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Posted on in Adoption

IL adoption lawyerGrandmothers and grandfathers play an important part in a child’s life. However, some grandparents go above and beyond the typical grandparent role. They take on the responsibilities usually expected of a child’s mother and father. Sometimes, grandparents step in because the child’s parents have passed away. Other times, grandparents are forced to assume parenting responsibilities because the child’s parents suffer from addiction or mental illness. Whatever the reason, grandparents in this situation may be interested in formally adopting their grandchild. Grandparent adoption is the legal process through which a grandparent becomes a child’s legal guardian. Depending on the circumstances, adopting a grandchild can be a major legal undertaking.

Illinois Law Regarding Grandparent Adoptions

Children can only have two legal guardians – typically their parents. If a grandparent wishes to adopt his or her grandchild, the child’s parent may need to relinquish his or her parental rights. If both of the child’s parents realize that grandparent adoption is best for their child, they may be willing to voluntarily give up their parental rights. This allows the grandparent(s) to step in and assume the role of the parent(s).

However, many parents are not willing to surrender their parental rights. In this case, the grandparents may take legal action through the court to have the parents’ parental rights terminated. Illinois courts seek to preserve the parent-child relationship whenever possible, so there is a very high standard of proof needed to have a parent’s rights terminated. The court may terminate a parent’s parental rights if the parent is considered “unfit.” A parent may be considered unfit if he or she:

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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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