The Adoption Network states that 1 out of 25 United States families have an adopted child. Although this may seem like many families have been through the adoption process, only 2% of families have adopted a child. This means that the adoption process is a mystery to many people.
Domestic adoptions are governed by state law. In Illinois, the eligibility for adoption, as well as the adoption process, falls under 750 ILCS 50 (Illinois Adoption Act).
Eligibility to Adopt
Before we jump into the process of adoption, here are a few general guidelines to adoption in Illinois.
Single individuals, unmarried couples, and married couples are eligible to adopt
Married couples must go through the adoption process jointly, unless they have been separated for 12 months or more
Parties seeking adoption must have been living in Illinois for a continuous six month period
This may be waived in the adoption of a relative
The party seeking to adopt must not be legally disabled
Domestic Infant Adoption
The most common type of domestic adoption is infant adoption. Oftentimes, a pregnant woman works with an adoption agency as she chooses to place the newborn for adoption. The birth mother must give her legal consent for the adoption. Each state varies on when the consent may be given. In Illinois, the birth mother may give her consent no less than 72 hours after the birth. Once the consent is given, it is irrevocable. Depending on the birth father’s situation, consent may be needed from him as well.
When going through DCFS for adoption, you must first be licensed as a foster parent. This will involve a screening process which includes a home study. We will go further in depth in the home study process in a later blog. Once an adoptable child is placed with you, you may begin the adoption process.
Depending on each agency's policies, the adoption process will vary. What is likely to remain the same is the process of a home study.
When a child has been placed with you and you make the decision to adopt, the first step will be to file an adoption petition with the court in your jurisdiction. Be prepared to attend multiple hearings in front of a judge to finalize the adoption. Whether you choose to go through DCFS or a private agency, the adoption process can take six months or more.
Hampleman Law, LLC is here to help navigate you and your family through the stressful and exciting process of Illinois adoption. Please contact our office today for an initial, no-cost consultation.