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DuPage County family law attorneysThe decision to adopt a child can be one of the most rewarding yet terrifying undertakings of a person’s life. As such, most people do go into the process with an understanding of how difficult and laborious it can be. Still, no one can be prepared for everything, and certain roadblocks can slow down the adoption, especially if you are caught by surprise when problems arise.

Problems With the Birth Parents

Among the issues that tend to occur in this regard is a birth parent either deciding against going through with the agreement or later deciding that they want to reclaim their child. While this is not necessarily common, it does happen and can place both the birth parent and the child in legal limbo. The birth mother retains the right to parent her own child up until the final paperwork has been signed, and sometimes this leads to adoptive parents being left with nothing but money spent and pain in their hearts, despite the solid legal foundation for this rule.

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DuPage County family law attorneyStepfamilies are becoming more and more common in the United States as the divorce rate remains high. While in many cases, the ex-spouse (or other biological parent) will continue to be involved in the lives of his or her children after divorce, sometimes the ex-spouse simply vanishes or passes on. For whatever reason, if one parent ceases to play a role in the lives of his or her children, a stepparent may be able to legally step into that role by adopting the children.

When Is Stepparent Adoption Permissible?

There are several points that any stepparent must consider in order to legally adopt his or her partner’s children. First, they must be legally married to the children’s biological mother or father. Up until a couple years ago, this applied to opposite-sex couples only, but it now applies to same-sex couples as well. Second, the law does not permit a child to have any more than two legal parents. In other words, your partner’s ex-spouse must either be deceased, vanished, or otherwise agree to sign away his or her parental rights, in order for you to be able to adopt the child. If the child is over the age of 14, he or she must also give consent, and this is taken seriously. Without it, the adoption will not go forward.

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DuPage County family law attorneysIf you are a divorced parent, it can be challenging at times to maintain a healthy close relationship with your child when you have limited parenting time and relatively few parental responsibilities. Your bond with your child can be even further strained if your former spouse decides to remarry. Many parents are willing to endure the new challenges because the child may experience a renewed sense of security and stability as a result of the remarriage.  But, what if the other parent’s new spouse expresses interest in legally adopting your child? Do you know what your rights would be in such a situation?

Divorcing Parents

According to the law in Illinois, a child can have only two legal parents. When a child is born to a married couple, each spouse is presumed to be the child’s legal parent unless there a reason to believe otherwise—a paternity action filed by a third party, for example. A divorce does not alter either spouse’s status as the child’s legal parent. When a divorced parent remarries, his or her new spouse is not automatically afforded any parental rights or responsibilities under the law. He or she may be the de facto head of the household and act as a parental figure, but those are practical concerns and not legal considerations.

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Families turn to adoption for a number of reasons. Some are unable to have their own children. Others already have children of their own but want to open their home to others in need. Still some may have stepchildren who they wish to legally adopt. Whatever the situation, adoption can be a beautiful and rewarding way to start or grow a family. If you are thinking about adoption but do not know where to start, the following can help you understand your options for adoption in Illinois.

Types of Adoption in Illinois

Adoption comes in many different forms. The following are options available to prospective parents in Illinois:

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Illinois family law attorney, adopting a stepchildFor some families, it may be desirable for a stepparent to formally adopt a stepchild. The process for adopting a stepchild differs in many respects from other adoptions. While the process for adopting a stepchild can be faster, there are also important consequences and issues to consider. Often, the most significant hurdle to adopting a stepchild is obtaining the consent to the adoption by the other biological parent.

Process for Adoption

Under Illinois law, adopting a stepchild is completed through a process called related child adoption. A related child is one who has a certain relationship with a prospective adoptive parent, including adoptions where the parent is a stepparent. Related child adoptions differ in various ways from adoptions in which no such relationship exists between the adopting parents and the child to be adopted.

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From our law office in Wheaton, IL the family law and civil litigation law attorneys of Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick and Mirabella, represent businesses and individual clients throughout the western suburbs of Chicago, Illinois including Wheaton, Naperville, Oak Brook, Glen Ellyn, Carol Stream, Lombard, Downers Grove, Burr Ridge, Lisle, Elmhurst, Oakbrook Terrace, Winfield, Woodridge, Warrenville and throughout DuPage, Kane and Kendall Counties.

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