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St. Charles adoption lawyerAdoption can be a wonderful way of expanding your family. Some people may legally adopt a child who is related to them or they may choose to adopt someone unrelated to them, either domestically or internationally. Through a legal process, a person who is 18 or older can become the legal parent of an individual who is not his or her biological child. There are several types of adoption in Illinois. Related adoption occurs when at least one of the adoptive parents is related to the child who is being adopted. For example, the adoptee can be a niece or a nephew, or it can be a stepchild in a second marriage. Although this kind of adoption is typically not as complex, there are still procedures you must follow. An experienced family law attorney can help you successfully navigate this life-changing endeavor. 

Steps to Becoming a Family Unit

Besides organizing the necessary paperwork and forms that adoptive parents must submit, they should also make sure their homes are in order before their child arrives. In addition, soon-to-be parents must prepare themselves emotionally and mentally. If a couple has other children, there will be a period of adjustment for them as well. 

Here are a few practical ways that prospective parents and siblings can help make the adoption transition easier:

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Kane County family law attorneysAdoption is a wonderful way to expand a family and give a child a loving home. The road to achieving this dream can be a long process, but well worth it. In certain situations, a couple may wish to adopt a relative if the child’s biological parents die or are unable to care for the child. In other cases, a person may want to adopt a stepchild after getting remarried. The procedures for related adoptions are different than traditional domestic or international adoptions, so it is important to learn the requirements before embarking on this journey.   

How Are Related Adoptions Different From Other Adoptions?

Unlike domestic or international adoptions, related (also called “kinship”) and stepparent adoptions are typically handled in a more streamlined process in the courts. In the majority of cases, background checks, family investigations, and home visits by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) are not required. To initiate a relative or stepparent adoption, all of the following must be true:

  • The stepparent relationship must be legally established (the stepparent’s marriage to the child’s birth parent is valid);
  • The child consents to the adoption, if he or she is at least 14 years old; and
  • The child’s other parent consents to the adoption and termination of his or her parental rights, or such rights are terminated by a judge.

In a relative or stepparent adoption, the other biological parent’s rights must be terminated before the stepparent can legally adopt his/her spouse’s child. If the other parent contests the adoption, grounds for terminating the other’s parental rights must be proven. Possible grounds can include the following:

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Kane County adoption lawyerMany couples choose adoption as a way to expand their family if they cannot have biological children of their own. On the other side of the subject, some parents choose to give up their child for adoption if they cannot adequately provide for the child’s needs.

Regardless of the reasons for an adoption, it is one of the biggest decisions that anyone will make in their lifetime. In some situations, an adoption can be contested. In the majority of cases, this happens when the biological father does not know about the child until the adoption process already started, or in which a biological father changes his mind about the adoption while it is in progress. 

Consent and Best Interest Hearings 

In cases where an adoption is contested, all involved parties must attend a consent hearing in court at which time a judge will listen to evidence presented by both sides. For instances when the biological father contests an adoption, he does not give consent to the adoption and he declares that he is willing and able to assume legal responsibility of the child. During the hearing, the father can show examples of his actions throughout the pregnancy, as well as after the child’s birth. For example, pictures or documentation of him going to doctor appointments or at the hospital after the birth, etc. However, if the biological father does not provide child support or contact the child for more than a year, he may lose his right to contest the adoption on the grounds of abandonment.

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