In May the Illinois ACLU put out this news alert. It is in response to HB4623 which is a vague adoptee access bill in itself. It states:
HB 4623 Retroactively Threatens
Birth Parent Confidentiality through Insufficient Notice
Most proponents and opponents of HB 4623 agree that a change in confidentiality presumptions for
future births and adoptions raises no obvious civil liberties concerns. However, House Bill
4623's retroactive nature threatens the confidentiality of birth parents who placed their biological
children up for adoption prior to 2008.
Current Law: Under current law, the identity of birth parents remains confidential – even as to
an adult biological child who was placed for adoption – unless the biological parent(s) and the adult
adoptee mutually consent (through filings with the Illinois Adoption Registry) to the exchange of
information, including their identities. In other words, both the birth parent(s) and adult adoptee
have to "opt in" for disclosure.
HB 4623's Dramatic Change: House Bill 4623, as amended, would radically change this
balanced approach to retroactively allow the disclosure of the birth parents' identity unless the
birth parent takes the affirmative step to file an objection to disclosure with the Illinois
Adoption Registry. Stated another way, the bill moves Illinois to a "opt out" of disclosure model.
HB 4623's Retroactive Approach is Flawed Because:
¨ HB 4623 Provides Woefully Inadequate Notice: HB 4623's notice provision is woefully
inadequate as it shifts the burden of protecting confidentiality to the birth parents with only a short
public information period to attempt to notify those affected by this significant change and, more
importantly, without any way to assure that individual birth parents learn of the change and
are made aware that in order to retain confidentiality as to their identity as birth parents, they need
to take steps to assure this.
¨ Actual Notice is Needed; NOT HB 4623's Publication Notice: The proposed 6 month public
information campaign is too short and fails to assure actual notice of the change in the law to birth
parents, many of whom live out of state. A system that attempts "actual notice" is necessary to
respect and balance the competing interests.
¨ HB 4623 Breaches Constitutional Privacy Guarantees: HB 4623 breaches medical and
reproductive privacy, is contrary to Illinois constitutional privacy protections,1 and undermines
the assurances of confidentiality many birth parents historically received and relied upon at the time of
¨ HB 4623 Extinguishes Expressed Privacy Upon Death: HB 4623 extinguishes a birth
parent's affirmative selection of confidentiality upon his or her death, allowing the release of
medical information he or she chose to keep private.
¨ HB 4623 is an End-Run Around Current Confidential Intermediary Practices: Existing law
provides reasonable opportunities to allow adoptees to obtain medical information and to attempt to
reach out to their biological parents. HB 4623 is an end-run around the current law, which
requires the use of a confidential intermediary to contact and seek birth parents' consent to the
release of information.
For further information contact:
Mary Dixon, ACLU of IL Legislative Director, at 815-483-1990 -or-
Jim Ferg-Cadima, ACLU of IL Legislative Counsel, at 312-925-9394 (5/6/08)
1 The Illinois Supreme Court has expressly held that the Illinois Constitution of 1970 affords a privacy interest in personal medical
information and records. Kunkel v. Walton, 179 Ill. 2d 519, 537 (1997) ("The confidentiality of personal medical information is,
without question, at the core of what society regards as a fundamental component of individual privacy.")."
Looking over this bit, I can fully understand the HIPPA laws in this issue. No one has the right to the private medical files of another individual. I agree with that even. This so called "birthmother" confidentiality is way off. We are talking about a birth certificate here. I wanted to find out who exactly had access to birth certificates in Illinois for non adopted individuals.
- Of legal age (18 or an emancipated minor with certified court documentation) if requesting your own.
- The mother or father (if listed on the certificate) of the child whose certificate is being requested.
- A Legal Guardian with certified court documentation proving verification of guardianship.
- An Agent having a Notarized letter from any of the above authorizing your access to the record.
- A Legal Representative, i.e. an attorney acting on behalf of the person named on the Birth Certificate (must have authorized documentation).
- An Agent authorized by power of attorney that specifically states that the record can be obtained.
- An Agent approved by the State Registrar.
Birth Certificates can be requested in person, through the mail, or online by using Illinois E-Pay.
- If the certificate has been on file for 75 years or longer, anyone with a genealogical interest may have a non-certified copy of the certificate, stamped “for genealogical purposes only”.
In both Indiana and Illinois, there is laws that intentionally discriminate against adoptees. They literally set adoption in a different category unlike Texas. They grant special immunities and privileges in respect to adoption. In this, they are violating their own state constitutions. Interesting.
What is really interesting is that neither the adoptee nor the natural parents have access to this document. Another thing is that the natural parents relinquish their rights. They do not receive extra rights or protections. With familial privacy, abortion, contraception and parenting are all rights being protected. In adoption natural parents are relinquishing all rights to that child including privacy.
I don't know how many mothers have stood up and spoken out against the sealed access system. I know it must be thousands. Reunions occur everyday without any of us needing it. Its now at a time where adoptees in this country need to prove their birth for citizenship purposes. Adoptees don't always have access to the adoption records. To be honest, those belong to the adoptive parents. The OBC however does indeed belong to the person whose birth it records.
I really do not understand where these folks get their ideas from. The birth certificate primarily belongs to one individual. It doesn't belong to the state, the adoption agency, nor the adoption attorney.