Adoption is when an adult becomes the legal parent of another person, a child or an adult, who is not their biological child. This can happen when the person’s parents either give up their parental responsibilities to care for and make decisions for them, or when a court ends parental responsibilities of the child’s legal parents. Adopting parents are given the legal responsibility to care for and support the child.
There are 5 basic types of adoption:
- Related Adoption: One or both of the adopting parents is related to the person who is being adopted. For example, a step-parent wants to become the legal parent of their spouse’s legal child. It is usually easier for a person to adopt a child that is related to them.
- Agency Adoption: Either a child’s legal parents give the child to a licensed agency, or the court ends parental responsibilities and gives the agency the authority to place a child with adopting parents.
- Private Adoption: Neither of the adopting parents is related to the child and the placement is not made by an agency. Usually the child is given to the adopting parent right after birth. The birth parents have 72 hours after the child is born to change their minds about the adoption.
- Adoption of an Adult: A person older than 18 years is related to or has lived with one or both of the adopting parents for more than 2 years.
- Standby Adoption: This happens when a legal parent expects to die of an illness and agrees to let a certain person adopt the child. The legal parent must tell the court when to make the adoption final or it becomes final after the legal parent’s death.
Usually, there are two married adopting parents in an adoption. However, people who are single can also adopt a child. For people who are married, their spouse must be a part of the adoption process unless they have been separated and living apart for more than a year. The spouse must meet all of the same adoption requirements.
Generally, a person can adopt a child if:
- They do not have legal disability;
- They have lived in Illinois for at least 6 months, or, if they are a member of the Armed Forces, they have lived in Illinois for at least 90 days; and
- They have a good reputation.
Usually, a person must be at least 18 years old to adopt a child. If a person is under 18 and has a good reason to adopt, the court may allow it.