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Lombard, IL adoption attorney

The decision and privilege to pursue adoption is an exciting, gratifying path when you desire to expand your family. More than ever before, today’s adoption services offer new parents opportunities to share their life with a child who is in need of a good home. However, adoption proceedings are complex and require serious preparation in order to navigate them successfully. For the sake of all parties involved, it is important to understand the legal aspects to make the adoption experience as seamless as possible.

Know Your Rights

It is not uncommon for new parents to feel instantly overwhelmed the moment they begin the adoption process. From selecting an agency to the application and paperwork, it can be difficult to know where to start. One of the most important ways you can get off on the right foot is to inform yourself of your basic rights as a new adoptive parent. What do you have a say over? What resources are available to you? Should you run into roadblocks, what rights do you have to protect your best interests?

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Can I Get Financial Help With My Adoption?It is no secret that adoption is expensive. Many families wish they could adopt but simply cannot afford the additional expenses that are tied to adoption. According to Child Welfare Information Gateway, private agency adoptions can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $40,000. This price tag does not include any of the costs associated with raising a child, which can steer couples hoping to start a family away from considering adoption. Foster care adoption is the most financially-friendly option available to potential parents. In many cases, the adoption gets funded by the state, with few fees involved aside from an attorney’s assistance in the legal process. There are even some instances that allow adopting couples to qualify for continued compensation.

What is Title IV-E Adoption Assistance?

Unfortunately, foster children get adopted at a much lower rate, especially those with special needs. The medical expenses or other costs that are unique to a special needs child can keep couples from considering taking them in. What many do not realize is that adoption assistance is available to parents of special needs children adopted through the foster system. Federal adoption assistance is known as Title IV-E, whereas state assistance is non-IV-E. Both forms of assistance can provide monthly maintenance payments, medical assistance, and other support until the child turns 18 or, in some cases, 21 years old. There are three criteria that must be met to qualify for special needs determination:

  1. The state determines that the child cannot or should not return to their birth parents’ home;
  2. A specific factor, condition, or a combination of the two has made the child more difficult to place for adoption; and
  3. Unsuccessful efforts have been made to place the child without using adoption assistance.

What Makes a Child Eligible for Title IV-E?

The eligibility listed above must be met before a child will be considered to receive Title IV-E adoption assistance. There are five qualifications tied to Title IV-E; however, only one must be met to qualify for the assistance:

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What is an Adoption Home Study and How Can I Prepare?The adoption process is quite lengthy and requires lots of preparation in order for you to be ready to immediately care for your new child. A home study is one step of many in the adoption process. The purpose of a home study is to ensure that you and your spouse are good potential parents who can provide a child with a safe and happy home. The home study is more than just a house inspection. The inspector will also spend time interviewing both parents to gauge their character and parenting ability. This part of the adoption process can be extremely nerve-wracking but is also the part of adoption that you have the most control over.

What Should I Bring to My Home Study?

Home studies vary depending on the type of adoption that you and your spouse decide is best. However, the primary goal and document requirements remain fairly consistent. Home studies often take longer than a single visit, sometimes taking months to fully complete. The best way to reduce the amount of time spent in the home inspection is to educate yourself on the process and have the necessary documents in hand. These can include:

  • Certified copies of birth certificates;
  • Adoption decrees for any other adopted children;
  • A marriage certificate;
  • Death certificates of former spouses;
  • Divorce papers for you and your spouse;
  • Employment and income verification;
  • Proof of life and health insurance;
  • A list of assets;
  • Debt information; and
  • Mortgage or rent information. 

The interview also requires physical exam results as well as a public health and fire inspection for your home. While the paperwork may seem daunting, it is crucial that you bring multiple copies of each form to avoid scheduling additional appointments. 

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How to Be a Stepparent – Legally and Emotionally Because divorce is so common, having a stepparent or becoming one has also become less of a rarity over time. Children whose parents divorce and remarry at a young age often see this as their norm. Because they grew with it, there is nothing outside of the ordinary about having more parental figures than just the people who are biologically related to you. This is not the case with children or teens whose parents get divorced when they are old enough to remember a life when their parents were married. A stepparent can seem like a foreign concept. The emotional transition can be just as difficult, if not more, as the legal process to becoming an “official” parent through adoption.

What Does the Legal Process Look Like?

An individual is considered a child’s “stepparent” once they marry the child’s biological parent. However, in the eyes of the court, this person has no legal rights with the child. Becoming a legal guardian of a child as a stepparent can be difficult. A child can only have two legal guardians, thus the other biological parent must give up their legal rights in order for the child to gain a new legal guardian. Stepparent adoptions are most common when the other biological parent has passed away. If this is the case, the only permission needed is the stepparent’s spouse. From there, the process is similar to other adoptions. Legal documents must be completed, interviews conducted, and a decision made about whether or not the stepparent is fit to adopt the child.

How Can I Be a Good Stepparent?

Taking on the responsibility of a stepparent is no easy task. Children or teens are typically resistant to the change at first. To them, you can appear to be taking the place of their deceased parent or overstepping your bounds. The following are tips on how to ease into the stepparent role:

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DuPage County adoption lawyer

Historically, same-sex couples have had difficulties adopting children. In the past, this could be attributed to the lack of social acceptance of homosexuality. This social misunderstanding and form of discrimination have significantly faded in recent years.  

The State of Michigan Takes Action

Adoption agencies are a helpful resource many couples utilize when they hope to grow their family. Although there are secular agencies, many adoption agencies are religious-based, and thus let their faith’s beliefs determine who can or cannot adopt a child. It is common for religious agencies to deny same-sex couples. This is the case in Michigan for couples from Dimondale and Detroit.

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Posted on in Adoption

Lombard, IL Adoption LawyerAdoption is a popular option for many couples and individuals who wish to start a family. More than 135,000 children are adopted in the United States each year. Although it is often said parents who adopt are saving the child’s life, adoption significantly benefits the lives of parents as well. Adoptions vary, including the processes involved. Here is a look at the different types of adoptions so you can determine which is best for you. Whichever method you choose, adoption is a legal process, and you want a skilled adoption lawyer to help you throughout.

Domestic Adoption

These adoptions are those completed entirely within the U.S. There are two ways in which a domestic adoption can be completed: through an agency or private adoption. Agencies facilitate the adoption process and connect prospective parents with potential adoptees. Independent adoptions are often the choice of couples who already know the birth mother or family. 

Foster Care Adoption

A child being adopted within the foster care system has had their biological parents’ rights relinquished by the court. Most foster care system adoptions are completed by the child’s foster parents. These are individuals who have already cared for the child for an extended period of time. Those in foster care are often placed due to neglect, physical abuse, substance abuse, etc. 

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Lombard family law attorneyHistorically, adoptions for same-sex couples have included their share of difficulties. Many people still believe children need a mother and father figure in their lives rather than two “similar figures.” This type of thinking has slowly phased out over the past 20 years, especially with the legalization of gay marriage. 

Same-sex couple adoptions made progress in 2016, just months after that legalization became official. A lesbian mother finally won legal custody of her children in a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court. The woman had cared for the children most of their lives and wanted legal documentation to recognize her as their mother. After deliberation, the Court overturned an Alabama Supreme Court ruling that said the court should not recognize the woman as the children’s mother. This court case opened doors for gay couples across the nation, allowing for non-nuclear families to exist.

Second Parent Adoption in Illinois

While adoption by homosexual couples can prove difficult, the process is far from impossible. Adoption agencies and couples looking for parents for their child will usually choose married couples over unmarried couples. This is common because marriages are considered permanent, whereas those who are not legally bound by marriage can end their relationship with far less difficulty. 

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Posted on in Adoption

DuPage County stepchild adoption lawyerChoosing to adopt a child is a life-changing decision for both the child and parent. In terms of adoption, many imagine a couple adding an infant to their family dynamic; however, this is only one form of adoption. Other types of adoption include stepparent, family related, domestic partnership, and uncontested adoptions. Stepparent adoptions are fairly common, and these particular adoptions have their own unique legal process. 

The Stepparent Adoption Process

The details of the adoption process are dependent upon each individual situation. Though it is a detail-oriented process that can take time, it often appears more difficult than it actually is. In a stepparent adoption, the following requirements must be met:

  1. Illinois Residency: For those seeking to adopt within the state of Illinois, residency is a requirement. The stepparent must be an Illinois state resident for at least six months before filing for the adoption.
  2. Absent Parent’s Consent: It is a legal requirement to have the consent of the absent parent; however, this can often be a difficult task. For those who cannot get in contact with the absent parent, exceptions can be made. A stepparent can adopt a child without the absent parent’s consent if the child has not had any substantial contact with the parent in over a year’s time.
  3. Child’s Consent: Illinois also requires the consent of the child if he or she is 14 years or older. This consent is made through the signing of a legal document.

As is the case with all legal processes, there are exceptions. Many children whose stepparents are attempting to adopt either do not know the whereabouts of their absent parent or do not know the identity of this parent. In cases such as these, prospective parents may ask the court to waive the requirement for the absentee parent’s permission. 

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Posted on in Adoption

Lombard adoption attorneyIf your spouse has a child from a previous relationship, you know how sensitive and complex issues related to parenting can be. While you may not be the child’s biological parent, it is understandable that you would wish to offer a positive, reliable adult influence for the child—not to mention an authority figure with whom the child is comfortable sharing concerns and problems. With time and effort, you are likely to find a sense of family starting to develop. In some situations, the bond becomes so strong that the stepparent is willing to take on the legal responsibilities of parenthood through the adoption process.

Is the Adoption Appropriate?

When you are thinking about a potential stepparent adoption, you must be aware that the decision to adopt affects the child as much or more than it affects you. You might ready, willing, and able to accept the duties of a legal parent, but that is not enough to make the adoption the right choice. If the child has a healthy, productive relationship with a second parent—other than your spouse—there is little reason to try to cut that parent out of the picture, and a stepparent adoption would probably not serve the best interests of the child. If, however, there is effectively no second parent or the other parent has shown to be uninterested in being a parent, your adoption might serve the child well.

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Lombard family law attorneyOn June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled that states could no longer legally ban gay individuals from getting married. Since then, many same-sex couples have married, and some have chosen to start families of their own. Being a same-sex couple can bring up certain legal complications when children are involved, but fortunately, Illinois has measures in place to help potential parents obtain parental rights. One method some same-sex couples use to legally adopt a child into their family is second-parent adoption, also called co-parent adoption.

Second Parent Adoption Does Not Require Terminating Anyone’s Parental Rights

In most circumstances, when a person wishes to adopt a child, the child’s original parent or parents must terminate their parental rights. For example, when a woman places a baby up for adoption after giving birth, she signs documents which relinquish her rights to that child. A second-parent adoption is unique in that a parent can adopt a child without the child’s other parent losing their parental rights.

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Posted on in Adoption

Lombard family law attorneySame-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states, with all the attendant rights and responsibilities that marriage entails. Parenting for same-sex couples can be tricky, however, as certain legal issues are likely to arise. Fortunately, the state of Illinois has measures in place to help same-sex parents obtain and exercise parental rights in variety of situations. One such option is a second parent adoption, or SPA.

SPA Defined

Second parent adoption is defined as an adoption in which a second parent may adopt a child without the first losing any parental rights. Normally, adoptions require a parent to renounce his or her parental rights—or to have them terminated—in favor of another caregiver, but SPA allows both caregivers to have legal rights regarding the child.

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Posted on 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:

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Posted on in Adoption

Lombard family law attorneysAdopting a child can be one of the most rewarding decisions an individual or couple can make. A person or couple who chooses to adopt is giving a family to a child who may not have otherwise had one. Almost certainly, they will change that child’s life for the better. Whether you cannot have biological children due to a fertility issue or you are a same-sex couple wanting to start your own family, adoption is a choice that may allow you to fulfill your dreams of parenthood.

Some individuals choose to adopt a child on their own without a partner. You may have lost a partner or spouse, or maybe you just never met the right person. Through adoption, you can still have a child of your own. Others have no pressing need to adopt but decide to do so for personal reasons. Whatever your motivation for adopting, you are sure to make a difference in a child’s life.

As we get ready to begin 2017, many are preparing New Year’s resolutions. If you have been thinking about adoption, this could be the year you finally make it happen. Adoption may be the right avenue for you to grow your family because:

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Posted on in Adoption

Lombard family law attorneyWhile it may seem cold and impersonal to reduce family relationships to mere statistics, the numbers can hardly be disputed. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that, thanks to increasing rates of remarriage and other factors, some 1300 new stepfamilies are formed every single day in the United States. It has become much more common and expected for a child to have a separate relationship with each parent and their respective new partners following their remarriages. In some cases, a child’s relationship with a particular stepparent becomes so strong that the stepparent may be inclined to legally adopt the child.

If you are thinking about adopting your stepchild, however, there are a number of things you will need to consider, including:

You Assume Full Parental Rights and Responsibilities

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Lombard adoption lawyersThe Chicago Tribune reports that there are currently more than 17,000 children in Illinois who are in foster care, with over 6,000 of them being cared for by non-relatives. In addition, there are approximately 1,000 children available for permanent adoption in the state on any given day. With so many children in need of loving homes, state officials are always looking for more couples and families who are willing to provide stability and care.

“We just don’t have enough people who have stepped forward,” said Susan McConnell, founder of a regional nonprofit group that advocates for adoption and foster care. Her group, Let It Be Us, has joined with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to promote participation in the state’s adoption and foster care programs among gay and lesbian parents. “We think that in the (LBGT) community,” McConnell continued, “there are people who would be good parents.

Increased Rates of Participation

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adoption, guardianship, Lombard family law attorneyWhile most people are familiar with the concept of adoption, many may realize that there are alternatives to adoption that can grant an individual certain authority over a child’s life. In Illinois, as well as other jurisdictions, it is possible to seek legal guardianship of a minor child. Guardianship, in many ways, is quite similar to adoption but is quite different in others. If you are looking to provide a loving home to a child in need, understanding the differences between the two can help you make the best choice for your specific situation.

Many Similarities

Guardianship of child grants you the legal authority to act as the child’s parent in virtually all areas of the child’s life. You become responsible for tending to the child’s day-to-day needs, as well as making medical, educational, and other decisions regarding the child. An adoption would provide you with all of the same authority and responsibilities regarding the child.  Both adoptions and guardianships in Illinois will only be granted if the child’s birth parents consent to the arrangement, have been found to be unsuited for providing such care for the child themselves, have passed away, or cannot be located.

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Posted on in Adoption

adoption laws, illinois adoption, Arlington Heights family law attorneyAdoption is one of the ways family law works to create happy, healthy families. The laws that govern the adoption process are in place to create a balance between the rights of biological parents and what is in the best interest of children. Legal adoption is when someone who is not the biological parent becomes the legal parent of the child, with the same rights and duties as if the child had been born to them.

Paths to Adoption

There are three major ways an adoption process can be completed:

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Posted on in Adoption

stepparent adoption, Illinois law, Arlington Heights Family LawyerIn today’s world, blended families are becoming increasingly common. For some, it may be the result of a remarriage, while others are waiting longer to get married for the first time. Whatever the case, a marriage involving children from previous relationships can be both extremely challenging and very rewarding. What happens, however, when your new spouse expresses interest in pursuing the adoption of your child?

Why Adoption?

When you chose to marry your new spouse, you probably gave a great deal of thought to his suitability as a stepparent. Like most parents, you probably consider your child’s happiness and best interests in virtually every decision you make. Hopefully, the transition to a new parental situation has been a positive one for your child and his or her relationship with your spouse is becoming stronger every day. A stepparent bond does not require adoption to be effective; it is based on human interaction, trust, and mutual love.

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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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