Contested Adoptions and Relative Adoptions in Chicago


Although complicated, the majority of adoptions in the Chicago area go very smoothly with the proper legal guidance. In some situations, however, litigation may become necessary. Our attorneys at Downs Law Offices understand the legal issues with adoption cases as well as the emotional factors that come in to play. We have represented interested parties on all sides, including adoptive parents, biological parents, other family members and the children themselves. If you are trying to adopt and running into resistance or you are a parent or guardian facing the removal of a child, a contested adoption lawyer from our firm may be able to help.


Adoption is most frequently litigated when one or both of the biological parents do not consent - for example, when a new stepparent tries to adopt a stepchild or when grandparents or other relatives want to adopt a relative's child because they believe that relative is an unfit parent. The law takes the decision to terminate a parent's rights very seriously. Therefore, parents giving up children for adoption have ample opportunity to reconsider, and even a noncustodial parent, such as an absentee father who has established paternity, has parental rights that must be either voluntarily surrendered or involuntarily terminated. When a parent does not consent, an Illinois court holds a trial where the adoptive parents must show why the rights of the biological parents should be terminated.


Illinois courts do not make the decision to terminate a parent's rights lightly. A judge requires an adoptions attorney to produce clear and convincing evidence that the biological parent is unfit based on the existence of one or more statutory grounds:

  • Abandonment
  • Failing to maintain interest, concern or responsibility for the child's welfare
  • Desertion for more than three months
  • Continuous repeated neglect
  • Failure to protect the child from injurious conditions within his or her environment
  • Depravity evidenced by conviction of certain crimes, including murder, or criminal sexual assault, heinous battery or aggravated battery of a child.
  • Extreme and repeated cruelty
  • Open and notorious adultery or fornication
  • Habitual drunkenness
  • Failure to correct conditions that led to a child's removal
  • Failure to provide for the needs of the child although financially able to do so
  • Mental or psychiatric inability to act as a parent
  • Prenatal drug abuse
  • Repeated incarceration

It is not easy to prove parental unfitness, and parents facing termination of their parental rights have many options for defending those rights with the help of an experienced family law attorney. Conversely, family members or stepparents attempting to adopt without the parent's consent have a tough road ahead of them and need dedicated and knowledgeable legal counsel.

With more than 50 years of combined experience, our attorneys at Downs Law Offices know how to approach contested adoption cases in Illinois and have represented clients on both sides of these challenging and emotionally charged cases. Whether you are a biological parent fighting to keep a relationship with your child a stepparent or family member attempting to adopt over a biological parent's objections, we may be able to help you make your case.

Dedicated counsel for people on both sides of adoption disputes

Call our Chicago office today at 312-781-1963 or contact Downs Law Offices online to schedule a consultation at which you can discuss your adoption case with an experienced and compassionate attorney. Our office, which is centrally located on the Loop, offers easy access to parking and public transportation.