When Your Child is Adopted: Parental Consent
Generally speaking, at any time that you feel that it would be best for your child to be adopted by someone else and you would like to be a part of making that plan for your child, if your child is in a pre-adoptive home and DCFS is in agreement, it is your right to do so.
You may consent to the adoption of your child in one of two ways:
- Specific Consent to Adoption: You may consent to your child’s adoption by the person caring for your child if that person is approved by DCFS and certain other criteria are satisfied. A Specific Consent, sometimes referred to as a Directed Consent, is valid only for the named adoptive parents to adopt your child. After you sign a Specific Consent, you cannot revoke it or change your mind. The only current exception to this is if more than 1 year goes by after you sign the Consent, but no Petition for Adoption has been filed in court yet.
- Final and Irrevocable Surrender for Purposes of Adoption: A surrender for adoption is final and irrevocable. It acts to terminate your parental rights. After you sign a surrender for adoption, you cannot revoke it or change your mind. A surrender gives DCFS the responsibility of deciding who should adopt your child.
If you are considering consenting to adoption via Specific Consent to Adoption or a Final and Irrevocable Surrender, talk to your lawyer first. You may also wish to consult with others who provide you with support. For example, you might find it helpful to talk to family members, your minister or another responsible person who knows you well.
Consenting to the adoption of your child is a very important, serious, and personal decision, and should only be made when you are sure that it is the right one for your child. You must consider how a stable and permanent home can best be provided for your child. You should make this decision only after consultation with your lawyer and careful thought.
Before making the decision to consent to the adoption of your children, you should consider:
- Who will the adoptive parents be? A child can have only one set of legal parents. If your child is adopted by the relative or foster parent now caring for him/ her, you will no longer have any rights as a parent of that child. The law cannot cancel the fact that you are the birth parent of your child, but the law does say that the adoptive parent becomes the legal parent. All the rights that you have as a parent are given to the adoptive parent, and the adoptive parent will make all decisions about the child.
- When you consent to the adoption, you sign a final and irrevocable consent to adoption by specified person/s OR a final and irrevocable surrender to adoption. Once you sign the consent or surrender you cannot change your mind about the adoption. The consent cannot be undone, cancelled or taken back, unless you can prove in Court that you were forced to sign it or were lied to by the agency, the adoptive parents, or the attorney. This is a very difficult thing to prove. In some cases, it may be possible to have a Specific Concent voided by the court if more than a year goes by after you sign it and your child still isn’t adopted -- talk to your lawyer about this if you have questions.
- Your relationship with your child after adoption. You and your child will always share the special relationship of biological parent and child, but after adoption you and your child will have no legal right to stay in contact or to visit with each other. Nevertheless, your child will probably have many questions about you, your family, and him/herself that only you can answer. Access to personal and family history may become important for medical reasons. Your child may just need to know how you are doing and that you still care. You too may want to see your child as he/she grows up. It might also be possible for you and the adopting parents to work out an agreement before the adoption occurs that allows you and your child to visit, to talk on the telephone, write letters, or exchange pictures. However, such agreements are not legally enforceable. This means that even if the adoptive parents agree to let you visit your child or to send you pictures, there is no way to make them do it if they choose not to do so after the adoption.
This information is intended to provide parents with general information and advice about the child welfare system, DCFS and the Juvenile Court. It does not constitute legal advice. This information is only intended to serve as an overview and does not cover all situations or facets of the law governing child welfare and foster care in Illinois. Legal advice is dependent on the unique circumstances of one’s case and should only be provided by a competent lawyer who represents you.
Note: This information was prepared as a public service by the Illinois State Bar Association. Every effort has been made to provide accurate information at the time of publication. For the most current information, please consult your lawyer. If you need a lawyer and do not have one, visit our lawyer referral page.
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