Illinois Adoption for Gay and Lesbian Parents
Same-sex marriage has been legal in Illinois since June 2014. Hence, gay and lesbian couples who choose to raise a family together now have an easier road to parenthood — whether through adoption or conception of children following marriage.
Same-Sex Stepparent Adoption in Illinois
Since passage of the new law, Illinois same-sex couples who have children following their marriage, whether biological or adopted, may place each partner’s name on a birth certificate. This is a change from prior law, when only a biological parent’s name was permitted to be listed.
Legalization of same-sex marriage also makes it easier for a non-biological parent to adopt his partner’s biological child. In many cases involving children of same-sex couples, the child is biologically related to one partner — either the mother who gave birth using donated sperm or a gay couple who used a surrogate and the husband’s own sperm.
In the past, the non-biological parent was required to legally adopt the child under what is commonly referred to as a “second parent adoption.” Failure to legally adopt the child left the non-biological parent with no rights to the child. If the couple later broke up, the biological parent could keep the child from seeing the non-biological parent, despite the fact that the couple had the child with the intent that both would serve as the child’s parent. The biological parent likewise could face difficulty obtaining child support from the non-biological parent if the relationship ended.
Now, the non-biological partner should be able to adopt the child through Illinois’ less invasive and more simplified stepparent adoption laws. Contrary to the traditional adoption process, home visits, background checks, interviews and references are not required in a stepparent adoption. Instead, the couple may file a joint petition for stepparent adoption, which requires only the petition and a waiver of parental rights signed by the other biological parent (or other proof that the biological parent waived all parental rights to the child, such as what may be contained in a surrogacy agreement). Once the adoption is finalized — which will happen much sooner than under the traditional adoption process — the non-biological parent will have the same rights and responsibilities as the biological parent.
Even though same-sex marriage is now legal in Illinois, and the non-biological parent can have his or her name placed on the birth certificate for children born following a marriage, non-biological parents are still strongly encouraged to go through the adoption process. There are still many states and countries that do not recognize same-sex marriage — and may therefore not recognize the non-biological parent as the child’s parent based solely on the birth certificate. Going through the process adds an extra layer of protection to both parents and the child.
Palatine Adoption Attorney
The decision to have children is a lifelong dream of many couples. The changing dynamics of Illinois’ marriage laws makes fulfilling that dream a bit easier for same-sex couples. If you and your partner are in a same-sex relationship and plan to have children — or if you are already raising children — you need to solidify the legal rights of both parents and children. Palatine adoption attorney Nicholas W. Richardson has more than a decade worth of experience handling adoption and all other family law-related issues. Give him a call today to discuss the adoption process.