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Can Foster Children Be Adopted?


Published on September 17th, 2021

Adopting a child is often a complicated process, one that brings certain additional considerations if you’re hoping to adopt a foster child. Adoption through foster care is handled on a case-by-case basis. It is possible as long as certain conditions are met first. Because the system is set up to protect the best interests of children with varying backgrounds and needs, you must be able to show that you can provide a safe, stable, and caring environment. Some couples prefer this route because they want to help a child with a troubled past or open their family to an older child in need of a home.

Adopting a Foster Child in Illinois

Generally, the goal of foster care is to reunify children with their birth parents or other family members, but many children living in foster homes become available for adoption each year. In the last decade, more than 15,000 foster children have been adopted through the Illinois Department of Child & Family Services. Because you must first become a foster parent, there is typically a waiting period during which the parents, children, and caseworkers determine if the adoptive home is the right match for the child in question.

To adopt a foster child, you generally must become the legal guardian for a child beyond the newborn stage, as the children tend to be older youths. All types of families, including single people, unmarried couples, and same-sex couples, may become eligible to adopt a foster child. Becoming licensed to foster and adopt in the State of Illinois can take three to six months or even longer. Certain mandated requirements must be met, such as:

  • A criminal background check;
  • A stable source of income;
  • A physical exam to show you are capable of raising a child;
  • A home study and safety check; and
  • A pre-determined amount of classroom training.

Foster Care to Adoption: When Reunification Is Unlikely

If you’re wondering about the likelihood of adopting a child through foster care, you’ll need to find out whether placing the child with a relative is still an option. The possibility of adoption is generally greater and more expedient when reunification with the birth parents is unlikely or impossible. There are a few reasons this may happen: either the parents have voluntarily given up their parental rights, their rights have been terminated by a court, or they are deceased. If reunification is unlikely, there still may be a waiting period while it is determined whether the biological parents can regain their parental rights.

Sometimes a child who has been in a foster home for some time becomes available for adoption. When the court determines that reunification is no longer the goal, the foster family may attempt to become a permanent one through adoption. Even if the child has few years left as a minor, you can still create a life-long connection with an older youth waiting to gain his or her independence.

Courts Must Give the Green Light to Adoption

The adoption will need to be finalized in court to legally establish the child’s new, permanent home. Your lawyer can walk you through this oftentimes complex process and prepare you for what’s to come. As a foster parent, you’re considered part of a professional team. Your input in decisions affecting the child will become essential, both in and out of court. At certain points, you may be expected to work with the birth family, caseworker, and other team members, give sworn testimony, or provide records during hearings.

The Adoption Act (750 ILCS 50/15.1) requires that certain factors be considered in adoption cases. Examples of these are:

  • The child’s interaction and interrelationship with the adoptive parents;
  • The written wishes of the child’s parents;
  • The child’s adjustment to their current home, school, and community;
  • Family ties between the child and the people hoping to adopt them; and
  • The value of preserving family ties between children and their relatives.

It’s often a long process that requires patience. Keep in mind that the child’s safety and well-being will be the main priority, regardless of what place he or she ultimately calls home. In the past, Illinois Courts have focused on the fundamental rights of biological parents to care for their children, but the acknowledgment of non-biological parents’ rights is growing.

Your road to adoption will surely bring up many questions along the way. The experienced attorneys at Davis Friedman are familiar with the nuances of adoption through the foster care system and can help you position yourself for a successful outcome. Contact us at 312-782-2220 for a consultation to find out how we can work together to help you expand your family

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