“Adopting one child will not change the world;
  but for that child, the world will change.” -unknown

Berger Schatz Family Building provides comprehensive legal services related to your family building journey.
At both our Chicago and Lake Forest offices, we offer a wide range of adoption services, many of which are described in more detail below. Contact us to obtain more information about how we can assist you in growing
your family by adoption.

Adult Adoption

Adult adoption is a process by which two adults legally enter a parent-child relationship. Illinois adults must meet the following requirements before petitioning for adult adoption. First, the person to be adopted must live with the person adopting him or her for at least two (2) years before filing the petition for adoption. Families may skip this requirement if the adopting adult and the adult to be adopted are “related” according to Illinois law. Second, the person to be adopted must consent to the adoption. Biological parents of the adult to be adopted are not required to consent to the adoption, nor are they required to receive notice.

Co-Parent Adoption

Illinois, along with several other states, has laws that explicitly allow same-sex couples to adopt. A co-parent adoption is the joint adoption of a child by two (2) unmarried adults who jointly seek a permanent and legal relationship with the child. In contrast to a second parent adoption (defined below), neither adult is already the biological or legal parent of the child. Where there is a co-parent adoption, if the couple were later to dissolve their adult relationship, each parent would be equally entitled to custody of the child. In such a situation, a court would determine custody based on the best interests of the child, without giving an automatic advantage or preference to either parent.

Domestic Adoption

A domestic adoption is the adoption of a child residing in the United States by adoptive parents who are 
U.S. citizens.

Guardian Ad Litem

A Guardian Ad Litem is an attorney appointed by the court to represent the interests of a minor child or minor birth parent in the adoption process. The Guardian Ad Litem, frequently referred to as the “GAL,” considers the best interests of the minor and may perform a variety of roles, including that of an independent investigator. Before making a recommendation to the court about the adoption, the GAL receives information from birth parents, adoptive parents, and social workers.

International / Intercountry Adoption

An international adoption, or intercountry adoption, is any adoption in which the child and the adoptive parents reside in two (2) different countries. When compared to a domestic adoption, additional legal services must be performed to authorize an international adoption.

In 2000, the United States passed the Child Citizenship Act, which automatically grants U.S. citizenship to a minor child adopted from another country by parents who are U.S. citizens.

Interstate Adoption

An interstate adoption is the adoption of a child who is a resident of one state by adoptive parents who are residents of another state.

The Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children

The Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (“ICPC”) is a set of laws governing the movement of a child born in one state and adopted by adoptive parents in another state. For the purposes of the adoption, it is illegal to move a child across state lines without meeting the requirements of the ICPC.

Private Agency Adoption

A private agency adoption is a an adoption that occurs through a non-government operated agency. Some private adoption agencies place infants or children from other countries and some work with (and are paid by) public agencies to place children who are in foster care. Some agencies provide services for birth parents, some provide services for adoptive parents, and some provide services for both.

Public Agency / DCFS Adoption

Every state has a government-operated adoption agency, usually a division of the state’s department of social services. The Department of Children and Family Services (“DCFS”) is Illinois’ government-operated adoption agency. The DCFS is responsible for placing waiting children in foster care. The public agency is generally responsible for the adoptions of most older children and for handling cases where children have been
abused, neglected, or abandoned by their birth parents. The DCFS is also responsible for licensing private
adoption agencies.


Most adoptions of foreign-born children by parents in the United States are finalized in the child’s country of birth, where adopting parents obtain a foreign adoption decree written in the language of the child’s birth country. Upon returning to the United States, many adoptive parents go through the process of adopting the same child through a formal adoption proceeding in their state of residence. The process is known as re-adoption, and it is a means of documenting the parent-child relationship under both United States and state law. In Illinois, with the entry of a re-adoption decree, the adoptive parents obtain an Illinois “Record of Foreign Birth,” a document that is legal and binding throughout the United States. This document is similar to a new birth certificate and will list the adoptive parents as the birthparents of the child.

Second Parent Adoption

llinois, along with several other states, has laws that explicitly allow same-sex couples to adopt. Second-parent adoption occurs when the biological or legal parent of a child is in a relationship with another adult who wants to share parental rights and responsibilities. In contrast to a co-parent adoption (defined above), one of the parents shares a biological or legal relationship with the child. The biological or legal parent consents to relinquish sole custody of the child so that his/her partner can become a second, legal parent. Second-parent adoptions give the child two (2) legal guardians. The adoption protects both parents by giving each of them legally recognized parental status. If the couple were to later dissolve their adult relationship, each parent would be equally entitled to custody, which a court would determine based on the best interests of the child, without giving an automatic advantage or preference to either parent.

Step-Parent Adoption

Adopting a stepchild is the most common form of adoption. In a step-parent adoption, a biological parent relinquishes parental rights by way of consent and the step-parent who adopts will be legally responsible for his or her spouse’s child.

Adoption Tax Credit

To help defray some of the costs associated with adoption, the Adoption Tax Credit reduces taxes owed by parents who choose to adopt a child. The Adoption Tax Credit states that qualifying expenses may include adoption fees, court costs, attorneys fees, travel expenses, and any other expenses that are incurred for the primary purpose of adopting an eligible child. The amount of eligibility for Adoption Tax Credit depends on the adjusted gross income of the adoptive couple.

Putative Father Registry

The Putative Father Registry is a confidential state database that allows a man who believes he may be the father of a child to register as such. A man who has registered with the Putative Father Registry must be notified before his child is placed for adoption or his parental rights are terminated. If a father fails to register with the Putative Father Registry and he has not been acknowledged, presumed, or adjudicated to be the father of a child, he has in effect waived his right to receive notice with respect to the termination of his parental rights and his consent will not be required during adoption proceedings.