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Planning for Standby Adoption After Death

Posted on in Adoption

Planning for Standby Adoption After DeathThe most common adoption cases typically involve an adult becoming the legal parent of a child after the biological parents consent to giving up their parental rights. Illinois is one of the few states to include standby adoption as a legal option. Standby adoption allows parents to decide who the adoptive parents of their children will be in case of their deaths. The rights and responsibilities of parents in a standby adoption are the same as those in other forms of adoption in Illinois, but the process must be planned in advance.

How It Works

Standby adoption may be established as part of an estate plan or when a parent has a terminal illness. The parents must fill out a consent form that:

  • Grants all parental rights to another person upon the death of one or more of the biological parents; and
  • In the case that one of the biological parents is still living, affirms that the living parent gives up his or her parental rights.

The biological parents maintain all parental rights to the child while alive. If the specified biological parent dies, the standby parent has 60 days to apply for adoption. Once the adoption is approved, a biological parent who has given up his or her rights cannot reclaim the child.

Difference from Guardianship

Many states allow parents to appoint someone as a standby guardian in case of their deaths. Guardianship extends many of the same rights and responsibilities as adoption, but adoption has advantages:

  • Adoptive parents are the legal parents of a child and have sole parental rights that cannot be taken away by a biological parent.
  • Guardianship often ends when a child turns 18, but adoption is permanent and gives the child continued family rights, such as inheritance.

Standby Parents

A relative is a popular choice as a standby parent. It keeps the children within the family and with people they may already love. However, other factors that are in the best interest of the children should be considered, such as:

  • The safety of the living environment;
  • The potential parent's ability to support children;
  • The adjustments children must make if moving to a new area; and
  • The resources available to them in a new community.

The person you choose as a standby parent should be someone you and your children are comfortable with, and someone who will be dedicated as the new parent of your children.

Adoption Lawyers

Adoption can be a happy yet stressful experience for parents and children. A Kane County adoption attorney knows how to guide you through the legal process. Call Goostree Law Group at 630-584-4800 for a free consultation.


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