Adoption is a legal procedure which establishes a new family relationship between the adopting parents and the child who is being adopted. After the completion of the adoption process, the adopting parties have the same rights, duties and responsibilities as the child as the birth-parents would have had.
There are four basic categories of adoption: the adoption of a related child; an adoption in which the child is placed by a licensed adoption agency; a non-related adoption in which the child is not placed by a licensed adoption agency; and the adoption of an adult.
Some general rules apply to adoption proceedings. Although a single or divorced person can adopt a child, both the husband and wife must join in petition if there is a marriage. This is true even if one of the adopting parents is the birth-parent f the child. A child who is over the age of fourteen ears must consent to the adoption.
After completion of the adoption, a new birth certificate is normally issued for the child. The new birth record will show the adoptive parents as the mother and father at the time of birth of the child. The original birth certificate is placed into a sealed file that can be examined only with the permission of the Court.
In a related adoption, at least one of the adoptive parents is related by blood or marriage to the child. An example of this type of adoption occurs when the mother and father of the child are divorced from each other and the mother has remarried and wishes to adopt the child with her new spouse. The birth-father of the child must either consent to the adoption or must be found to be an unfit person by the Court. The adoption laws list a number of reasons why a Court can determine that the birth-parent is an unfit parent. Among those reasons are the failure of the parent to sow a reasonable degree of interest, concern or responsibility as to the welfare of the child or the abandonment of the child by the birth-parent.
Other related adoptions may include adoptions by grandparents, uncles and aunts, or brothers or sisters.
Agencies which are licensed by the State of Illinois may place children for adoption with parents who have been licensed to take children into their homes. The agency will interview the parents and examine their home before placing a child with them. It is not necessary to be rich or to have a large home in order to adopt a child. The commitment and love of the adoptive parents are important factors which are considered by the agency. The needs of the specific child and the ability of the adoptive parents to meet those needs are always carefully considered by the agency in choosing a home for the child.
When a birth-parent decides to place a child for adoption with an agency, the parent signs a document which surrenders the child to the agency for the purposes of permitting the agency to place the child in the home of the adoptive parents. The surrender signed by the parent ends that parent’s legal relationship to the child. If only one parent signs a surrender, the other parent must be found to be unfit by the Court before the non-consenting parent’s rights can be terminated.
The child is usually in the home of the adoptive parents for at least six months before the final order is entered which completes the adoption process. This period is designed to ensure that the new relationship is successful. If the adjustment is not satisfactory, or if the adoptive parents to not wish to complete the adoption, the agency will remove the child from the original adoptive home and make a new adoptive plan for the child.
UNRELATED NON-AGENCY ADOPTIONS
In this type of adoption, the child is adopted by unrelated parents and no state-licensed agency is involved in making the placement. The adopting parents are not permitted to pay any money to the mother in return for her agreeing to the adoption. Children cannot be bought or sold legally in this state. The adoptive parents can pay only the medical expenses connected with the birth of the child.
The biological mother of the child must consent to the adoption. Her consent cannot be taken until at least three days after the child’s birth. This is to ensure that she has had time to recover from the physical stress of the birth process. Once a parent consents to the adoption of the child, and the consent is properly witnessed by a judge or authorized agency, the consent cannot be revoked. The biological father of the child must also either consent to the adoption or be found to be an unfit person whose consent is not necessary.
An investigation of the home of the adoptive parents is conducted after the child is placed with them. The adoption will not be completed until six months after the placement of the child in the home of the adoptive parents. This period is to ensure that the home is suitable for the child and that the physical and emotional needs of the child are being met.
An adult can be adopted in Illinois. One of the adopting parents must be related to the child or else the person adopted must have lived in the home of the adopting parents for at least two consecutive years. The adult must consent to being adopted.