Illinois Department of Children & Family Services
DCFS Facebook Page DCFS Twitter Page DCFS Homepage Illinois Governor's Website

DCFS Links Skip to State LinksSkip to ContactsSkip to Section Links

Home
Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect
Child Protection
Foster Care
Adoption
Day Care & Early Childhood
Other Services
News
Library
Policy & Rules
Training
Forms
FAQs
About DCFS
Advisory Groups
Employment Opportunities
Inspector General
Contact Us
FOIA Requests
Child Abuse Hotline
800-25-ABUSE
(800-252-2873)

217-785-4020
(for international calls only)

DCFS Info and Assistance
(Advocacy Office)
800-232-3798
217-524-2029

Day Care Information
877-746-0829
312-328-2779

Foster Parent Hotline
800-624-KIDS
(800-624-5437)

Adoption Information
800-572-2390

Youth Hotline
800-232-3798

Missing Child Helpline
866-503-0184
Illinois Home

Inspector General

Agencies, Boards & Commissions

Inspector General
800-722-9124

Chicago Administrative Headquarters
100 West Randolph Street 6-200
Chicago IL 60601
312.814.6800
TTD 312.814.8783

Springfield Administrative Headquarters
406 East Monroe
Springfield IL 62701-1498
217.785.2509
TTD 217.785.6605

Media Inquiries/ Communications Office
312-814-6847

Illinois Putative Father Registry

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

Illinois Amber Alert

Illinois Employer Report Form

  Adoption Process  

Your decision to adopt a child will be one of the most important you will ever make. The decision to add a child to your family - whether by birth or adoption - is certainly life changing. The responsibilities of being a parent are awesome, and mean a new life for you and the child.

Bringing a child that has been a part of the child welfare system into your family may be the most satisfying experience of your life.

However, the Department's primary adoption goal is not to find a child for a family but, rather, to find just the right family to meet the particular needs of each of our waiting children. A family and family life are important to all of us, but even more so for children in the child welfare system.

With that focus in mind, we hope the following information will help you make the important decision about whether to open your home to a child (or children) who need a permanent home and a chance to benefit from the unique qualities your family has to offer

What happens after we complete an application?

You will be asked to complete the licensing process, which includes a background check, fingerprinting, a medical exam, training, and several visits to your home by a worker to complete a home study. We'll also have several group and/or individual opportunities to share information. The agency will give you as many "tools" as possible to help prepare you for adoptive parenthood. The social worker will want to get to know you well, so a good "match" can be made between a child's special needs and your family's special strengths. Together, you and the social worker will decide whether there is a waiting child who could benefit from becoming a part of your family

How long does it take?

If you are interested in a waiting child, the time it takes us to get to know you will vary. Three months, on the average, should be adequate to determine what kind of child you are best suited to parent. Then we will work to match you with a child.

When do we get to meet the children?

Once you are ready for a child to be placed with you, we will work with you to find a child who would benefit from being a part of your family. We will tell you about the child and you will see a photograph of the child.

We'll tell you about the child's background, his/her personality, and his/her strengths and weaknesses. Then, we'll ask you to decide whether you are seriously interested in him/her before you meet him/her. If you think this sounds like a child who would be a good in match for your family or a child you believe you could parent, we'll arrange for you to meet ... perhaps casually at first. If it appears this is a good match for your family and the child, we will begin pre-placement visits, including overnight visits. These visits give you a chance to get to know each other. They go on for as long as necessary, from a week to several months. Then comes the great day when your new child comes to stay.

We keep hearing about "the waiting children. Who are they?

The children in the care of DCFS who need foster or adoptive parents include:

  • African-American, Hispanic/Latino, and Caucasian children, mostly of school age;
  • brothers and sisters who want to be adopted into the same family; and
  • children with special medical, emotional, or educational needs.

Currently, there is an urgent need for foster families to care for youth who speak Spanish or another language, have questions about their gender identity, are pregnant or parenting a child of their own, or are leaving residential care for family living. The children in DCFS care who need adoptive parents are similar to those who need foster parents. They are often the very same children. When a child welfare agency cannot return a foster child to his or her birth family, the agency searches for an adoptive home. Some children are adopted right away—often by their foster parents or relatives. Other children may wait longer before being adopted. They are often referred to as "waiting children."

Where are these children? Can we see them?

Most children waiting to be adopted are living in foster homes. Some will be adopted by their foster parents, while others need new families. A few are in residential facilities. Prospective adoptive parents can learn more about individual waiting children at the Adoption Information Center of Illinois website (www.adoptinfo-il.org) and the national adoption website www.adoptuskids.org). The Adoption Information Center of Illinois is located at 120 West Madison Street, Suite 800, Chicago, IL 60602. Their phone number is 800/572-2390. We can't promise you a specific child because another home may be ready before yours. But once you're prepared for adoption, if the child who caught your eye is still waiting, and we all agree that yours would be a good home, we will make the contact for you.

If the children are in foster homes now, will it be hard for them to move to a new adoptive home?

Yes, it will. It is always hard on a child to leave a place that has been home. Careful work must be done with the child to prepare for the move. While pre-placement visits will help, it is reasonable to expect that you and your new child will have some adjustments to make. We will try to help you understand some of the reasons for these issues, and find solutions before you encounter them. Your love, attention, patience and understanding will be necessary to help your child during these periods. We strongly believe the benefits of a permanent home will soon outweigh the adjustment issues.

Can we adopt more than one child?

Yes, indeed! There are many brothers and sisters waiting to be adopted and we especially welcome families able to take siblings. We have many families who adopt a child and decide later that they want to adopt more children.

If we have problems after we get the child, will the agency help us?

Yes. We will give you all the help we can. During the waiting period of at least six months before you go to court to finalize the adoption, we will have regular visits with you and will be on call to help with problems that arise. You should call us right away, rather than wait until a problem escalates. Even after the child is legally a part of your family, there are adoption preservation programs statewide to assist you.

If I need help with my child after the adoption is finalized can the agency help me?

Yes. When you are having problems call us right away. We will refer you to an adoption preservation program even after the child is legally a part of your family. The adoption preservation service provider will do an assessment of your family, provide therapy when indicated, advocate on your behalf for other beneficial services and initiate help in finding support groups and services for you and your children.

What if we meet a child, have a few visits, and then decide he/she just isn't the one for us?

That is one purpose of the "get acquainted" period. We want you to be sure this is a child you can love and care for. If you feel it just won't work, you don't have to feel guilty. We will talk about what went wrong and try to get a better idea of the right kind of child for your family. You may have to wait a while until we can better match you and a child to your family or until the kind of child you really want needs a home.

Can we get a child who doesn't have problems?

No children, whether they are biological or adopted, are problem free. The kinds and degrees of problems will vary. Children react in many different ways. Some want to see if you mean what you say about loving them and being a family forever. Your family is the chance these children need. Your family, love, attention, and understanding, will help the child adjust as quickly as possible. Many adoptive children need help at different times in the adoption process. Their past experiences may mean that you will need to acquire support services at various developmental stages. Those services are available.

Why did these children have to leave their parents in the first place?

There are almost as many reasons as there are children. Most children in the child welfare system come to us through the courts because they have been abused or neglected by their parents. When families cannot be reunited, we must look for new permanent homes for the children.

Why have some children had to wait so long for an adoptive home?

The process of terminating both parents' legal rights is very thorough, sometimes complicated, and lengthy. However, recent changes in the state's adoption law and practice make it simpler to free children for adoption and prevent them from spending needless years in foster care. We have a renewed focus on finding permanent homes for children.

Does it cause problems if we adopt a child who remembers hislher parents?

It is a different situation from adopting an infant who has never known any other parents. It means we must work with the children to prepare them for adoption, making sure they understand why they can't return to their birth parents. That kind of preparation is our job. Then you take over and help them adjust by talking freely about other places they have lived and by respecting their need to think well of their birth parents and foster parents. Sometimes older children keep in touch with various relatives including birth parents or former foster parents, but that does not mean they do not love their adoptive family.

Who are Adoptive parents?

Most people who can provide an adequate and loving home are eligible. An adoptive parent…

  • May be single, married, divorced, or separated and living apart from a spouse for 12 months or longer
  • May or may not have birth or adopted children
  • Must be at least 21 years of age
  • Must be able to financially manage the addition or a child or children to the family although there are no specific income requirements (Financial assistance is available for families who adopt a child older than one year or a child of any age with special needs)
  • Must pass a criminal background check.

How much does it cost to adopt?

Our agency charges nothing. You pay only the lawyer and court fee. If you adopt an eligible waiting child, we can pay the legal and court costs of the adoption, and provide you with a monthly subsidy to help pay the child(ren)'s expenses.

Does a child's birth parent ever try to get him/her back?

This is a common concern of adoptive parents. Recent, highly publicized court battles for children have made everyone realize how important it is that all legal procedures are completed before the adoption. One advantage of adopting through a licensed agency is that you can be confident every legal safeguard has been taken to protect you and your adopted child. The parents of all children that are available to be adopted by us have either had their parental rights legally terminated or have legally surrendered their children for adoption.

What if we adopt a child and when he/she is older he/she wants to find hislher original parents?

Some adopted people are curious about their birth family. This sometimes happens, particularly during adolescence, when young people are trying to sort out who they are. Often, we can give you enough information about your child's original family to satisfy their curiosity. It is not always easy for an adopted person to find out about his/her past. If your child feels it necessary to try, it's best if you relax and help in any way you can. Keep in mind that curiosity is natural and does not mean that your child wants to return to their original family. Your child will love you all the more if you can understand his/her need to know about early years. The Department of Children and Family Services contracts with an agency to assist with this process.

How can I get information on adoption?

Call your nearest office of the Department of Children and Family Services or call the Adoption Information Center of Illinois at 1-800-572-2390.

Also See...

Illinois Skills Match Workforce Development web site (includes job postings)
Now is the Time (Affirmative Action)

Employment Opportunities
Child Welfare Employee Licensing
Child Welfare Employment Opportunities brochure

Oportunidades para Servir tu Gente y tu Comunidad

Featured Links

Newsletters Online
Press Releases
Copyright © 2009 DCFS DCFS Privacy Notice / Disclaimer | Illinois Privacy Info | Kids Privacy | Web Accessibility | Plug-Ins | Contact Us