This article is an Illinois adoption guide for those who wish to begin the adoption journey, whether as an expectant mother or hopeful adoptive parent, in a productive and specific way. Illinois is known as the Prairie State and is home to expansive farmland, lush forests, rolling hills, and the radiant city of Chicago. The state of Illinois is family-oriented, with adoption making up a large part of the state. As this adoption journey begins, the primary goal is joy and healing for all.

This Illinois adoption guide will break down the various steps for both expectant/birth parents and hopeful adoptive parents. No matter what role you play in the process of adoption, there are always answers and steps available. Illinois has various agencies and resources with the goal of looking out for the best interest of those involved with adoptions. 

Expectant Parents: Choosing to Place a Child for Adoption

An expectant mother needs support as she makes various decisions in her adoption journey. Adoption.com and Adoption.ORG are resources available for support, and there are many others. You may be entering this adoption journey with several questions and concerns. As an expectant mother or father, it is important to be informed when deciding whether or not to place your child for adoption. Ensure that you are at peace with your decision, as there will be both good days and difficult days. Do not be afraid to reach out to trusted and experienced individuals, as it is important you are cared for. Remember your decision to place your child for adoption is one of the most selfless and loving gifts you can give your child. Thank you for choosing life for your child, and taking this brave step in finding your child a family. Help from professionals may aid this process, as it is difficult, unique to each situation, and support is necessary. 

Find an Adoption Agency.

Adoption agencies or attorneys (who are reputable and licensed in Illinois) are a great place to start, as each offers you support, provides counseling on the decision to pursue adoption, and helps discuss your options. Once the decision is made, adoption agencies can also be a resource in finding affordable prenatal care, as this should be a priority after first learning about your pregnancy. Setting up a medical plan and scheduling a doctor’s visit as soon as possible is important for both the expectant mother and the child. Agencies can help expectant parents with mental, physical, and emotional needs, connect you with hopeful adoptive parents, and walk you through the legal process. A good adoption agency can become a safe haven for expecting parents through a time that often feels difficult, heavy, and lonesome. There is a list of Illinois adoption agencies at the end of this article for you to consider, so you may research and feel confident in your choice.

Find a Family.

Once an expectant mother has the support and resources needed, the next step is to choose adoptive parents for the child. Finding a hopeful adoptive family for your child is not an easy decision, but is life-changing. You will have a choice in the decision-making process, as the adoption agency or attorney will ask you what characteristics you would like in a hopeful adoptive family, and match you with profiles of parents seeking to adopt. A parent profile is a description and collection of information on families looking to adopt, many of which can be found on Adoption.com and other trusted adoption agency websites. Some agencies allow you to meet the hopeful adoptive families, so you can personally develop a feel for the couple’s character.

Create a Plan.

The adoption plan will describe the details of the expectant mother’s wants and needs for herself and the child. Adoption agencies or attorneys are key during this time, as expectant parents will learn more about open, semi-open, and closed adoptions. Open adoption is when the birth parents and adoptive family maintain contact and involvement in each other’s lives, to a degree previously agreed upon. A semi-open adoption is when there is limited contact between the birth parents and adoptive family, also to a degree previously agreed upon. This type of adoption does not usually have face-to-face interaction. A closed adoption is when there is no interaction once the baby is placed with the adoptive family. Besides the adoption plan, creating a hospital plan will keep everyone on the same page regarding the child’s delivery, hospital stay, and medical care in the state of Illinois. The hospital plan is specific to you and the child, determining whether or not you want to see the baby after birth, want the hopeful adoptive parents there during delivery, or want the family to come to the hospital after the birth.

Find a Support System.

It is important for expectant mothers to find a support system before, during, and after the adoption. There are many support groups available to expectant and birth mothers in Illinois. It is also recommended that the expectant mother attends counseling, or seeks a mentor or online group, as well as trustworthy family and friends, that will help her healthily process this emotional and difficult time. Adoption agencies often support birth mothers after her child is placed for adoption, with resources that include finances, housing, and medical care. Placing a child for adoption takes courage, strength, and love, and expectant mothers need and deserve dependable support through this adoption journey.

Hopeful Adoptive Parents: Choosing to Adopt

A hopeful adoptive parent is someone who desires to grow a family through adoption. Hopeful adoptive parents may choose this route for a number of reasons, but the most important thing is that it comes from a place of love. If you find yourself as this member of the adoption triad, here are some steps for you to consider.

Who Can Adopt?

In the state of Illinois, the following residents may adopt–individuals at least 21 years old, a husband and wife, couples in a civil union, single individuals, a stepparent, individuals who have been separated for at least 12 months, and LGBTQ+ couples. For housing, you may rent or own a home with enough space for the child. Hopeful adoptive parents may be in the workforce or retired, and no parenting experience is required. Hopeful adoptive parents are required to complete foster and adoption licensure. This licensing consists of 39 hours of foster and adoption training, which can take between three to six months. If you are married, your spouse is required to attend as well. In Illinois, if you have the love, space, and means to become an adoptive parent, you will not be prevented.

Find an Adoption Agency.

Hopeful adoptive parents in Illinois have a wide variety of adoption agencies with which to connect. An adoption agency can help the process of finding a child to adopt, connecting with an expectant mother, completing the legal requirements, and creating a parent profile. Adoption agencies will also help with specifying the requirements for different types of adoption, as there are three types–adoption from foster care, international adoption, and domestic adoption. Adopting a child through foster care is different from becoming a foster parent. The primary goal of foster care is to reunite children with birth parents, but this sometimes does not occur, and the children need to find forever families. When hopeful adoptive parents choose to adopt from foster care, these children find a final home. International adoption is when hopeful adoptive parents choose to adopt internationally, from another country. This involves Visas, which is a form of ID that allows your child to enter the United States, and the adoption agency will assist in obtaining one. Domestic adoption is when hopeful adoptive parents choose to adopt within the United States. There is a list of Florida adoption agencies at the end of this article for you to consider.

Create a Financial Plan.

Adoption requires financial stability and planning, as it consists of travel fees, home study fees, agency fees, and sometimes a birth mother or international travel expenses. The cost of adoption varies, depending on the method. The private domestic adoption of one child can cost an average of $30,000 in Illinois. This can increase with travel expenses for international adoption. Adoption from foster care costs less, and requires 27 hours of training, focusing on foster care and the needs of children who are in foster care. Developing a financial plan will help all processes. The adoption agency can help provide guidance and a plan throughout.

Create a Parent Profile.

One way hopeful adoptive parents can connect with expectant mothers is by creating a parent profile. Some hopeful adoptive parents choose to utilize social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, or blogs, to begin connecting with expectant mothers. Adoption agencies and websites, such as Adoption.com, also provide a platform for hopeful adoptive parents and expectant mothers to connect. Your profile will include general information about our family, traditions, beliefs, home, extended family, community, and more. It will also include pictures and will serve as an overview of who you are, for expectant mothers can view when considering placing a child for adoption.

Complete a Home Study.

Home studies are required to ensure the safety of your home and family. During the home study, all members of the household, including the children, will be interviewed by someone, who is often a social worker, from the adoption agency or attorney. Hopeful adoptive parents are often worried about home studies, thinking the couple will be disqualified for not being the perfect family or having absolutely everything in place. This, however, is not the case. The social worker is on your side, and is simply ensuring your home is safe for the new child. The social worker often becomes another source of support and can help answer your questions throughout the process. All members of the household between the ages of 13 and 17  will need to authorize a check of child abuse and neglect, as well as the child sex offender, registry. In order for the family to be eligible to adopt, the hopeful adoptive parents must complete a fingerprint-based criminal background check. The couple’s physical and mental health are also taken into consideration during the adoption approval process in Illinois, and you may be required to present recent medical statements. In addition, home study requirements vary between domestic, international, and foster care adoptions. Your adoption agency will guide you through this process. 

Find a Support System.

The adoption process is life-changing, challenging, and, in some cases, very long. Some hopeful parents wait years before placement, and the journey is only then truly beginning. It is vital for hopeful adoptive and adoptive parents to have a support system before, during, and after the adoption process. This may consist of a support group, online or in-person, trustworthy friends and family, or counselors. You are giving this child a forever family, and the child is giving you the same. This process will not be easy, but there is always love and hope throughout the adoption journey.

Adoption Information Resources

Adoption.com

Adoption.ORG

Adoption Agencies in Illinois

-Adoption Center of Illinois at Family Resource Center

-Gateway Woods Family Services Illinois

-Adoption Center for Family Building

-Madison Adoption Associates

-Cradle Adoption

-Angel Adoption

-Heart to Heart Adoptions

-Holt – Sunny Ridge

No matter your location, role in the adoption process, or stage in life, adoption is a life-changing and challenging process. I hope you found this information about adoption in Illinois helpful as you begin your adoption journey. I hope it brought clarity and helped launch your process in finding a family, becoming a family, finding joy, and healing. In my own personal experience, when I was 8 years old, I was living in Illinois when we brought my infant brother into my family through international adoption, so this is near to my heart. I am grateful to his birth mother every day, for her love and sacrifice in placing her son for adoption and allowing my family to bring him into our home. Adoption is a blessing and growing experience for all members involved, though it may not always feel that way, and it is my wish for you to find support and courage through the process. Please feel free to comment with feedback or questions. I look forward to hearing your thoughts, questions, or stories, as I hope to continue to support you with this process. There is hope and there is love in your future.

 

Hannah Fisher is a student in North Carolina, pursuing degrees in both Nursing and Psychology. Hannah is an older sister to 1 biological and 4 adopted siblings. She is passionate about adoption, family, and belonging. When she is not studying, Hannah can be found spending time with her family, writing articles or fiction, or enjoying music and movies.