Family Law

Adoption Attorney Belleville, Illinois

Have you and your family thought about adopting a child through a family or kinship adoption? Taking on parental responsibilities represents a significant change in your life’s circumstances. Get experienced legal advice and guidance from a seasoned adoption lawyer with the law firm of Johnson, Johnson & Nolan, Attorneys at Law. Contact us today at (618) 277-3600 for an initial case evaluation to discuss your legal options.

How Can Our Adoption Lawyers Help?

Adopting a child through a family or kinship adoption may be complex and time-consuming. An adoption attorney from Johnson, Johnson & Nolan, Attorneys at Law, can guide you and your family to a successful adoption by:

  • Explaining your options and preparing you for what to expect during the family or kinship adoption process
  • Assisting you with preparing your adoption petition and other associated paperwork
  • Guiding you through adoption requirements, such as home studies and psychological evaluations
  • Advocating on your behalf during court hearings

Why Choose the Family Law Firm of Johnson, Johnson & Nolan, Attorneys at Law?

Adoption brings a massive change for families. Experienced legal representation can give you the best chance of reaching a successful outcome in your court proceedings in the adoption process. For years, families have turned to the attorneys of Johnson, Johnson & Nolan, Attorneys at Law, for help securing a family or kinship adoption because:

  • Our attorneys have developed a proven reputation and record of success helping clients in family or kinship adoptions and other legal matters. Our firm has earned the top AV rating from the peer-review rating service Martindale-Hubbell.
  • We’ve worked hard to earn the trust of individuals and families who turn to us for legal advice. Many of our clients have referred friends, co-workers, neighbors, and successive generations of family members to us when they have legal needs.
  • We strive to foster a caring, compassionate environment and provide every client with the personal attention they need during the family or kinship adoption process.

Understanding the Adoption Process in St. Clair County

Adoption establishes a legal parent-child relationship between an adult and a minor. A person who adopts someone as their child assumes all the rights and responsibilities they would have for a biological child. These responsibilities include providing a safe living environment, protecting the child’s health and welfare, ensuring the child’s education, and overseeing their emotional and moral development. An adoptive parent has the rights and the legal authority to fulfill their duties, including determining where the child will live and making medical, educational, financial, and legal decisions on behalf of the child until they reach adulthood.

Illinois has several types of adoption processes. At Johnson, Johnson & Nolan, Attorneys at Law, we focus on helping clients with family or kinship adoptions. While we do not handle agency adoptions, we believe it’s important for potential adoptive parents to understand the different types of adoption available in Illinois:

  • Family or kinship adoption: A “family” or “kinship” adoption occurs when a child gets adopted by another family member, such as a stepparent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, or sibling. Family or kinship adoption typically has a more streamlined process than other types of adoption since the court can waive specific requirements or procedures. This is the type of adoption our firm specializes in handling.
  • Agency adoption: An agency adoption occurs through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services or a licensed private adoption agency. In an agency adoption, the child’s biological parents have voluntarily surrendered their parental rights, or the court has involuntarily terminated their parental rights.
  • Private adoption: A private adoption involves a process in which a child’s biological parents work directly with the adoptive parent(s) to facilitate the adoption. During the adoption process, the biological parents will voluntarily surrender their parental rights.
  • Standby adoption: A standby adoption refers to an adoption process that goes into effect when a specific event occurs, such as a child losing both of their biological or legal parents. A child’s parents may nominate someone in their will to serve as their child’s guardian who will ultimately adopt the child in the event of their death.

In many cases, the adoption process can take several months since it may involve a court-ordered investigation into a prospective adoptive parent’s fitness to parent. Time may be required for the prospective parent(s) and child to bond to ensure a successful relationship. Adjustment periods for family or kinship adoptions can take six months or more.

At the end of the adjustment period, the court will review records and hear testimony to determine whether the prospective parent(s) and child have satisfactorily adjusted to their new relationship and confirm that the prospective parent(s) wish to proceed with the adoption.

If the court approves the adoption, the state will issue a new birth record naming the adoptive parent(s) as the official parents, and the child’s original birth record will be placed in a sealed file. Adoptive children can obtain a non-certified copy of their original birth record unless their biological parents have chosen to keep their information confidential.

Frequently Asked Questions About Family or Kinship Adoption and Child Custody

Common questions clients in St. Clair County ask our family law attorneys about family law matters, including family or kinship adoption and child custody, include:

Who can file for a family or kinship adoption in Illinois?

A prospective parent seeking to adopt a child through a family or kinship adoption must meet several basic requirements, including:

  • Being at least 18 years old
  • Residing in Illinois for at least six months
  • Having a good reputation in the community
  • Having the physical and mental capacity to parent the child
  • Having the financial resources to support the child, including providing suitable housing, nutrition, and healthcare

Illinois does not have specific income or asset requirements for a person or family to adopt a child through a family or kinship adoption. Furthermore, state law does not discriminate against prospective adoptive parents based on family status. Single adults, unmarried couples, LGBT couples, and married couples can petition to adopt a child through a family or kinship adoption. However, both spouses in a married couple must agree to the adoption process, except when a couple has separated and lived apart for at least one year.

Does the child have to consent to a family or kinship adoption?

In Illinois, a child 14 and older must agree to an adoption before the court will approve a petition.

How does a family or kinship adoption work if the child’s biological parents are still alive?

When a child has living biological or legal parents, they can facilitate the adoption of their child by another person or couple by voluntarily surrendering their parental rights. However, when a child’s biological parents wish to contest adoption, the proceeding is more complex. When a child’s existing parents wish to reunify with their child and object to someone else adopting their child, the court must hold proceedings to involuntarily terminate the parent(s)’s rights based on one of the statutory grounds for involuntary termination.

Can grandparents petition to adopt a grandchild through a family or kinship adoption?

A child’s grandparent(s) can petition to adopt the child through a family or kinship adoption upon the death of the child’s parents or the parents’ surrender or involuntary termination of their parental rights. However, courts must consider the fitness of a prospective adoptive parent to care for the child. Depending on their age and health, the court may have concerns about whether grandparents will remain fit to care for the child until they reach adulthood.

In cases where grandparents feel their grandchild’s parents have wrongfully blocked access to the child or undermined the grandparent-grandchild relationship, grandparents may seek visitation rights as an alternative to fighting for adoption.

Contact Johnson, Johnson & Nolan, Attorneys at Law, for an Initial Consultation

When considering adopting a child through a family or kinship adoption, hiring experienced legal representation can make the process less stressful and give you and your family the best chance of success. Contact Johnson, Johnson & Nolan, Attorneys at Law, today for a legal consultation with our adoption lawyers. We can discuss court proceedings for family or kinship adoption and what you can expect when deciding to become a parent for a child.