The first Illinois law providing for and regulating adoptions went into force april 22, 1867. This law provided that "any person desirous of adopting a child, so as to render it capable of inheriting his or her estate" may present a petition of adoption to the circuit or county court in his or her county of residence. The first record books in Illinois courthouses devoted solely to adoptions dated from this period. In practice most adoptions following the 1867 law were handled by the county courts.
After county courts were abolished in 1964, all adoptions in Illinois occured in the circuit courts, which also assumed custody of the adoption records previously held by county courts.
Prior to 1867, adoptions could be declared by a court of records and might also be declared or assumed in a deed or last will and testament wherein the grantor or testator gave or bequethed property to a child. In such cases, the record of adoption would be found in the office of the court clerk, the recorder of deeds, or the probate court. [Suggestion: When looking for an adoption, sometimes they are found not in the index under the name of the person but under "In Re" under the "I"; or "Re." under the "R" index.]