Whether you are looking to adopt a child, considering giving up a child for adoption, or if you yourself were adopted, you probably have lots of questions surrounding the legal aspects of adoption in Illinois. At Johnson, Westra, Broecker, Whittaker & Newitt, P.C., our family law attorneys handle all sorts of adoptions, including DCFS placement, private adoptions and stepparent adoptions. Below are answers to some of the questions our adoption lawyers frequently encounter in this area of our firm’s practice. If you have other questions or need legal help in an Illinois adoption or related matter, please contact our office for assistance.
My new husband wants to adopt my kids from a previous marriage, but I don’t think the children’s father will go for it, even though he is completely uninvolved in their lives. Do we need his permission?
A stepparent adoption, also known as a related adoption, would terminate the parental rights of the kids’ biological father, so it can be difficult to get this done without his consent. Basically, you would need to go to court and prove your ex-husband’s unfitness as a parent. The judge will set a high standard for you to prove this unfitness, and your ex may appear in court and challenge your petition. If the child’s father is truly uninvolved in your child’s life, it may be possible to terminate his parental rights and achieve a stepparent adoption.
We have been raising our daughter’s children as our own while she has been in and out of treatment for drug abuse. Can we formally adopt our grandchildren, or at least become their legal guardians?
If both parents have been declared unfit, or if they are incarcerated or institutionalized or otherwise incapable of caring for their children, you can go to court to be appointed the children’s legal guardian. You could also seek to adopt your grandchildren if the children have been adjudicated as neglected or dependent by DCFS. Guardianships and adoptions are both legal proceedings, so you will want the advice and representation of an experienced Illinois adoption attorney to make sure the proceeding goes smoothly and successfully.
Are birth certificates public records?
No. Only the parent or legal guardian, or the subject of the record if 18 years old or older, may access or request a certified copy of the birth record.
Are adopted children ever able to access their original birth certificate?
Yes. Under an Illinois law passed in 2010, adults (21 or older) who were adopted as children can request a noncertified copy of their original birth record. This same law also allows birth parents at the time of adoption to indicate their preferences regarding any future contact with the child, including making a specific request for anonymity. Birth parents can request that their names be removed from the non-certified copy of the birth record.
Is it possible for a birth parent to obtain a copy of the original birth certificate?
Yes. Under an Illinois law which became effective in 2015, either birth parent may request a noncertified copy of the original birth record of an adult adopted person.
Does an adoption change the legal birth record?
Yes. A legal adoption will change the child’s legal birth record to reflect the adoptive parents as the child’s legal parents. In order to reinstate the original birth record as the legal record of birth, you would have to get a court order to vacate the adoption issued by the circuit court that originally granted the adoption. With this court order, you can get the Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Records – Adoption Unit to reinstate the original birth record.