Attorney James T. Reilly explains the process of adopting your spouse's child

The process below outlines the basic procedures for adoption of a child by a new husband. This procedure is followed when the biological father has been adjudicated (declared by a Judge) to be the natural parent of the child. This can be done if the father previously signed a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity (this usually happens at the birth of the child).

An alternative way of adjudication of paternity is where a child support case was previously brought (usually by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services).

If none of the above applies to you, we must first search the Putative Father’s Registry to see if the father has registered. If he has not registered, we will prepare a summons and a Petition for Adoption, naming that person as the person we believe to be the father. He must personally be served the Petition for Adoption by a process server or sheriff unless he voluntarily consents to termination of his rights.

The Petition for Adoption is signed by you and your husband as the Petitioners. If the birth father consents to the adoption, we prepare forms to be signed before a Judge by him giving up his parental rights.

After the Petition is filed, you will pick up a copy of the Petition, a summons on behalf of your child at our office so that the child has been properly served notice of the pending proceedings. The birth father is then served by a private process server if he did not sign a consent. The summons tells the father he must respond to the Petition for Adoption within 30 days of service.

If the father does not respond within 30 days, we can file a Motion to Default and sent the father a Notice, advising that if he does not appear on the hearing date for the Motion, the Court will enter an Order of Default against him.

If the father cannot be located or refuses to accept service, we publish the Petition for Adoption in a local newspaper three times before we can file a Motion to Default the father. We then ask a Judge to enter an Order of Default against the father for failure to respond to the Petition for Adoption.

The Judge will appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) to interview you, your husband and the child. This interview is often done on the same date as the adoption hearing in an uncontested situation. On the hearing date, the Judge will review the GAL’s report, question the parties and sign and enter the Judgment for Adoption. Papers are then sent to Springfield for corrected birth certificate naming the Petitioners as parents.

An agreed adoption can also be done when both birth parents consents. The most common uncontested adoption is where a husband adopts a child/children of his wife from a previous birth father. That is not a decision to be made lightly. That adopting father has the same rights and obligations as if he was the natural father; the right to ask for custody and obligation of C/S in the case of a divorce where the mother is the custodial parent.

Adoptions, as all legal matters can be complicated. Call Law Offices of Reilly & Skerston, LLC to ask our experienced staff what you need to do for your matter. The time to seek legal help is at the beginning not at the end to fix problems that could have beeen avoided.