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Adopting an Abandoned or Deserted Child

 Posted on September 19, 2017 in Adoption

DuPage County adoption attorneysAdoption can be a wonderful and happy event for everyone involved. However, there are times when the process becomes quite complex, especially when an adoption involves a parent who ostensibly could assert parental rights, yet is nowhere to be found. There is a very specific process to go through before a child with an absentee parent (or two absentee parents) may be adopted into a family where he or she will receive the kind of attention he or she deserves.

Abandonment and Desertion

In most situations, a child is presumed to have two parents, but this is not always the case. However, this may be untrue in certain cases. Illinois allows paternity to be legally established immediately following the birth of a child, by one of four methods:

  1. The mother and father are married either at a child’s conception, birth, or both;
  2. Both parents sign and complete a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form;
  3. An Administrative Paternity Order is entered by the appropriate state agency; or
  4. A family court judge enters a judicial order regarding paternity.

If none of these apply around the time of the child’s birth, the father may not be listed on the birth certificate. Some fathers are omitted through honest mistake, and may take steps to remedy the situation. However, others may willfully refuse to take responsibility for a child.

Mere refusal to acknowledge paternity does not constitute abandonment, but it can be one brick in the proverbial wall. Illinois law defines child abandonment or desertion as any conduct that demonstrates an uncompromising willingness to surrender all parental rights. However, in an adoption proceeding, it is the responsibility of the potential adoptive parent to prove the birth parent or parents’ abandonment of the child.

The Process

In order to adopt a child from absentee parents, the potential parent must file a petition for adoption that alleges the birth parent or parents are unfit. Unfitness is not limited to situations that involve abandonment, but it is one of the most common reasons for such a petition.

The birth parents, regardless of any evidence of unfit parenting, must be served a copy of the adoption petition and be given a chance to refute the allegations. If the parents cannot be located, service may be attempted via publication, which entails placing the announcement in a newspaper or newspapers near the birth parents’ last known address. The objective is to give the birth parents the best possible chance of seeing the petition announcement. Illinois, as in  most states, afford quite a bit of protection to parental rights. Most of the time, the prevailing mindset is that a child belongs with his or her parents, and it takes considerable evidence to change that view.

In order for the adoption to succeed, the court must find clear and convincing evidence of the birth parent orr parents’ unfitness. The adoptive parent must be able to show that remaining with the birth parents would not be in the child’s best interest because the birth parents are unwilling or unable to care for the child. The grounds to establish unfitness are laid out in Illinois law, and if one or more grounds may be proved, the chance that the adoption will succeed is high.

Contact an Adoption Attorney

Any adoption can be a complex undertaking and it is important to have an advocate on your side who understands the law. Contact an experienced adoption lawyer in Lombard for guidance with your case. Call 630-426-0196 for a confidential consultation at A. Traub & Associates today.



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