Basic Concepts for Adoption Awareness Month
Our state and federal officials long ago declared November as Adoption Awareness Month, a time when families can learn about resources for older youth and about the many types of adoption available. Professionals in the field recognize a variety of events that can lead to adoption of a child or even a group of siblings.
Because the focus of adoption awareness is on the needs of children to have a permanent family, we highlight some opportunities that may be lead to legal adoption. Foster parents may have an opportunity to adopt one or more children that have been in their home for temporary care. Step-parents often want to adopt a spouse’s children if a strong family bond has developed. Adoption by a relative may be needed after the death of parents to provide stability for children left behind.
When children have been taken into custody of a state child welfare agency after findings of abuse or neglect by parents, a family is located to provide temporary care and custody for these children. Preparation to assist a child with a trauma background or with special medical conditions is given through foster parent training. If the children’s parents are able to meet requirements for safe return of the children, the foster family releases them. On the other hand, if safe return to the parents is not an option and parental rights are terminated by a court decree, then the children become available for adoption. In this event, foster parents often adopt a child that has been in their care and custody.
Many families are formed with one adult as the step-parent. Often, the step-parent has emotionally and financially reared a child of their spouse. Because of the emotional bond that has been formed, or for legal entitlements, a step-parent may want to formalize that relationship by adoption. A key factor in these situations is whether the parental rights of the noncustodial parent can be terminated if the child is a minor; meaning, under the age of 18 in Illinois.
This step requires either noncustodial parent’s legal consent to adoption or a court order terminating parental rights based on facts presented that establish unfitness of that parent under applicable laws. If the child is an adult, the consent needed is that of the child, not of the noncustodial parent. Then, an adult adoption of a former step-child may be performed.
When parents of children die, it is critical that family members come forward as legal guardian of the orphaned children. Depending on the circumstances of each case, eventual adoption by a relative guardian may provide a needed emotional base of permanency for the child. Often, grandparents and aunts or uncles become adoptive parents through adoption of a related child.
Find more information online about the Children’s Bureau initiative National Adoption Month at ChildWelfare.gov/topics/adoption/nam/about.
Law Offices of Sally Wildman, J.D., is located at 200 N. LaSalle St., Ste. 2750, in Chicago; Northbrook by appointment. For more information, call 312-726-9214 or visit SWildmanLaw.com.
Local Events with Sally Wildman:
The Adoption Process from A to Z
This free seminar is offered from 2 to 4 p.m., November 11, through the Chicago Public Library – Lincoln Park Branch, 1150 W. Fullerton Ave. Register at ChiPubLib.org by November 9. For more information, call 312-744-1926.