It's been awhile since we've covered adoption on this blog. Back in June, we covered adoption for same sex couples on Father's Day. Though the article had a "two fathers" approach, the information is generally applicable, since the law does not distinguish between adoptive parents based on sexual preference.
One thing we did not address in that blogging masterpiece was the issue of open versus closed adoptions. Indeed, this is a pretty important consideration. Will your child know their birth parents growing up, or will you completely sever contact?
Unfortunately, the State of Illinois may have made the decision for you. According to the Adoption Act, "The natural parents of a child sought to be adopted shall be relieved of all parental responsibility for such child and shall be deprived of all legal rights as respects the child."
At least under Illinois law, there is no open adoption. Once the child has been relinquished via adoption, there are no rights that can be enforced in the court of law.
The logic of the law is sound. If the parents want to relinquish their responsibilities, including child support obligations, they shouldn't be able to backtrack in a few years and fight for visitation rights or custody. Such a loose legal arrangement is likely to cause more pain than good.
However, if the birth parents and adoptive parents have a relationship of mutual trust, there is always the possibility of saying "law be damned!" Just because the court won't enforce the arrangement, doesn't mean an informal agreement between trustworthy parties cannot be reached.
If you're seeking an open adoption arrangement, and moving to another state isn't an option, an informal Open Adoption Agreement can come in handy. It is essentially a written (unenforceable) contract that lies out the expectations of each party, such as the right to write letters to the child or visit on birthdays.
- Discuss Adoption with a Chicago Family Law Attorney (FindLaw)
- FAQ about Open Adoptions (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
- Is "Open Adoption" Legal in Illinois? (Illinois Legal Aid Society)
- The Adoption Option: Types of Adoption (FindLaw's Law & Daily Life Blog)