In this article, we will discuss common post-adoption issues seen in Illinois and answer the following questions:
- Is an attorney necessary to handle post-adoption conflicts?
- What are some common post-adoption issues that arise in Illinois?
- How is post-adoption contact with the birth parents handled in Illinois?
Is an Attorney Necessary To Handle Post-Adoption Conflicts?
In many situations involving post-adoption issues having a good adoption attorney (usually the same used for the adoption process) can be extremely helpful if only to be a sounding board for any questions. There are post-adoption conflicts that may ultimately lead to litigation, but they are the minority. Furthermore, there is an abundance of resources available to manage post-adoption conflicts with many available through adoption agencies.
What Are Some Common Post-Adoption Issues That Arise in Illinois?
A majority of post-adoption issues will not present a direct threat to the adoption itself. Once the adoption process is finalized it is essentially set in stone. There are very few instances where a finalized adoption will be reversed and if it is beyond the few statutes of limitations stipulations in Illinois reversing the adoption is virtually impossible without consent from the adoptive parents or the adoptive parents committing a crime leading to termination of parental rights. Below is a list of the more common post-adoption issues that arise in Illinois:
- Subsidy Issues: In some adoptions, the child being adopted is eligible for subsidy payments to the family on behalf of the agency. In most cases, the family will not have to ask for the subsidy payment and should be aware of the amount of the subsidy payment by the time the adoption is finalized or shortly after. If an adoption agency refuses to pay a valid subsidy payment the family can ask their attorney to draft a letter of intent to sue the agency.
- Moving Away From Or To Illinois During Or After An Adoption: Illinois is part of the Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance and provides adoptive families with assistance during a move. There is an approval process associated with many interstate adoption issues, so if a move is planned giving DCFS ample notice can avoid potential headaches. The caseworker will assist with any medical issues and often a new medical card will be issued for the child in the new state. If no new medical card is issued under the new state’s Medicaid coverage the family will likely continue to receive reimbursement under Illinois Medicaid coverage.
- Medical Card Issues and Replacements: A medical card should be issued to the child with the first subsidy payment, with a new medical card being sent each year.
- Adoption Preservation: The Adoption and Guardianship Preservation Services Program exists to help adoptive families and guardians in Illinois to navigate the sometimes stressful and emotional world post-adoption. Individuals involved in this program are trained to handle a bevy of post-adoption and guardianship issues that arise, including grief, loss, attachment, etc.
- Death of an Adoptive Parent or Guardian: In the unfortunate circumstance of the death of the adoptive parent with no surviving spouse, DCFS will step in and attempt to place the child with a new adoptive family. Subsidy payments exist to support families that adopt a protected person previously under the care of DCFS. An attorney can also help with any inheritance to the adopted child whether written in a will, trust, or through Illinois intestate inheritance.
- Tax Benefits: Adoptive parents enjoy a tax credit on their federal tax return and are typically eligible for other tax credits at the federal and state level. These may include earned income credit tax benefits at certain levels of income with two more children, child tax credit, and a child and dependent care tax credit for work-related child care expenses. More information on tax benefits for adoptive parents can be found through the Center For Economic Progress website and the North American Council On Adoptive Children website.
How is Post-Adoption Contact With the Birth Parents Handled in Illinois?
Generally, post-adoption contact with the birth parents is determined prior to the final adoption order or at least worked out to some degree. Most adoptive families will support post-adoption contact if it is in the best interest of the child, but will also opt to have an agreement in writing so that all parties are on the same wavelength. The agreement should describe the type and amount of contact as well as who the child can actually see. In most instances, the adoptive family will not want to be subject to the demands of every relative of the birth parents, especially if they have not met the relative previously. Furthermore, any agreement should have explicit stipulations that allow the adoptive family to modify or terminate the agreement should they feel contact with the birth parents is not in the child’s best interest.