In November 2011, a new Illinois law became effective that allows Illinois born adult adoptees to obtain non-certified copies of their birth certificates from the Illinois Department of Public Health. Adoptees must be at least 21 years old to apply.

In most cases, the original birth certificate will list the first and last names of one or both birth parents. The exception is that the birth parents of adopted persons born after January 1, 1946, may have their names deleted from these copies. To remain anonymous, birth parents have to complete a Birth Parent Preference Form. Birth parents also have the right to indicate if they wish to have direct or indirect contact with their adult birth child as well as provide adoptees with non-medical background.

Adoptees do not have to sign-up with the Illinois Adoption Registry and Medical Information Exchange get a copy of their birth certificate but, if a birth relative has signed up and shared information, the Registry will inform the adoptee and send the forms to sign- up. If an adoptee signs up, any information that has been submitted will be sent to them. There is a $15 registration fee to sign-up on the Registry, but participants who complete the two-page medical questionnaire on genetically-transmitted diseases don’t have to pay the fee.

If birth parents request that their information be removed from the copy of the birth certificate, adoptees can still request a copy that doesn’t include information regarding the birth parent who wants to remain anonymous; wait until a copy of the death certificate of the birth parent who requested anonymity has been filed ; or request that an intermediary from Confidential Intermediary Services of Illinois does a search for the birth parent after five years have passed since they requested anonymity. This state appointee will request updated medical information and reconfirm whether or not the birth parent is willing to release identifying information.

This new law allows adoptees to access their records and answer questions about their past. While the information may be incomplete in order to protect the privacy of their birth parents, it is often enough for an adoptee to learn something as simple as the name they were born with.