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Frequently asked questions

Services for adoptive/guardianship parents

Non-identifying information about your child’s birth family Knowing as much as possible about your child’s history before joining your family can help you help your child. You were probably given quite a lot of information about your child and his experiences before he came into your home. However, many parents find that there is a lot they don’t know – and wish they did.

Your child may be asking questions to which you have no answers. Or perhaps your son or daughter is beginning to talk about memories of things that happened, or that might have happened in the past. Sometimes it’s hard to know how to respond, or if these things really happened. Your child might even be confused about what really happened.

Midwest Adoption Center is under contract with the Department to help adoptive and guardianship parents obtain information from DCFS closed files or to connect with their child’s birth relatives.

Click here if your child’s adoption was not through DCFS to find out about other options that may work for you.

Information about events in your child’s family history and more detailed health history may be found in Department files – including the child’s own file, birth parent files and even sibling files. At your request, MAC will attempt to locate all of the files in the DCFS system that pertain to your child and prepare a written report for you. You will receive all information found in the available files that is specified by law to be provided.

The following is a list of the “non-identifying” information to be given to you upon request, as specified in the Illinois Adoption Act:

  • Data about biological relatives, including: parents’ age, race and ethnic heritage, religion, general physical appearance, education, talents, hobbies and interests, occupation
  • Existence of any children born to the birth parents
  • Information about biological grandparents, including reason for immigrating to the U.S. and country of origin
  • Relationship between the birth parents
  • Detailed medical and mental health history of the child, the biological parents and their immediate relatives
  • The actual date and place of birth of the adopted person
  • Conditions or diseases believed to be hereditary
  • Drugs or medications taken by the child’s biological mother during pregnancy
  • Psychological and psychiatric information
  • Any other information that may be a factor influencing the child’s present or future health

The “non-identifying” information you receive could also be useful as you consider making an outreach to the birth family at this time or in the future. Knowing even a little bit about the birth family could help you make a more informed decision about whether to consider initiating some type of communication with a birth family member.

If the information you already have, or that you receive as a result of making this request is difficult to deal with, consider seeking professional help. Many families struggle with how to share birth family information with their child. Midwest Adoption Center or another professional who understands adoption related issues can help you think through the significance of the information as well as when and how to handle it with your child.

Connection with your child’s birth relatives
Adoptive parents decide to make an outreach to a birth relative for a variety of reasons. Your child may have a strong desire to contact siblings or other birth family members. You may need information to facilitate medical care or other professional services or to respond to questions the child is asking. In some situations, adoptive parents need information that was not found in the agency files; therefore, attempting to locate and contact a birth family member to obtain the needed information may be a good option.

If your child was adopted through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
Midwest Adoption Center is under contract to DCFS to provide search service statewide. If the birth relative you want to find is located, MAC staff will attempt to facilitate any communication you both desire. Anonymous communication by letter through MAC is often the first step allowing both you and the relative to make a more informed decision as to how to proceed. If both you and the ‘found’ birth relative chose to have direct contact, consents are signed allowing MAC to release identifying information. Another option, if you are not comfortable having direct contact, is to continue corresponding through MAC indefinitely.

If your child was adopted in Illinois, but not through DCFS
The Confidential Intermediary program is a good option if DCFS was not involved in your child’s adoption. In this program, you petition the Court for the appointment of a trained, certified Confidential Intermediary. That Intermediary is given the sealed Court adoption file, the original birth certificate and a Court order to attempt to locate and establish contact with the birth parent or other birth relative on your behalf. The Intermediary’s work is entirely confidential. If and when the birth parent is located, the CI attempts to facilitate any additional communication that both you and the birth relative desire. If you both want direct contact, the Intermediary will facilitate the exchange of identifying information. If both parties do not want direct contact, anonymity is maintained. You may communicate anonymously by letter through the CI for a period of time. This program is delivered throughout Illinois by Midwest Adoption Center, under contract to DCFS. Click here to transfer to the Confidential Intermediary Service web site.

Other considerations
There are many things for each family to consider when thinking about making an outreach to the birth family. But the possibilities are also many, and include potential benefits for you and your child. We urge you to learn more about these issues by reading, using your adoptive parent networks as well as adoption professionals so that you can make the best possible decisions for your family.