1. Fill out adoption forms
Fill out and sign the forms listed below. Make 2 extra copies of each form.
- Petition for Adoption: There are two forms available, one where the legal parents were married and one where the legal parents were not married.
- Final and Irrevocable Consent To Adoption: The Final and Irrevocable Consent To Adoption must be signed in front of a judge. The legal parents must go to the courthouse and schedule a time to meet with a judge to have the Final and Irrevocable Consent To Adoption witnessed.
There is a fee to file most forms. The cost depends on the type of case you have and the county where you are filing. Contact your local circuit clerk's office for information on the fees.
If you do not have money to pay court fees, use the Application for Waiver of Court Fees program.
2. File your forms with the court
Now that you have filled out your forms, you need to file them with the clerk. The method you are required to use depends on the county where you are filing.
- E-filing: Some counties require you to file your forms and documents electronically. See E-Filing Basics for more information.
- Paper filing: If you can paper file or have an E-filing Exemption Certificate, take your completed forms to the circuit court clerk's office in the courthouse. See courthouse locations.
When you file your forms with the clerk they become part of the case. The clerk will stamp your forms. This stamp is important because it's proof that you filed the form with the court.
- E-filing: The documents you want to file with the court have to be uploaded into the system. You will need to create an account. See E-filing Basics for details.
- Paper filing: If you are paper filing bring the forms to the clerk at the courthouse in the county where you are filing. Bring all your copies and the originals with you when you file. Ask the clerk to stamp all your forms. They will keep the original. Keep at least one copy for your records. See courthouse locations.
How you will find out about the court date (or hearing date) and time depends on how you filed your case.
- E-filing: The website you used to electronically file may let you pick your court date (or hearing date) and time. If it does not, contact the clerk.
- Paper filing: If you filed in person at the courthouse, the clerk will let you pick or they may pick for you.
3. Tell the other party about your case
After filing, you must send the other party or parties a Summons and attach the Petition for Adoption (see above for the two versions) and Final and Irrevocable Consent to Adoption forms. A Summons is a document that tells a person about the lawsuit and when to come to court.
Here are some rules to know about a Summons:
- There is a usually a cost to having a Summons served. The cost depends on how the Summons is served to the other party; and
- If you do not give the other party a Summons telling them about your lawsuit within the required time, the lawsuit may be dismissed because there was not proper notice of the lawsuit.
- This notice must be sent to the child to be adopted and all parties who have not voluntarily waived service.
- If the legal parent cannot be found, notice may be given by publication. Learn more about How to serve a Summons.
4. Go to the Interim Order hearing
At the hearing, the judge will decide if the legal parent needs to agree to the adoption. If the legal parent does not need to agree, the judge will decide how important it is to terminate their parental responsibilities.
At the hearing, the judge will decide who gets temporary parental responsibilities for the child to be adopted. The judge will also appoint a guardian ad litem, a GAL, and an investigator for the child. A GAL is an attorney who helps the court by making a recommendation in a case.
Once the GAL is assigned, write that person’s name in the Interim Order and ask the circuit clerk to give the interim order to a judge to be entered. Give the clerk an extra copy of the interim order to be file stamped.
An investigation of the adopting parents’ home usually happens after the child starts living there. A written report must be given to the court before the adoption can be final. The report includes the medical background, personal recommendations, and a description of the home and work environments of the adopting parents.
8. Go to the final judgment hearing
Follow these suggestions when going to court:
- Get to the courthouse at least 30 minutes before your hearing time;
- Go to the courtroom listed on your court forms. If your forms do not have a courtroom number, look for a list of cases at the courthouse or ask the circuit clerk;
- Check-in quietly with the courtroom staff;
- Wait for your name and case number to be called; and
- When your case is called, walk up to the judge and introduce yourself;
- Explain briefly what you want out of the case;
- After listening to you and to the other side, the judge will let you know what happens next.
The judge will review the investigative report and other information about the adopting parents. If the judge approves the adoption, the child’s name will formally be changed to one that is chosen by the adopting parents.
Next, give the judge the Judgment Order for Adoption to sign and enter.
Take the signed Judgment Order for Adoption to the circuit clerk to get a certified copy.
9. Change the child’s birth record (optional)
After the judgment is entered, you can apply to the Illinois Department of Public Health for an amended birth record for the child. The amended birth record will show the child's new name and replace the former parents’ names with your name and information. Once it is changed, the original birth record will be sealed or hidden from public view.
Learn more about changing a minor’s name.
Updated: January 2018