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Adoption and Guardianship

Over the last decade, more than 15,000 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 non-profit partners are committed to providing your new family with the help you need.

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 and 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.

For more information about adoption, read the Birth Parent Rights and Responsibilities (DCFS Case), Birth Parent Rights and Responsibilities (Private Agency Case) and Adoptive Parent Rights and Responsibilities.

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. Guardianship is frequently used by relative caregivers or lifetime family friends who wish to provide a permanent home for a child while allowing the child to preserve bonds to extended family members. When you are appointed guardian, 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 and can be considered for children who have been living in the home of licensed relatives for a period of six consecutive months. 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 in English, en español or Polish (Polskie) and Post Adoption/Guardianship Services  in English, en español or Polish (Polskie). You may also fill out the online interest form and a foster/adoptive parent recruiter will contact you with more information and next steps.

Who are the children waiting to be adopted?

Waiting children 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. DCFS maintains an online listing with pictures and descriptions of children in need of a loving family. Please click here to learn more.