We have written with some frequency about adoption, both about the process and its benefits. This post deals with related child adoption, where the adopting parent is someone who is already related to the child, e.g. parent, grandparent, brother, sister, stepparent … etc. See 750 ILCS 50/1. This type of adoption normally arises in the context of a stepparent adopting their spouse’s child. A knowledgeable Kane County adoption attorney can help your family withe the process.
Related child adoption gives the stepparent the same legal rights as the child’s natural parents. In other words, the stepparent steps in the same shoes as the birth parent. After the related child adoption process is complete, the stepparent may make important legal decisions on behalf of the child. Related child adoption also imposes certain legal obligations on the stepparent, similar to those of a natural parent. For example, in case of a divorce, the stepparent would have the same rights and support obligations as a birth parent.
In Illinois, related child adoption usually requires the birth parent to relinquish their rights either by consent or by a judicial determination that they are unfit parents. If the birth parent consents, related child adoption is a straightforward process. Oftentimes, a birth parent will consent to the adoption because he/she does not want to be subject to state-mandated support obligations. However, the birth parent is also relinquishing any parental rights to things like visitation and custody.