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Posted on in Children

b2ap3_thumbnail_child-abuse-signs_20190130-181753_1.jpgA parent’s worst nightmare is their child being hurt in any way. This includes various forms of abuse such as physical, sexual, or emotional. It can be difficult to detect or prove that your child is being abused, especially if you believe the abuser is your child’s other parent. Here we will discuss signs of potential abuse and what you can do to protect your child.

Detecting Child Abuse

Knowing whether your child is suffering from abuse can be very difficult, especially since the accusation is so severe. Many children will not open up about the situation out of fear of their abuser, or they have built a mental block to protect themselves. Physical evidence can also be hard to use as proof. A couple of bruises are usually not enough evidence since children often get bruises playing with their friends. While it can be difficult to prove abuse based solely on suspicion, a combination of signs can provide enough evidence to be sure your child is being abused.

Signs of Physical Abuse

  • Bruises, welts, or cuts that the child has no explanation for;
  • Injury marks with a pattern from an object, such as a belt;
  • Avoiding physical contact; and
  • Consistent wearing of long-sleeve or baggy clothing to cover marks.

Signs of Emotional Abuse

  • Constantly worrying about doing something wrong;
  • Depression and low self-esteem; and
  • Distancing from close friends or family members.

How to Help Your Child

Discovering your child is a victim of abuse is devastating and infuriating to any parent, which can result in a myriad of reactions, some good and some bad. If your child tells you they are experiencing abuse, it is important to remain calm and process what they have disclosed to you. It can be difficult to refrain from interrogating your child about every detail of the abuse, but this forced discussion can lead them to relive the abuse and scare them from telling you anything more. It is crucial to reassure your child they did nothing wrong. Many victims, especially children, will blame themselves for the abuse. Once you have comforted your child, contact the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services for assistance.

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DuPage County stepparent adoption attorneyBecoming a step-parent can be an overwhelming life change, whether you have biological children of your own or not. Approximately 40 percent of American families are blended families, making stepparenting a common occurrence. It can be a challenge to balance the desire to befriend your spouse’s child and earn their affection with the need to parent them when the time comes. Many stepparents form strong bonds with their stepchildren, and they should be sure to understand their rights and legal obligations both during their marriage and if divorce ever enters the picture. 

Throughout the Marriage

  • Discipline: Many stepparents leave discipline to their spouse, especially when they first join the family, but as time goes on, more and more responsibility can get placed in their hands. It is important to have a conversation with your spouse about parenting expectations. Though it may not feel like it, you must remember that discipline is intended to benefit the child, and as a parent, the child’s safety should be your first priority.
  • Education: Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), stepparents are allowed to receive and review their stepchildren’s school records. FERPA defines a parent as "an individual acting as a parent in the absence of a parent or guardian,” thus giving stepparents educational rights in regards to their stepchild.
  • Traveling: There is no law stating that stepchildren and stepparents cannot travel alone together; however, it is important to have both biological parents’ permission, unless the stepparent has adopted the stepchild and become their legal parent. There are also consent forms that can be signed to ensure no legal action is taken against the stepparent.

After Divorce

  • Custody/Visitation: Stepparents and stepchildren often share relationships similar to biological parents and their children, especially when this relationship existed for most of the child’s life. If the biological parent decides that the stepparent cannot have visitation rights after divorce, there is often not much that a court can do, unless the stepparent has formally adopted the stepchild. Once the divorce is finalized, a stepparent will lack the biological and legal ties to the child that guarantee parental rights. A stepparent does typically have the right to request visitation, but the court may not grant visitation rights.
  • Solidifying Legal Rights: The only way to ensure legal rights of the child is through adoption. Many stepparents decide to adopt their stepchild, especially if the child’s other biological parent is no longer in the picture. It is easier to adopt the child before divorce, because the biological parents’ permission is required for an adoption.

Contact a Lombard Adoption and Divorce Attorney

Blending families and learning to be a good stepparent can be challenging tasks. Stepchildren often feel like one’s own children, and the possibility of losing the connection with them after divorce can be unthinkable. Our DuPage County family law attorneys can help you address your legal concerns regarding adoption, divorce, or other issues regarding your stepchildren. Contact us at 630-426-0196.

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Posted on in Children

related adoption, foster parent, Illinois family law attorneyAdoption can be a wonderful opportunity, and one that is particularly appealing to adoptive parents who are actually related to the child. This type of adoption is known as a related adoption or a kinship adoption, and it is among the common method of adoption in the state. In fact, related adoptions are preferred by state agencies, as they are required to give preference to relatives when making adoptive placements for children in their custody. Adoption laws in Illinois specifically require state-sponsored agencies to make reasonable efforts to identify and locate a child&s relative when out-of-home placement is needed.

Federal and State Compensation

In order for a state to be eligible to receive assistance from the federal government for foster care and adoption programs, federal law, under the Social Security Act, requires that agencies within the state "consider giving preference to an adult relative over a non-related caregiver when determining placement for a child, provided that the relative caregiver meets all relevant state child protection standards."

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Posted on in Children

Adoption in Illinois, Lombard Family Law Attorney, Safe Haven LawIt is easy to understand how an expectant mother may feel overwhelmed by her circumstances. Social, family, and financial pressures as well as internal insecurities can all certainly contribute to her feeling that she may be unprepared and unable to properly care for a child. Since 2001, more than 70 infants have been illegally abandoned in Illinois, many presumably by mothers struggling to deal with the challenges of raising a baby. However, in the same time period more than 100 infants have been legally relinquished at designated Illinois locations, allowing them the opportunity to be placed with foster families or couples seeking adoption.

The Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act was enacted in 2001 to provide a safe and legal alternative for parents who may feel they have no other options. Commonly known as a Safe Haven Law, the legislation identifies hospitals, emergency facilities, police stations, and staffed fire stations as "safe havens" at which an infant under 30 days old may be relinquished without the threat of abandonment charges. The relinquishing parents are encouraged but not required to provide medical and family information, or they may choose to do so at a later time or by mail in order to maintain a level of anonymity. The baby is then taken to an appropriate medical facility for an exam and any needed care, and, in most cases, placed with or adopted by a loving family almost immediately.

Although the Safe Haven Law has been in place for more than 13 years, many residents seem to be unaware of its existence. Dawn Geras, creator of the Chicago-based Save Abandoned Babies Foundation, was instrumental in the creation of the law and remains active in her efforts to educate the general public. In addition to notification signs at legally designated safe haven buildings, the organization offers posters, brochures, and school based educational materials so that those most likely to need the protection offered by the law have the information they need.

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language of adoption

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), both highly dedicated to the health and well-being of all children, would like to remind medical professionals, family and friends associated with a recent adoption that often unnecessary or thoughtless language can damage the already fragile self-esteem level of the child and even perhaps the adoptive parents.

In conjunction with the AAP, the DCFS offers the Let’s Talk! Respectful Adoption Language and Behavior booklet, both online and in hard-copy form to all medical professionals or interested adoptive families or friends interested in the Do’s and Don’ts of adoption language and behavior.

The following guidelines provide respectful options for broaching the subject of adoption. These guidelines may also prove helpful to those couples considering adoption as to what may be appropriate and what may be insensitive.

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Illinois State Bar Association DuPage County Bar Association Northwest Suburban Bar Association American Inns of Court DuPage Association of Woman Lawyers National Association of Woman Business Owners Illinois Association Criminal Defense Lawyers DuPage County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association
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