Open adoptions in Illinois present their own unique challenges. Legal recognition of open adoptions is limited, but where the adoptive parents and birth parents can work together and want to pursue an open adoption, such arrangements can be made.
What is the legal definition of “Open Adoption?”
There is no legal definition for open adoptions. Open Adoption is not a legal term. As the term is used by birth parents and by adoptive parents, it can mean several things:
- After the adoption the birth parent(s) will continue to have contact with the child. The contact can be as little as receiving pictures of the child on an annual basis, to regular visitation with the child, and the child, at an appropriate age, being told the identity of the birth parent(s).
- To most people an Open Adoption is one in which the birth parent(s) interviews the prospective adoptive parents and reviews the backgrounds of the people who are interested in this adoption, and then it is the birth parents who make the selection. The selection process can be done in a private adoption. Many adoption agencies also allow the birth parents to select the adoptive parents.
Is a promise of visitation by the adoptive parents legally enforceable?
No. Illinois courts have held that even when the decree of adoption provides for visitation by the birth parents, any type of contact promised, or ordered by the decree, is not enforceable. The Illinois courts have held that an adoption is a complete termination of the rights of the birth parents.
In an adoption where the birth parents select the adoptive parents, can there be anonymity between the adoptive parents and birth parents?
Yes. The entire procedure can be anonymous, with identifying data (such as last names and addresses) not being shown. An adoption can be on an anonymous basis at the request of either the birth parents or the intended parents.
Is there any way that an adopted child can later learn the identity of the birth parents?
Yes. Illinois law recently opened adoption records to the adopted child when the child is an adult.
In an adoption is it lawful to pay the birth parents any money?
Yes, but for limited purposes. The medical and hospital expenses for the birth of the adoptive child may be paid by the adoptive parents. In addition, the adoptive parents may, but only by prior order of court, pay the “reasonable living expenses” of the birth parents and the reasonable attorney fees of the birth parents. Reasonable living expenses means the reasonable costs of lodging, food and clothing for the birth parents during the period of the birth mother’s pregnancy and for no more than 30 days after the birth of the child.
Does The Gitlin Law Firm represent parties in adoption proceedings?
Yes, in all types of adoption proceedings, including non-agency adoptions, agency adoptions, and international adoptions.