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Frequently Asked Questions
The following are Frequently Asked Questions about the DCFS Closed File Information and Search program. This service is only available to adopted persons, those who were in foster care but never adopted, birth relatives and adoptive parents of minors connected to placement through DCFS. If you are an adopted person, adoptive parent or birth relative and the adoption was through a private adoption agency, doctor or attorney, click here.

Click one the client types shown below to jump to questions from people like you.



Frequently asked questions from adult adopted persons
Frequently asked questions from adoptive and guardianship parents
Frequently asked questions from birth family members
Frequently asked questions from individuals who were in the care of DCFS and never adopted
Frequently asked questions from found relatives


If you do not find the information you are looking for, we invite you to call us to discuss your questions. It may be helpful to speak with a staff person especially if your situation is complicated.

If you prefer, you may use the Ask a Question form to send your question to Midwest Adoption Center. We will respond to your email as quickly as possible, usually within a week.


Frequently asked questions from adult adopted persons
If you were adopted while in the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services you are entitled to receive “non-identifying information” about your birth family from DCFS files. You can also request help to locate birth relatives. Midwest Adoption Center is under contract with DCFS to provide these services. We hope that the following answers to questions often asked by clients like you will be helpful. If, after reading this information, you still have questions, please call us at 847-298-9096, ext 29.

How old do I have to be to get service through this program?
According to Illinois law, you are entitled to receive ‘non-identifying information’ about your birth family when you are 18 years of age or older. If you want to locate a birth relative, you can also request service when you are 18 years of age or older. If you are under18, your adoptive or guardianship parent can request service on your behalf.

Will you contact my adoptive parent(s) at any time?
If you are old enough to request service yourself, we will not contact your adoptive parent(s) at any time unless you ask us to do so. We will not confirm that you are a client in this program or discuss your request or any aspect of service with anyone without your permission.

What information can I get from the closed DCFS file?
The Illinois Adoption Act specifies that certain “non-identifying information’ be given to adult adoptees (18 years of age and older). If it is found in the closed files, you will receive:

  • Data about biological relatives, including:
    • Parents’ general appearance
    • Parents’ age at the time of the birth of the child
    • Parents’ race, religion and ethnic background
    • Parents’ education, occupation, hobbies, interests and talents
    • Existence of any other children born to the biological parents
    • Information about biological grandparents, including reason for immigrating to the U.S. and country of origin
    • Relationship between the biological parents
  • Detailed medical and mental health history of the child, the biological parents and their immediate relatives
  • Actual date and place of birth of the adopted person
  • A description of the circumstances leading to the child coming into the care of the Department
  • Record of placements prior to adoption

For some clients, we receive files that are very large and contain a lot of detailed information. However, that is not always the case. If the file contains detailed information about a complex medical condition, we will include redacted copies of those documents. Until we receive your file, we will not know exactly what information is available about you and your birth family.

What is a "redacted copy"?
"Redacted" means that certain information is removed from the original document so that the words that are "redacted" are not visible on the copy that is sent to you. Illinois law does not allow us to include identifying information about any birth family members. Therefore, such information must be removed from copies of reports or evaluations that are sent to you.

How is the "non-identifying information" from my file prepared?
First we locate your closed DCFS file and have it sent to our office. Sometimes the file is not found in DCFS Central Storage and we have to contact DCFS field offices or a POS (Purchase of Service) Agency to find out if they have your file. We also attempt to obtain files established for birth siblings or your birth parents, since they might include medical information that would affect you. It may only take a few weeks to obtain the files, but sometimes much longer. Once the file is shipped to us, we make sure it is the correct file; when a caseworker is available, your case is assigned.

Your caseworker will carefully examine all of the files we have received. All of the information that the law specifies be given to you is taken out of the files and put on a special form developed for this purpose.

How long does it take to get the information?
You will be notified when we are able to assign your request to a caseworker. Once she can begin work on your case, she will estimate how long it will take to complete the report depending upon the size of the files and the complexity of the information found in them.

I am currently seeing a doctor, who needs my medical information about my birth family. Can I get this quickly?
If you have a doctor write a letter explaining the urgent need for the information, we can give your request priority.

Can I get my birth certificate or social security card, etc from the file?
We cannot provide originals or copies of any vital records such as birth or death certificates or social security information. However, an adopted person who is 21 years of age or older and was born in Illinois can request a copy of your own original birth certificate from the Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Records, 925 E Ridgely Avenue, Springfield, IL 62702 (217) 782-6553.

For more information about requesting your original birth certificate:
Illinois Department of Public Health, Illinois Adoption Registry and Medical Information Exchange at 217-782-6553 or 877-323-5299
http://dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/birth-death-other-records/adoption/iarmie

An adult adopted person who was born in Illinois can request a copy of your own, amended, Illinois birth certificate from the Division of Vital Records, 925 E Ridgely Avenue, Springfield, IL 62702  (217) 782-6553. That certificate will show your adoptive parents names, not your birth parent’s names.


I want to find my birth parent(s), brother, sister or other birth relative. Can you give me his/her name and address?
You can ask us to try to locate your birth relative for you. We cannot give you the name and address of a relative, but we can use the information from the closed files to attempt to locate that person. We will contact your relative and ask if he or she would like a connection with you.

What is the difference between the Closed File Information and Search program and the Illinois Adoption Registry?
The Registry is run by the Department of Public Health. You can file a form with the Registry showing whether you do or do not want to have contact with a birth relative. If you do want contact and that birth relative also files a form with the Registry, you will receive a letter with your relative’s name and contact information. The Registry does not search for your birth relative. You will only get contact information from the Registry if your relative also files Registry forms. In the Closed File Information and Search program, we will search for the relative you want to find. If we locate him or her, we will explain that you would like a connection.

Why do I have to file with the Registry first?
According to Illinois law, you must file with the Registry before any agency can begin a search for you. If your relative has already filed with the Registry, a search would not be necessary. It is also possible that your relative had filed a form with the Registry indicating that he does not want a connection. In that case, we would not be able to search for him.

What if I am scared, anxious and unsure about pursuing these services? Is there anyone I can speak with to help me with this decision?
We recognize that this process can be frustrating and that asking for and receiving personal information or beginning a search for your birth family can cause a variety of strong feelings. Everyone at Midwest Adoption Center is able to answer questions about this program and provide telephone support, from the moment you call to request the service, until and after your case closes. If you have questions or would like to speak with MAC staff before you are given the name of your caseworker, please call 847-298-9096, ext 29.

If the birth relative I want to find is located and both of us want to have direct contact, what information will we get?
Most often, people want to exchange their name, address and phone number. In some situations, both prefer to only exchange phone numbers or email addresses. You will talk with your MAC caseworker to decide what works best in your situation. Once you decide what you want to exchange, both of you will sign a form allowing MAC to exchange the information. No information is ever given out by MAC without your written permission.


Frequently asked questions from adoptive and guardianship parents

If you are the adoptive or guardianship parent of a child who was placed in your home while in the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services you are entitled to receive “non-identifying information” about your child’s birth family from DCFS files. You can also request help to locate birth relatives of your child. Midwest Adoption Center is under contract with DCFS to provide these services. We hope that the following answers to questions often asked by clients like you will be helpful. If, after reading this information, you still have questions, please call us at 847-298-9096, ext 29.

When can I request service through this program?
According to Illinois law, you are entitled to receive ‘non-identifying information’ about your child’s placement and birth family. You can request that information at any time, as long as your child is less than 21 years of age. If you want to locate a birth relative of your child, you can request service on his behalf until he is 21. Once he is 21, he must request the search himself. Note: Once your child is 18, he can also request both his ‘non-identifying information’ and search service on his own. If he does so, we will not be notifying you of his request for service through this program.

Will you contact my child at any time during the process?
We understand that in some situations, you may want to request information or search service without your child being involved.  If you are eligible to request service on your child’s behalf, we will not contact your child at any time unless you ask us to do so.  Furthermore, we will not confirm that you are a client in this program or discuss your request or any aspect of service with anyone without your permission. 

What information can I get from the closed DCFS file(s)?
The Illinois Adoption Act specifies that certain “non-identifying information’ be given to adult adoptees (18 years of age and older) and to adoptive parents of a child under 18. If it is found in the closed files, you will receive:

  • Data about biological relatives, including:
    • Parents’ general appearance
    • Parents’ age at the time of the birth of the child
    • Parents’ race, religion and ethnic background
    • Parents’ education, occupation, hobbies, interests and talents
    • Existence of any other children born to the biological parents
  • Information about biological grandparents, including reason for immigrating to the U.S. and country of origin
  • Relationship between the biological parents
  • Detailed medical and mental health history of the child, the biological parents and their immediate relatives
  • Actual date and place of birth of the adopted person
  • A description of the circumstances leading to the child coming into the care of the Department
  • Record of placements prior to adoption

DCFS policy is that guardianship parents receive the same information as adoptive parents. For some clients, we receive files that are very large and contain a lot of detailed information.  However, that is not always the case. Until we receive the files pertaining to your child and his birth family, we will not know exactly what information is available.

What is a "redacted copy"?
If the file contains detailed information about a complex medical condition, we will include redacted copies of those documents.   “Redacted” means that certain information is removed from the original document so that the words that are “redacted” are not visible on the copy that is sent to you.  Illinois law does not allow us to include identifying information about any birth family members.  Therefore, such information must be removed from copies of reports or evaluations that are sent to you.

How is the "non-identifying information" from my child’s file prepared?
First we locate your child’s closed DCFS file and have it sent to our office.  Sometimes the file is not found in DCFS Central Storage and we have to contact DCFS field offices or a POS (Purchase of Service) Agency to find out if they have your file.  We also attempt to obtain files established for birth siblings or birth parents, since they might include medical information that would affect your child.  It may only take a few weeks to obtain the files, but sometimes much longer.  Once the file is shipped to us, we make sure it is the correct file; when a caseworker is available, your case is assigned. 

Your caseworker will carefully examine each of the files we have received.  All of the information that the law specifies be given to you is taken out of the files and put on a special form developed for this purpose. 

How long does it take to get the information?
You will be notified when we are able to assign your request to a caseworker.  Once she can begin work on your case, she will estimate how long it will take to complete the report depending upon the size of the files and the complexity of the information found in them.

We are currently seeing a doctor or therapist, who needs medical or other information about my child.  Can I get this quickly?
If you have a doctor or therapist write a letter explaining the urgent need for the information, we can give priority to your request. 

Can I get my child’s birth certificate or social security card, etc from the file?
We cannot provide originals or copies of any vital records such as birth or death certificates or social security information.  As the parent of an adopted minor, you can request a copy of his amended Illinois birth certificate from the Division of Vital Records, 605 W. Jefferson Street, Springfield, IL, 62702-5097 (217) 782-6553.  That certificate will show you as your child’s parent(s) and will not include your child’s birth parent’s names.

I want to find my child’s birth parent(s), brother, sister or other birth relative.  Can you give me his/her name and address?
You can ask us to try to locate your birth relative for you. We cannot give you the name and address of a relative, even if you had contact with that relative at some time in the past. However, we can use the information from the closed files to attempt to locate that person for you.  We will contact your child’s relative and ask if he or she would like a connection with you.  Your caseworker will help facilitate whatever agreement is comfortable for both you and your child’s birth relative. Sometimes it is the exchange of some information without revealing names and addresses or it could be direct contact.  If you decide to have direct contact, your MAC caseworker will help you exchange contact information but will not set up meetings with the birth relative.

If you contact the birth relative, what information would be given to them about my child?
No information about you or about your child is given to anyone without your permission, including the birth relative you have asked us to find.  Your caseworker will talk with you before making an outreach to the relative so that you can tell us what kind of information you want to share and what questions you would like to ask.

My child wants to connect with a sibling he hasn’t seen for a long time. I don’t know whether he was adopted, is still in foster care or went back to live with the birth family.
You may request search service to locate any birth relative of your child. We will use the DCFS information system and closed files to find information about your child’s sibling. We will explain that you would like a connection of some kind.

  • If he is still in foster care, we will contact his caseworker and attempt to facilitate a connection with your child.
  • If he is under 18 and was not adopted, we will contact his parent or guardian
  • If he was adopted by another family and is under 21 years of age, we will make an outreach to his parents.
  • If your child’s sibling was not adopted and is over 18, we will make the outreach directly to him.

What is the difference between the Closed File Information and Search program and the Illinois Adoption Registry?
The Registry is run by the Department of Public Health.  You can file a form with the Registry showing whether you do or do not want to have contact with a birth relative of your child.  If you do want contact and that birth relative also files a form with the Registry, you will receive a letter with your child’s relative’s name and contact information.   The Registry does not search for the birth relative.  You will only get contact information from the Registry if the birth relative also files Registry forms.   In the Closed File Information and Search program, we will search for the relative you want to find.   If we locate him or her, we will explain that you would like a connection.

Why do I have to file with the Registry first?
According to Illinois law, you must file with the Registry before any agency can begin a search for you.  If your child’s birth relative has already filed with the Registry, a search would not be necessary.   It is also possible that the relative had filed a form with the Registry indicating that he does not want a connection.  In that case, we would not be able to search for him.

What if I am scared, anxious and unsure about pursuing these services?  Is there anyone I can speak with to help me with this decision?
We recognize that this process can be frustrating and that asking for and receiving information about your child or beginning a search for your child’s birth family can cause a variety of strong feelings. Everyone at Midwest Adoption Center is able to answer questions about this program and provide telephone support, from the moment you call to request the service, until and after your case closes.  If you have questions or would like to speak with MAC staff before you are given the name of your caseworker, please call 847-298-9096, ext 29.

If the birth relative I want to find is located and both of us want to have direct contact, what information will we get?
Most often, people want to exchange their name, address and phone number. In some situations, both prefer to only exchange phone numbers or email addresses. You will talk with your MAC caseworker to decide what works best in your situation. Once you decide what you want to exchange, both of you will sign a form allowing MAC to exchange the information. No information is ever given out by MAC without your written permission.


Frequently asked questions from birth family members

How can I get information about my birth child who was adopted?  I want to know if he is doing ok.
We are not able to give you information about your child from DCFS files.  If you would like to know how your child is doing, you can request that we attempt to locate him.  If he is now under the age of 21, we will locate his adoptive or guardianship parent(s).  You and your MAC caseworker will discuss what information you would like to obtain and share with them.  Some adoptive/guardianship parents are open to exchanging letters or having direct contact with birth parent of their child.

My birth child is an adult and I would like to find him.
If your birth child is now 21 years of age or older, you can request Search Service through this program.  We will attempt to locate him and let him know that you would like a connection with him.  Your MAC caseworker will try to facilitate a connection that is acceptable to both of you. 

I want information from my own DCFS file about the time that my child was removed from my home by DCFS.
MAC is able to provide certain kinds of information from a birth parent’s own DCFS file about service received from the Department. No information about the child or any other person can be provided.

I am trying to find a birth relative who was in DCFS care and was adopted.  Can you help me?
The DCFS Closed File Information and Search program can be used by any birth relative.  We provide service to aunts and uncles, brothers, sisters and grandparents. If the child is still under 21, we will attempt to contact the adoptive or guardianship parent.  If he is 21 or over, we will make the outreach directly to him and let him know that you would like a connection.

I was in foster care with my sister.  I don’t know what happened to her and I would like to find her.
You can request search service through our DCFS Closed File Information and Search program.  We will go into the DCFS system to find out about her placement(s).  Using that information we will attempt to locate her for you and let her know that you would like a connection.
 
My child was in foster care with DCFS.  I need help finding her.
If your child was returned home to you from foster care and you have lost touch with her,  we will not be able to help.  However, if your parental rights were terminated while your child was in DCFS care, you can request search service through the DCFS Closed File Information and Search program.  We will go into the DCFS system to determine whether she was adopted or not and get information to help us attempt to locate her.

What is the difference between the Closed File Information and Search program and the Illinois Adoption Registry?
The Registry is run by the Department of Public Health.  You can file a form with the Registry showing whether you do or do not want to have contact with your birth child who was adopted.  If you do want contact and that birth child also files a form with the Registry, you will receive a letter with your child’s name and contact information.   The Registry does not search for the birth child.  You will only get contact information from the Registry if the birth child also files Registry forms.   In the Closed File Information and Search program, we will search for your birth child for you.   If we locate him or her, we will explain that you would like a connection.

Why do I have to file with the Registry first?
According to Illinois law, you must file with the Registry before any agency can begin a search for you.  If your birth child has already filed with the Registry, a search would not be necessary.   It is also possible that your birth child had filed a form with the Registry indicating that he does not want a connection.  In that case, we would not be able to search for him.

What if I am scared, anxious and unsure about pursuing these services?  Is there anyone I can speak with to help me with this decision?
We recognize that this process can be frustrating and that asking for and beginning a search for your birth child can cause a variety of strong feelings. Everyone at Midwest Adoption Center is able to answer questions about this program and provide telephone support, from the moment you call to request the service until and after your case closes.  If you have questions or would like to speak with MAC staff before you are given the name of your caseworker, please call 847-298-9096, ext 29.

If the birth relative I want to find is located and both of us want to have direct contact, what information will we get?
Most often, people want to exchange their name, address and phone number. In some situations, both prefer to only exchange phone numbers or email addresses. You will talk with your MAC caseworker to decide what works best in your situation. Once you decide what you want to exchange, both of you will sign a form allowing MAC to exchange the information. No information is ever given out by MAC without your written permission.



Frequently asked questions from individuals who were in the care of DCFS and never adopted

What information can I get from my closed DCFS file?
Your file may include information about your placements, education and medical reports and descriptions of important things that happened to you during the time you were in care. For some clients, we receive files that are very large and contain a lot of detailed information. However, that is not always the case. Until we receive your file, we will not know exactly what information is available about you and your time in care.

You can request specific information from your file such as medical or psychological reports and evaluations or school records or a ‘redacted’ copy of your complete file. Before your caseworker begins working on your request, we will contact you to discuss exactly what it is you are hoping to get.

If you decide to request specific information from your file, we will carefully review the file to see if that information is included, then prepare copies to be sent to you.
You may decide to request a complete ‘redacted copy’ of your file; however, it will take longer to prepare the complete file than if you only request specific information.

What is a "redacted copy"?
Along with your own information, your closed DCFS file may contain a great deal of information about other people, including siblings, parents, other foster children in the same placement or foster parents. Just as we could not give personal information about you to another person, we must "redact" this information about others before a copy of your file is sent to you. "Redacted" means that certain information is removed or "whited out" from the original file so that the words that are "redacted" are not visible on the copy that is sent to you.

How is a redacted copy of my file prepared?
First we locate your closed DCFS file and have it sent to our office. Sometimes the file is not found in DCFS Central Storage and we have to contact DCFS field offices or a POS (Purchase of Service) Agency to find out if they have your file. This is often the case if you were in an independent living program or transitional living program. It may only take a few weeks to obtain the file, but sometimes much longer. Once the file is shipped to us, we make sure it is the correct file; when a caseworker is available, your case is assigned.

How long does it take?
The caseworker will have your file scanned, and then carefully read each page and remove the information that is about other people. This work can take many days, depending upon the size of the files. If you were in the care of DCFS from a very young age until age 18 or 21, your file may be extremely large.

I am currently seeing a doctor, who needs my medical records from when I was in foster care. Can I get this quickly?
If you have a doctor or therapist write a letter explaining the urgent need for the information, we can give priority to your request. Attach the letter to your Service Request form.

Can I get my birth certificate or social security card, etc from the file?
We cannot provide originals or copies of any vital records such as birth or death certificates or social security information. You can request a copy of your own Illinois birth certificate from the Division of Vital Records, 605 W. Jefferson Street, Springfield, IL, 62702-5097 (217) 782-6553. Your local Social Security Administration office may be able to help you obtain a duplicate social security card.

How can I get a letter for college financial aid verifying that I was a ward of the state?
The office of the DCFS Records Manager in Springfield (217) 785-1467) can provide a letter that verifies you were a ward of DCFS.

I want to find my brother, sister or other birth relative. Can you give me his/her name and address?
You can ask us to try to locate your birth relative for you. We cannot give you the name and address of a relative, but we can use the information from the closed files to attempt to locate that person. We will contact your relative and ask if he or she would like a connection with you. There is no fee for this service. If you want you file information and also want help locating a relative, you will have to decide which you want to do first.

What if I am scared, anxious and unsure about pursuing these services? Is there anyone I can speak with to help me with this decision?
We recognize that this process can be frustrating and that asking for and receiving personal information about a time in your life that was difficult can cause a variety of strong feelings. Everyone at Midwest Adoption Center is able to answer questions about this program and provide telephone support, from the moment you call to request the service, until and after your case closes. If you have questions or would like to speak with MAC staff before you are given the name of your caseworker, please call 847-298-9096, ext 29. Remember, we are here to help at each step of the process.

If the birth relative I want to find is located and both of us want to have direct contact, what information will we get?
Most often, people want to exchange their name, address and phone number. In some situations, both prefer to only exchange phone numbers or email addresses. You will talk with your MAC caseworker to decide what works best in your situation. Once you decide what you want to exchange, both of you will sign a form allowing MAC to exchange the information. No information is ever given out by MAC without your written permission.




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