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Adoptee Rights Increased Under New Illinois Law

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illinois adoptee rightsIn the United States, it is estimated that one in six Americans are in some way connected to adoption. Illinois alone reports that more than 17,000 children were adopted in the state over the last decade. Adopted children and their families, both adopted and biological, looking to learn more about their relatives face an uphill battle. For example, in Illinois, a copy of another person's birth certificate can only be requested in very limited situations.

However, new legislation signed last July by then-Governor Pat Quinn makes the process for obtaining birth certificates of adoptees a little easier. Illinois House Bill 5949 (HB 5949) grants additional rights to adoptees. After signing HB 5949 into action, Governor Quinn stated that the new adoptee rights law will allow adoptees to fill in the branches of their family tree through the access of information about their past as well as about biological family members.

Illinois Laws for Adoptees

Under Illinois law, a person can request a certified copy of their own birth certificate if they are 18 years old or older. A parent can request a copy of the birth certificate of their own child if that parent's name is present on the birth certificate. Court appointed legal guardians also have the right to obtain a birth certificate for a child under their care. However, in order to do so, a certified copy of the legal guardian appointment must be submitted as part of the request. The new legislation expands on the Illinois Birth Certificate Law enacted in 2010, which provided adopted adults with increased access to their original birth certificates. Before this law was enacted, adopted adults had to get a court order to unseal their adoption records in order to see their original certificate.

New Rights For Adoptees

HB 5949 was sponsored by Illinois State Representative Sara Feigenholtz and Illinois State Senator Iris Martinez. It went into effect on January 1, 2015, as Public Act 98-0704.  The law amends the Illinois Adoption Act and expands on the rights provided under the Illinois Birth Certificate Law. Addtionally, adults may now submit requests to the Illinois Department of Public Health in order to receive the original birth records of any grandparent who was adopted as a child. The new law also allows the birth parents of adopted persons to request a non-certified copy of the birth certificate of their adopted child. The ability to request such documents is significant because adoption records are often sealed, which means that the public cannot access the birth certificates and other information related to an adoption.

By allowing for greater access to the birth certificates of adopted children, adopted persons, as well as their children and other relatives, may learn more about their family history, who their ancestors were, and where they were born. By doing so, information about family medical history, inheritable illnesses and other relevant traits may become much more easily accessible, contributing to better health-related decision making. However, any birth certificate released by Illinois Department of Public Health must not include the Illinois state file number that would be present on the original birth certificate.

Do you need legal adoption advice from a qualified Illinois family lawyer? Contact an experienced family law attorneys in Plainfield at the Law Offices of Cosmo Tedone and Barbara Morton, P.C., today.

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