An independent adoption is an adoption in which the birth parent(s) sign legal documents after the baby is born transferring their parental rights to the child directly to the adoptive parents. Sometimes called private or direct-placement adoption, independent adoption allows birth and adoptive families to decide how they want their adoption to proceed. There are no restrictions on either birth or adoptive parents, thus adoptive parents do not have to meet any special criteria (such as being under 40 to adopt an infant, being of a certain religion, not having other children, etc.) to adopt. An independent adoption may be open, with contact between the birth and adoptive parents including the possibility of future contact between them.

In an independent adoption, both the adoptive parents and birth parent(s) must follow Illinois law. Illinois law does not require that a baby be put into foster care, so most infants go directly from the hospital to the adoptive family. After the baby is born, the birth parent(s) signs a Final and Irrevocable Consent to Adoption giving the adoptive parents the right to adopt the baby. According to Illinois law, in order for this Consent to be legally valid, the birth mother cannot sign a Consent until at least 72 hours after the birth of the child and it must be acknowledged in front of a judge or other designated social service personnel. In Cook County, Illinois, birth parents work with the Department of Supportive Services to sign final and irrevocable consents and they are only signed during regular business hours. An attorney or notary cannot acknowledge a Consent in Illinois.

Birth mothers have three options regarding identification of birth fathers for the purpose of adoption. (1) State the identity of the birth father. (2) State that the birth fatherís identity is unknown and explain why. (3) State that she does know the identity of the birth father, but explain why she refuses to give the information. Whichever option is chosen, it must take the form of a signed, sworn statement (affidavit). If the birth mother identifies the wrong man or refuses to identify him, she cannot later seek to invalidate the adoption on this basis.

A man is legally considered to be the father of a child if he is married to the birth mother on the date of birth or was married to the mother within 300 days before the birth of the child. A man is also legally considered to be the father of a child if there has been a finding of paternity by a court. Additionally, there are other circumstances where paternity may be established.

The Illinois Putative Father Registry Statute: A putative father is a man who may be the father of a child but who is not married to the childís mother, or who has not otherwise established paternity of a child. The law requires a man to provide information about himself, the birth mother, and, if already born, the child, to the Registry no later than thirty (30) days after the birth of the child. In addition to registering with the Putative Father Registry, extra steps must be taken by the birth father if he wants to have legal rights to his child. Anyone who knowingly or intentionally registers false information with the Registry commits a Class B misdemeanor.