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DuPage County adoption lawyerAdopting a child in Illinois can be an incredibly joyous and rewarding event. However, adoption is also a complex process that requires patience and diligence. Having an experienced adoption attorney will help you navigate adoption law, and understanding the process before you get started will help you set realistic expectations.

Am I Eligible to Adopt?

Illinois adoption law does not discriminate on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, or marital status. As long as you are over 18 years of age, you meet Illinois residency requirements, and you are determined to be a reputable person, you may be single, married, divorced, heterosexual, gay, or lesbian. Illinois may even allow a person under the age of 18 to adopt a child depending on the circumstances. If a couple wishes to adopt and they are married, both spouses must join the petition for adoption. If you wish to adopt a child who is over 14 years of age, the child must consent to the adoption.

What Do I Need to File?

If you have established that you are eligible to adopt and the child is available for adoption, you must file a petition. This will include, but is not limited to:

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DuPage County family law attorneysAt any given time, there are more than 437,000 U.S. children living in the foster care system, with 125,000 of those children eligible for adoption. Adopting a child is a happy and joyous time for everyone in the family, but it can also be a long and complicated process. This is why children in the foster care system wait on average, four years to be adopted.

If you are thinking of adopting a child in Illinois, you should be aware of the steps in the adoption process and what exactly adopting a child entails. There are many potential legal complications that could arise from an adoption, which is why enlisting the help of a skilled Illinois adoption lawyer is highly recommended.

Filing the Petition for Adoption

As long as you are eligible to adopt a child, you may file a petition to adopt after the child becomes available for adoption. In Illinois, adults over the age of 21 can adopt a child, whether they are single or married, regardless of their sexual orientation. According to the Illinois Adoption Act, the petition should be filed within 30 days of the child becoming available for adoption and should state:

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Wheaton adoption lawyerNot everyone comes from a happy and loving family. Unfortunately, some people have children even when they know that they cannot provide the type of home environment or loving relationship a child needs. In these situations, the parents’ rights are often taken away or terminated for good, leaving the child in need. These children often have no choice other than to enter the foster care system. However, an adult sibling can petition for custody of their younger sibling if their parents’ rights have been terminated.

Adult Siblings and Related Adoptions

In Illinois, the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) oversees the operations of the foster care system within the state. A family’s first interaction with DCFS is often when a complaint is made and DCFS is sent to investigate. If the child appears to be abused or neglected or the child’s home is unsanitary, unsafe, or otherwise unacceptable, the DCFS caseworker may remove the child from the physical custody of the parents.

Before the child is placed with an unknown family, the DCFS worker will attempt to locate any adult family members that are able and willing to take care of the child. This could include grandparents, aunts, uncles, and in some cases, even siblings.

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Wheaton adoption lawyerFor many families, adoption is the option that makes the most sense when it comes to having children. There are many reasons why a couple would choose to adopt a child, whether that be because of fertility issues or because they simply want to make an addition to their family. By far, the most common question that people have when they consider adoption is, “How much does it cost?” Most people understand that adoption can be expensive, and if you are considering this option, you are likely wondering if it is feasible for your family. The cost of adoption can vary based on a variety of circumstances, many of which are in your control.

Domestic or International?

First and foremost, are you interested in a domestic or international adoption? Domestic adoptions are usually much less expensive than international adoptions. According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, the average cost of an international adoption runs anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000. International adoptions typically cost much more than domestic adoptions because of travel costs and immigration processing, in addition to the typical adoption costs such as court costs, mandatory adoption education, and legal fees.

Domestic adoptions, which are adoptions that involve American children, tend to be much more affordable than international adoptions. Domestic adoptions can be completed in many ways, including private adoptions directly from the child's biological parent(s), adoptions conducted through adoption agencies, and adoptions of children through the Illinois foster care system.

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Naperville adoption lawyerAs soon as you have made the decision that you want to adopt a child, you are then tasked with determining which type of adoption you want to pursue. There are many types of adoptions, but the first decision you must make is whether you want to adopt a child domestically or internationally. There are certain unique aspects that come along with each type of adoption, creating benefits and drawbacks to each. Deciding between a domestic and international adoption dictates how you begin the adoption process and will determine the steps taken throughout your adoption journey. Here are a few considerations that you should keep in mind when deciding between an international and domestic adoption:

Communication With the Birth Family

In the United States, very few adoptions are "closed" nowadays. There is usually some degree of "openness" in domestic adoptions, and adoptive children will typically have some form of contact with one or both of their birth parents. In some cases, the birth mother may receive periodic updates on the child and their life. In others, the birth mother may spend holidays or other special occasions with the adoptive family.

In international adoptions, birth mothers are rarely in contact with their biological children once they have been adopted. Though it is not impossible to keep in touch, contact with the birth parents typically ends once the adoption process is finalized.

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