By Kelly Youngblood
As a prominent adoption attorney in the Champaign-Urbana area, Ellyn Bullock has helped hundreds of families realize their dreams of adopting a child.
Bullock estimates she’s finalized over 2,000 adoptions in Illinois over the last 25 years.
Her expertise in the adoption field has not gone unnoticed. She’s received numerous awards for her lifelong work, including Catholic Charities Friend of Adoption Award, YWCA Environmental Advocacy Award, Illinois Leading Lawyer- Civil Rights, School Law and Adoption and many more.
In addition, many local families can also personally attest to her strength and knowledge in adoption.
Bullock knows firsthand the positive impact adoption can have in people’s lives. Growing up in Minnesota, Bullock had three adopted brothers. After she and her husband were married, they decided to adopt two children of their own.
Her personal experience has enable her to understand and empathize with the birth and adoptive families she works with in a unique way.
Bullock loves when she can help find a child a loving, supportive, and encouraging family, but also knows adoption works both ways — it’s just as beneficial to the parents as it is to the children.
“When adoption is working really well, both those are happening simultaneously. It’s not the kind of Disney model where the poor little orphan is suddenly provided for by the parents. Often the parents are also just as enriched by and blessed by the child,” Bullock said “I have always found that two-way street really intriguing and really interesting and something I’m sort of always thinking about and always learning about.”
Bullock also loves the intellectual work that goes along with the job. She spends a significant amount of time doing adoption litigation and appeals.
“I like casework. I like writing in appellate courts and appearing in appellate courts,” she said.
Bullock said she’s usually working with 50-75 families at any time. While a lot of her work involves domestic infant adoption, she also focuses much of her time on related adoption areas such as assisted reproduction and helping undocumented and unaccompanied minors in need of guardians. She has a lot of experience in international and DCFS adoptions as well as related child adoptions.
With years of adoption expertise and personal experience, Bullock has some practical advice for families seeking help with adoption. She says the first step families should take is to reach out to a reputable adoption agency.
“If you’re just going to start the whole adoption process as new parents looking into adoption you would definitely want to contact a very reputable licensed child welfare agency and there are literally hundreds of them,” she said.
Bullock recommends Illini Christian Ministries, Center for Family Building, Angel Adoption, Lutheran Child and Family Services and Center for Youth and Family Solutions (formerly Catholic Charities). Read more about area adoption agencies here.
Bullock noted, due to the internet age, families have access to adoption agencies all across the country now, not just locally.
Bullock also advises adoptive families to keep these three things in mind when considering or in the process of adoption:
- Be resilient and open to all sorts of children with a myriad of different skills, personalities, appearances, and identities. Bullock says most of the adoptive families she works with are resilient and possess a great strength- appreciating, accepting and fostering a child’s unique abilities.
- Be open to the adoption story. Bullock says many times adoption is the right answer but it has a funny path. She’s encountered adoptions where people meet and connect at garage sales, church events, and in neighborhoods. It’s possible and part of someone’s adoption story.
- Understand and value the child’s birth identity. Adopted children can love their adoptive parents and still value their biological history.
Bullock knows adoption laws are always changing and the experience can be challenging for families, but she truly enjoys helping them navigate through the evolving process.
“I just really am glad to be involved in law that affects and impacts children. That, just for me, is a delight.”