Illinois Adoption Disclosure Laws: What information can be disclosed in an adoption?

Understanding Illinois Adoption Disclosure Laws

Adoption is a life-changing process not only for adoptive parents and children but also for birth parents. In Illinois, as in many other states, the disclosure of information in adoption proceedings is governed by specific laws designed to protect the privacy and rights of all parties involved. This article explores the intricacies of Illinois adoption disclosure laws and what information can legally be disclosed during the adoption process.

Confidentiality in Adoption Records

In Illinois, adoption records are typically sealed after an adoption is finalized. This means that specific identifying information about the birth parents, adoptive parents, and the adopted child is kept confidential. The type of information typically sealed includes names, addresses, birthdates, and other personal identifiers.

Access to Non-Identifying Information

However, non-identifying information may be disclosed to interested parties. Non-identifying information refers to details that do not jeopardize the anonymity of the biological or adoptive parents or the child. It often includes general facts about the birth parents' medical history, physical description, race, ethnicity, religion, educational background, and reasons for placing the child for adoption.

The Illinois Adoption Registry and Medical Information Exchange

To facilitate access to non-identifying information, Illinois has established the Illinois Adoption Registry and Medical Information Exchange (IARMIE). This registry allows for the exchange of medical and other important data without compromising confidentiality. For example, if an adoptee needs access to their medical history for health reasons, IARMIE can provide this without revealing identifying details.

Identifying Information and Mutual Consent

When it comes to identifying information, Illinois law stipulates that such details can only be disclosed if all parties mutually consent. This is typically done through a 'Consent to Contact' form filed with IARMIE. If both the birth parents and the adult adoptee agree, they can be put in touch with each other or even agree to share their identities.

Historical Context: The Baby Richard Case

An example that highlights the importance of clear adoption laws was the highly publicized Baby Richard case in the 1990s. A legal battle ensued when the biological father sought custody after the adoption was finalized. The case led to questions about the rights of biological parents and adoptees and underscored the need for stringent laws regarding information disclosure.

The Role of Confidential Intermediaries

In cases where mutual consent is not immediately available or if one party wishes to remain anonymous, Illinois law provides for confidential intermediaries. These intermediaries are trained professionals who can search for and contact birth relatives to obtain consent for the release of identifying information or facilitate a reunion.

Adoption Disclosure for Minors

In situations where an adoptee is still a minor, it's generally left to the discretion of the adoptive parents whether to disclose adoption-related information. However, once an adoptee reaches 21 years of age, they can request their original birth certificate through IARMIE without needing consent from any birth relatives.


The laws governing adoption disclosure in Illinois are designed with confidentiality and respect for personal privacy at their core. While non-identifying information is more readily accessible for health and personal reasons, identifying information requires mutual consent amongst all parties involved. Importantly, these regulations ensure that individuals impacted by adoption can access vital data while maintaining necessary boundaries as dictated by personal choice and state law.