Midwest Adoption Center is the agency that provides closed file information and search service on behalf of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
While the circumstances of each request and each client’s needs are unique, a system has been developed to ensure that the best possible service is given in each case. This summary may be help you understand what is happening in your case at various points in the process. However, if you are concerned about the progress of your request or have questions about the service you are receiving, please call your MAC caseworker.
If you do not yet have a MAC caseworker or do not have her name, please call 847-298-9096, ext 29.
What you will find in this section:
What happens after you send us your written Service Request form?
Finding the files we need to provide service
Evaluating the file for assignment
Closed File Information
What happens when the person has been located?
You will receive a letter acknowledging that we have received your service request. We will then begin the process of determining whether you are eligible for service through this program and identifying and obtaining the DCFS files needed to provide service. If we need more information, we will attempt to contact you by phone. Sometimes it is clear that we cannot provide service to you through this program. In these instances, we contact you – usually by phone – and if possible refer you to another resource. Some of the most frequent situations in which we have to do that are:
In order to provide service, we must be able to identify and obtain certain closed DCFS files. Which files are needed depends on the kind of service you are requesting. For example:
• If you are an adopted adult or adoptive parent of a minor child asking for the ‘non-identifying information’, we must attempt to find the adoptee’s file, the file established for the birth parents, any files concerning siblings, grandparents or other immediate family members. According to Illinois adoption law, you must be given all medical information about the birth family found in any file that is available.
• If you are a birth parent or other relative asking for search service to locate a child who was adopted, we try to find the adopted child’s file and files containing information about the adoptive family.
• If you were a youth in care of DCFS but never adopted, we first try to find your closed file. Sometimes the information about you was never separated from the file established for your family. In that case, we try to find family or sibling files and see if they contain your information.
Once we identify files that we need, we order them from the DCFS storage facility. Files arrive from DCFS electronically and are evaluated to see whether the files include the information we need to provide the service you have requested.
The program supervisor examines the files we received to see if we have the information we need to provide the service you have asked for:
The results of the evaluation determine what happens next:
- What service are you asking for?
- What files do we have?
- If the files do not have the information that we need, what are the chances that we will get more files from DCFS or another source?
- Do we have enough to proceed?
- Are there any other efforts we can make to find more files?
- Ready to be assigned – a brief summary is prepared including what you are asking for, date of your service request, what files have been found, size of files and any other special considerations (expected to be a very difficult case, etc).
- Not enough files to assign, but may be possible to find more files – staff will look for other files, or ask for POS file, or to re-CYCIS using new information found in files received.
- Not enough files to assign, will not be able to find more files – write note explaining the situation so that we can notify you why we cannot provide service.
- Very few files, no other possibilities for more files, but sufficient information to provide limited service –note the situation so that your caseworker can explain what we found and what we will be able to do.
Cases are assigned in order of the date we received the written service request from you. Every effort is made to begin service as soon as possible after the files have been received. However, sometimes there are more requests for service than caseworker time available. If there is a waiting list for assignment, you will receive a letter indicating that we will be able to provide service but that there will be a delay. When your case is assigned to a MAC caseworker, you will receive a letter to introduce your caseworker and explain the first steps. During the time that service is being provided, your caseworker will be in touch with you by phone, email and letter.
When your case is assigned to a MAC caseworker, you will receive a letter to introduce your caseworker and explain the first steps. During the time that service is being provided, many different staff may be involved. Not only the worker will have contact with you; you might also have contact with the supervisor or other MAC staff who may take some action on your case.
Great care must be taken to ensure that information you are legally entitled to receive is included, but that information that cannot be released is not given. More detailed information about service given to various kinds of clients can be found in the FAQ section.
Individuals who were formerly in care of the DCFS but never adopted: Caseworkers must remove all information which cannot be provided from the file material including all identifying information about other people. A copy of the redacted file(s) is then sent to you.
Adult adopted persons: Caseworkers carefully examine all files received and extract the information which by law can be provided. In addition, MAC also provides copies of medical and psychological reports and evaluations if the information is medically complex. You will also be given any photos and other keepsake items found in the file that were clearly intended for you.
Adoptive and Guardianship parents of minors: Caseworkers carefully examine all files received and extract the information which by law and by established protocol can be provided. Information is provided to you using forms developed for this purpose. In addition, MAC also provides copies of medical and psychological reports and evaluations if the information is medically complex. Photos and other keepsake items found in the file that are clearly intended to be given to your adopted child are also provided.
Birth parents: As a birth parent, you are entitled to certain kinds of information from your own closed DCFS file pertaining to service provided by the Department. The MAC intake worker can explain to you what information you can receive based on your specific circumstances.
If you are a birth parent, adopted person over 21 years of age or the adoptive parent of a minor and are requesting search service, you must file with the Illinois Adoption Registry and Medical Information Exchange. By law, we cannot begin the search until you have given us a copy of the letter verifying that you have filed. We will send you the Registry forms and provide any assistance you need to file. If you are an adopted person over 18 but not yet 21 years of age, you are eligible for service through this program but do not have to file with the Illinois Adoption Registry and Medical Information Exchange.
Your caseworker uses a wide variety of information resources including commercial databases, other internet resources, obituaries, vital records, etc. in order to attempt to identify and locate the person you are hoping to find. All caseworkers receive on-going training in search techniques and meet regularly with the supervisor and other staff to collaborate on search efforts. In addition, a genealogist/search specialist is on staff to assist caseworkers in searches.
You will be informed as to the progress of the search at least every two months, either by phone or letter. While some sought after relatives are located in a few weeks, other difficult searches may take many months and in some cases the person is never located.
Once the sought after relative has been located, the worker must contact him, either by letter or phone to inform the found relative of the reason for the outreach and explain his options through the program. At all times, the privacy and confidentiality of both you and the person we located will be protected.
Your caseworker will notify you as soon as she has located the person with whom you want a connection. During this process, your worker will provide support and information to both you and your relative as you come to a decision about how to proceed. There are many options including exchanging letters anonymously, exchanging only email addresses or having direct contact. Both you and your relative can utilize supportive counseling via phone calls with the MAC caseworker. It is not the function of this program, however, to provide in-depth counseling during this process. Once a decision has been made, various consent forms are provided to both of you as necessary.