Six Types of Adoptions in Illinois

When considering adoption, individuals may not realize the options available to establish a permanent family.  

In Illinois, adoption may take several different forms, each with their own restrictions and requirements. Kogut & Wilson offers an overview of the forms of Illinois adoptions to aid prospective adopting parents in determining which path makes the most sense for their family.   

Agency Adoption 

In an agency adoption, children are placed with adoptive parents that have been interviewed and vetted by an agency. Potential adoptive parents can file a Petition for Adoption and be granted an interim order of custody during the pendency of the case.

Generally, an agency adoption cannot finalize until the child has lived with the adopting parents for at least six months. However, the adoption process may begin during this time period.  

Additionally, agency adoptions require that:  

  • The process take place through a private or public adoption agency licensed through the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). 
  • The legal parents’ parental rights must be terminated by law or willingly relinquished. 
  • If only one legal parent waives his/her rights, a judge must find the other parent unfit before his/her rights can be terminated. 

Private Adoption 

Private adoption occurs when legal parents directly place their child with an adoptive family without the assistance of an agency. Common private adoptions include step-parent, second parent or other family related adoptions though, the adoptive parents need not be related by blood or marriage to proceed with a private adoption.  

The requirements for a private adoption differ depending on whether the potential adoptive parents are related or unrelated to the minor child. In all cases, potential adoptive parents must undergo background checks in the form of: 

  • Fingerprinting 
  • A review of the child abuse and neglect tracking system

Unrelated adoptive parents may also have to undergo a home study by a licensed agency. 

As with other types of adoption, the legal parents must either voluntarily consent, waive or surrender their parental rights, or their parental rights must be terminated as part of the adoption proceeding. 

International Adoption 

In international adoption cases, adoptive parents permanently and legally adopt a child born outside the United States. This type of adoption usually takes place through an agency and involves two steps:  

  1. The adoptive parents generally must travel to the child’s origin country to finalize the proceedings and then transport the child to their residence in the United States.  
  2. The adoptive parents may also choose to undergo an additional adoption process in Illinois once they have returned with the child. 

Because of the complexity of international adoption, prospective adoptive parents should speak with an experienced attorney to determine additional country and state-specific requirements.  

Adoption of an Adult 

Illinois permits adult adoption so long as the adult consents to his or her adoption, or if unable to consent due to incapacity, as long as a Guardian Ad Litem consents on the adult’s behalf. Additionally, the adult must either be related to one of the adopting parents or have lived in their home for at least two consecutive years.  

Once the adoption is finalized, the adult will be issued a new birth certificate including the adoptive parents and may also choose to change his or her given name. Adult adoption officially terminates the legal relationship between the adult and the birth parents. 

Adult adoptions take place for many reasons, including: 

  • Long-term care for the adult due to physical or mental incapacitation 
  • Formalizing an existing relationship between the adult with a non-relative family member, such as a step-parent 
  • Re-establishing the legal relationship between the adult and a biological parent whose rights have been previously terminated 

Standby Adoption 

Standby adoptions involve a legal parent arranging for a specified individual to claim custody of the child at a future point in time.  

These adoptions often occur when a legal parent has an existing terminal illness and seeks to transfer his or her parental rights to another person following the legal parent’s death.  

The standby adoption process involves: 

  • The legal parents either designating a time to finalize the adoption or waiting to transfer custody until their death.  
  • The court officially appointing this person to take custody of the child once the time comes.  

Before the adoption is final, the legal parents retain parental rights of the child. As in other types of adoption, parental rights of all legal parents must be addressed before the adoption can finalize. 

Foster Adoption 

Foster adoption in Illinois occurs when an individual or a couple adopts a child who has been adjudicated a ward of the state. Illinois’ foster care system, governed by DCFS, requires that the individual(s) become licensed foster parents or be related to the foster child.   

After temporary custody is granted: 

  • DCFS caseworkers will visit the home generally once per month to support the foster family and child.  
  • A caseworker will work with the foster family throughout the adoption process, which must be approved by the court and DCFS.  

Once adoption is finalized, the adoptive parent will be legally responsible for the child.  

The process to become a licensed foster parent and adopt typically takes three to six months to finalize and is free in Illinois. DCFS will also pay for all legal services associated with the adoption as long as the foster parent selects an attorney that is a part of the Statewide Illinois Adoption Attorney Panel. 

While there are many options to adopt, not all may work for your family. Having a team of adoption professionals by your side ensures that the process runs smoothly.  

Contact Cailee J. Alderman to find out which adoption option works best for your family.  


Need Help Through This Tough Time?