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Illinois Flips Adoption Privacy Law

By Prescott Carlson in News on Apr 21, 2010 9:20PM

2010_04_21_adoption.jpg The Illinois Senate today passed a bill that significantly changes how adoption records are handled by the state. The House passed the bill last month, and Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign it into law.

The bill, HB5428, removes the current automatic confidentiality a birth mother receives when giving a child up for adoption. Now, that information will be readily available to adoptees unless the mother specifically requests to remain anonymous. The bill states that "it is the basic right of all persons to access their birth records, and, to this end, ]the General Assembly] supports public policy that allows an adult adoptee to access his or her original birth certificate."

State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago), the bill's sponsor and an adoptee herself, was reportedly emotional when the bill passed, and "tearfully hugged her supporters." Not all Senators supported the bill however, with 16 voting against it. Several "no" votes included pro-life advocates, who fretted that the law would be a deterrent to teens giving up their infants for adoption and lead to more abortions, seemingly ignoring the "opt out" language in the bill.

Because the law will retroactively affect all adoptions in Illinois that took place long before the bill's passage, it will not go into effect until November 2011 to allow the state to try and get the word out to birth mothers through internet campaigns and flyers inserted with driver's license renewal notifications. Birth mothers wanting to keep their confidentiality after that date will need to fill out a "birth parent preference form" and file it with the Illinois Department of Public Health.