Adoption is the legal process of an individual or couple expanding their family or bringing it closer together. Adoption can allow a person or persons to adopt a new child, adopt an adult, or have legal parental rights and responsibilities for a step-child. Adoption can be immensely expensive and difficult, but a Springfield adoption attorney can also make things more straightforward.
Adoption can be beneficial and exciting and give you the same legal protections and responsibilities as a biological parent. Unfortunately, it can also be an overwhelming and complex process. When you understand the requirements to adopt in Springfield, it can help you effectively navigate this process.
Requirements to Adopt in Illinois
In Illinois, an individual who wants to adopt must generally be at least 18 years of age. There are unique circumstances where the court may make an exception and let individuals under the age of 18 adopt. The other legal requirements in the state for an individual to adopt include:
- Not having a legal disability, although a blind individual cannot be prevented from adopting based solely on their blindness
- Having lived in Illinois for a minimum of six months, or 90 days for a member of the Armed Forces
- Having a good reputation
The residency requirement can also be waived in some cases if the adopting individual and the person they are adopting are related.
Typically, a couple adopts a child, but single persons can also adopt. If a couple is adopting, both parties have to meet the legal requirements to adopt. Both partners must also be involved in the adoption process unless they have been separated for over a year and living apart during that time. The individual who is adopting the child or adult must live in the home the child or adult will be living in.
The adopting person or persons must also complete the required training and educational courses to foster or adopt a child. They must also meet the required statutes for the adoption and complete a background check. The agency will always ensure an adoption is in the child’s interests.
In Illinois, a child of any age can be legally adopted, but a child older than 14 must consent to the adoption. Adults can also be adopted with their consent. An adopted child can be looked after by one or two adoptive parents and a biological parent.
Types of Adoption
There are several types of adoption, including the agency or individual the adoption takes place through and other factors. The types of adoption in Springfield include:
- Related and Step-Parent Adoptions: This form of adoption often occurs when one of a child’s biological parents remarries, and this step-parent wants to adopt their step-child. Related adoptions may also include a biological or by-marriage grandparent, aunt, or uncle adopting a child.
- Private and Governmental Agency Adoptions: Governmental or public adoption agencies include foster care, and there are many private adoption agencies in the state. Children in public or private agencies were often either placed up for adoption or their biological parents’ rights were terminated by the state.
- Non-Agency Private Adoptions: Some adoptions occur through individual private agreements, and biological parents voluntarily give up their parental rights. Even though these adoptions do not require the involvement of a public or private agency, there will typically be a home inspection.
- International Adoptions: International adoptions occur when parents in the state adopt a child from another country, which are complex and lengthy adoptions.
- Adult Adoptions: If an adult over the age of 18 consents and is related to the person adopting them or has lived with them for two years, they can be adopted.
Q: How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Child in Illinois?
A: Adopting a child in Illinois has different costs depending on the method of adopting. It’s essential to also look into the specific type of adoption you are considering.
If a person is adopting through a private agency, the cost of adoption is typically very high and varies based on each individual agency and the type of adoption. International adoptions through private agencies are a more costly form of adoption. Private agency costs may cover the costs for court fees, attorney fees, the birth parent’s medical costs, the cost of parenting classes for adoptive parents, and travel costs.
Adoption through the foster care system does not have any extra costs for the adoption process, only the significant cost of raising any child.
Q: What Will Disqualify You From Adopting a Child in Illinois?
A: Each private adoption agency may have its own unique requirements for adoption. If you are adopting or fostering through the foster care system, the state will perform background checks and at-home inspections. Potential grounds for disqualification include:
- A violent felony or drug felony conviction in the last five years
- A conviction of a domestic abuse, child abuse, or child neglect felony at any point
- A conviction of a crime against children at any point
An individual must also meet the basic requirements to adopt, such as being at least 18 years of age and meeting the residency requirements in Illinois.
Q: How Long Is the Adoption Process in Illinois?
A: If you are adopting or fostering through the foster system, you must complete mandatory training that takes six to 12 weeks. This is the absolute minimum the process of adoption can take, but it can take longer. Legal issues, background checks, and scheduling complications can lengthen the process.
Adoption through a private agency will depend on the timelines typical to that agency, in addition to any unique complications. These adoptions may take several months to a year or more. Adoption of international children can take two years or more.
Q: How Do I File for Adoption in Illinois?
A: A person eligible to adopt can file a petition to adopt. This form will either be for a married couple or an unmarried individual. These forms are then filed with the local court. This process is typically completed once a child is placed in a home through a private adoption agency. It may also occur when a step-parent wishes to adopt their step-child. If a child is in a foster home and their foster parents wish to adopt them, they may file a petition to adopt.
Helping You Navigate the Adoption Process
With an experienced attorney walking you through the process, you can focus on this wonderful change in your life. Contact Stange Law Firm to see how we can provide you with information and guidance during an adoption.