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What Is the Process for Adopting a Stepchild in Illinois?

 Posted on December 27, 2019 in Adoption

Wheaton relative adoption lawyer

Adoption is the legal process for assuming parental responsibilities for another person’s child. Adopting a child from an agency is an option for couples to grow their family if they cannot conceive on their own. However, there are other types of adoption, including stepparent adoption. In these cases, an individual with a stepson or stepdaughter may want to consider legally becoming the child's parent. If you are considering a stepparent adoption, speaking with an experienced family law attorney can ease your concerns as you walk through the legal process in Illinois.

A Relative Adoption Versus an Agency Adoption

A stepparent adoption does not involve the same process as an international or Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) adoption. Here are a couple of differences between them:

  • Home study: Home studies are used to determine if a home is safe and stable for a child to be placed. Home studies are not required for stepparent adoptions, because it is considered the same as adopting a relative, as per the Illinois Adoption Act.

  • Informing the other parent: Although a home study is not necessary, the other biological parent must be informed about the intent to adopt. The other parent must agree to the adoption and termination of his or her parental rights, or parental rights may be involuntarily terminated. 

Going through the stepparent adoption process can provide benefits for both the parent and child. The child feels a sense of family unity, while both the biological parent's and stepparent's parental rights will be protected in the event that the couple divorces in the future. During divorce, a stepparent who has adopted his or her stepchild will be able to share in parental responsibilities and parenting time.

The steps for filing for stepparent adoption are straightforward:

  1. Establish kinship to the child: This can be done through marriage, legally recognizing the adult and child as stepparent and stepchild.
  2. Establish residency: Illinois law mandates that stepparents must reside in Illinois for six months prior to filing for adoption.
  3. Termination of parental rights: This can be done voluntarily or through a verdict of abandonment.
  4. Consent of the child: In Illinois, children 14 and older must provide consent for a stepparent adoption.

Common Obstacles During a Stepparent Adoption

Even though a stepparent adoption is less complicated than other types of adoption, it is still possible to encounter challenges along the way. The other parent may try to halt the adoption process. If this happens, the court may intervene to determine if that individual is unfit to act as a parent. The following conditions may contribute to the other parent being deemed unfit:

  • Physical abuse

  • Mental abuse

  • Abandonment

  • Child neglect and endangerment

  • Lack of interest in the child’s welfare, including a lack of providing financial support

Contact a DuPage County Adoption Lawyer

If you have a good relationship with your stepchild and desire to legally unify your family, it may be time to consider a stepparent adoption. At A. Traub & Associates, we understand the emotional effects that stepparent adoptions have on children and adults alike, and we work hard to ensure that your children’s best interests are protected. To schedule a confidential consultation, call our Lombard, IL family law attorneys today at 630-426-0196.


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