Adoption is first and foremost a legal process.
It may seem like stating the obvious, but this vital fact isn’t clear to many families considering adoption — and for good reason. When hopeful parents think about adopting, they’re not mulling the legal requirements, process and costs. They’re dreaming of starting a family — imagining the joys of parenthood.
We provide legal services for the adoption process because we support your dream. We believe family is beautiful and that anyone who hopes to become a parent should have the opportunity to see that hope fulfilled.
Gillespie Law Group, LLC are the experts in Illinois adoption law who will make that happen.
Illinois adoption laws can be complicated. There’s a lot to learn. Some types of adoption, like stepparent adoption, adult adoption, relative adoption and international adoption confirmation are less complicated, but still require the help of a legal professional.
That’s why the best thing you can do to ensure the success of your adoption is work with an experienced adoption attorney. We have been serving families adopting in Illinois for more than 25 years. We were formerly known as Genie Miller Gillespie, Attorney at Law. Now, Genie leads a team with expanded services and the same dedication to adoption. In our time serving families, it feels like we’ve seen everything, from simple cases to complex contested adoptions. As one of the leading adoption lawyers in Illinois, we literally complied and helped write the guide book to Illinois adoption law that other lawyers look to for guidance.
Our goal is to give our clients confidence throughout the adoption process. Our expertise of Illinois adoption laws allows you to focus on your dreams of parenthood. However, it can also be beneficial for you to have a basic understanding of the most important adoption laws in Illinois, and that’s why we created this guide. While this article shouldn’t be taken as specific legal advice, our hope is that it can serve as an educational resource as you consider adoption. If you want more specific guidance on adoption laws in Illinois, contact us at any time.
Here’s what you need to know about adoption laws in Illinois and how we can serve you.
What are the Illinois Adoption Requirements?
Let’s start at the beginning — do you meet the requirements to adopt in Illinois? Each state has its own unique requirements to adopt. According to adoption laws in Illinois, any individual or couple hoping to adopt must meet the following requirements:
- Be a reputable adult
- (Or) Be a husband and wife jointly (Married couples are required to adopt jointly unless they have been separated for more than 12 years.)
- Have been a resident for at least six months (this does not apply to agency or related adoptions)
In addition to this list, civil union partners and unmarried partners may also jointly petition for adoption in Illinois.
Is that really it? Are those all the requirements to adopt under Illinois law? Yes, and also no. These are the requirements for anyone to begin the adoption process. There is, however, a more thorough review of a family’s ability to provide a loving home to a child through adoption during the home study. During the home study for adoption, a licensed social worker will review your home and lifestyle to determine if you are fit to be placed with a child. This step acts as a sort of second level of requirements to ensure that all children are placed with good families.
Over decades of service, we have helped provide support and guidance to many families navigating adoption requirements in Illinois. With our professional knowledge, there’s no reason to be worried.
Legal Requirements for Illinois Adoption Professionals
Choosing an adoption professional is one of the most important choices you will make during your process. Typically, an adoptive family will work with one of two professionals, or in some cases both: an adoption attorney and an adoption agency.
Each one fills a unique role. Agencies provide matching services and support from social workers throughout the process. Attorneys handle the required legal paperwork in order to ensure an adoption is successfully finalized according to Illinois adoption laws. It’s important to know that some adoption professionals are held to a higher standard than others. Adoption laws in Illinois have standards for licensed agencies and lawyers, but not all professionals meet these standards.
In order to have the best chance at a successful adoption, make sure to ask your agency or attorney about their certifications.
Illinois Adoption Laws for Birth Mother Consent
There are several types of adoption, and one of the most common is domestic infant adoption, also called private adoption or agency-assisted adoption. In a domestic infant adoption, a pregnant woman chooses adoption for her newborn. Working with an adoption agency, she creates a plan, chooses hopeful adoptive parents and, after birth, her baby is placed with the family for adoption.
A prospective birth mother has to give her official, legal consent for adoption in order for the baby to be placed with the adoptive family. This consent cannot be given until after birth. Each state has unique laws about what is required for consent. Some make a birth mother wait 24, 48 or even 72 hours after birth. Some states may also have a revocation period, which is essentially a window after consent is given when a birth mother can change her mind.
Illinois adoption law is a very adoption-friendly law, which is good for you as the adoptive family. Consent may not be given less than 72 hours after birth in Illinois, but once it is given, it is irrevocable.
Depending on the situation with the birth father, his consent may also be required. In other cases, a court revokes his parental rights or the birth father is unknown. Navigating consent can be complicated, which is a good example of a time when you want an experienced adoption attorney on your side.
Adoption and Equality
Can same-gender couples adopt in Illinois? Many wonderful couples in the LGBTQ community turn to adoption as a way to start or grow a family. What does Illinois adoption law have to say about this?
Thankfully, same-sex couples can adopt in Illinois. Additionally, any agency that receives public funds cannot deny services to you based on your sexual orientation.
We are proud to have worked with many same-sex couples in the adoption process. We believe in your rights to start a family and will fight to protect those rights throughout the adoption process. This is why, in addition to legal services in the adoption process, we also provide co-parent (or second-parent) adoption services; to ensure your family is fully protected under the law.
Finalizing an Adoption in Illinois
Adoption finalization is one of the most important parts of the adoption process. After you are placed with your new child, there are still several steps left to legally complete the adoption. During this time, we can provide necessary legal services and support to ensure your adoption is completed.
Several things must happen in order to finalize an adoption according to Illinois adoption law. Over the course of six months post-placement, a social worker will conduct a series of visits to observe how you are doing. They will create a report stating that, based on their observations, the placement is (or, in rare cases, is not) in the best interests of the child. A group of other documents are also required, which are mostly handled by your adoption attorney.
Once the post-placement visits are complete and all necessary documents are submitted, a hearing date may be scheduled. For many adoptions in Cook County, where the majority of Illinois adoptions occur, the family will not need to attend the final hearing, although the family is always welcome to be present. In many cases, we will work with a court to issue a judgement on your behalf without the need for a formal hearing. The end results is a final decree of adoption , and your adoption is complete.
Contact an Illinois Adoption Attorney Today
Adoption laws in Illinois are full of rules, regulations and requirements. In order to successfully complete an adoption, all of these things must be followed exactly. The best way to make sure this happens is to work with an experienced adoption attorney. With over 20 years of service under our belts, we can help you complete a successful adoption.
Contact us today to see how we can serve you. We will schedule a free consultation to answer your questions and figure out the best ways to work together.