This is Dial-Law with information about adoption as it applies to
Illinois law only. If you are not a resident of Illinois, we suggest
that you contact your local county bar association.
Adoption can take place only if the birth parent or parents consent to
it or if a judge rules that the birth parent or parents are unfit to
rear the child. This applies even to the unmarried father of a child.
There are 18 grounds for a finding of unfitness against a parent. The
most commonly used grounds are:
1. Abandonment of the child.
2. Desertion of the child.
3. Failure to maintain a reasonable degree of interest, concern or
responsibility as to the child's welfare.
If you wish to adopt a child, you must file a Petition with the Clerk of
the Circuit Court. If you state that the birth parent is unfit, you must
notify the birth parent by summons served by the sheriff if the parent's
address is known, and by publication in the newspaper if the address is
unknown. The parent will have an opportunity to answer your charges in
Adoption often occurs when a parent with custody of a child marries and
the parent's spouse wants to adopt the child. In this case, both the
birth parent with custody and the new spouse must join in filing the
petition and the non-custodial parent must either consent or be found
unfit. Sometimes other relatives such as grandparents adopt a child.
Sometimes a child is placed in an adoptive home by an agency to which
the birth parent or parents surrendered it. Sometimes a child is placed
in an adoptive home directly by birth parents with the assistance of an
intermediary such as a doctor or lawyer. In both cases, the judge will
order an investigation of the adoptive home. In independent adoptions,
the adoptive family may only pay for the living expenses of birth
parents if the court gives prior approval. It is possible in Illinois
for a single person to adopt.
It is also possible to adopt an adult in Illinois. The consent of the
adult's birth parents is not required and they do not even have to be
notified of the proceeding. Only the consent of the adult who is being
adopted is needed. If the adult is not related to the persons seeking to
adopt him, he must have lived with them for more than two years before
the adoption petition is filed.
Any person 14 years of age or older being adopted must agree in writing
to the adoption and to the change of name. The judge's order for
adoption will usually provide for the change of the adoptee's name to
that of the adoptive family, but the adoptee may retain his original
surname. A new birth certificate will be issued showing the adoptive
parents as the parents of the child.
All adoption records, including court records and the original birth
certificate, are sealed and can only be opened by order of court.
However, Illinois has established a Registry to provide identifying
information to mutually consenting adult adoptees and birth parents. If
you wish more information on this Registry, contact the Illinois
Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Statistics, Springfield,