Adoptive Parents FAQs

The Cradle welcomes prospective adoptive parents of all religious, racial and ethnic backgrounds. 

Marriage Status:

We work with couples and singles for all three of our programs:

⬤  Intercountry Program

⬤  Agency Assisted Program

⬤  General Domestic Program

At the time of registration couples do need to be married, but we do not have a marriage length requirement. Though, the placing agency or country you choose might have a marriage length requirement. 

Age Requirements:

For all of our programs, prospective adoptive parents must be a minimum of 25 years of age.

For our two infant domestic program (Agency Assisted Program and General Domestic Program), at the time of registration prospective adoptive parents must be 47 year old or younger.

For our Intercountry Program, prospective adoptive parents need to meet the age and other requirements of the country they hope to adopt from.

Location Requirements:

Prospective adoptive parents must live within one of the six counties in Illinois we serve:

⬤  Cook

⬤  DuPage

⬤  Kane

⬤  Lake

⬤  McHenry

⬤  Will

We do not accept other agency’s home studies for our General Domestic Program.


Timeframes in adoption are difficult to predict and vary from family to family. Timeframes will be dependent on the program or country you choose, and we can offer no guaranteed placement date. Some of the timing in the process is under your control as an adoptive parent. How motivated and available you are, how quickly you get paperwork back to us and how flexible you are in your request for a child all will impact your timeframe in adoption.

Fees cover a range of services to all members of the adoption circle (birthparents, adoptive parents as well as adopted individuals) as well as to those who explore adoption but then ultimately choose not to place their child. We are thoroughly preparing you as adoptive parents for this experience through counseling and education. Expectant parent services include counseling, medical expenses and nursery care. We also provide extensive educational and outreach services to the professional community to ensure that they give their clients and patients accurate information about the option of adoption.

Many hear about us by reputation. After 15,000 adoptions someone usually knows someone who has been involved with The Cradle. We use various media outlets to create awareness of our services in the community. And we also have Community Outreach Workers who visit clinics, hospitals and doctor's offices to spread the word about The Cradle and educate health care professionals on adoption practices. Others learn about The Cradle through adoptive parent networking -- some expectant parents feel more comfortable considering adoption if they can consider a specific family. Networking is encouraged for prospective adoptive parents.

In the past few years, we've placed many children with same gender and single parents. Expectant parents choose a family on their own personal set of criteria; realistically some will probably not be interested in a same gender or a single parent for their child. However, we also have experiences in which expectant parents will prefer a same gender or single parent family for their baby.

When considering their child request, adoptive parents will determine their level of comfort with various factors, such as ethnicity, health risks, and prenatal exposure. Expectant parents considering placing a child will also be given the opportunity to consider the type of family they are hoping for their child. We will determine the amount of profiles shown based on matching criteria.

The specifics of an open adoption are different for every family. We ask that, together with your child's birthparents, you develop an ongoing plan in which you are both comfortable. The open relationship is going to be different for every situation.

It is our experience that open relationships may develop into something different than originally planned. Generally, adoptive parents look for more contact as time goes by than do the birthparents. Most of our adoptive parents recognize the benefits that the relationship offers to their child and they look for continued contact. Initially most birthparents want the security that the decision they made was the right one for their child. 

Whenever possible we provide counseling services for expectant fathers during the process --- just as we counsel the mother. There are specific procedures established to ensure a legal adoption is possible in situations where a birthfather is unknown or unavailable. You may click here to read more about birthfathers; and you may wish to consult an adoption attorney with specific questions.

Click here to find out more about adotive parents rights and responsibilites in Illinois.

We do not have a minimum income requirement for our adoptive parents. We do need assurance that our adoptive parents can provide for their child and afford the adoption process. Our expectation is that you have realistically considered the expenses involved in parenting, including things like child care, health care, food, clothing or change of income if one parent stays at home after your child arrives.

All families will be asked to complete a detailed budget describing their expenses, assets and liabilities. We feel this is important because studies show that arguments over the stress of finances are the leading cause of marital strife and we would not want the addition of a child to cause financial hardship. If we have a concern about your financial stability, we will talk to you about it as early in the process as we can.

Home study guidelines and standards require that parents planning to adopt be stable, law abiding, responsible individuals, free from active alcohol or substance dependency. As part of a home study by The Cradle, we assess for those qualities and specifically ask about arrest/conviction histories. There are some crimes which automatically prevent people from obtaining an approved home study.

For any offenses, it is important to let your counselor know as early as you can. Most of the time it won’t interfere with your adoption, but we will need to ask you to submit a police report and court disposition with a letter of explanation. If we have any concerns we’ll talk with you about them as early in the process as possible.

An adoptive mom's story

Video Transcript

Slide: meet Annette, an adoptive parent

Annette: I really consider... even though our levels of openness are different with the two girls, I feel both of the birth moms are part of our family. They kind of feel like sisters to me. We met Kelsey’s birth mom Stephanie when she was seven months pregnant. Before, you know, our match meeting we were scared to death. When we first walked in and met her, it was like everything just kind of melted away. Here was a person who was just as scared, probably way more so than we were, and vulnerable and going through some big time decisions and choices, and we just instantly connected. And then after Kelsey was born, we continued visits and phone calls and email and talking and the relationship just kind of grew and grew from there.

Keira’s birth mom we have a little bit different relationship. She took a little bit longer making her choices, making her decisions, being comfortable with it and so with Keira, we didn’t get placed with her until she was six weeks old. With Kelsey, Kelsey was three days old when we brought her home. With Dana, Keira’s birth mom, we mostly email back and forth. She did come to our house when Keira was about six months old. She came to our house, and we met, and we all got together. I’m anticipating and hoping for a lot more of that.

Slide: feelings about adoption changed over time

Annette: I think like a lot of adoptive parents, we were so afraid of an open relationship. We started off, “No, no, no contact.”Then, “Oh. Okay well, maybe just emails, phone calls and some pictures.” Then, “Alright well, maybe we’ll meet the birth mom. That’s really what’s best for the kid. Hopefully we’ll get one that only wants to get together a couple of times.” And then, “No extended family.” And now we’re so immersed in each other’s lives that - and it’s wonderful and we love it and we wouldn’t have it any other way. We did a 180 on so many things along the way, you know, from, “We don’t want any openness at all, we don’t want any connection at all,” to having, you know, someone, hopefully two people that are so much a part of our lives as well as their extended families as well. And it’s baby steps. I think with any relationship, it felt good from the beginning but it just grew.

You know when you first meet a friend or something, you’re not instantly best friends, but every time we talked, every time we met and got to know each other better, it grew every time.

Slide: what she hopes for the future 

Annette: To me, I think open adoption means keeping your mind open to all the possibilities that come with it and all the different benefits and things that may present themselves along the way. I think as long as they know that their birth moms are a very special person in their lives and that there’s that bond there, I mean that’s what I want them to have. I want them to have a comfort level and a closeness and a bond so that they know just how important these people are in their lives.