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Posted on in Family Law

Algonquin family law attorney adoption

If you are divorced with kids and remarry someone who also has children, it is sometimes referred to as a “blended family.” As the kids’ stepparent, you may have experienced just how rewarding it can be to grow your relationship with your stepchildren and solidify your new family unit. In some cases, it may be a good idea to take the relationship one step further by legally adopting your stepchild or stepchildren. Illinois law outlines a process for doing so, and an adoption attorney can guide you through the necessary steps.

When Is a Stepparent Adoption Possible in Illinois?

If you are legally married to a child’s biological or legal custodial parent, you may be eligible to adopt the child. Illinois law treats stepparent adoptions similarly to adoptions by other relatives, such as grandparents and siblings, meaning that the process is simplified when compared to an agency adoption or independent, non-related adoption. For example, you do not need to establish six months of Illinois residency, and you will likely not be required to undergo a home investigation. However, you will need to file a petition for adoption in court, as well as obtain the necessary consent.

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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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