I’m 45 years old and just found out from a relative that I’m adopted. Obviously, I’m completely shocked. Unfortunately, my [adopted] parents have passed away. I was born in Illinois. How can I find about more information about my biological family?
– Adopted in Illinois
Dear Adopted in Illinois,
First, I’m sorry that you had to endure this shock, but I have to commend you for handling things very well. If you need some advice or counseling, we interact with a lot of great mental health professionals in the course of our activities and would be happy to give you a few names.
To your specific question, either finding out more information through Illinois’ open birth record laws or through a search and reunion service would probably be most fruitful. From 2010-2013, around 8,800 Illinois residents have been able to see their original birth certificates because of the Illinois law that opened adoption documents sealed for decades. (Source: kansas.com, 7/26/13).
The Illinois DCFS has an excellent page about adoption records and is a good start. Also, the Illinois Department of Public Health has information about the Illinois Adoption Registry and Medical Information Exchange which allows parties involved in the adoption the ability to allow or prevent the release of certain information associated with past adoptions.
There is also the Illinois confidential intermediary program, which according to their website is free now: http://www.ci-illinois.org . They may be able to help with connecting you with biological relatives. Midwest Adoption Center (MAC) is another resource that does search and reunion: http://www.macadopt.org and is listed on the Illinois DCFS page before as an approved private provider.
Finally, there are several Illinois adoption attorneys listed on our Resources page.
In short, there are a lot of potential resources that can help. As an adopted person born in Illinois, the open records laws should help as you search for information. With some effort, and a bit of luck, I hope that you find what you are looking for!