Some children are born to a family, while others join their “forever families” through adoption. Adoption provides a way for you to become a parent and build your family. Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois (LCFS) can assist you through every step of your adoption journey.
The adoption process starts with a phone conversation with our intake specialist, who will gather some information and answer your questions.You will be assigned your own caseworker who will walk you through the home-study process and help prepare you for your role as an adoptive parent.
Our caseworkers all have masters’ degrees and several have experienced adoption in their lives.
LCFS’ eligibility guidelines are similar to those of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and are generally inclusive. LCFS can assist both single adults and couples residing in Illinois to complete an adoption regardless of their race, creed, religious affiliation or sexual orientation. LCFS imposes no standards regarding age of parents, number of children, number of divorces, length of marriage or marital status.
To learn more about adopting through LCFS, please contact us or review the documents below.
LCFS is licensed by the state of Illinois (Agency license # 012998) and Hague Accredited.
Note: None of the children shown on this website are available for adoption unless otherwise noted.
What is domestic-identified adoption?
An identified adoption is one in which adoptive parents and birth parents connect with each other directly or through an intermediary. There are several ways adoptive parents may complete this process.
Adoptive parents may choose to work with a marketing organization, a legal services group or an agency located in another state, which handles the outreach and initial contact with birthparents.
Adoptive parents may network or advertise on their own or find another way to directly connect with a birth mother.
In either case, LCFS can provide guidance to adoptive families.
Benefits of an agency-assisted identified adoption
Agency-assisted identified adoption offers the safeguards and services of an agency adoption while providing you with the opportunity to be proactive in locating a child. There is no waiting list, and we do not charge a placement fee in identified adoptions.
Personal service and support
Each adoptive family has its own LCFS home study caseworker who provides support and guidance. In addition, your caseworker will assist you with the required adoption training and obtaining licensing. Your LCFS caseworker will continue to assist you during the months after a child is placed with you and will provide the necessary report to the court for the finalization of your adoption.
Post-placement and post-adoption support and services are available to assist you with any questions or issues.
Open or not open
You and the birth parents determine the type and frequency of contact you will have during and after placement. LCFS can help you and the birth family arrange a form of contact that is agreeable to both of you. LCFS keeps social and medical information on file. These records may be updated at any time.
Security and support
When the prospective birth mother is in Illinois and is served by LCFS, you can feel secure in the knowledge that the birth parents have been assisted with their decision making and planning. Our supportive services include gathering background medical and social information, contact with the hospital, placement and surrenders. A newborn can be placed with you directly from the hospital. LCFS works with your attorney, assuring you of the adoption’s permanency.
Birth Parent Services Fee Agreement
LCFS can help adoptive families who identify birth parents outside of Illinois. We can also assist families who are interested in adopting older children who are listed by other states as waiting for adoptive homes. LCFS has completed hundreds of interstate adoptions and is one of the few agencies in Illinois with the knowledge and expertise to smoothly coordinate this type of adoption. If you are an adoptive family living outside of Illinois and have located a birth mother living in Illinois, LCFS can help you complete your adoption. We will assign a caseworker to provide services to the birth mother and/or birth father.
Birth Parent Services Fee Agreement
The home study is a cooperative process focusing on helping you prepare to add to your family through adoption. While there is an assessment component, your LCFS caseworker will also provide you with extensive information on domestic adoption.
The home study involves four to five interviews during which your caseworker collects the information required by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and where applicable, the Illinois Interstate Compact. There’s also an educational component. You will be required to complete training on adoption issues and other topics related to your specific plan, which may be completed through in-person seminars or online classes and in some cases through reading. Your caseworker will let you know what training opportunities are offered to help you meet your training requirements.
Generally, home studies can be completed within twelve weeks of your first interview, which is scheduled after you have submitted your application. In emergency situations, when placement is expected in a matter of days, LCFS can expedite the process.
Identified Adoption Fee Agreement
Waiting Child Program Fees
LCFS can help single adults and couples living in Illinois complete an international adoption by providing the home study and the foster home licensing (when needed) and by coordinating with primary adoption service provider agencies. A primary adoption service provider is the Hague-accredited provider or approved adoption service provider (ASP) that is responsible for your international adoption and must ensure that all Hague and U.S. government requirements are met. ASP agencies have programs in foreign counties and will identify and refer the child to you and assist with the overseas legal process. Once you are home with your child, LCFS can provide post-placement / post-adoption services.
If you have not yet chosen a primary adoption service provider for your international adoption, consider Lifelink International Adoption, a subsidiary of LCFS.
Working with LCFS
LCFS is committed to assisting and supporting you in every step of your international-adoption journey.
We provide you with your own caseworker who will:
- Assist you in meeting all of the intercountry home-study requirements and complete a thorough home-study report.
- Assist you in completing the licensing paperwork for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services if a foster-home license is required.
- Provide you assistance in completing all the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) paperwork needed to obtain your child’s visa.
LCFS acts as your local agency
To ensure your international adoption goes smoothly, your caseworker can:
- Provide you with extensive information on the international adoption process.
- Help you identify the type of child best suited for your family.
- Provide you with information on community resources such as adoption support groups.
- Help prepare you for any issues that may arise after the adoption is completed.
LCFS will assist you in obtaining the required DCFS-approved Hague adoption training. After four to five interviews and your completion of the educational component, your caseworker will write a formal home-study report that conforms to the requirements of USCIS, your ASP agency and your selected foreign country.
After you receive a referral (assignment) of a child, which may include a photograph with social and medical information, LCFS can provide you with resources to evaluate the child’s social and medical information and help you make an informed decision about the referral.
After you and your child arrive home, your LCFS caseworker will provide support and complete the necessary post-placement/post-adoption reports. LCFS will also explain to you how to obtain a Social Security number, a U.S. birth certificate and proof of U.S. citizenship for your child, as well as completing and forwarding the court report necessary for the finalization of your child’s adoption or re-adoption in the United States. Finally, post-placement /post-adoption services are available to help you with any questions or issues.
Eligibility requirements vary by country. Prospective adoptive parents may find country requirements and eligibility criteria for prospective adoptive parents on the intercountry-adoption website of the U.S. Department of State. You will also find application instructions for filling out Form I800A and instructions for filling out Form I600A.
LCFS imposes no standards regarding age of parents, number of children, number of divorces, length of marriage or marital status. LCFS’ eligibility guidelines are similar to those required by Illinois law and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and are generally very broad. LCFS can assist both single adults and couples in Illinois in completing an adoption regardless of their race, creed, religious affiliation or sexual orientation.
The home study is a cooperative process focusing on helping you to prepare to add to your family through adoption. While there is an assessment component, your LCFS caseworker will also provide you with extensive information on international adoption.
The home study involves four to five interviews during which your caseworker collects the information required by your ASP agency, the country from which you plan to adopt your child, USCIS and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). There’s also an educational component. All prospective parents are required to complete a minimum of 10 hours of international adoption training that encompasses the eight core topics as defined by the Hague Treaty per the Code of Federal Regulations and are also approved by DCFS.
The average time to complete a home-study and receive your written, notarized home-study report is 12 to 16 weeks from the date of the first interview. In most cases your caseworker will contact you to set up the initial interview within five to ten days after you submit your application.
Countries require families to travel to complete the adoption process, although a few countries may allow only one parent to travel. It is always recommended that both parents travel because traveling to your child’s country of origin gives families a wonderful opportunity to learn firsthand about the child’s experience in that country and about the culture.
The time a family remains in the country can vary from two weeks to six weeks or more depending on the country selected. A few countries require two trips.
Families may travel independently or in groups organized by the ASP agency and usually stay in local hotels. The ASP agency also provides you with staff support and an interpreter.
The time it takes to adopt a child from another country depends upon the adoption process in that country. Your ASP agency will be able to give you estimated time frames, but most intercountry adoptions take approximately two years.
The United States Department of State Office of Children’s Services publishes information about many countries’ adoption requirements and a booklet on international adoption. Get it online
Office of Children’s Issues
Overseas Citizens Services
Bureau of Consular Affairs
U. S. Department of State
Washington, DC 20520-4818
The U.S. government, through the UCIS, has criteria that define orphan status; the criteria that a child must meet in order to obtain a visa to enter the United States as your adopted child. To obtain eligibility criteria, go to the U.S. State Department, Intercountry Adoption website. You may also call the USCIS customer-service line at 800-375-5283 and request brochure M-249Y, “The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children.”
LCFS search assistance services are conducted with respect and discretion and are focused on helping adoptees and birth parents access information or the connection they seek. Services include providing non-identifying background and medical case-file information to adoptees as allowed by Illinois law, and if requested, making an attempt to contact a birth parent or an adoptee based on case-file information. If a connection is made, LCFS will provide guidance and support during the connection process.
NOTE: If you are an adoptee age 21 or over who was born or adopted in Illinois, you can request a copy of your original birth certificate. Instructions can be found on the Illinois Department of Public Health website. Using the information on your original birth certificate, you may be able to search for your birth parents on your own.
LCFS can provide search assistance services to you if:
- You were placed for adoption through LCFS and you are at least 21 years of age. If you are under 21, you will need the permission and assistance of your parents.
- You are a birth parent who placed your child for adoption through LCFS, and that child is now at least 21 years of age.
Process and services provided:
In order to receive information and assistance from LCFS, you must first complete a registration through the Illinois Adoption Registry and Medical Information Exchange on their Website or at 877-323-5299.
Registering with the Illinois Adoption Registry will give you access to information and connect you with biological relatives if they have also registered and given permission for contact. If you are an adoptee under age 21, your adoptive parents must complete the registry application.
If you are an adoptee, LCFS can review your adoption records and provide you with the non-identifying information to which you are entitled by Illinois law. The information documented may be limited but if available can include family and medical background information. LCFS can help you start a search by attempting to contact your birth parent(s) on your behalf using information on file. LCFS cannot guarantee that the person(s) will be reached or if reached, will agree to any additional contact. If a connection is made, LCFS will provide guidance and support during the connection process.
If you are not sure whether LCFS was involved in your adoption, you can contact us with your verification of registration and a photo ID, and we will complete a check of agency records. There is no charge for this initial verification.
- If you would like to retain LCFS services, download and follow the instructions on the Fees for Post-Adoption Search Assistance form.
Additional search resources:
- The Midwest Adoption Center of Illinois (800-526-9022). They provide information and search services.
- The Illinois Confidential Intermediary Program (800-526-9022, ext 29). This service can access closed court files and vital records.
Leni M. Howard, ACSW
Northern Illinois Adoption Manager
188 Industrial Drive, Suite 206
Elmhurst, IL 60126
630-628-6448, ext. 228
General adoption questions
What are the requirements for people adopting through your agency? Do I need to be Lutheran?
LCFS can assist both single adults and couples residing in Illinois in completing an adoption regardless of their race, creed, religious affiliation or sexual orientation. LCFS works with members of any religious group. LCFS’ eligibility guidelines are similar to those of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. There are no requirements regarding marriage, divorce, religion, upper age of parents or number of children. We do not require documentation of infertility.
When is the next orientation meeting?
LCFS has found that adoptive families prefer to have a personal conversation with a knowledgeable adoption specialist rather than attend a large orientation and information meeting. Our intake specialists, Laurie Lawton (in northern Illinois and metropolitan Chicago) and Susan Radcliff (in central and southern Illinois) will speak with you on the phone and provide you with extensive information while answering your questions.
What are the benefits of working with LCFS? How do I know you are reputable?
LCFS offers you the safeguards and services of an agency adoption, along with personalized service and choices. You are not bound by outdated and strict requirements regarding such as age, marital status and number of divorces.
Each adoptive family has its own LCFS caseworker who provides support, guidance and adoption education as part of the home-study process. Your worker will assist you with the paperwork necessary for you to complete your adoption, such as a foster family home license, from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services or a visa from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.
An LCFS domestic-identified adoption allows you to be proactive in locating a child and does away with long waiting lists. You and the birth parents determine the type and frequency of contact you will have during and after placement. LCFS keeps social and medical information on record and files may be updated.
If you are adopting internationally, LCFS has successfully assisted families in adopting from a variety of countries and can work with any ASP (adoption service provider) agency. Our staff is extremely knowledgeable about the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) requirements for intercountry adoption as well as those of the U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In all types of LCFS adoptions, post-placement / post-adoption support and services are available to provide you help with any questions or issues that may arise.
LCFS is licensed by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Children and Family Services. LCFS is a member of the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities and Lutheran Services in America.
How many children did you place for adoption last year?
See the Our Impact section of our website for the latest adoption numbers.
About home studies
What takes place during a home study?
The home study usually includes four office interviews and a home visit. There is also an educational component that may be completed concurrently with the interviews.
A home study prepares those who wish to adopt. Although there is an assessment component, our staff is not judgmental and it is not an interrogation. The process is designed to be cooperative, thought-provoking and educational.
What is included in the educational component of the home study process?
This training may consist of attending the domestic adoption training seminar offered by LCFS in Northern Illinois, completing Internet classes, attending another educational seminar offered in the community, reading specific books and/or articles or some combination of the above. Your caseworker will discuss with you what training opportunities are offered in your area and coordinate your specific training plan so that you meet the necessary training requirements. The training plan will vary depending on the type of child you will adopt and whether you are planning a domestic identified adoption or an intercountry adoption.
How long does the home-study process take?
Generally, domestic home studies can be completed within twelve weeks of your first interview, which is scheduled after you have submitted your application. In emergency situations, when placement is expected in a matter of days, LCFS can expedite the process. The average time to complete an international home study, from the first interview to the written notarized report is 12 to 16 weeks. Because LCFS has no waiting list, in most cases your worker will contact you to set up the initial interview within five to ten days after you submit your application.
What does a home study cost?
The fee for a domestic home study is $2500, the international home study fee is $3000 and the home-study fee to adopt a U.S. waiting child is $3000. LCFS does not charge a placement fee. There is a non-refundable application fee of $350 for each program in identified adoptions. In addition to the home study itself, there is a fee of $400 in domestic and international adoptions for each post-placement/post-adoption visit and report. This fee includes the court report for finalization of the adoption or re-adoption in the United States. There are separate fees for domestic birth parent services and pre-adoption training. Detailed fee agreements are included with the domestic and international adoption applications.
About foster family licensing
Is an Illinois foster family home license required to adopt a child?
In cases of a domestic identified adoption facilitated by an agency, an Illinois foster-family home license is required by Illinois law. There is no fee for a foster care license.
In many international adoptions a foster-home license is not required. Your caseworker can discuss with you the licensing requirements for your specific international-adoption plan.
How long does the licensing process take?
The licensing process takes eight to twelve weeks.
About domestic adoptions
Can you help us locate a birth mother?
We will work with you regarding the many ways you can locate a birth mother. We do not have a traditional waiting list for healthy infants.
Do you advocate open adoption?
We support adoptive parents and birth parents defining for themselves the level of openness with which they are comfortable. At the same time we offer you information and education focusing on the many benefits of openness for everyone involved in the adoption. Because each adoption is unique and each situation is different, those involved should make decisions about how “open” or “closed” the adoption will be.
How much does an identified adoption cost?
The costs of an identified adoption can vary widely. In addition to the agency’s fees, Illinois law allows prospective adoptive parents to pay certain expenses, through the agency, related to the pregnancy, which can include some of the birth mother’s living expenses, transportation, counseling and medical care. The baby’s hospital bill will be covered by the adoptive family’s health insurance, retroactive to birth, provided there is an adoption.
Does “identified adoption” mean we must share identifying information with the birth parents?
LCFS does not mandate open adoption or force families to share identifying information with birth parents. “Identified adoption” refers to adoptions in which adoptive and birth families connect and choose each other rather than being “matched” by a program.