Frequently Asked Questions About Related And Adult Adoptions

  • What is a “related adoption”? A “stepparent adoption”? An “adult adoption”?

  • Is a preplacement home study required in order to adopt?

  • Is an investigation required?

  • At what age must the child consent to the adoption?

What Is A “Related Adoption”? A “Stepparent Adoption”? An “Adult Adoption”?

Adoption is the legal process in which the biological parents of a child are relieved of all parental rights and responsibilities for that child, and the child is freed from all obligations toward the biological parents, and the adopting parents assume all the legal rights and responsibilities toward the child as if the child had been born to them. Adoption is a permanent step, unlike custody or guardianship. If the child’s biological parents wish to reassume their position as legal parents of the child, they must adopt the child themselves.

  • A related adoption is the adoption of a child where either adopting parent, or both parents, is related to the child by blood or marriage as one of the following: parent, grandparent, brother, sister, stepparent, stepgrandparent, stepbrother, stepsister, uncle, aunt, great-uncle, great-aunt or first or second cousin.
  • A step-parent adoption is a type of related adoption. A stepparent adoption is the adoption of a child by the spouse of the child’s custodial parent, but the parental rights of the custodial parent are not terminated. In Illinois, both the custodial parent and his or her spouse file the petition to adopt the child. In a stepparent adoption, the adopting spouse becomes a parent of the child on an equal basis with the custodial parent, even if the marriage should end in the future.
  • An adult adoption is the adoption of a child who is 18 years of age or older. The adult child must have lived with the adopting parent for at least two consecutive years or the adoption must be a related adoption. Only the adult being adopted must consent to the adoption – the consent of the child’s parent is not required.

Is A Preplacement Home Study Required In Order To Adopt?

A home study from a licensed Illinois child welfare agency is not required in a related adoption where everyone involved resides in Illinois. However, a home study is necessary to adopt a related child who lives in a different state from the adopting parent(s) if the relationship to the child is other than parent, stepparent, grandparent, adult brother or sister, adult uncle or aunt, or legal guardian. For example, if the child is being adopted by a cousin from another state, a home study is required.

Is An Investigation Required?

An investigation, including a criminal background check, is not required in a related or adult adoption, although the court has the discretion to order an investigation in any case. In Cook County, an investigation is required in related cases involving minor children and the prospective adoptive parents must be fingerprinted and have a criminal/child abuse background check. The investigation is minimal, however, and typically consists of supplying certain information about the adopting parents’ residence, employment, criminal history, etc. in sworn affidavits.

At What Age Must The Child Consent To The Adoption?

A child age 14 or older must sign a consent to his or her adoption.

Contact An Experienced Lawyer To Learn More

If you would like to learn more about related or adult adoptions, call 312-316-0912 to discuss your options with a qualified attorney. You may also contact Shelley B. Ballard PC online to schedule a consultation. We have offices in downtown Chicago and the suburb of Skokie.