New Law Amends Birth Grandparent Rights
On January 1, last year’s changes to the Illinois Adoption Act were implemented across the state. The changes include amendments concerning who is allowed to seek access to personal information about adults who were previously adopted or surrendered to the state. Sometimes, years after an adoption takes place, one or both parties involved are interested in making contact with the other. This can be a difficult and emotional process. Therefore, if you are considering making contact with an adopted biological relative, then contacting an experienced family law attorney who will handle the issue with skill and sensitivity is essential.
The Illinois Adoption Act authorizes the Department of Public Health to establish a registry that allows mutually consenting members of birth and adoptive families to exchange identifying information. Previously, biological grandparents were not permitted to file applications requesting such an exchange. The recent amendments change that and allow birth grandparents to file requests if a birth parent has died. The birth grandparent may file a Registration Identification Form or an Information Exchange Authorization if he or she submits:
- His or her own birth certificate;
- The birth certificate of a deceased birth parent; and
- The death certificate of the deceased birth parent.
Furthermore, in order to be eligible to submit an application, the birth parent cannot have filed a Denial of Information Exchange with the Registry prior to his or her death.
Birth grandparent means the biological parent of a non-surrendered person who is a:
- Deceased birth mother; or
- Deceased birth father.
After completing this process, birth grandparents can exchange medical or contact information with an adopted or surrendered individual who is at least 21 years old, or with one or both of his or her:
- Adoptive parents;
- Legal guardians;
- Adult children;
- Adult grandchildren; or
- Surviving spouse.
A surrendered person is an individual whose parents surrendered their parental rights or had them terminated, but who was not adopted.
The information provided to the parties by the Registry includes:
- Names and last known addresses;
- Copies of the applications; and
- A copy of the adopted individual’s original birth certificate.
Birth grandparents are also now allowed to ask courts to appoint a confidential intermediary to help with the exchange of medical or contact information between mutually consenting biological relatives. The individual petitioning the Court is only required to attach a proof of registration with the Illinois Adoption Registry to his or her petition.
Adoptions can be extremely emotional, and the legal processes for contacting a birth parent or adopted child can be complex. If you have questions or concerns about your access to information regarding an adopted biological relative, please contact skilled Palatine collaborative law attorney Nicholas W. Richardson for a free consultation.