Consent in Adoptions
Consent is often required in order for a child to be adopted in order to ensure that a child's biological parent fully understands what placing the child up for adoption means—consent provides protection for a child who is placed for adoption. However, in certain circumstances, consent is not required for the adoption of a child.
Under Illinois law, when consent is required, it can be given by a wide variety of people or entities, depending on the specific situation. Consent can be given by the biological mother and the father, if the father:
- Was married to the mother on the date of the birth of the child;
- Is the father by adoption or another legal method in the state of Illinois;
- Openly lived with the child or his or her mother, and openly claimed to be the child's father (for a child placed for adoption less than six months after birth);
- Made efforts to pay for birth-related expenses for the child and to provide financial support for the child (for a child placed for adoption less than six months after birth);
- Maintained significant contact with the child (for a child adopted more than six months after birth);
- Lived with the child and/or his or her mother, and held himself out to be the biological father for at least six months before the child's adoption (in cases where the child was placed for adoption six months or more after birth); or
- Registered with the Putative Father Registry.
Alternatively, it may also be sufficient when consent is provided by the following:
- The legal guardian of the child, when the child does not have a surviving parent;
- An agency that the child has been surrendered to; or
- Any person or agency having legal custody as a result of a court order, after parental rights have been terminated, and the court has authorized consent to the adoption.
In certain circumstances, the consent of the biological parent is not needed when it is demonstrated by clear and convincing evidence that the individual is unfit to be a parent. An unfit parent is any person the court finds “to be unfit to have a child, without regard to the likelihood that the child will be placed for adoption.”
Grounds for unfitness to be a parent include the following:
- Abandonment of the child;
- Failure to maintain a reasonable degree of interest, concern, or responsibility as to the child's welfare;
- Desertion of the child for more than three months;
- Substantial neglect if it is continuous and repeated; or
- Excessive or repeated cruelty to the child.
However, an individual is not considered unfit for the sole reason that he or she relinquished a child in accordance with the Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act, which is intended to provide a way in which a newborn infant can be relinquished to a safe environment. A relinquishment of a child in accordance with the Act, by itself, is not a basis for a finding of abuse, neglect or abandonment.
Help Adopting a Child
If you are considering adopting a child, it is likely that you have several important questions. For more information about the process of adoption, please contact a skilled Illinois family law attorney at MKFM Law today at 630-665-7300.