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Author Topic: Termination of Parental Rights  (Read 1364 times)

newtothis

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Termination of Parental Rights
« on: May 30, 2006, 11:19:03 AM »
Please read and give any advice you can.

I have several stepdaughters. One died, leaving behind a 2.5 yr old.  Before her death, she and the child had been living in several homeless shelters.  His father (who was not married to my stepdaughter but took the child after her death), dumped the child several months later on my other stepdaughter, who was 18 at the time.  He said he could not care for him, and she would do a better job.  He is on parole from an arson conviction; lives with his mother in a trailer with no heat or electric (from time to time), and had a 17 yr old girlfriend who was pregnant.  Doctors found evidence of scars and some type of "sexual abuse" on this child when he was only 2, no investigation was done of his now-deceased  mother, or the father. But you can agree that this child had a very rough life to that point.

In order to get state services for the boy (mostly health insurance), and to protect him from his father, I assisted my stepdaughter in getting an attorney to help her gain temporary, and later, permanent guardianship of this child. He is now 3, she is now 19.

We have friends who would love to adopt this child.  My stepdaughter has realized that she is not the best parent for her nephew, as she is in college part time and working part time, and has found it to be overwhelming.  These friends are hands down the best parents for the boy; he is currently spending the summer with them, and the bond that is developing is strong.  He is finally in a childcare/preschool and is making friends; they have wanted a child for ages, and would pass any home studies witih flying colors.  This is the best thing that can be imagined for this little boy.

Now, what I need is any experience you have re this:  What will happen, and how long with it take, if the natural father refuses to sign over his parental rights? He never responded to any summons during the guardianship hearings; we are not even sure where he lives anymore.  We want to begin proceedings to have this couple adopt the child; our attorney says that my stepdaughter must begin the proceedings of adoption.  We also know that if the natural father is found, there is a better chance he will relinquish rights if he thinks that my stepdaughter will be the adoptive parent.

Will a judge, after reasonable steps and time, automatically terminate the parent's rights, if he can't be found or doesn't respond?  The judge already assessed him with child support, day care costs, health insurance costs, and these costs are mounting daily; we know my stepdaughter will never see a penny, but if the father can be convinced that any future costs will  cease if he signs over the child, we are hoping he can be convinced.  But what if he isn't?  Frankly, he's too stupid to make this decision himself, but he has a trashy family who might try to convince him to get his son back.  No judge would look at him, and look at where the child is now, and think that it's in his best interest to be returned to the homeless, jobless, ex-con.  

Anyway,  looking for anyone who might know how easy it is to have a natural parent's rights terminated in a case like this.  The state is Illinois.  Thanks!


BelleMere

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It is not easy, but I think you can get it done
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2006, 11:30:48 AM »
First of all, I think you all need to get an atty who specializes in adoption. If your friends want to adopt the child, they should help out with this (it will be cheaper than, say, adopting a newborn).

The basic process is this - you get a consent for adoption drawn up that states who wants to adopt the child. Then you go find the father and ask him to sign voluntarily. If he does sign (and it has to be notarized and worded exactly the way the law specifies, so you can't just have him sign an affidavit or a statement or whatever - you should pay to have the proper paperwork drawn up), then you have to proceed to an adoption hearing which, since this is a stranger adoption (non relative) will first have background checks, social services visits etc with the family that wants the adoption.

If you can't find him or he won't agree, then the lawyer will have to go to court on behalf of the child to terminate rights based on abandonment (failure to provide support or to contact the child within a set amt of time - 6 months - 18 months, depending on the state). This is expensive and it would be nice to avoid it if you can. There will be a termination hearing at which you essentially have to PROVE that he abandoned the child. He will, if he is around, be appointed a lawyer who will defend his rights to his child. Then the judge decides. At any time during this process, the father can still just sign the agreement, of course.

THEN once the rights are terminated, you go on to the bit about social services, background checks etc and then the adoption. You have to have all the necessary legal paperwork in order, of course - originals not photocopies - birth certificate for the child, guardianship papers of your SD, marriage certificate of the adopting family, death certificate of your SD (so sorry about that), "true copies" copies of his arson conviction, relevant medical records and it helps to give your lawyer a timeline of all the legal (and personal, such as attempts to find or contact the father) events  since the child's birth -   etc.

BelleMere

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Oh, and it will take 6 mos - a year, depending on his cooperation. eom
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2006, 11:31:21 AM »
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