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Do I Need An Attorney For An Agency Adoption In Illinois?

Article written by Illinois & Iowa Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
June 30, 2020

In this article, we will discuss what an attorney does in an agency adoption and answer the following questions:

  • Is the role of an attorney different for agency adoptions?
  • What is the attorney’s job before and after the adoption?
  • What does the court process look like for adoption in Illinois?

Is the Role of an Attorney Different For Agency Adoptions?

Generally, an attorney’s duties are about the same in any type of agency adoption and don’t differ dramatically from other types of adoptions. The attorney may not have to do as much footwork as in a private adoption where he or she is the main bridge between the adoptive parents and biological parents, but there is still a good deal of legal work to be completed before the adoption is finalized. The main fact to remember is that the attorney in any agency adoption is the representative of the adoptive parents and the adoptive parents are the clients of the attorney. The attorney does not represent any other party in the adoption process, including the adoption agency, biological parents, child, etc. If you feel that your attorney’s allegiance towards you in an adoption case is weak or that the attorney is not fulfilling your wishes, raise your concerns immediately with the attorney or get a new adoption attorney as quickly as possible.

What is the Attorney’s Job Before and After the Adoption?

Once the adoptive parent(s) have agreed to work with an attorney and the child has been placed in the adoptive family’s home, the real work begins. Prior to the child being placed in the home, the attorney has little work to do in an agency adoption. The potential parents are mostly waiting for the adoption agency to notify them of a possible adoption candidate. Once the agency has matched the adoptive parents with the child and the child arrives at the family’s home the legal process of finalizing the adoption will begin.

The attorney will make contact with the agency social worker and begin the sharing of information required to move forward with the adoption. Prior to the adoption court hearing the attorney should obtain the following documents from the adoption agency:

  • A copy of the court order showing termination of parental rights if the child was involved in a juvenile court case, or the disposition order for an expedited adoption;
  • The affidavit of identification from the birth mother that identifies the birth father;
  • Paperwork showing the original surrender and/or final irrevocable consent of the birth parents;
  • A list of expenses of the agency meant to be paid by the adoptive parents;
  • The appearance and consent of the adoption agency and/or agency social worker;
  • A copy of the home study (this is usually done by the DCFS agent);
  • If the father has not signed a surrender or cannot be located a certification from the Putative Father Registry is usually necessary.

What Does the Court Process Look Like for an Agency Adoption in Illinois?

Once the adoptive parents have signed a representation agreement, the child has been placed in the family’s home, and the attorney has prepared all the appropriate paperwork the case can proceed to the adoption court. At the initial court hearing, an interim order will be granted given the adoptive parents custody of the child for the duration of the adoption proceedings. The attorney should be prepared to supply a copy of the adoption petition, interim order, case management order, all agency documents and a check payable to the guardian ad litem. It’s also very important to have gone through all the necessary steps to terminate the biological parents’ parental rights prior to requesting entry for a judgment order on the adoption.

About two weeks prior to the case management date (that would be the date the adoption case would continue to move forward and possibly be finalized) the attorney should provide a copy of the home investigation and proposed judgment order to the guardian ad litem and the court. Most of the work is done at this point. As long as no problems arise, the court will enter the judgment on the appropriate date, and usually within a day or two the adoptive parents can pick up all the finalized adoption paperwork and the process is generally considered complete. However, every adoption case is different and the adoptive parents should always be prepared for unexpected issues to arise in the process. The best defense against any conflicts in an adoption case is to have the representation of an experienced adoption attorney. If you have questions about adoption or agency adoption specifically, give us a call at 630-324-6666.

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