Adoption can seem daunting but the comfort of adopting a family member can make the process more reassuring. While not applicable to all adopting individuals, relative adoption offers the opportunity to establish a permanent family without breaking familial ties.
What is Relative Adoption?
Relative adoption involves the adoption of a minor child by an immediate relative, including:
- Aunts, uncles or cousins
- Step-family members
As adoption is permanent, moving forward requires the voluntary or court-ordered termination of the legal parents’ parental rights, even if the child remains in the family. Legal guardianship presents an alternative to relative adoption for families whose situations may not qualify for relative adoption.
Can a Step-Parent Adopt Their Step-Child?
Step-parents can adopt a spouse’s child in Illinois. For a step-parent to qualify for adoption:
- The individual must be legally married to one of the legal parents
- The rights of one the non-married legal parents must be terminated
Further, if the minor child is above the age of 14, Illinois requires the child to consent.
Along with parental rights, there are many factors to consider when deciding if step-parent adoption is the right choice for your family.
How Can Grandparents Adopt Their Grandchildren?
Like step-parents, grandparents may qualify for the adoption of their grandchild in Illinois. However, the parental rights of both biological parents will need to be voluntarily or involuntarily terminated in order for the adoption to finalize.
Can Extended Family Members Adopt Relatives?
Extended family may be eligible to adopt a minor child in the family depending on their level of relation to the child by blood, marriage or adoption. Similar to a grandparent adoption, the parental rights of both biological parents will need to be voluntarily or involuntarily terminated in order for the adoption to finalize.
For those considering adoption between family members, it is important to have a trusted, supportive legal team by your side. Kogut & Wilson attorneys can assist with any adoption-related questions and provide guidance through the relative adoption process.
Kogut & Wilson is an award-winning family law firm based in Chicago with extensive experience representing clients in all aspects of divorce and family law. Understanding the cases we work on are often sensitive, our team of trusted attorneys takes great care to provide personalized and effective approaches to meet clients’ everchanging needs, no matter the complexity.
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