When a stepparent attempts to adopt a child in Illinois, the adoption process is much easier than trying to adopt a stranger. However, although the process is streamlined, there are still certain requirements that must be met in order to adopt the related child.
If you would like to adopt a child in Illinois, you need to be free from any legal disabilities (over the age of 18) and reside within Illinois continuously for a period of at least six months. If you meet these requirements, you must file a petition with the family court to obtain permission to adopt the child. If anyone is required to consent to the adoption, they must be served with notice of the hearing, including a child’s legal representative, if the court has already appointed one.
Why Do Most Stepparents Adopt Children?
If a child’s actual biological parent fails to demonstrate an interest in the child’s life, it is best for the child to embrace a stepparent who will be there and provide for the child. In most stepparent adoptions, the biological parent fails to consistently visit the child and support the child (emotionally, financially and medically).
Adopting a Stepchild
The process is streamlined because there are no waiting periods, home visits or studies. Often, the only difficulty arises when attempting to obtain consent of the stepchild’s other biological parent.
Like with any adoption, consent from the birth parents is required. If the other biological parent refuses to consent to the adoption, it will not go forward. However, there are some statutory options that may permit the adoption to go forward. Statutory provisions include:
- Failure to maintain a reasonable degree of interest or responsibility in the child’s life or welfare;
- Desertion for more than three months prior to the filing of the adoption; physical abuse or neglect;
- Failure to protect the child under certain circumstances; or
- Failure to make a good faith effort to pay expenses related to the birth of the child or financial support to the child.
Even though these options are available, you should always consider the effect the adoption will have on the child, especially if the child’s biological parent is still alive and has been in contact with the child. Adoption terminates a parent’s rights with respect to the child being adopted. Obviously, the less contact the child has with the biological parent refusing consent, the easier it will be to perform the stepparent adoption.
Contact an Adoption Attorney
If you are considering the adoption of a stepchild and one of the parents is refusing to consent to the adoption, you should contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney who understands Illinois adoption law and will assist you every step of the way in accomplishing the adoption of a stepchild.