Adopting a Child

What’s it All About


Choosing to adopt a child is a momentous and life changing decision. At Adoption Center of Illinois (ACI) we are not interested in convincing you to adopt. Nor do we pretend that we have all the answers. The fact is that, for most potential adoptive parents, once they decide to adopt they embark on what will be one of the most challenging and exhilarating journeys of their lives.

Though adopting a child is never guaranteed, for most potential adoptive parents this journey will lead them to adopting a child – and most will feel that the child they adopt is just the right child.

One of the biggest challenges facing new potential adoptive parents is coming to a realistic understanding of what adoption is all about. Most experience a learning curve – starting with a simple desire to adopt a child and ending with a more complete understanding of how adoption will effect a lasting change in the dimension of their extended family network.

Creating a family

The process of forming a family through adoption can be complicated, emotional and intense. It is potentially filled with both joy and sadness. At ACI you will find compassionate, honest, hard working people who care and who will stand by you every step of the way. Many of us have lives that have been touched by adoption.

Whether you feel confused, elated, hopeful, or scared – one of our Adoptive Parent Counselors will be there to walk with you down the path towards creating a family through adoption. Our compassionate, experienced staff is always available to help you navigate this exciting, rewarding, and challenging road to parenthood.

Getting answers to your questions

It may seem like the more you learn, the more questions you have.

  • What do people mean when they talk about “open adoption?”
  • Is there a range of options for openness ?
  • What is the difference between domestic adoption and international adoption?
  • What are birth mothers like?
  • What do children who were adopted think about having been adopted?
  • How do adoptive parents talk about adoption?
  • When do parents tell their child that they were adopted?
  • What is the agency’s role?
  • How much will it cost?
  • Where does the money go?

At ACI, we honor your questions with honest, heartfelt answers. As you face decisions about domestic or international, open or closed, same race or different race – our trained and experienced staff is there to help. We encourage you to attend an introductory class or call to schedule a private consultation.

Understanding the costs

Does it always cost something to adopt a child?

There are some adoptions that do not cost the adoptive parents anything. These are Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) sponsored adoptions and they are very different than most of the adoptions that our agency is involved with. DCFS adoptions involve children who are available for adoption because the rights of their legal or genetic parents have, in most circumstances, been involuntarily terminated. This means that regardless of the child’s age and whether or not they have siblings or interested relatives, the court system has decided that they should be freed for adoption.

Even though these kinds of adoptions do not involve out-of-pocket costs to the adoptive parents, these adoptions do have costs (legal fees, cost of foster care, clothing and food, salaries for DCFS and Court staff, mileage and sundry expenses, etc.) and these cost and expenses are paid for by the residents of Illinois through their tax dollars. Frequently, individuals who adopt through the state system receive subsidies (monthly payments until the child reaches the age of 18) to assist the adoptive parents with attending to their children’s needs. Many, if not most or all, of the children adopted in this manner are considered to have complex medical/social needs.

For more information about these kinds of adoptions please inquire at the following places: DCFS and Adoption Information Center of Illinois.

Most other adoptions, like those through private attorneys or through licensed child welfare agencies, involve the adoptive parents paying costs, fees and expenses. An informal survey of adoption agencies in Illinois shows that the range in fees for a completed adoption varies between approximately $10,000 and $35,000.

The variability in cost depends on the kind of adoption that takes place, the agency’s or attorney’s stated fees, legal cost, the cost associated with marketing, birth parent expenses and whether or not the agency offers any kind of fee modification based on the financial situation of the potential adoptive parents. These costs can skyrocket if there are legal challenges to any adoption and adoptive parents are compelled to absorb unexpected additional legal expenses.

For specific information about the costs and fees and the Family Based Financial Aid program associated with Adoption Center of Illinois at Family Resource Center click here for our fee schedule.

Where does the money go?

  • Salaries
  • Heating and electric for the facility
  • Health insurance for staff
  • Liability insurance
  • Cost of worker mileage
  • Financial assistance to women who are considering placing children adoption – as permitted under Illinois law
  • Marketing expenses (yellow page advertising, internet advertising, cost of printing promotional materials, etc.)
  • Supplies and hardware
  • IT support
  • Printed forms and mailing costs
  • Office phones and cell phones
  • Expectant mother and child medical expenses

A note about medical expenses

Many agencies say that they pay expectant mother and child medical expenses. What is closer to the truth is that few agencies pay these expenses and those that do only do so when required to. Under Illinois rules, when a child is being placed for adoption, after his or her mother has signed final and irrevocable surrenders, and prior to being legally placed for adoption, because that child has no parents until they are placed for adoption, they are eligible to have their medical expenses covered by Illinois Department of Public Aid (IDPA) because they do not have any financial resources of their own. With regard to expectant mothers, under IDPA rules all women who are pregnant in Illinois are entitled to have their medical expenses covered (Kid Care) provided that their income is below a certain level. The overwhelming majority of birth parents meet this criteria and are eligible for public aid coverage of their medical expenses.

In some circumstances, either because an expectant mother earns too much income to be eligible for aid, or she has identified a father whose income exceeds the requirement for eligibility, there will be medical expenses that need to be paid if an adoption ensues.

Adoption Center of Illinois does take responsibility for these medical expense. The convention around medical expenses for women who place their child for adoption is that they should not be required to pay any of their pregnancy related costs or the medical expenses of the child she places for adoption

Why do some agencies charge more than others?

With most agencies, fees are set by their board of directors. Fees take into account operational costs and what board members considers to be fair and reasonable.

All licensed child welfare agencies that practice in the field of adoption in Illinois are recognized by the federal government as charitable 501(c)(3) organizations. Charitable designation is a requirement of Illinois law. What this means is that regardless of what fees are charged

  • The organization is dedicated to activities that are charitable in nature.
  • The organization has a volunteer board of directors who derive no financial benefit from their service on that board.
  • None of the agency’s staff is being inordinately compensated for their work.
  • Donations to the organization are tax deductible.

In the case of ACI, were it not for the generosity of families who adopted through ACI previously, the organization would either have to charge fees that were considerably higher, or, the organization would not be able to meet its expenses and would not be able to operate. All of ACI’s fees for services are in effect subsidized by individual, corporate and foundation charitable giving.

What are the costs with ACI

Costs for adopting through ACI vary based upon several different factors. These include:

  • What program(s) the applicant is participating in.
  • Whether or not the applicant has applied for and received family based. financial aid from ACI’s board of directors in association with the Traditional Adoption Program.
  • If someone is participating in an Agency Assisted Adoption Program.
  • The expenses related to medical care and birth mother support.

Click here for our fee structure and financial aid information.

Doing what’s right for you

Our philosophy is that birth parents and adoptive parents are best able to manage their own lives. Our motto is “Our Help, Your Decisions” and we mean it. At ACI, adoptive parents are encouraged to ask questions and to question absolutely everything. It is not important what we think is best for you. What is important is what you think is best for you and your family.

The truth is that it is not the job of a reputable agency to find a child for hopeful adoptive parents. As an Illinois licensed child welfare agency is it our job to find good homes for children and not the other way around.

While ACI strongly endorses openness in adoption, we also fully respect the right of potential adoptive parents and birthparents to explore what it might mean for themselves and their family. ACI’s thinking has moved beyond open-ness to a new view of adoption. We recognize that once someone adopts a child, or places a child for adoption, their extend family network expands to encompass everyone who is related to the child. We believe that this paradigm is true in both domestic and international adoption.

We offer both Domestic Adoption Programs and comprehensive Adoption Home Study Services for those adopting independently or through another adoption agency. We are always happy to talk with you about adopting and what adoption might look like in your life.

Knowing your rights

There are two documents created by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) that potential adoptive parents working with ACI must read, and understand.

Adoptive Parents’ Rights and Responsibilities clearly sets forth the rights and responsibilities of individuals and couples hoping to adopt in Illinois.

Birth Parents’ Rights and Responsibilities sets forth the rights, prerogatives and responsibilities of birth parents that are considering placing children for adoption in Illinois.