Under Illinois law, both single individuals and same-sex couples may petition to adopt. If married or in a civil union, same-sex couples must jointly petition the court for adoption.

How many LGBTQ couples are raising children in Illinois?

According to U.S. Census data, more than 34,000 same-sex couples in long-term relationships are living in Illinois, and 21% of them are raising children, as reported by Equality Illinois. Many same-sex couples and LGBTQ individuals become parents through adoption or foster care. Financial assistance is available to adoptive parents, including a federal Adoption Tax Credit, which may cover some of the costs.

What is the process for LGBTQ couples or individuals to adopt a child?

Single individuals or couples will be subject to a home study and must file a petition with the court. Prospective parents must be 18 years of age or older, and spouses or partners in a marriage or civil union must petition to adopt together. Every adoption agency is different, but the following steps provide a general outline of the adoption process:

  • Attend an adoption information session at an agency for general information on adoption programs and an introduction to open adoption.
  • Complete and return adoption agency paperwork, along with a registration fee in some cases.
  • Meet for a consultation with an adoption counselor to discuss your interest in adopting a child.
  • Go through the home study process. This may involve individual and couple interviews with a counselor, selection of an adoption program, home visits, a series of educational classes to prepare you for the child, and more paperwork. A home study documents your family’s home setting, backgrounds, lifestyles, and medical history. It includes fingerprinting and a background check. A home study is a legal document required for licensing as a foster parent.
  • Create a letter to introduce your family to potential birth parents. This letter serves as an introduction and may include photos.
  • Meet with expectant parents considering placing a child (match meeting).
  • Placement – a child comes to live in your home.
  • Get post-placement follow-up and support from your agency.

What is open adoption in Chicago and Bannockburn?

It is called open adoption when the process involves some type of interaction between birth parents and adoptive parents. With some agencies, birth parents select adoptive parents for their children from pre-screened candidates. Adoptive and birth families may meet and have the option to remain in contact after the child is placed. 

What are the advantages of open adoption?

Open adoption has advantages for the child, the adoptive parents, and the birth parents. Among other benefits:

  • Adopted children have access to their medical and social histories and to their biological siblings.
  • Adoptive parents have a greater ability to answer the child’s questions about where he or she came from and the knowledge that the birth parents chose adoption freely.
  • Birth parents have the reassurance of knowing the child is safe and flourishing, along with an opportunity to personally answer the child’s questions. 

What are the paths to adoption in Illinois?

The three broad categories of adoption available to individuals and couples in our state are:

  • Related or second-parent adoptions
  • Foster family conversion – adopting through the child welfare system (DCFS)
  • Unrelated placement through an agency or independent placement of an unrelated child

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