Adoption Lawyers - Joliet, IL
Adoption can be a rewarding process that adds a new member to your family or makes the ties that already exist legal. Prospective parents who are either related or unrelated to children are able to adopt in Illinois.
A child who is not related to either prospective parent may be adopted. If the biological and adoptive parents know each other it is considered an Open Adoption. The biological and adoptive parents may exchange information and keep in contact throughout the child’s life. A Closed Adoption is typically done through an Adoption Agency. Generally, the biological and adoptive parents do not exchange information or keep in contact. In other cases, a child may already be with the prospective parents due to a Guardianship, DCFS or other foster care placement.
In a related adoption, a child is adopted by a step-parent or other relative. This will secure the existing bond between the prospective parent and the child. Often a biological parent has been out of the picture for a substantial period of time and a step-parent or other relative has assumed the parental role.
Process for an Adoption
A Petition for Adoption needs to be filed with the Circuit Court. The biological parents will need to have notice of the adoption request. The biological parents parental rights will need to be terminated before an adoption can proceed. Parental rights may be terminated by agreement (consent) or by a finding that the biological parent is unfit.
The Adoption Act recognizes several grounds for when a parent’s rights will be terminated including: (1) abandonment of a newborn in a hospital setting; (2) abandonment of a newborn infant in any setting where the evidence suggests that the parent intended to relinquish his or her parental rights; (3) failure to maintain a reasonable degree of interest, concern or responsibility as to the child’s welfare; (4) desertion of the child for more than 3 months prior to the proceeding of the adoption proceedings; (5) repeated and continuous substantial neglect of any child in the household which resulted in the death of that child; (6) extreme and repeated cruelty to the child; (7) the parent has been found to have committed two or more acts of physical abuse in Juvenile Court proceeding; (8) the parent has been found not guilty by insanity for an act that resulted in the death of any child by physical abuse; (9) there is a finding of death by physical abuse in a Juvenile Court proceeding; (10) failure to protect the child from conditions within his environment injurious to the child’s welfare; (11) a conviction for first degree murder; (12) a conviction of first or second degree murder of any child; (13) an attempt or conspiracy to commit first or second degree murder of any child; (14) solicitation to commit murder of any child; (15) predatory criminal sexual assault of a child; (16) heinous battery of any child; (17) aggravated battery of any child; (18) three or more felony convictions with one occurring in the last five years; (19) habitual drunkenness or addiction to drugs; (20) failure to demonstrate a reasonable degree of interest, concern or responsibility as to the welfare of a newborn child during the first 30 days after its birth; (21) failure by a parent to make reasonable efforts to correct conditions that were the basis of a removal of the child during any nine month period following an adjudication of neglected or abused minor in a Juvenile Court proceeding; (22) evidence of intent to forgoes the parental rights; (23) repeated or continued failure by the parents although physically and financially able to provide adequate food, clothing or shelter; (24) inability to discharge parental responsibilities; (25) at the time of the child’s birth the child’s biological fluids contained illegal drugs.
The Court will also order a thorough background investigation and home study prior to granting the adoption. If the court makes a finding that the adoption should proceed, then it will grant the adoption. A new birth certificate naming the adopted parents will be issued.
While the process for an adoption can see simple, it is frequently complex and lengthy. An experienced attorney is a valuable asset to guide prospective parents through the process. The attorneys at Henderson Law & Mediation have handled numerous adoption cases. Their experience and legal expertise can help guide you through the process so that your family can become complete.