Adoption establishes a person as the legal parent of a child, with all the rights and responsibilities of a natural parent. It is only possible to adopt a child when living parents have either voluntarily surrendered their parental rights or when the parental rights have been terminated by the court. Adoption is permanent and lifelong.

How many children are adopted in Illinois?

Over the past decade, more than 15,000 children have been adopted across the state, as reported by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Of the 17,920 children currently in foster care within Illinois, 3,347 are waiting to be adopted, as stated by AdoptUSKids. Under state law, all Illinois agencies providing adoption services must be licensed by DCFS. All out-of-state or foreign adoption agencies must be otherwise licensed, registered, or approved by DCFS.

Are there different ways to adopt in Chicago or North Shore?

Usually, two married parents adopt a child, but single people can also adopt. Children can be adopted in several different ways in Illinois:

  • Kinship adoption: This type of adoption occurs when one or both of the adopting parents are related to the child. For example, a stepfather or stepmother may want to become the legal parent of a spouse’s child, particularly if the natural parent is “absentee.”
  • Private adoption: This occurs when placement is not made by an agency and neither adopting parent is related to the child. There are various types of private adoptions, including identified adoption, in which the birth and adoptive parents find each other outside of an agency, and independent adoption, in which the birth parents select the adoptive parents and place the child directly with them. In most cases, the child is given to the adoptive parents right after birth, and the birth parents have 72 hours to change their minds – even if the adopting parents paid for pregnancy and birth expenses.
  • Agency adoption: The legal parents of the child may give the child to a licensed public or private adoption agency. In some cases, the court may terminate the parental rights of the natural parents and give an agency authority to place the child with adoptive parents.
  • Standby adoption: A legal parent suffering from a terminal illness who wants to plan for a minor child may agree to allow a particular person to adopt the child. Unless the legal parent tells the court otherwise, the adoption becomes final after his or her death.
  • Adoption of an adult: It is possible to adopt a person over the age of 18. The most common reasons to do this are for inheritance purposes and to formalize an existing parent-child relationship. It may also be done to provide perpetual care for an adult with a disability or diminished capacity. Specific requirements must be met to adopt an adult in Illinois.

What is involved in adopting through DCFS?

To adopt a child through DCFS, first you must pass an initial screening, which includes a criminal background check and a visit to your home. The next step is to become licensed as a foster parent so DCFS can place a child in your home. This requires some training. Licensing usually takes one to two months. Once you are licensed, DCFS works with you to find a match for your current family. Typically, six months after a child or children have been placed in the home, DCFS and the court approve the adoption.

What rights do birth parents have after adoption?

Before a child can be adopted, the birth parents’ rights are legally terminated. They have no more legal rights to the child. Adoptive parents can decide if they want to allow further contact between the birth parents and the child.

What are the qualifications for adopting a child in Illinois?

Most adoptive parents are married couples, but single individuals can also adopt. For someone married to adopt, that person’s spouse must be part of the adoption process and must meet the same requirements. The exception to this rule is if the spouses have been separated and living apart for more than a year. You can adopt a child in Illinois if:

  • You are 18 or older (the court may allow a younger person to adopt under particular circumstances for a good reason);
  • You have lived in the state for at least six months (or for 90 days if you are in the military);
  • You do not have a legal disability; and
  • You have a good reputation and can pass a criminal background check.

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