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How Can I Legally Adopt My Stepchild in Illinois?

Posted on in Family Law

Orland Park stepchild adoption attorney

The relationship between a stepparent and a stepchild is unique for every family. Some stepparents will take on a strong parenting role, while others remain a neutral party. For those who view their stepchildren as their own, adoption can be the final piece to the puzzle. This grants them legal rights over the child and can make a stepparent feel more like a “real” parent to the child. Adoption is always a lengthy process, but stepparent adoptions can be especially time-consuming if the child’s other biological parent is alive. Below is a breakdown of the step-by-step process.

The Legal Process

  1. Find an Adoption Attorney - Before starting any legal process, your first step should be to hire a qualified attorney. Adoption attorneys are especially important to ensure that nothing goes wrong during the proceedings. Without professional assistance, the adoption process can take much longer than anticipated, and some courts require legal representation in adoption cases. Finding an attorney who is well-versed in Illinois’ adoption laws will make you feel more secure about the legal process, allowing you to focus on other parts of the adoption.

  2. Complete the Adequate Paperwork - All adoptions require extensive paperwork to ensure that the adoption is what is best for the child. Legally, a child can only have two guardians. In other words, if both of the child’s biological parents are alive, one will have to relinquish his or her legal rights to the child. This requires paperwork from both biological parents and can take a significant amount of time if the biological parent is unsure about giving up his or her child. In instances where one parent is deceased, the stepparent can adopt the child in a more seamless manner.

  3. Attend the Preliminary Hearing - Once the paperwork is complete, the court will require a preliminary hearing before giving the stepparent legal custody of the child. This is another measure taken to ensure that the adoption is in the best interests of the child. The judge will ask the biological parents and stepparents questions about the child and the intentions of the adoption. If the child is old enough, the judge will also ask for the child’s input on the matter.

  4. Finalize the Adoption - After the hearing, the judge will make a decision about the adoption. If the judge grants permission, the adoption can be completed immediately. The final step in the process is updating the child’s birth certificate to reference the legal changes by adding the stepparent’s name.

Contact an Orland Park Family Law Attorney

Adopting a stepchild can be a meaningful event for families. It makes the legal relationship between the parent and the child official, and it can further “complete” your family. At Anderson & Associates, P.C. we will work to make sure your adoption remains stress-free and runs smoothly. If you are considering adopting your stepchild, contact our Orland Park adoption lawyers at 708-226-9904 for an consultation.


Source: https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/f_step.pdf

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