Adopting a child is a serious process, but it is also a joyful one. It is a beautiful thing to add to your family through adoption and provide someone with emotional, legal, and financial support. The process can also be complex, but it can also be less overwhelming with a Chicago adoption attorney experienced in navigating the public or private adoption process.
Adoption can occur in many unique situations, and it can change a family system in many ways. It’s important to understand adoption requirements under family law and the different ways you can adopt in the state.
Chicago Adoption Requirements
An individual who wishes to adopt a child in Illinois has to meet the following requirements:
- Be in good standing and have a positive reputation in their community.
- Have lived in the state for 6 months or 90 days as a member of the military. Alternatively, they can be a legal or biological relative to the child being adopted.
- Does not have a legal disability. However, an individual being blind cannot be the sole reason why they are ineligible to adopt.
If an individual is adopting or fostering, they must also take certain courses and background checks to qualify for adoption. Each private agency may also have its own requirements to adopt.
If a single individual is adopting, they must meet these requirements. If a couple is adopting, both individuals are required to be involved in the adoption process and meet the requirements. Exceptions are made if the couple has been living separately for a year or longer.
In most cases, the person who wants to adopt must also be at least 18 years of age. However, the court may waive this depending on the circumstances. According to state law, any child can be legally adopted, but if the child is older than 14, the child’s consent is required.
What Are the Different Ways You Can Adopt?
Types of adoption vary based on the relationship between the child and adoptive parent, the age and birthplace of the child, and the agency or person handling the adoption process. The main types of adoption are:
Related or Stepparent Adoption
This form of adoption most commonly occurs when a child’s biological parent remarries, and the new spouse wishes to have parental rights and responsibilities for their stepchild. This can bring a family closer together, and it ensures the stepparent will be able to care for the child if the biological parent passes or is incapacitated. Related adoptions can also be done by grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other biological or legal relatives. These adoptions are often faster and easier than other adoptions.
Agency adoptions include governmental or foster adoptions and adoptions through private agencies. Private agencies tend to handle adoptions where parents place their child to be adopted, and each private agency has potentially unique requirements and regulations. Some private agencies also handle international adoptions for children who live in other countries. Foster care adoptions occur when a child has been living in a home under foster care, and their foster home adopts them.
Non-Agency Private Adoptions
Adoptions can also be handled through an individual agreement, where one or both biological parents give up their parental rights to another individual or couple, usually shortly after a child’s birth. A home inspection of the adopting individual still usually occurs, despite no agency being involved in this adoption.
This form of adoption occurs when the person being adopted is not a child but is 18 or older. Just like adoptions of children over 14, an adult adoption can only occur with the adopted person’s consent. The adult adopting the individual must either be related or have lived with the individual for 2 years.
Q: How Does Adoption Work in Illinois?
A: Any person, typically over the age of 18, can adopt a child in Illinois as long as they have been a resident for 6 months, have a good reputation, and do not have a legal disability. An eligible individual has to file a petition to adopt with the local court. Adoptions usually occur after a child lives in the home through foster care, after a private agency or non-agency adoption has taken place or between a stepparent and their stepchild. If an individual in a couple adopts a child, both parties have to meet the requirements to adopt.
Q: What Will Disqualify You From Adopting a Child in Illinois?
A: Private adoption agencies list their own requirements that may qualify or disqualify an individual from adopting. The foster care system has its own home inspections and background checks before placing a child for foster care or adoption. A person may be unable to adopt for reasons such as:
- They were convicted of a violent felony or a drug felony in the last 5 years.
- At any time, they were convicted of child abuse, child neglect, or other form of domestic violence.
- At any time, they were convicted of a crime against children.
Q: How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Child in Illinois?
A: There are several types of adoption, and each carries its own costs. Foster care has no direct adoption fees, but the cost to raise and care for a child is a significant matter to consider before adopting.
Private adoption agencies have their own costs, which are frequently very high. They can range even higher for international adoptions. Private agencies often require costs to cover the birth parents’ medical costs, the travel fees for the adopted child, classes for the adoptive parents, court and attorney fees, and other expenses.
Q: How Long Is the Adoption Process in Illinois?
A: If you adopt or foster a child through the foster system, Illinois requires mandatory parental training. This course can take between 6 and 12 weeks to complete, which is the minimum waiting time. This period can often take longer to complete due to the necessary background checks, home inspections, managing schedules, and dealing with any legal complications. Private agencies have their own timelines for adoptions, which may take a year or longer. It may even take several years for international adoptions.
Legal Support During Adoption
For more guidance and answers about the adoption process in Chicago, contact Stange Law Firm. Our attorneys understand how stressful this process can be, and our firm wants to help you focus on the excitement and joy that come from expanding your family.