Connecting With Birth Families

Foster Care

It is not uncommon for adult adoptees to seek out their birth families, or for birth families to seek out their children years after making an adoption plan.

The Illinois Center for Adoption & Permanency recognizes the importance of birth family connections, and we encourage individuals who wish to reach out to their family members to do so. We also encourage adoptive families to support their children in these endeavors, to the extent that re-connecting is a safe and desirable option for all involved.

Individuals who wish to learn more about their birth families may wish to explore the following:

Illinois Adoption Registry

The Illinois Adoption Registry and Medical Information Exchange were created to assist birth parents and adult adoptees who wish to legally contact one another, as well as adoptees who wish to acquire medical background information. The Registry also allows parties to an adoption to indicate that they do not wish to be contacted. The Registry and Exchange are voluntary, and are administered by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Registration is available to the following persons:

  • Adopted or surrendered persons 21 years of age or older who were born, adopted, or surrendered in Illinois;
  • Birth parents of eligible adopted persons;
  • Birth siblings, 21 years of age or older, of eligible adopted or surrendered persons (siblings who were not adopted may only register if the common birth parent is deceased);
  • Adoptive parents of eligible adopted persons who are under the age of 21;
  • Legal guardians of adopted or surrendered persons;
  • Surviving siblings of a deceased parent;
  • A surviving adult child of a deceased adopted person; or
  • A surviving spouse of a deceased adopted person with a minor child.

Please note that all parties must agree to the release of identifying information for an exchange of information to occur; if one party does not want identifying information released, then the other party is notified of the registration and the denial of release of information.

Registration forms can be obtained by:

  • Downloading from the Illinois Adoption Registry website;
  • E-mailing a request to dph.vitalrec@illinois.gov;
  • Calling the Registry at (877) 323-5299 (toll-free from anywhere in the U.S.); or
  • Mailing a request to:Illinois Department of Public Health
    Division of Vital Records
    605 W. Jefferson St.
    Springfield, IL 62702-5097

Confidential Intermediary Service

If your birth relative has not registered with the Illinois Adoption Registry, you may wish to enlist the services of a Confidential Intermediary. These individuals are trained and certified (and authorized by Illinois law) to locate sought-after relatives. When the relative is located, the Confidential Intermediary explains the reason for the contact, describes the options available, and helps facilitate a mutually agreeable outcome. Each person’s privacy and confidentiality is protected during the process.

In Illinois, individuals may petition the Court for appointment of a Confidential Intermediary to locate a birth relative. This petition may be filed for any reason. There is no need to prove that medical information is needed or to state any reason at all for requesting the search. The following individuals may file this type of petition:

  • An adopted or surrendered person who is 21 years of age or older;
  • An adoptive parent or legal guardian of an adopted or surrendered person under the age of 21; or
  • A birth parent of an adopted or surrendered person who is 21 years or older.

Other birth relatives may file a petition for the appointment of a Confidential Intermediary, but must explain to the Court the reason for requesting the search for a birth relative who is 21 years of age or older. The judge will determine if granting the petition “is of greater benefit.” The following individuals may file this type of petition:

  • An adult child of a deceased adopted or surrendered person;
  • An adoptive parent of a deceased adopted or surrendered person;
  • A legal guardian of a deceased adopted or surrendered person;
  • A surviving spouse of a deceased adopted or surrendered person;
  • An adult birth sibling of an adopted or surrendered person whose common birth parent is deceased and whose adopted or surrendered birth sibling is 21 years of age or older; or
  • An adult sibling of a deceased birth parent whose surrendered child is 21 years of age or older.

To learn about this service, or to begin the process of securing a Confidential Intermediary, visit the Confidential Intermediary Service of Illinois website.

Original Birth Certificate Access

Adult adopted persons in Illinois have the option of requesting non-certified copies of their original birth certificates.

If you were born in Illinois before January 1, 1946, you may request a non-certified copy of your original birth certificate by filing this form with the Illinois Department of Public Health.

If you were born in Illinois on or after January 1, 1946, you may request a non-certified copy of your original birth certificate by filing this form with the Illinois Department of Public Health.

If you are the birth parent of an adopted person who was born in Illinois and you did not fill out a Birth Parent Preference Packet before November 1, 2011, you may not request that your identifying information be deleted from the non-certified copy of your child’s original birth certificate. However, you may still register with the Illinois Adoption Registry if you would like to indicate your wishes regarding potential contact.

For more information on the original birth certificate portion of the Illinois adoption law, visit www.newillinoisadoptionlaw.com.

If you have additional questions regarding any of these programs, please contact us today.