What to Look For in an Adoption Attorney

For many people, bringing a new child home is one of life’s most exciting and fulfilling gifts. For those who are unable to have their own biological children or who simply wish to expand their family in other ways, adoption is one path for bringing that much-desired child into your life. 

With that said, adoption can be a complex, costly, and at times intimidating process. An adoption attorney is an important resource along your journey. A knowledgeable and experienced adoption lawyer can help you navigate this process so that you can bring home a child of your own while having confidence that all of the necessary legal steps have been completed fully and successfully. 

“What Does an Adoption Attorney Do?”

Adoption is a legal procedure which establishes a binding family relationship between the adoptive parents and the minor who is being adopted. In Illinois, the rules and guidelines governing adoption are set down in the Illinois Adoption Act, which you can read online here. Once the adoption process is complete, the new adoptive parents have all the same rights, duties, and responsibilities to the child as a birth parent would have. 

As you begin to look into adoption, you may come across all kinds of terms for people or groups that can help you navigate the process — such as adoption coordinator, adoption facilitator, adoption agency representative, and, yes, adoption attorney. 

Adoption attorneys are unique in that they must be practicing lawyers, licensed by their State Bar Association. Only a licensed attorney can offer actionable legal guidance, and help give you assurance that you have taken all of the legal steps needed to complete the adoption process from beginning to end. 

Adoption laws vary from state to state; because they are experts in the law, an adoption attorney can help you address the rules that make the process unique where you live. 

As you move forward, an adoption attorney can assist you in tackling all of the moving parts that go into completing a legal adoption — including filing and processing the correct paperwork at the correct times, navigating court appearances and procedures, and finalizing the adoption when the time comes. 

For adoptive parents, an attorney’s core role is to protect your legal rights and ensure that your adoption is in compliance with all relevant state and federal adoption laws. For this reason, an attorney can offer perspective and help through all kinds of adoptions — including related adoptions, agency adoptions, and private adoptions. 

“What Should I Look for in an Illinois Adoption Attorney?”

Choosing the right adoption attorney for your circumstances may well be one of the most important decisions you make on the road to bringing home that new family member. Here are some important considerations to weigh as you research and connect with adoption attorneys in your area: 

Experience and Knowledge

Everyone’s circumstances are unique. An experienced and knowledgeable adoption attorney can help you move forward while addressing your specific needs, goals, and challenges. 

For instance, there are several different types of adoption available to prospective parents in Illinois, based on your unique circumstances and the circumstances of the minor. These types of adoption may require the involvement of different parties and organizations — and, depending on the type of adoption you are pursuing, there may be any number of essential steps to consider and address along the way, such as receiving training, taking classes, and submitting to home evaluations and background checks. An attorney can help you understand the process and complete all of the necessary steps, while considering the factors unique to you and yours. 

As you look into attorneys, consider their reviews and testimonials. Do not be afraid to ask for references. Explore their social media profiles and website. Do they seem trustworthy and skilled? Do they specialize in the area of law your matter requires? Have they won any awards or received industry accolades? 


An experienced adoption lawyer will have connections that can help make this daunting process easier. For instance, they may be familiar or have previous experience working with the various adoption agencies licensed in the state of Illinois, and have existing relationships with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). For instance, our attorney Jenny R. Jeltes is on the approved “DCFS Panel List,” and is able to represent families who are adopting children currently in DCFS care.

After the adoption,it may also be valuable to see what resources your attorney can connect you with — such as the Illinois Foster & Adoptive Parent Association and Partners Available to Help (PATH), as well as other local experts who may be able to provide the support or services you need.

Communication, Compassion, Understanding, and Empathy 

Adoption can be a long, complex, and intensely emotional process, and it’s important to find someone that you can trust to be there for you — and who you can reliably and easily communicate with over the course of your journey. 

At the Law Offices of J. Jeltes, Ltd., our team of experienced and compassionate advocates handles legal matters in some of life’s most challenging family transitions, including divorce, adoption, and losing a loved one. Restructuring a family or making a huge life change is a vulnerable time for most. We know this reality and endeavor to remain extremely thoughtful and effective in helping you achieve your goals. A successful relationship between client and attorney necessitates trust and patience, so frequent, clear, and ongoing communication is an integral tenet of our practice. 

Long-Term Support and Attention

There is much to consider before embarking upon the adoption process. In some cases, children taken from difficult homes may have experienced significant trauma. Adjustments can be difficult. You may wish to enroll yourself or your child in post-adoption therapy, or attend parenting classes, to make this transition as easy, healthy, and agreeable as possible. It is also important to factor in the costs involved not only in adoption, but in caring for the new addition to your family in the short-term and long. 

Fortunately, there are many resources available to families who are hoping to adopt or who have recently adopted. Your attorney should be able to help you connect with the right resources, and remain available and communicative should any complications or issues arise in the future. 

Similarly, there are many decisions that must be made when adopting. For example, you may be in a position to choose between an open or closed adoption. If needed, an attorney can act as a trusted intermediary to carry communications and handle interactions between yourself and a birth parent, and help you weigh your obligations and important decisions that must be addressed down the line should you ever have to move or wish to establish new boundaries with a birth parent. . 

About the Law Offices of J. Jeltes, Ltd.: Chicago Adoption Attorneys

For many people, there is nothing more joyful than adding a child to your life. At the Law Offices of J. Jeltes, our skilled and knowledgeable attorneys can handle both related and unrelated domestic adoptions, including grandparent adoptions, step-parent adoptions, and adoptions of a ward through the state or a reputable adoption agency. After adoption, we can continue to provide access to information and resources that may help make the adjustment easier for new parents and children. 

Founded in 2009 and offering more than 20 years of combined experience, the attorneys and staff at the Law Offices of J. Jeltes work together to provide skilled, efficient, and affordable legal representation to individuals and families. At all times, we endeavor to remain thoughtful and effective in helping achieve the best possible results for your situation.

We know that every situation is unique, and our attorneys can provide you with a comprehensive one-on-one consultation to discuss your legal concerns and goals. Have any questions about any aspect of the adoption process in Illinois? Want to learn more about our firm? Don’t hesitate to contact us to begin the conversation.