Stepparent Or Grandparent Adoption Can Change A Child’s Life
Most children have important adults in their lives who are not their biological parents. In some instances, a grandparent or stepparent may be a vital caregiver due to the death, absence, incarceration or incapacity of a child’s biological parents.
Many grandparents or stepparents wish to take the formal step of adopting a child they are helping raise. There are a number of legal issues to address in stepparent or grandparent adoption. The lawyers at Blacha Law Office have extensive experience in this area. We welcome the opportunity to help you navigate the process.
For starters, the stepparent relationship must be legally established. This is typically a result of a person marrying the child’s biological parent.
In addition, the child’s other birth parent must consent to terminating his or her parental rights. This can be a challenging step, as a birth parent who forfeits parental rights can no longer make decisions for the child, has no right to visit the child and even gives up the right to communicate with the child.
If a birth parent refuses to consent to a stepparent adoption, or if the birth parent cannot be located, it is possible to petition the court to terminate that person’s parental rights. If the termination is being contested, the court will require proof of abandonment by or unfitness of the biological parent. In Illinois, grounds for abandonment include failing to make a good faith effort to support the child financially and/or failure to visit or communicate with a child for a minimum of one year.
Grounds for proving unfitness of a birth parent may include physical abuse, habitual substance abuse by the parent, mental illness, repeated neglect or creating an unsafe environment for the child.
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services estimates that more than 100,000 grandparents in the state act as a minor child’s primary caregiver. Grandparents accept this role for a number of reasons. A grandparent may be able to adopt a grandchild if both birth parents are unable to fulfill the caregiver role due to:
- Substance abuse
- Mental illness
- Abandonment or neglect
Grandparents are the most stable influence for many children in Illinois. By formally adopting a grandchild, a grandparent can establish permanent decision-making authority and prevent the relationship from being disrupted by a parent who drifts in and out of a child’s life.
Enlist Our Experienced Legal Guidance
Our attorneys will review your situation during a free consultation and answer your questions about stepparent or grandparent adoption. Call 630-283-1987 or use our online contact form to schedule a meeting. We assist residents throughout greater Joliet with the adoption issues and all other family law matters from offices in Naperville and Joliet.