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Kevin O'Flaherty

The purpose of this article is to explain the Illinois adoption process.  Adoption in Illinois is governed by the Illinois Adoption Act (750 ILCS 50/0.01, et seq.).  Our DuPage adoption attorneys lay out the different types of adoption in Illinois, who is eligible to adopt and be adopted, the process for terminating the biological parents' parental rights, and the process of petitioning for adoption from filing an adoption petition to amending the adopted child's birth certificate. 

Types Of Adoption In Illinois

Adoption is when an adult becomes the legal parent of another person who is not his or her biological child.  There are 5 types of adoption in Illinois.  

  • Related Adoption occurs when at least one of the adopting parents is related to the person being adopted.  This is typically the easiest type of adoption to accomplish.  When a step-parent wants to adopt his or her spouse's biological child, this is considered "related adoption."  In this case, the biological parent would be listed on the adoption petition in addition to the step-parent. 
  • Agency Adoption occurs when a licensed agency is given the authority to place a child with adopting parents.  This occurs when the biological parents either voluntarily give the child to the agency or when a court terminates the biological parents' parental rights. 
  • Private Adoption occurs when the child is not placed with an agency and neither of the adopting parents are related to the child.  In a private adoption, the biological parents will have 72 hours after the child is born to revoke the adoption. 
  • Adoption of an Adult occurs when a child aged 18 years or older is adopted.  
  • Standby Adoption occurs when a legal parent who is terminally ill agrees in advance to have the child adopted by a specific person either when the legal parent becomes to ill to care for the child or when the legal parent passes. 

Adoption Requirements In Illinois

A person is eligible to adopt a child in Illinois if he or she:

  • does not have a legal disability; 
  • has lived in Illinois for at least 6 months (this requirement is reduced to 90 days if the adopting individual is a member of the Armed Forces); 
  • has a good reputation.  

Typically the person adopting the child must be over the age of 18.  However, courts have discretion to make exceptions to this rule for good cause. 

Adopting parents can be either married or single.  However, if an adopting parent is married, the spouse must meet all of the adoption requirements and be part of the process and be a party to the adoption petition unless the couple has been living separate and apart for more than 1 year. 

Adopting parent petitioners in an unrelated adoption must be fingerprinted and submit to a criminal background check.  However, a criminal record is not an absolute bar to adoption. 

Who Can Be An Adopted In Illinois?

‍A child is available for adoption in Illinois if:

  • the child has been surrendered to an agency and the agency has consented to adoption; 
  • a person authorized by a court to consent to adoption has consented;
  • the child's biological parents have placed the child in the custody of the prospective adoptive parents.

‍An adult may be adopted if he or she has resided with the prospective adoptive parents for more than 2 years prior to the filing of the adoption petition. 

A child that is 14 years old or older must consent to his or her own adoption. 

attorney signing adoption process paper work

Termination Of The Biological Parents' Parental Rights

In order for an adoption order to be entered by the court, the biological parents' parental rights must be terminated.  However, there are several exceptions to this rule:

  • If the biological parent is deceased, the petitioner need only present the biological parent's death certificate to the court. 
  • In the case of an adult adoption, termination of parental rights is not necessary.  Consent of the adult adoptee will suffice. 
  • When one of the petitioners is the biological parent of the child, parental rights are not terminated.  Instead the biological parent will consent to adoption by his or her spouse in the petition for adoption. 

‍If termination of parental rights is a necessary prerequisite for adoption, this can be accomplished either voluntarily or involuntarily.  

Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights

‍In private adoptions and related adoptions, the biological parent can execute a final and irrevocable consent to adoption.  In an agency adoption, the biological parent can execute an  irrevocable surrender for purposes of adoption.  

‍A consent or surrender must be signed before a judge, a person appointed by a judge, or an agency representative.  Consents and surrenders may not be executed until after 72 hours have elapsed since the birth of the child.  The exception is that the biological father may execute a consent or surrender prior to the birth of the child.  However, even in this case, the consent or surrender may be revoked within 72 hours of the birth of the child. 

‍In private adoptions or related adoptions, the biological parent may execute a Final and Irrevocable Consent To Adoption by a Specified Person or Persons.  

Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

‍Involuntary termination of parental rights can be accomplished through a court proceeding if the court finds the biological parent to be an unfit parent by "clear and convincing evidence."  

what are the requirements for adopting a child in Illinois?

The Adoption Process In Illinois:

Filing the Adoption Petition

‍In order to initiate an adoption proceeding, the adopting parents must file a petition for adoption along with a consent to adoption in the circuit court where the petitioners, the child, or the biological parents reside.  The adoption petition must be filed within 30 days of the time that the child became available for adoption.  The petition may be filed after this deadline with leave of court.  The petition must be served along with a summons upon all required parties.  Required parties include any biological parents who have not signed voluntary waivers of service and the child, if the child is over 14 years old.  

Interim Order Hearing

‍Once all required parties have been properly served, an interim order hearing will be held to decide who will have temporary parental responsibilities for the child to be adopted.  The judge will also determine whether parental responsibilities must be terminated, determine whether a guardian ad litem will be assigned to represent the child, and appoint an investigator for the case.  The investigator will investigate the home of the adoptive parents and run a criminal background check.  In agency adoptions, the agency will typically perform the investigation.

Final Hearing and Judgment Order

‍After 6 months have elapsed from the date of the interim order hearing, a final hearing will be conducted.  After reviewing the investigator's report, the guardian ad litem's report, and affidavits submitted by the parties, the court will issue an order finalizing the adoption.  

Obtaining a Revised Birth Certificate

‍After the final adoption order has been entered by the court, the petitioners for adoption can submit a completed certificate of adoption form, which they will receive from the clerk of court, to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) in order to obtain a revised birth certificate that will show the child's new name (if applicable) and list the petitioners as the child's parents.  The original birth certificate will be sealed and may only be viewed by court order. 

Our Illinois attorneys in Chicago are ready to help you with your adoption needs.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.


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