Adopted or Surrendered Persons & Survivors of Deceased Adopted Persons
How we can help
If the birth or legal finalization of the adoption occurred in Illinois, we may be able to help.
If you are an adoptee, a surrendered person, or a survivor (adult child, adult grandchild, adoptive parent, legal guardian, or surviving spouse) of a deceased adopted or surrendered person you may be eligible for Confidential Intermediary services.
Your Confidential Intermediary (CI) has legal access to Illinois vital records, the adoption court file, and information from adoption agency files (if an agency was involved). At the start of your case, your CI will work to obtain all the detailed information she can related to your sought-after birth relatives from those resources.
Once she has all that information, she will contact you to discuss your search options through this program.
In most cases, the person being sought is located. Your CI will explain the reason for the outreach and provide your birth relative with their options for contact. Your birth relative may want to exchange contact information and speak with you directly, they may chose to communicate in anonymous letters through your CI without revealing their name or contact information, or they may decline to participate in a connection. Your CI's role is to be sensitive and attentive to the needs and desires of each party while protecting each person's privacy and confidentiality.
Each CI is knowledgeable about the hopes, expectations, stresses, and frustrations of the process of seeking birth relatives. This program is not intended to provide in-depth counseling, but assistance and support will be provided throughout the process.
Illinois law has a remedy for situations in which an adoptee's Original Birth Certificate (OBC) is missing or lost. The OBC must first be requested from the Illinois Department of Public Health. If you receive confirmation that the OBC could not be located, you can file a petition to request CI service to obtain information from the adoption court file that would have been on the OBC, had it been located.
If the petitioner is an adult adopted or surrendered person, or the adult child, adult grandchild, or surviving spouse of a deceased adopted or surrendered person, the Confidential Intermediary shall disclose:
- Identifying information about the birth parent of the adopted person which, in the ordinary course of business, would have been reflected on the original filed certificate of birth, as of the date of birth, only if:
- The adopted person was born before January 1, 1946 and the petitioner has requested a non-certified copy of the adopted person's original birth certificate and the Illinois Department of Public Health has issued a certification that the original birth certificate was not found, or the petitioner has presented the Confidential Intermediary with the non-certificated copy of the original birth certificate which omits the name of the birth parent.
- The adopted person was born after January 1, 1946, and the petitioner has requested a non-certified copy of the adopted person's original birth certificate and the Illinois Department of Public Health has issued a certification that the original birth certificate was not found.
Because the identifying information is not being provided from an official original certificate of birth filed pursuant to the Vital Records Act, the Confidential Intermediary cannot attest to the complete accuracy of the information and shall not be liable if the information disclosed is not accurate.
As of July 1, 2023, adult adoptees and former youth in care who had foster placements can now use the CI program to search for former foster parents and/or former foster siblings.
Your Confidential Intermediary (CI) has legal access to information about former foster placements and can use that information to perform a search on your behalf.
In most cases, the person being sought is located. Your CI will explain the reason for the outreach and provide your former foster relative with their options for contact. Your former foster relative may want to exchange contact information and speak with you directly, they may chose to communicate in anonymous letters through your CI without revealing their name or contact information, or they may decline to participate in a connection. Your CI's role is to be sensitive and attentive to the needs and desires of each party while protecting each person's privacy and confidentiality.
Each CI is knowledgeable about the hopes, expectations, stresses, and frustrations of the process of seeking former foster relatives. This program is not intended to provide in-depth counseling, but assistance and support will be provided throughout the process.
***STARTING JANUARY 1, 2024***
If your adoption was facilitated by an adoption agency that is no longer operating, the law will allow you to use CI service to request a non-identifying information report. The CI will work to access adoption agency records pertaining to your adoption from the closed adoption agency's records kept in storage with the State of Illinois. You will be provided with a report of any and all non-identifying information from those records in accordance with the law.
Frequently Asked Questions
The following are the most commonly asked questions about the Confidential Intermediary Service of Illinois.
We recognize that every situation, story, and case is unique. If you have questions that are not answered here, we welcome your call or email to discuss your specific situation.
No. This service is free to all eligible petitioners.
- Successfully register with the Illinois Adoption Registry and Medical Information Exchange
- Illinois law requires you to file with the Illinois Adoption Registry and Medical Information Exchange before utilizing the CI program. The birth relative you are hoping to locate may have already filed making a CI search unnecessary.
- E-file the petition with the Court
- The petition can be filed in any county in Illinois. Most petitioners successfully file their petition without an attorney.
- Petition Granted & CI Appointed
- The Judge will review your petition and will appoint a Certified Confidential Intermediary to your case. The Court will send the Order of Appointment to our agency.
- Complete the Service Contract
- After your CI receives your case from the Court, she will send you additional information about the CI program and a contract and questionnaire for you to complete to proceed with services.
- Search Assessment Prepared
- Your CI will request and receive information pertaining to the birth and adoption to which she has legal access. Based on that information, she will tell you what your search options are through this program.
- Search for Birth Relatives
- Your CI will search for and outreach to the birth relative(s) you select and try to reach an agreed upon outcome.
No. Your CI cannot by law give you any identifying information (such as your birth relatives’ names, addresses, phone numbers, or dates of birth) without the written consent of that person. Instead, your CI can describe your birth relatives by relationship to you, what kind of information was received for each person, and the general probability that your CI could locate that person. If the birth relative is located and agrees to have direct contact, you would receive their name and any other identifying information they decide to release.
Your CI will request identifying information from various agencies and organizations in order to create a Search Assessment. In some cases, information is requested and received from many of these sources. In other cases, information is only available from one or two of these sources. Your CI will use some or all of the following sources of information to create the Search Assessment.
- Original birth certificate
- Birth certificates, death certificates, marriage, and divorce information from the State of Illinois for any of your birth relatives
- Identifying information including names, dates of birth, and last known addresses for your birth relatives from the adoption agency’s file, if there was one involved in the placement
- A copy of the impounded court file
- Social Security Death Index information about any of your birth relatives, using names and other information obtained from above sources
Your CI will do her best to complete the Search Assessment as quickly as possible. However, the process is entirely dependent upon other agencies, people, and organizations responding to your CI’s request for information. For example, it might take two months for a Court Clerk’s Office to provide a copy of the impounded adoption file. Or it might take the adoption agency up to a month and a half to provide the identifying information from their records. We have developed excellent working relationships with many of the agencies, people, and organizations that provide the CI with information and work with them to complete this process as efficiently as possible.
This is one of the most difficult questions that a CI receives. In general, there are both emotional and practical issues to consider as you decide whether to go ahead with a search and which birth relative you look for first. Some people come to us knowing who they want to find. Others do not know for sure whether they want to search; it might depend on what types of information your CI receives about your birth relatives. The choice to move forward with a search is very personal; therefore, your CI will offer her guidance but cannot make the decision for you.
Your CI will ask you for all of the information you have obtained about the person you believe is your relative. She will also request vital records and other information pertaining to the adoption to increase the likelihood that the outreach will be made to the correct person. By law, your CI cannot confirm or deny whether the person you located is your birth relative. Your CI will attempt to contact your birth relative on your behalf, explain the reason for contact, and facilitate a connection as agreed upon by you and your birth relative.
It is impossible to accurately estimate how long it could take to locate your birth relative and then receive their response to your request for a connection. Some cases are completed within a few weeks after the search begins. Other searches are rather difficult and can require many months of work. At each step in the process, your CI will proceed as quickly and efficiently as possible, and you will be notified immediately when your CI has received a response from your birth relative.
Your CI is prohibited by law from giving you any information that could be identifying concerning a deceased birth relative including name, residence, or date and place of death. If you decide to request a search for a different birth relative, that birth relative may be willing to share information about the deceased individual with you. However, if the CI receives information confirming that a birth relative died of a genetic medical condition, Illinois law allows your CI to give you the cause of death.