Adopting a Child Who Is Related to You
Sometimes, adoptions are able to remain in the family. If a parent wants to surrender his or her parental rights, it is becoming more and more common for family members to adopt nieces, nephews or other children of relatives, instead of going through the entire foster process. The process is much the same as it would be in adopting an unrelated child, but there are feelings and relationships that must be considered where such things might not exist in an adoption involving strangers.
The Issue of Parental Rights
What many prospective parents forget is that both parents must consent to abrogation of their parental rights, not just one. Even if the biological mother or father is not involved in their children’s lives, they must voluntarily surrender their parental rights in order for the adoption to go forward, or they must be shown to be unreachable. Illinois law states that a parent abrogates parental rights if they cannot be located after appropriate due diligence, including publication in newspapers and other methods.
Even then, there may be hurdles in terminating a biological parent’s rights. Courts, as a rule, do not wish to allow adoptions where there is no parent to step into the shoes of the person whose rights are being terminated. If you are single, for example, you may get pushback from the courts. Also, it is required that a husband and wife file jointly. If do not comply with the law, your application may be denied, at least initially.
If your relative’s biological parents have given up their parental rights, the next step is to have a home study done by a licensed child welfare agency. Home studies are essentially pre-adoption training, conducted by these agencies, usually under the aegis of the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS). Until a home study is completed, adoptive parents do not actually have any permanent status. They are classified as interim guardians.
Even though paperwork must be completed for the initial application, an adoption agency (or DCFS) will usually ask for more. Items such as a marriage license, tax returns, Social Security and immigration status are typically requested, but many agencies will also ask more personal questions. Some require essays on why a couple might reach the decision to adopt, or why they would be a good fit when the child’s biological parents would not be. Home studies can be a significant source of anxiety for some, but unless truly egregious issues appear, most of the time, potential adoptive parents are approved. The objective of DCFS and most adoption agencies is not to cause problems or delays, but to ensure that children are placed with people who can be effective, loving guardians.
An Attorney Can Help With the Process
Adoptions are complex at the best of times, and familial relationships can make the process even more intimidating. Having a knowledgeable attorney on your side can set your mind at ease. Our experienced and dedicated Kane County adoption lawyers understand that your primary objective is the child’s welfare, and we will do our very best to ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible for both you and them. Contact us today to discuss your options.