Illinois Law Allows Adopted Persons to Obtain Original Birth Certificate

In November of 2011, Illinois passed a new law making it possible for adopted persons who were born in the state of Illinois to request a copy of their original birth certificate. These records were formerly sealed documents, unavailable to the adoptee. Under this new amendment to the Illinois Adoption Act, those adults who are now age 21 or older, and were born after January 1, 1946, may fill out an application to request a non-certified copy of their original birth certificate, that may reveal the names of their biological parents.Thousands of adoptees have already taken advantage of this new law. Two of these people happen to be friends of mine.

One friend wanted to know his medical history because he has faced certain health issues throughout his life, while the other one had less clear motives for requesting the original birth certificate. Perhaps just a natural curiosity of wanting to know where you originally came from? Both filled out applications to request their birth certificates as soon as the law went into effect, and both have since received their copies of their original documents as of mid to late January. Neither person got exactly the news they had been wishing for, however, did learn that they have biological siblings. Both have taken steps to reach out to these new found siblings so that they may learn more about their blood relatives and perhaps get some idea about the medical history of their biological families. Unfortunately for both, the birth parents were deceased in both cases.

Some birth parents may still wish to keep the anonymity they have had since the adoption. For those individuals who wish to remain unidentified, there are measures that can be taken to ensure their privacy.They can submit a form requesting that their identity not be revealed during their lifetime by contacting the Illinois Adoption Registry and Medical Exchange. If they desire, they may also supply medical background and history about known diseases or illnesses within the family background. Information regarding diseases that are transmitted genetically are especially useful, and may be beneficial to the adopted person and/or their children and future generations. The medical information can be supplied while still keeping the birth parent’s identity private.No identifying information will be released if you so choose.

No one can yet predict the consequences that will ultimately occur from the passing of this new law. In my opinion, I feel it could be either a good or a bad thing, depending upon the parties involved and the information revealed. I fully understand an adopted child wanting to learn their medical history, for obvious reasons. I can also understand wanting to know who gave birth to you, who fathered you. Some fear that some potential birth parents who might choose to put their baby up for adoption may instead terminate the pregnancy for fear that one day their identity will be revealed and they may be located. I personally feel it will be more of an emotional upheaval for some adopted persons who may not like what they find. For the most part, I feel this will be an answer to questions and a chance for discovering another family who most likely gave you up for valid reasons,hoping to give you a better life than they could provide at the time.

No matter what outcome the adopted person receives, they should always keep in mind that they were chosen and raised by a family who loved and wanted them, and that family will always belong to them. For my personal friends, I hope their planned meetings with their newly discovered families goes well, and simply brings in another family to love and call their own, never to replace their adoptive families, but to enhance all of their lives.

If you would like more information on this new law, or wish to apply for a copy of your birth certificate, please visit the Illinois Department of Public Health website.

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