What adoption records are available in Illinois?

Court Adoption File
The Court adoption file contains all of the documents pertaining to the legal process of the adoption and is "impounded" by the Court. When a file is "impounded" it means that the record is sealed and is not available except by order of the Court. The Court adoption files do not usually contain any social or medical information pertaining to the child or to the birth family. A copy of the original birth certificate is only rarely included.

Adoption Agency File
Some adoptions in Illinois were facilitated by a licensed child welfare agency, often referred to as the "adoption agency". These agencies must maintain adoption records, which may include social and medical information concerning the birth family collected by the agency, information about the child, details of the circumstances of the placement and information about the adopting family. Copies of legal documents may also be included. In some instances, the files may contain correspondence received after the adoption from the birth family, the adoptive parents or the adoptee.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services may also serve as the “adoption agency”. DCFS only maintains records pertaining to adoptions in which the child was a ward of DCFS at the time of the adoption. Since the Department was not formed until the mid-1960's, there are few files from before 1964. No information pertaining to adoptions which were not handled by DCFS is available from the Department.

Private placement Information
If an Illinois adoption was not handled by a licensed child welfare agency, it is often referred to as a "private placement". These may be arranged by physicians, attorneys, relatives or other individuals connected in some way to the birth or adoptive family. Beginning in the 1960's, the Courts ordered that social and medical information pertaining to the birth family be collected prior to the adoption. Since the method varied from county to county, the Circuit Court in which the adoption was finalized should be able to provide information as to whether this information is available and how it may be accessed.


How can "non-identifying" or medical information be obtained?
Illinois law mandates that certain "non-identifying information" be given, upon request, to adult adoptees and to adoptive parents of minors. This is descriptive information such as physical characteristics, education, heath, nationality, etc. The law does not permit an agency to release any information that could identify the person such as names, address, date of birth, etc without the consent of that person.

"Non-identifying information", if it is available, is usually held by the agency involved in the adoption. Social history and medical information is usually not found in the court adoption file.

In most cases, the only way for an adoptee to obtain useful medical information is to locate and contact the birth family. Some people who do not want a "reunion" use the CI program just to ask for medical information. Your CI would contact your birth family and make that request on your behalf.


If the adoption was completed through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services:
DCFS offers service to adoptees, adoptive parents and birth family members seeking non-identifying information from their files. This program is only available to individuals party to an adoption in which the child was a ward of DCFS at the time of the adoption. Midwest Adoption Center provides this service on behalf of DCFS. There is no fee for service through this program. If you believe the adoption was handled by DCFS, request a service request form by contacting:

Midwest Adoption Center
IDCFS Post-adoption Program
2720 South River Road - Suite 50
DesPlaines, Illinois 60018
Toll-free 1-800-526-9022

Or by email at mac@macadopt.org

If the adoption was completed through a private adoption agency:
According to the Illinois Adoption Act, the adoption agency handling the adoption must provide specific “non-identifying information”, if available, to adult adoptees and to adoptive parents of minors upon request. Therefore, if the name of the adoption agency is known, contact the private agency directly to request this information. There may be a fee for this service.

What are the options for Illinois adoptees, birth parents, siblings and others who want to search for birth relatives?
Illinois Adoption Registry
The Illinois Adoption Registry is a confidential cross-reference file of birth parents, adult adoptees, and various other birth relatives. Individuals provide identifying information, an anonymous letter or photo, the release of an original birth record, and medical information and may authorize its release to the other parties to the adoption. A computer searches the registry for individuals whose information matches and then handles the release of the information that each person has submitted to the Registry for that purpose. Additional information and registration forms may be obtained:

Department of Public Health
Division of Vital Records
605 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62702
217-557-5159
www.idph.state.il.us/vitalrecords/adoptioninfo.htm

Search and Reunion Service if the adoption was completed through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services:
DCFS offers adoption search service to adoptees, adoptive and guardianship parents, birth parents and other birth family members who are searching for a relative. A caseworker will attempt to find your birth parent, sibling or birth child and facilitate a mutually agreed upon connection. To use this program, the child must have been a ward of DCFS at the time of the placement. Midwest Adoption Center provides this service on behalf of the Department. There is no fee for adoption search and reunion service through this program. If you believe the adoption was handled by DCFS, request a service request form:

IDCFS Post-adoption Program
2720 South River Road - Suite 50
Des Plaines, Illinois 60018
Toll-free 1-800-526-9022
www.macadopt.org
(service request form may be downloaded)

Search service if the adoption was completed through a private adoption agency:
Illinois law does not allow any agency to release the name or address of an adopted person or birth relative without their consent. However, if the adoption agency still exists, the agency may offer search service to adoptees and birth parents who received service through their programs. If the name of the agency is known, contact the agency directly to request service. There may be a fee.

If there was no adoption agency involved, if you do not know the name of the agency involved, or if the agency no longer exists:
Adoptees, adoptive parents of minors, birth parents and some other relatives can use the Confidential Intermediary program to find a relative. This Court ordered search program is a service of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, delivered by Midwest Adoption Center. Using information obtained by Court order, the CI will attempt to find your birth parent, sibling or birth child and work out a mutually agreed upon connection.



 
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