Law widens access to adoption info

Published: 5/21/201 8:15 AM | Updated: 5/21/20 1:10 PM

SPRINGFIELD -- Adopted people will have more access to Illinois documents about their family history, under a new law signed by Gov. Pat Quinn Friday.

Normally, the original birth certificate of an adoptee is legally sealed, but legislation passed this session would make it standard for birth certificates to be released, unless the parents giving up a child specifically ask to be anonymous.

Under the legislation, adopted people born in 1945 or earlier could get their birth certificates right away.

Adopted people born after 1945 would have to wait until November of next year, after their birth parents have had a chance to file an objection if they want.

Many adoption advocates support the law, but some, like state Rep. Keith Sommer, a Morton Republican with two adopted children, fear the law could lead to problems as adopted children seek out their parents later in life, if the parents have not learned of the law and taken advantage of its provisions allowing them to remain anonymous. A Cary-based group called Adoption Reform Illinois criticized the new law as not going far enough, saying any adult should be able to obtain unredacted birth records.

"Any proposed change that does not recognize adult adoptees as having the same rights and responsibilities of every other Illinois resident is unacceptable," the group said in a prepared statement urging lawmakers to revisit adoptee rights. The proposal passed the Illinois House 74-39 and cleared the state Senate 36-16.