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What Are the Steps for Contesting an Illinois Adoption?

Posted on in Adoption/Guardianships

Wheaton contested adoption lawyersAdoption can be a wonderful experience, both for the child who is given a new home, as well as the adoptive parents who want to expand their family. However, it is a major decision that should include careful consideration. In certain cases, both biological parents may not agree to giving up their parental rights. Contested adoptions most often occur with infant adoptions, when one biological parent, usually the birth mother, wishes to place a baby up for adoption, while the other biological parent, the birth father, objects to the adoption. 

Reasons for Contesting

There are many different scenarios regarding adoption. Many infant adoptions involve a young, single mother who wants to give up her baby to a couple who are prepared financially and emotionally to raise a child. Older children who were in foster care can also be adopted through Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) in Illinois. 

A biological father may contest adoption for several reasons, such as in the following instances: 

  • The birth father did not know the birth mother was pregnant.
  • The birth father believes he was forced into providing consent.
  • The birth father changes his mind.
  • The birth father’s identity was mistaken.

Establishing Paternity

Paternity is defined as the legal relationship between a child and his or her father. It is important to note that if the mother of a child is or was married when the child was born or 300 days prior to the child’s birth, the person to whom the mother was married during that time is legally presumed to be the father of the child. If the parents of a child are not married when the child is born, the father is not considered to be the legal father of the child, even if the parents reside under the same roof and plan to wed. The presumed father’s name cannot be added to the birth certificate until paternity is established.

There are three ways to establish paternity: 

  • A Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) signed by both parents and filed with the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS)
  • An Order of Paternity entered by a judicial court
  • An Administrative Order of Paternity entered by HFS Child Support Services

If there is any uncertainty as to the biological father’s identity, a parent should not sign the VAP. Establishing paternity through genetic (DNA) testing is a better option. Child Support Services can facilitate voluntary DNA testing, and the court can order DNA testing. A paternity test compares the DNA of the child, mother, and the presumed father to determine whether the alleged dad is, or is not, the biological father of a child. A DNA sample is gathered by swabbing the inside of a person’s cheek and it is 99.9 percent accurate. 

Legal Procedure for Contesting

If a biological father refuses to give up his parental rights, both he and the mother must attend a consent hearing in court. A judge will assess whether or not the birth father followed proper protocol as determined by state laws, and acted appropriately during and after the birth mother’s pregnancy. That is, he showed genuine concern for her well-being while she was pregnant. He must also have shown interest in the child after the birth, if applicable, as well.

If the court decides in favor of the birth father after the hearing, the adoption cannot proceed. If the court sides with the adoptive parents, then the biological father’s petition may be declined and the court can allow the adoptive parents to become the child’s legal parents. In some cases, a judge may schedule a best interest hearing. In this type of hearing, the court considers the best interest of the child and assesses which party would provide the child with the most stable, healthy home life. 

Contact a Naperville Family Law Attorney

Contesting an Illinois adoption can be a complicated process. If you have questions or concerns about your parental rights during an adoption, you should seek professional legal assistance to help you through the proceedings. The compassionate Oak Brook adoption lawyers at Anderson & Associates have more than 30 years of experience in family law matters, including contested adoption cases. To schedule your initial consultation, call our office today at 630-653-9400.





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