Thinking About Adoption
In the busy society in which we live today, many couples are putting off having children until later in their lives because of their lifestyles, careers, or other factors, and are instead turning to adoption. While the adoption process has come a long way since its initial stages, it still requires a lot of patience, persistence, and financial means. Potential adoptive parents need to know what to anticipate during the sometimes long journey that is adopting a child.
What Laws Govern Adoption in Illinois?
The general guidelines for adoption in the state of Illinois are mapped out under the Illinois Adoption Act. It addresses not only the steps through which a potential adoptive parent can expect to go, but also addresses the issues of determining the fitness of the biological parent.
The Illinois adoption investigation process looks at several different criteria to determine the suitability of the potential adopting parents. The “character, reputation, health, and general standing in the community of the petitioners” are key focuses of this process. As one can imagine, assessing the character or reputation of a potential adoptive parent means that the adoptive parent is opening themselves up to a fairly invasive process, one in which social workers will reach out to their families, friends, community members, and professional contacts to learn more about their character and reputation.
Similarly, the potential adoptive parents’ general health will be assessed to determine whether they are mentally and physically fit to take care of a child. Finally, a background criminal check will be done to ensure the potential parents are law-abiding citizens with no history that would make them unfit to take care of a child.
Know the Laws of Your County
Every county in the state has a separate set of legal and filing requirements, and it is important to go to their website or directly to the court itself to know what is required in that jurisdiction.
For example, the website for the Circuit Court of Cook County maps out the rules regulating adoptions in that county, which include the following:
- Illinois Adoption Act: governs all adoption proceedings in Illinois courts;
- Case law: includes decisions from the United States Supreme Court and lower federal courts, as well as from the Illinois Supreme Court and the Illinois Appellate Courts on adoption issues;
- The Rules of the Circuit Court of Cook County: outlines procedures to be followed in the Circuit Court of Cook County; and
- Indian Child Welfare Act, 25 USC§1901 et seq: a federal law to which certain adoptions of Native American children are subject.
It also lists out the four types of adoption proceedings that exist in that county. It cautions that each of the four types of adoption proceedings require different procedures, court forms, and documents. The four types are related, agency, private, and adult. It will be important to know which category a potential adoptive parent falls under before filing with the court.
Know Who Your Advocates Are
In Cook County, the Department of Adoption & Child Custody Advocacy performs investigations and sends written reports to the Circuit Court. These reports are based on investigations into independent adoption placements, contested adoptions, custody and visitation issues, conflicts in domestic relations and cases of parentage, and probate.
A home study is conducted to determine that a placement of a child in a home is sensible from a physical and emotional standpoint.. The goal is to determine if the potential adoptive parents can provide a safe and healthy home environment for the child. The information obtained includes: medical, social, financial, and criminal information. As to be expected, the main objective of the agency is to determine whatever is in the best interests of the child in adoption.
Resources in Illinois
The adoption process can be an exciting and overwhelming experience. If you are considering adoption and want to know more about the process, do not hesitate to contact the skilled Illinois adoption attorneys at Sullivan, Taylor & Gumina, P.C. to help you today.