COOK COUNTY, Ill. — Court filing fees for adoptions in Cook County have long been three times that of fees in DuPage, Will and McHenry counties, until they were cut from $265 to $89 on Tuesday.

The change came just in time for National Adoption Day on Saturday and an event on Friday where multiple families officially adopted children and shared their adoption stories.

A crowd of family and friends dressed in matching t-shirts for 4-year-old Maddie’s match day, with her dads, James and David Hickey and big brother Franklin.

“It feels great. We’re very excited to end this long journey and start our new journey,” James Hickey said.

Maddie’s sign read, “for 1478 days, she shared their love and their home.” Now, she shares their last name. 

The Hickeys were among several adoptions finalized at a special ceremony at the Daley Center.

“The love, care and compassion from a permanent home is what’s being established here today,” said Circuit Court of Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans.

Court officials say adoption filings in Cook County dropped by 42% from 2014 to 2021 but increased by 9.2% in the collar counties where filing fees were lower. It’s why Cook County commissioners voted to cut the filing fee for adoptions last month, to be in line with other counties.

Tiffany Horstein with Family Forward Law said it’s an effort to reduce barriers and help more children find forever homes. 

“The impact we can make on our children is absolutely invaluable to them,” Hornstein said.

Julisa Green has cared for Danasha since the 15-year-old was a baby. They’re both happy that

“It’s a long journey. Don’t give up hope and stick it out until the end because at the end you’ll be happy, relieved and found someone who cares about you,” Danasha said.

The ceremony was presided over by the Hon. Maureen Hannon, the Hon. Patrick Stanton along with remarks by Chief Judge Timothy Evans and county board president Toni Preckwinkle.

Watch the entire ceremony, including the official adoptions in the video below: