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New State Law Provides Family History Access to Adopted Children

Posted on in Adoption

adopted children, adopted person, adoptive parent, Birth Certificate Law, birth parents, family history access, Kane County adoption attorney, State Registrar of Vital RecordsIllinois is working to open records that traditionally have been closed. A new state law will make it easier for adoptees to learn about their birth families and to uncover their medical histories.  The bill is part of Illinois’s effort to make adoptions more transparent. Four years ago, the Illinois Birth Certificate Law allowed adopted adults to access their original birth certificates without first obtaining a court order. Now, under this new law, biological families and adopted children have more opportunities to connect and to exchange information.

The Birth Certificate Law provides adopted adults with access to basic information, like their time and place of birth. However, it does not guarantee access to their biological parents. A privacy provision permits parents to keep their identities a secret. One or both parents may utilize this provision, which means it is possible to find out who one birth parent is while the other remains anonymous. Parents must file a request for anonymity. Otherwise the state assumes they have consented to releasing the information.

Once a court consents to an adoption, the clerk of the court must provide the State Registrar of Vital Records with an adoption certificate. This certificate must include the necessary information to identify and locate the adoptee’s original birth certificate. If the adoptee was born in a different state, the Registrar will transmit the adoption record to the state of birth.

Registering to Exchange Contact and Medical Information

The Illinois Adoption Registry and Medical Information Exchange program allows registrants to authorize (or prohibit) the release of identifying information. Adoptees may exchange contact information and medical records with their birth family members. The parties may exchange this information anonymously. Only certain parties may register with this program, including:

  • Adult adoptees (who are at least 21 years old);
  • Adult surrendered persons (who are at least 21 years old);
  • Adoptive parents, if the adopted child is younger than 21;
  • A surviving relative of a deceased adopted or surrendered person, such as an adult child or surviving spouse of the deceased;
  • A surviving relative of a deceased birth parent, such as an adult child or the parent’s siblings; and
  • Legal guardians.

The birth parents, birth siblings, and birth aunts and uncles may also register.

Adopted vs. Surrendered

What is the difference between an adopted person and a surrendered person? A surrendered person is someone whose parents’ rights have been surrendered voluntarily or terminated involuntarily but who has not been adopted. This person, if a minor, is likely a ward of the state and might live in a foster home or an orphanage. The law treats a surrendered person like an adopted person, recognizing that both have the right to vital birth and medical information.

While Illinois boasts some of the most progressive adoption laws in the country, this does not mean you should not seek an experienced Kane County adoption attorney. We can help you navigate the adoption process and understand the rights of adopted children or an adoptive parent, as well as a birth family member. Contact us today for a consultation. We can assist those in the St. Charles area.
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