The rule is clear.  A consent to adoption form is not equal to a surrender of parental rights.    To have any meaning, section 10(A) of the Adoption Act must be read to provide for irrevocable consent to a specific adoption only.

Samuel E. was adopted by Ann.   This was done with the international adoption process.   The proceeding was assisted by a local agency. Samuel, then age 10, lived with Ann for several months.  

Then, Ann sought assistance from the agency because of the child’s behavioral issues. Sharon S., who was a supervisor at the agency, took Samuel in temporarily for a few days to provide Ann some respite.

However, several days later, Sharon informed Ann that Samuel did not want to return to Ann’s home. Accordingly, at Sharon’s request, Ann provided Sharon with temporary authority over Samuel.

Eventually, Sharon persuaded Ann that it would be best for her to allow Samuel to be adopted by another family. In the meantime, Samuel continued to live with Sharon.

Ann signed consent for adoption by a Chicago-area family, but this adoption was not completed. The following month, Sharon located Kevin and Stacy G., who lived in Tennessee.   Samuel went to live with them.

In turn, the G’s filed a petition to adopt Samuel. Ann signed consent to this adoption. However, the G’s changed their minds about adopting Samuel and returned him to Sharon.

The court entered an order.  It provided that legal custody remained with the potential adoptive parents, the G’s.  But that it was in the best interests of Samuel that temporary physical custody be awarded to the adoption agency, with the instruction to place him in an appropriate home, including but not limited to, that of Sharon.

The order further required supportive services to expedite an investigation as to a potential adoptive parent to expedite a new placement for Samuel.

Ann called Sharon and informed her that she intended to reclaim custody of Samuel.  Ann filed a petition seeking a court order directing that Sharon return Samuel to her.

The circuit court erred in finding that her consent was general, rather than specific. She maintains there is no such distinction in the Adoption Act between a “specific” and “general” consent. Ann asserts that to the extent the court was referring to a surrender of parental rights, the document she signed was consent to Kevin and Stacy G. to adopt Samuel.   It was not a surrender of her parental rights.

According to Ann, when Kevin and Stacy G. did not adopt Samuel, that consent became a nullity and she was not required to take any measures to revoke it.   This was true.

However, Section 11 of the Adoption Act requires that a party act within 12 months of consent having been given.  “No action to void or revoke a consent to or surrender for adoption, including an action based on fraud or duress, may be commenced after 12 months from the date the consent or surrender was executed.”  Ann was barred.

In re Adoption of Samuel E., 401 Ill.App.3d 250

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