Over the last decade, more than 17,000 children got the chance they deserve to love and be loved, and to reach their fullest potential thanks to families across our state that chose to adopt through DCFS. By providing a child with a loving and permanent home, adoptive families have discovered the unique joy of making a life-changing difference to a child. It is a feeling you can't get any other way.
At the same time, the decision to add a child to your family is serious and life changing. We want to help you make sure that opening your heart and your life to a child is the right decision for the child and your family. If you choose to adopt, DCFS and our nonprofit partners are committed to providing your new family with the help you need.
Who are the children waiting to be adopted?
They come from all across the state, from all ages and backgrounds. Many are in need of a loving home not only for themselves, but also a little brother or sister. We offer special supports to help families offer a loving home to children with medical difficulties or other special needs.
Most children waiting to be adopted are living temporarily with relatives or other foster families. Some live in larger, professionally-staffed group settings. The Adoption Information Center of Illinois (AICI), a nonprofit partner of DCFS, maintains an online listing with pictures and descriptions of children in need of a loving family. Please call the AICI at 800/572-2390 or visit www.adoptinfo-il.org to learn more.
What help is available for adoptive families?
We are committed to ensuring a smooth transition as you grow your family through adoption or guardianship, and DCFS offers a range of supports to families depending on your needs, including:
- Reimbursement for costs associated with the adoption or guardianship, such as attorney fees and court costs;
- Continued support of the child's basic needs like food and clothing through monthly adoption subsidies;
- Supplemental assistance with health care needs through enrollment in Medicaid;
- Support groups, counseling, ongoing training;
- Counseling services for the family and child, if needed;
- Therapeutic day care.
Need help or want to know more?
The Adoption Support Line has a new number: 866-538-8892 or 312-808-5250. Adoptive and subsidized guardianship parents can now reach the Statewide Adoption Unit by calling one of these new phone numbers. After dialing the new number, an automated greeting will ask callers to select the area of the state where they live. DCFS staff will then direct the caller to the office or adoption worker needed to resolve the question. Adoptive parents (both prospective or post-adoption) can also contact their adoption worker directly.
Read Post Adoption and Guardianship Services to learn more.
How do foster care, adoption, and guardianship differ?
Foster care is the opportunity to provide a temporary home to children who are under the guardianship of the state because their home life is unsafe. Most children live either with a loving relative or licensed foster family, while some need a professionally-staffed group home or other institution to be safe. Foster care is designed to be temporary, and DCFS strives to reunite children with their birth families through a variety of supportive programs. When that simply is not possible, many foster families ultimately adopt the children they have cared for.
Adoption establishes you as a child's legal parent with all the rights and responsibilities of a child born to you. Once a child is adopted, DCFS is no longer involved in or responsible for the care, supervision or custody of the child. As an adoptive parent, you assume all rights and responsibilities to make important decisions for your child, including the right to consent to major medical care and treatment, to marriage, to enlistment in the armed services. Adoption is permanent and lifelong, and is only possible when the birth parents have voluntarily given up their parental rights or their rights are terminated by the court.
Guardianship is another permanency option for children when it has been determined that both returning home and adoption have been ruled out. Guardianship is frequently used by relative caregivers who wish to provide a permanent home for a child in his or her care, and can be considered for children who have been living in the home of licensed relatives for a period of six consecutive months. Guardianship means that the court appoints you as the child's legal guardian. It differs from adoption because the birth parents' rights do not have to be terminated in order to appoint a guardian. When you are appointed guardian of the child, DCFS will not be involved in the care, supervision or legal custody of the child. Guardianship lasts until the child reaches the age of 18. Families becoming guardians of children in the care of DCFS may receive financial and non-financial assistance and resources.
For more information about adoption and guardianship, read the DCFS publication "Making the Adoption/Guardianship Decision."