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Frequently Asked Questions
Many people have questions about this program: how it works, what information can we provide and what we can’t, etc. We hope these FAQs are helpful to you. 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.

How can I know that you are legitimate and not a ‘scam’?
It is understandable that you may be concerned about whether our agency is reputable, legitimate and ‘on the up and up’ especially with the increasing problem of identity theft. We will be glad to give you more information about our agency. It may be helpful to you to go the website of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and see that there is a direct link from that state agency to our programs.

Is this legal? I thought that DCFS files and adoption files were ‘sealed’ or closed. How did you get this information?
DCFS offers search service to adopted adults and birth relatives who want some kind of connection. Our agency provides this service for DCFS so we are given closed DCFS files containing information we need for the search.

How did you find me?
Our staff goes through the DCFS files looking for information. Then we use many resources such as on-line databases, libraries, obituaries and other public records to find a current address of the person we want to find. All of our search efforts are completely legal and we never use any deception to obtain information.

How do you know I’m the right person?
Before we sent the letter to you we carefully examined all of the information in the DCFS files. We believe that the information we know about you matches the information about the person we are looking for. However, we hope to talk with you so that together we can confirm that you are a relative.

I never heard of anybody in my family who placed a child for adoption, yet you say that I am related to this adopted person.
The information given to us by DCFS along with our research indicates that there is a good chance that you are a relative of the adopted person. In our experience, it is not unusual that family members do not about a child who was placed for adoption years ago. While we cannot give you the name of the adopted person, we hope to speak with you so that we can explain more about the situation and why we believe you are a relative.

Did you give any information about me to the person who is searching?
No information about you has been given to the person who is searching. We do keep him informed about the progress of the search; for example, he may know that a letter has been sent out to a person we believe to be his relative. No information will ever be given to him without your permission. After we hear from you, we will tell him whether or not you are his relative and, if you are, explain your decision regarding a connection.

Must I have contact with this person?
No, you do not. You can exchange some information without revealing your name, have direct contact or you can tell us that you do not want any kind of connection. Our job is to locate you, explain who is trying to reach you and then help you decide how you want to respond. It is entirely your decision.

I’m not saying that I am the person you are looking for, but I want to find out more.
Please call the caseworker who sent the letter to you. She can explain more about the situation and help you consider your choices. If you no longer have the letter, call or email our agency and we will transfer you to the correct person.

What can you tell me about him? Where does he live, is he married, is he OK?
Your birth relative may have given us some information to give to you. When you contact us, we will share that with you. Then, if you want to, you can talk with the caseworker about exchanging more information or having direct contact. We cannot give you any information about him without his permission, just as we cannot give him information about you without your permission.

Why didn't my relative look for me before? Why now?
People decide to search for a lot of different reasons. Some have thought about it for a long time before moving forward. Others search because of something that has recently happened or changed in their lives. Some adoptees and birth parents request service through our agency after having searched on their own for a long time. Quite a few birth parents say they only found out recently that they could search or that they hesitated because they don’t want to intrude upon their birth child.

I don’t know whether or not I want to have contact – after all I don’t know this person. Have you met him? Does he seem nice?
It is understandable that you are unsure about what kind of connection you may want to have with a person you have never met or have not seen for a long time. While we probably have had several phone conversations with your relative, it is likely that we have not met him.

I don’t think I want to be in contact with this person, but somebody else in the family might want to.
Please call the caseworker who sent the letter to you. You can tell her that you are a relative but do not, yourself, want to have contact. She will explain how a different birth relative can be put in contact with the person. If you no longer have the letter, contact our agency and we will connect you with the caseworker.

I don’t understand why the adopted person would want to be in contact with me all these years, they have their family and there’s no reason to know me. What could they possibly need from me?
Adopted people decide to try to find birth relatives for a lot of different reasons. They may need medical information. Some hope for a connection with their birth family even though they have been part of a loving adoptive family. Others may want to understand what happened to cause them to be adopted. You may have most often heard of people wanting to find their birth parents or siblings. However, many adopted people are interested in a connection with grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins who may be able to tell them about their original family. You may think that you don’t have much to offer, but to an adopted person who knows nothing of his birth family anything you can share will be appreciated.

I think I want to have some kind of contact but I have a lot of questions:

  • Will it cost me anything? No. Neither you nor your relative will have to pay anything. This program is funded by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
  • What is the difference between the various types of contact? There are a lot of different ways you can connect with your relative. We can help you exchange names and addresses, you can write letters to each other through our agency without revealing your name or you can give the caseworker some information to pass along to your relative.
  • How long will it take until I can meet or talk to my relative? Once both of you have made a decision that you want to have a connection, your caseworker will explain what happens next. By law, some paperwork has to be completed by both of you before information can be exchanged so in part, the timing depends on how quickly each of you complete and return forms. We will try to make the process as smooth as we can.

If I do NOT want to have contact with this person.

  • How can I be sure you won’t give him my name? We will not give your name or contact information to anyone without your permission.
  • I am sure that I do not want to have contact, but it makes me feel bad or guilty. I know he will be disappointed or upset. Whether or not to have a connection is a personal decision and one that you must make based on what you believe is best at this time. Part of our job is to support you in your decision, no matter what it is. Many relatives to whom we make outreaches find it helpful to talk with the caseworker who sent the outreach. We will welcome your call.
  • What if I change my mind in the future? If, at any time in the future, you decide that you want some kind of connection with this person, contact our agency. We will explain the ways in which that may be arranged.
  • I want to be sure that you never contact me again. It is important that you contact us. If we do not hear from you, we cannot be sure that you got our letter and would have no way to know your decision. If you notify us that you do not want a connection with this person and that you do not want to be contacted in the future we will first notify your relative of your decision. In addition, we will note your decision in our client database for future reference.
  • If you are eligible to file with the Illinois Adoption Registry and Medical Exchange we urge you to do so. As described in the letter that we sent you, if you file a denial with the Registry, the law says that no agency can search for you in the future. If you need help with the Registry forms, we will be glad to help you. Alternatively, you can contact the Registry at 217-557-5159.

There is so much paperwork and I am not sure what to fill out and where to send it. 
No matter whether your decision is to have some kind of connection or not, the paperwork can be confusing.  We have tried to explain the process in our letter, but know that it can be overwhelming – especially in such an emotional situation.  Please call the caseworker who sent you the letter so she can explain the process and help you through the paperwork.  If you no longer have the letter, contact our agency and we will connect you with the caseworker.

I have a lot of questions and am nervous about it all.  Friends and family are telling me all kinds of different things and giving advice, so I’m confused.  If I call you, how can I be sure you will listen to me and be ‘on my side’? 

Our caseworkers are experienced in adoption matters and committed to providing the best possible service and support to all of our clients.  Because we made an outreach to you, we consider you to be our client as well as the person who asked for the search.  We offer supportive counseling to you as you make your decision and throughout this process if you choose to have some kind of contact.

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