. For general information about adoption in Illinois please read on.