It is not uncommon for the mother of a child and her spouse – who is not the child’s biological father – to raise the child together. What is less common, although certainly occurs, is when the stepparent of that child wants to adopt the child and raise the child as their own. When this occurs, the biological father may feel as though his rights are being intruded upon. The following considers stepparent adoption of a child in Illinois, what rights each party involved possesses, and why it is important to consult with an attorney.
Stepparent Adoption in Illinois
The stepparent of a child in Illinois may apply for the adoption of the child if the stepparent is married to the child’s biological parent. However, in order for the adoption to be valid, both biological parents of the child must consent to the adoption. This means that a stepfather cannot adopt a child unless the biological father waives his parental rights.
When Can an Adoption Proceed Without Consent from the Biological Father?
There are some circumstances in which an adoption may proceed without a biological father’s consent. In many cases, obtaining consent is very difficult to do based on extenuating circumstances (sometimes, the mother may not even know who the biological father is). An adoption may proceed without consent if the biological parent is found to be “unfit.” Per 750 ILCS 50, a parent may be deemed unfit for the following:
- Failure to maintain a reasonable degree of interest in the child;
- Extreme or repeated abuse of the child;
- Failure to protect the child; and
Assuming the biological parent is not found to be unfit and wishes to retain parental rights over the child, then the stepparent will not be able to adopt the child. An adoption will not be allowed without consent of both biological parents, except under certain circumstances.
After a Stepparent Adoption
It is important that a biological father understand his rights, and the potential limitation of those rights, before consenting to a stepparent adoption. Once an adoption is agreed to and finalized, the biological parent forfeits his or her right to visitation, parenting time, custody and allocation of parental responsibilities, as well as all other parental rights.
Learn More About Stepparent Adoptions in Illinois
Of all the adoption types, stepparent adoption is one of the most straightforward and often the quickest to resolve. This is because many steps in the standard adoption process – such as a home study – are often waived.
If you would like to adopt your stepchild, or if you are a parent who is concerned that your child’s stepparent may seek parental rights over your child, you should consult with an attorney.
At Fay, Farrow & Associates, P.C., our experienced Illinois fathers’ rights and family law attorneys are ready to meet with you. An initial consultation with our lawyers is always free, so call us today to schedule yours at 630-961-0060.