When a couple makes the decision to adopt, it is both exciting and intimidating, especially if they elect to adopt an older child, as opposed to an infant. However, there are slightly different requirements to fulfill and more things to be aware of if adopting an older child, and it is important to be aware of what will be asked of you.
In Illinois, if you choose to adopt a child who is not an infant, you must go through the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS). There are very few set-in-stone requirements you must meet before becoming an adoptive parent, though you must be able to demonstrate all of them at any time. You do not already have to be a parent, and you do not have to be married. In Illinois, you do not have to be heterosexual, though other states differ in that regard. There are no specific income benchmarks, but you must be able to prove that you will be able to adequately provide for another child in your home.
All potential adoptive parents in Illinois must complete a 27-hour training program to become licensed foster parents. This is because most of the time, adoptions in Illinois are done on a basis in which a child is fostered in the home first to ensure that the match is good for both them and the family. After this training, the potential parent(s) will complete more specialized training focusing on adoption and tailored to their specific situation. Post-adoption services are also available if any problems occur.
Foster Adoptions and “Special Needs” Adoptions
It is, in theory, possible to adopt a child directly from foster care, but it is not recommended. While DCFS very often provides child histories to potential adoptive parents, sometimes they do not receive all the relevant information, which can lead to children with special needs being placed with families who are not equipped to handle them effectively.
It is also more common with adoptions direct from foster care to have children with “special needs”—not necessarily developmental disabilities or trauma, but, in many cases, requirements that must be upheld. For example, a child may be a member of a particular ethnic or cultural group and would have a better time adjusting to life with someone of the same culture. Alternatively, the child may be a part of a sibling group that should not be broken up for fear of causing severe emotional trauma.
The role of an attorney in adopting an older child, as opposed to a newborn or infant, will differ in that no advance agreement will be needed to be drawn up; the attorney simply represents the rights of the potential parent or couple in case of any contractual or criminal difficulties. Having a professional on your side is never a bad thing.
Make Sure You Have Help
Deciding to adopt is a life-changing decision, and throughout the process, you will need help with shouldering the burden. Contact an experienced Wheaton adoption attorney at Abear Law Offices for assistance today. Call 630-904-3033 for a confidential consultation.