Overview of the Child Adoption Process in Illinois

Adoption proceedings in Illinois are governed by 750 ILCSĀ 50/1 et seq. An adoption is a legal process whereby a parent-child relationship is established.

The following persons, who are under no legal disability and who have resided in Illinois for at least six (6) months or service members who have been domiciled in Illinois for ninety (90) days, may petition the court to adopt a child: (1) A reputable person of legal age and of either sex, provided that if the person is married or in a civil union the spouse or partner shall be a party to the adoption proceeding or (2) a minor, by leave of court for good cause. The residence requirement does not apply to adoptions of a related child or an adoption of a child placed by an agency.

Children and adults can be adopted in Illinois. However, adult adopted persons must residence in the home of the adoption petitioner at any time for more than two (2) years continuously preceding the adoption petition or that such persons are related to each other.

The adoption petition can be filed in any county in the State. Other than related persons, the petition must be filed within thirty (30) days after the child is available for adoption. An adoption petitioner can request leave from the court to file the petition later upon showing that the failure to timely file the petition was not due to culpable negligence or willful disregard of the law. A petition to adopt a related child or an adult can be filed at any time. The petition has various requirements in terms of what is required to be in it and must be verified by the petitioner(s).

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Within ten (10) days after the filing of an adoption petition of a child other than a related child or an adult, the court must appoint an agency or person to conduct investigations into the allegations in the adoption petition, the petitioner(s) themselves, whether they are proper persons to adopt and whether the child is the proper subject of adoption, and conduct a criminal background check. The results of the investigation are presented to the court in the form of a report.

The parties to the adoption proceeding, including the child’s parents and guardian, must be personally served with the petition or if personal service cannot be had service by publication may be made. Appropriate written consents to the adoption proceeding must be obtained. As soon as practicable after the filing of an adoption petition, the court holds an interim hearing to determine the validity of any consents, to determine temporary custody of the child, and to appoint the child a guardian ad litem. Before entering judgment, the petitioner(s) and any child placing agency must file an affidavit setting forth the fees that were expended in the adoption proceeding. Six (6) months after the interim hearing, the petitioner(s) may apply for a judgment of adoption. The six-month waiting period can be waived by the court. The petitioner(s) must give notice of the hearing to the investigating person or agency and the guardian ad litem. The petitioner(s) and the child must appear in person for the hearing, unless presence is waived for good cause. At the hearing, the court may approve the adoption if all the requirements have been met. Adoption records are confidential.

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Illinois does not recognize open adoptions, which means that when parental rights are terminated the biological parent has no legal right to contact the child or visit the child.