DIFFICULTY: Legal help required
Initial Filing Fee: $65.00. Fee waived for special needs adoption.
There are a number of different types of adoptions in Illinois based on the circumstances surrounding the individual being adopted. Illinois adoptions can be generally categorized into two broad areas: public and private adoptions. Public adoptions are adoptions conducted by state child welfare agencies while, private adoptions are those conducted by private agencies or independently by individuals.
Regardless of the type of adoption you are pursuing, the legal adoption process is started by filing a Petition for Adoption at your county Circuit Clerk’s office. It is important to note that, a Petition for Adoption cannot be filed until a child is available for adoption. This generally occurs when either the child’s biological parents have surrendered the child for adoption or the court has entered an Order terminating their parental rights.
Step1: File Petition for Adoption
Fill out a Petition for Adoption, Adoption Notice and Summons. Although there a number of online resources providing templates on how to structure the legal documents required to start the adoption process Illinois does not offer standard forms available to the public. If you feel uncertain about your ability to prepare these documents consult a private attorney or search for a self-help legal clinic or legal aid service in your area. After you have prepared the documents, bring the original signed copy of your Petition for Adoption, Adoption Notice and a Summons to the Circuit Clerk’s office at your county’s courthouse. At this point, a case file will be started, and you will need to pay the filing fees. After you have received the official file stamped documents back from the Circuit Clerk, it will be your responsibility to make sure the summonses and Adoption Notices are served by a process server on all parties.
Step 2: Attend all Court Hearings
Check for your assigned court date once you receive notification that all parties have received a summons and Adoption Notice. Usually, the process server will provide you notification that the parties have been served. It is your responsibility to make sure that the proof of service is included in the Court file. This can be done by simply mailing or hand delivering a copy of the proof of service to the Court. After the Court receives notice that the parties have been properly served a Court date is normally scheduled. Unless there are objections raised by any of the parties, the Court will enter an Interim Order of Adoption, granting the adoptive parents legal custody of the child while the adoption is pending.
Step 3. Complete Any Requests Made By the Court or an Adoption Agency
Complete any final requests made by the Court or the adoption agency in order to complete the final steps in the adoption process. This will often include post-placement visits with the adoption agency and requests for any information regarding the birthparents’ consent to adoption, if relevant. When the court is satisfied that all legal requirements have been met, a final Judgment for Adoption will be issued.