My spouse and I are adopting a child in Illinois. We are worried the birth mother might change her mind once the baby arrives. What are our options in this situation?

The adoption process can be intimidating, expensive, and long, and there are legal safeguards in place to ensure that both the adoptive and birth parents are in full agreement about this life-changing decision.

Illinois law requires birth mothers to sign an irrevocable consent form that terminates her parental rights. This form can not be signed until 72 hours after the baby is born, allowing time in case the birth mother decides not to place the child for adoption. The consent form must be formally approved by a judge or authorized social service personnel. Attorneys and notaries cannot approve a consent form.

As for the birth father, the birth mother can either name the baby’s father, state that the identity of the baby’s father is unknown and explain why, or refuse to name the father and explain why not (for example, an abusive relationship). This statement must be in the form of an affidavit (a signed, sworn statement). Birth mothers who refuse to identify the father or who identify the wrong man as the father cannot sue to invalidate an adoption later.

A man is legally considered the father of a child if he is married to the birth mother on the day the child is born or up to 300 days before the birth. A court finding of paternity can also establish a man as a legal father. There is an additional law called the Illinois Putative Father Registry Statute. A putative father is not married to the birth mother and has not otherwise tried to establish that he is a child’s father. Under this law, a man has 30 days to register information about his identity, the birth mother and, if already born, the child in order to establish paternity. After that, a court will require further steps for a man seeking any legal rights regarding his child.

Once both birth parents give parental consent to the adoption and the adoption is finalized, the adoptive parents are legally considered the child’s parents. No matter where you are in the adoption process, if you need legal advice, contact our office for a free consultation about your specific situation.

*DISCLAIMER: The questions and answers presented on this website are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice, nor do they establish an attorney-client relationship.