Adopting a Child in Illinois – Reviewing the Process
The decision to adopt a child brings together individuals who desire to become parents of children who are in need of loving homes. While adoption is often extraordinarily beneficial for all parties involved, the process of completing one can be very complex.
Who May Adopt
Under Illinois law, any reputable person of legal age who has lived continuously in Illinois for at least six months immediately prior to the beginning of the adoption proceeding may adopt. A person who is a member of the armed forces of the United States must be domiciled in Illinois for at least 90 days. A person's domicile is their true and permanent home, to which they intend to return to even though they may be currently living somewhere else.
Petition to Adopt
Pursuant to Section 5 of the Adoption Act, the process to adopt a child begins with the filing of a petition by the people who wish to adopt (petitioners). In most cases, a petition should be filed within 30 days of the child becoming available for adoption. The petition must contain the following information:
The full name of the petitioners;
The residence of the petitioners and the length of their residency in Illinois;
When the child was acquired (or when the petitioners intend to acquire the child), and the name and address of the person or agency from whom the child was or will be received;
The relationship of the child, if any, to the petitioners;
Numerous pieces of information relating to the parents;
If it is alleged that no parent is living, the name of the child's guardian;
If it is alleged that no parent is living and that the petitioners do not know of any guardian, the name of a near relative, or that no near relative is known or can be found;
The name to be given to the adopted child; and
The consent to the petitioners adopting the child by the person or agency having the authority to consent.
After a petition is filed, the court will assign a child welfare organization that has received approval from the Department of Children and Family Services, or a competent individual—per the court's determination—to investigate the following:
The allegations claimed in the petition;
General information about the petitioners and, if possible, the child to be adopted; and
Whether the petitioners can adopt and whether the child can be adopted.
The investigation will also require a criminal background check. The fingerprints will be checked against those in the database of the Illinois Department of State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The results of the investigation and criminal background check will be presented to the court for review.
Order of Adoption
The court will issue an interim order giving the petitioners custody over the child to be adopted. After six months from the date of the interim order, the petitioners may apply to the court for a judgment of adoption. A hearing will be held at which the petitioners and the child to be adopted are typically present. If the judge is satisfied that the adoption is for the welfare of the child and the necessary consent has been acquired, the court will enter a judgment for adoption.
Contact an Illinois Family Law Attorney
It is important to keep in mind that adoption contains different requirements depending upon a variety of factors. That is why if you are considering adopting, you should reach out to our Illinois family law attorneys for a consultation and to learn how we can help. Call us today at 630-665-7300.