Introduction

This document provides prospective adoptive clients with comprehensive information about ECFA’s Illinois Adoption Program. It is designed to answer many questions about various aspects of our program. If you have any questions or need more information, please call ECFA at 630-653-6400 and ask for the Adoption Supervisor, Barbara Hellmer.

ECFA, including the Adoption Program, is accredited by the Council on Accreditation for Children and Family Services. It is licensed by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (Lic. #006726).

Agency History

Since its founding in 1950, Evangelical Child and Family Agency (ECFA) has honored the concept of adoption. That is reflected in the event that motivated evangelical leaders in Chicago to establish ECFA. In 1946, a young woman abandoned a newborn girl in a Campbell’s Soup box at the women’s dormitory of Moody Bible Institute. She was called “Lillian Isabel” and was subsequently adopted by a local Christian family.

Since the time of its inception, ECFA has facilitated the adoptions of more than 3,000 children of all races, nationalities and needs with evangelical families throughout northeastern Illinois and eastern Wisconsin.

Philosophy of Service

Evangelical Child and Family Agency’s Adoption Program emphasizes a personalized and comprehensive approach to its clients, and a commitment to excellence in its services. The following are the primary elements of the program’s philosophy of service:

  • Above all, the program is committed to the best interests of the child(ren) to be adopted.
  • We seek to find the most appropriate family for each child.
  • We provide information that enables those we serve to make informed, prayerful, and realistic decisions about the adoption of a child.
  • We equip those we serve with training, resources and support needed to excel in the parenting role. Parenting adopted children is more than just a placement. It is a life-long journey with joys and challenges along the way. We are partners with our clients along that journey.
  • We assist those we serve in preparing for adoption- emotionally, financially, physically and spiritually. A team approach includes the adoptive clients, the adoption worker, birth parents and the child(ren).
  • We facilitate a process that is appropriate for all members of the adoption constellation, including the needs of the child(ren), the desires of the birth parents, and the capabilities and desires of the adoptive parents.
  • We help the adoptive parents discover that they are merging their family with that of the child. For some, this means discovering the challenges and the joys of adopting a child domestically or from another country.

Staff

The Adoption staff members are Master’s level professionals or interns who have achieved the optimal state license for their profession. They have experience with all types of adoptions. The Agency’s administrative staff also has extensive experience in a variety of human service settings.

Referrals

ECFA will assist individuals/couples in identifying other adoption resources if ECFA cannot provide the requested service.

Summary of Specific Adoption Practices

Confidentiality: The protection of the privacy of all members of the adoption constellation is fundamental in ECFA’s Adoption Program, as well as a requirement of state and federal law. No information will be given or received without the prior written authorization of the person (or legal representative) whose information is being released or requested with the exception of suspected child abuse or neglect.

Adoptive Study: The study is conducted over a period of several weeks and includes interviews held at ECFA’s office and the applicants’ home. The adoptive study is also called a “bio-psycho-social assessment.” It is a summary of comprehensive information about the applicants’ readiness for adoption. Key purposes of the study are to help the applicants discern the type of child(ren) they are prepared to adopt, as well as inform them about what that means for them and the child. The Adoption team reviews all studies and helps to determine subsequent steps. The completion of the adoptive study may be delayed to address any identified issues or to gather more information. ECFA’s ultimate priority is for the best interests of the child to be placed and how the family can fulfill that priority.

Disruptions: On very rare occasions, one or more factors may indicate that the child’s needs may not be completely met and placement may need to be re-evaluated. All reasonable steps will be taken to prevent a potential adoption disruption.

Adoption Profiles: Adoptive applicants considering domestic adoption are asked to assemble a profile of photos and written information provided to the birth parents. Three or more profiles are shared with birth parents in identifying prospective adoptive couples for placement of their child. The adoption worker provides guidance on preparing profiles.

Licensing: ECFA is accountable to the State of Illinois as a condition of its Child Welfare License (#6726). The license is issued by the Department of Children and Family Services for a period of four years. The purpose of the license is to help insure the well-being of children. The family is issued a foster home license that covers the period between placement and finalization. This does not pertain to families whose adoptions are finalized in other countries.

Openness Continuum: ECFA practices what is called the Openness Continuum. The level of openness between birth parents and adoptive parents can range from sharing non-identifying information to an ongoing face-to-face relationship between the members of the adoption constellation. ECFA believes in the benefits of openness. However, the level of preferred openness varies from person to person. ECFA matches adoptive parents with birth parents who have similar expectations about openness.

Indian Child Welfare Act: Children of birth parents who are members of a Native American tribe will be placed only if the tribal authorities do not object to the placement.

Post-Placement Supervision: The agency’s primary concern is that placement proceeds smoothly for all parties. This is monitored by regular visits with the family in their home. Frequency of visits can range from monthly to every two months or more frequently as needed. Frequency is determined by state law, placing agency requirements, and needs of the child. Some countries require visits to continue beyond the finalization date. The first post-placement visit typically occurs one month after placement. The adoption worker is available to consult with the family regarding problems or questions they may have.

Post-Legal Adoption Services: As permitted by state law, the agency assists members of the adoption constellation in obtaining identifying or non-identifying information after adoption finalization. A separate fee is charged for this service.

Mutual Responsibilities and Rights

ECFA is committed to serving its clients ethically and responsibly. To accomplish this, it is important to establish a solid and respectful partnership between adoptive clients and program staff. The acknowledgement of mutual rights and responsibilities is part of forging that partnership. The following are examples of mutual rights and responsibilities:

Examples of the adoptive clients’ responsibilities include:

  • Being open, candid and honest in the information provided to the adoption worker
  • Taking seriously the task of educating themselves about adoptive parenting and adoption issues
  • Paying the agreed-upon fees
  • Maintain timely contact with worker

Examples of the rights of the adoptive parents include:

  • Being treated with dignity and respect
  • Participating in decisions about the services received
  • Receiving prompt and timely service
  • Receiving information about how to file a complaint or grievance

Examples of responsibilities of the Agency include:

  • Providing quality services centered around the best interests of the child(ren);
  • Treating clients with dignity and respect
  • Providing all available information about the child(ren)
  • Providing prompt and timely service

The rights of the Agency include:

  • Making decisions that are in the best interests of the child
  • Regularly monitoring the placement of the child
  • Enforcing licensing requirements

A complete list of rights and responsibilities is provided to clients as part of the intake packet.

Complaint Process

  • The complaint procedure will be provided in written form to prospective clients before they sign any agreement to receive services or pay any fees.
  • A copy of the complaint policy and procedure will be signed and dated by the client and maintained in the client’s file. Copies will also be given to clients.
  • ECFA will initiate an investigation of a written complaint within two (2) business days of receiving the written complaint. Clients with special needs who require assistance putting their complaint into writing shall be provided with assistance by an agency staff person or another individual of the client’s choice.
  • ECFA will maintain written documentation of all complaints received.
  • The complaint investigation will be finalized within ten (10) business days after the complaint is received and the resolution/report mailed to the complaining party, unless additional time is requested due to extenuating circumstances.
  • ECFA will not retaliate against complaining parties in any manner.
  • ECFA has designated the Director of Clinical Services to accept and coordinate the response to complaints for adoption. The phone number is 630 653-6400; the e-mail address is mail@evancfa.org.
  • The written complaint and ECFA’s response will be reviewed by ECFA’s Social Service Committee, whose decision is final. The resolution of all complaints will be reported to the Agency’s Board of Directors at the next board meeting following completion of the final report. Further steps may be taken to resolve complaints, including negotiation, mediation and arbitration. (This process is explained further in the Adoption Service Agreement.)

Questions about the above procedure may be directed the Director of Clinical Services or the Executive Director.

Annual Report to DCFS and Annual Audit

Each year no later than October 15th, ECFA files an Adoption Annual Report with the Department of Children and Family Services and the Illinois Attorney General. The report contains information about the operation of the program for the prior year, including: non-identifying information on the number of people served (adoptive families, birth families and children placed); status of the Agency’s Child Welfare License; accreditation status; complaints record, lawsuits /investigations; and financial audit.

Download the most recent DCFS Annual Report.

Visit the DCFS website to access information about other Illinois adoption agencies and for information related to DCFS licensing requirements and available financial subsidies.