Adoption is both exciting and intimidating. It is a profound process to take people who were previously unrelated and make them legally identical to a natural parent and child. Understandably, the adoption process is not something that the law takes lightly. This is especially true for adoptions that cross state or national borders, raising broader jurisdictional issues, or adoptions that involve the termination of someone else's parental rights.
While the process can be complex and arduous, it is surely worth it for the lifetime of happiness and stability that the adoption can bring to you as parents and to the child. Our attorneys at The Law Offices of Jeffery M. Leving, Ltd., are proud to help growing families in Chicago and throughout Illinois navigate the complexities of the adoption process. We are recognized among the nation's premier family law firms, with experience in intense and complicated cases.
"We must remember that the purpose of adoption is to provide a home for a child, not a child for a home."
— Illinois Supreme Court Justice James D. Hipple, in re Petition of Doe
Experienced Representation In Illinois Adoption Law
In Illinois, adoption is the creation of a parent-child relationship by way of court intervention. It begins with the prospective parent or parents filing a petition in the appropriate Illinois circuit court and the court appointing a representative — called a guardian ad litem — to look after the child's interests during the process. Parents who want to adopt a child outside of their extended family must also undergo a home study to determine their parental fitness. The child's natural parents must either consent to the termination of their rights or be adjudicated unfit under the family laws of their particular state.
We are available to assist in many types of adoption:
- Stepparent adoption — Although it may be largely symbolic if you have already assumed a parenting role and adopted the child in your heart, formal adoption of a stepchild confers all the parental rights and obligations, including inheritance rights and child support, as if the child were your biological offspring. In many cases, the natural father or mother agrees to relinquish his or her parental rights. However, we are prepared to represent you in contested proceedings.
- International adoption — We can assist you in adopting from a country that is a signatory to the Hague Convention. There are many legal requirements, such as working with an adoption agency approved by the U.S. State Department, working with the U.S. consulate in that country to verify that the child is eligible for adoption, and obtaining all appropriate approvals from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Many parents also pursue a "second adoption" under Illinois law as further protection of their parental status.
- Grandparent and third-party adoption — Many times, grandparents or adult siblings end up caring for a child because the parents are deceased, missing, incarcerated, mentally ill, drug-addicted or otherwise unfit or unavailable. After serving ably as caretakers in a continuous capacity, those family members can petition for adoption. While the courts are generally favorable to family members who step up to take on the responsibilities (as opposed to scattering children to foster care), third-party adoption may require voluntary or involuntary termination of parental rights of the child's biological mother and/or father.
We Can Help With Domestic And International Adoptions
In addition to the matters mentioned above, we can also advise clients in matters related to private adoption or surrogacy. You should always consult an experienced lawyer because of the many potential conflicts or administrative tangles that may arise in any adoption.
Our Chicago adoption attorneys have ample experience handling complex cases in Illinois and throughout the United States. Contact our office by phone at 312-702-0862 or contact us online to schedule a private consultation.