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wheaton divorce lawyerIn the years after a divorce, finding a new partner and planning to remarry can be a major bright spot in your life. If your partner has children, you can also look forward to becoming a stepparent, an experience that can be both challenging and rewarding. You may be intimidated by the prospect of bonding with your partner’s kids, but there are things you can do to help these new relationships develop in a positive direction.

Getting to Know Your Future Stepchildren

If you know that your relationship is serious and could lead to marriage, it is a good idea to start getting to know your partner’s kids. It is normal for children to be skeptical or even resentful of a parent’s new love interest, but spending short periods of time with them can help them grow more comfortable with you and the role you will play in their lives. Make an effort to take genuine interest in the things that are important to your future stepchildren, and find common interests that you can bond over.

After becoming a stepparent, you should keep in mind that your stepchildren may be resistant to viewing you as a parental figure, especially if they have a strong relationship with their other parent. Try to give your stepchildren their space and respect their boundaries, and start with a foundation of mutual respect. Over time, this respect can grow into a stronger relationship.

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Wheaton adoption lawyersAdopting a child is one of the most generous things that a person can do, as it often provides a child in need with a stable home and a loving family. However, the adoption process is not always easy, especially if one or both of the biological parents still have parental rights. This is often the case in a step-parent adoption or related adoption when the potential adopter or adopters are seeking to give the child a better life than the current legal parents are able or willing to provide. In these cases, it is necessary to terminate the current parents’ rights, either voluntarily or by court order, for the adoption to be able to proceed.

Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights in Illinois

Terminating parental rights is typically much easier if the biological parents are willing to consent to the adoption. This may be the case if a parent is uninterested in being part of the child’s life, or if he or she recognizes that the adoption would be in the child’s best interest. A person who cedes parental rights loses standing to pursue parenting time or decision-making authority regarding the child, and also is no longer obligated to provide financial support for the child. There may sometimes be a challenge in locating an absent parent to obtain consent, but if this is the case, there may be other options for terminating parental rights.

Proving That a Parent is Unfit

If a parent does not willingly consent to the adoption, the potential adopters will likely need to petition the court for the termination of the biological parent’s rights and demonstrate that the parent is unfit. There are a number of reasons that a parent can be declared unfit according to Illinois law, including:

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Wheaton adoption attorneysMany children benefit from the love and support of relatives outside of their immediate family, and this can be especially important for children whose parents are no longer living or are unable to care for them. In these cases, a relative will often step up to formally adopt the child, solidifying a legal relationship in addition to the personal relationship. If you are considering a related adoption, a family law attorney can help you with the process.

Who Can Adopt a Related Child?

In Illinois, a person is eligible to be an adoptive parent in a related adoption if they are related to the child in one of the following ways, either by blood, marriage, or adoption:

  • Parent or step-parent
  • Grandparent, step-grandparent, or great-grandparent
  • Sibling or step-sibling
  • Aunt, uncle, great-aunt, or great-uncle
  • First or second cousin

Unlike some other types of adoption in Illinois, the adoptive parents in a related adoption do not need to have lived in Illinois for at least six months. Usually, a married person must adopt a child with his or her spouse. Adoptive parents are also usually required to be legal adults, but the court may allow a minor to adopt if there is good cause, which may be the case when a child is adopted by his or her sibling.

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Illinois adoption lawyersAdoption can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience for all involved, but it is not a decision that should be taken lightly. By going through this legal process, you are taking on all of the financial, medical, emotional, and developmental needs of the child. The following are five things you need to know and consider before embarking on your adoption journey.

1. You Need Stability, Not Perfection

Families considering adoption often allow themselves to become overwhelmed with all the tasks and changes involved. They may also become nervous about their shortcomings during the interview or home study process. Rest assured that you do not need to be perfect to complete an adoption. You are not required to have a “traditional” household. All you really need is to prove that you can provide a stable, loving environment for a child and that you will do everything possible to ensure the child’s needs are met.

2. Adoption is a Life-Long Journey

While the legal adoption process only lasts for a short time, adoption itself is a life-long journey. For the rest of your life, you will be a parent. You and your child may also face serious challenges, such as questions about a birth parent or feelings of sadness when you tell them about the adoption. It is often beneficial when adoptive parents consider the journey and how they may face the challenges, prior to completing the process.

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Posted on in Adoption

Wheaton stepparent adoptionAs a stepparent, you have a unique opportunity to make a difference in the life of a child you love. You are yet another source of support, love, and guidance. Still, the role of a stepparent can be difficult to navigate because you do not have the same authority as a biological parent. Thankfully, there are ways to bond and connect with your stepchild, without undermining either of the child’s biological parents. Learn more in the following sections. 

Offer Patience and Mindfulness During the Transition

Entering a family with two active and involved biological parents can be difficult—for both you and the child. As such, it is best if you approach the process slowly, with patience and mindfulness. Avoid high expectations, expensive gifts, and drawn-out family meals or activities. Focus instead on making each interaction short but positive. 

Recognize the Child May Need Time to Grieve 

Divorce and separation can have a massive impact on the development of a child. Many experience a grieving period. Be mindful of this, and allow them the room to process the changes within their family before expecting much of a bond with them. 

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