For children placed in foster care, there can be an intense desire to be placed in a stable home with a loving family. Over the past decade, programs sponsored by the State of Illinois have helped place over 15,000 children into permanent homes. The decision to bring a child into the home is a life-changing decision for a family and the adopted child. Illinois allows for two processes to take place in order to place a child permanently in a home – adoption and guardianship.
Adoption is a legal process through which an adoptive parent assumes all rights and responsibilities of a child in foster care, including the care, supervision, and custody of the child, as if the adoptive parent actually gave birth to the child. Adoption terminates the rights of the birth parent. Adoption can occur through one of four avenues:
- Agency assisted adoption – an adoptive parent works with a licensed adoption agency to adopt a child within the United States;
- International adoption – an adoptive parent works with a licensed adoption agency to adopt a child outside of the United States;
- Private adoption – an adoptive parent works with an adoption attorney to adopt a child within the United States; or
- Foster care – an adoptive parent becomes a licensed foster parent and provides long term care for a foster child. If the child is not able to return to the birth parent, a foster parent can convert to an adoption.
What Is Guardianship?
Guardianship is a legal process to permanently place children who are not allowed to return home to the birth parent or adoption is not an option. A guardianship proceeding is usually a good option for caregivers or family members who want to provide a permanent home for children in their care. Unlike adoption, becoming a guardian does not terminate the birth parent’s parental rights. The appointed guardian would only be responsible for the care, supervision, and legal custody of the child. The guardianship expires when the child reaches 18 years old.
Resources Available to Parents
Because the adoption and guardianship processes create big changes in families, Illinois has a number of resources and training programs available to help families after the adoption or guardianship has been finalized. A six-hour in-service training program is available to instruct families on how to be an effective advocate for your child, the rights of the adoptive parent/guardian and the child, special education services, and understanding childhood trauma and the implications on education. A lending library and free webinars are also available to help educate families on parenting techniques and ways to deal with many different situations that may arise when parenting your child.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
If you are interested in adopting a child or obtaining a guardianship over a child, it is important to contact a knowledgeable family law attorney to discuss your available options. An attorney can help you navigate the difficulties of the adoption or guardianship process. Contact our caring DuPage County family law attorneys for a consultation.