Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Illinois Confidential Intermediary Law Rules Supreme


"... if you choose to use the state-run Confidential Intermediary Program, you should know that there will be yet another file being compiled about you and it will  be withheld from you - forever."

Confidential Intermediary - CI
Original birth certificate - OBC

Illinois' current CI law has a goal of helping adoptees to search and find birth parents while at the same time "protecting" birth parents by withholding all identifying information about them until they are found and they can fill out a preference form about whether or not they wish to have any contact with their adoptee. Only if a "found" birth mother consents to contact will there be any information exchanged. The overriding rule governing the entire CI system is that no identifying information will ever be issued to any adoptee UNLESS THE BIRTH MOTHER CONSENTS. Now where have I heard that before?

This situation oozes with irony. Adoptees with OBCs in hand will soon be coming to the CI program. However, once they sign up to  use the CI system, the adoptees will not be entitled to ANY IDENTIFYING INFORMATION gathered by the CIs before (when the CI's secure the adoption records from the state), during, and after the search.

Even with you own OBC in hand, if you select the CI system to help you search, you are kept out in the cold. The state still withholds from you ALL information gathered by the CIs in order to  "protect" a birth mother's anonymity. This is kind of funny, because all these adoptees will already know their birth mother's identity.

At the conclusion of all CI searches, no matter the outcome, all of the information that the CIs have gathered about you will go straight into a confidedntial  CI file and will never be released to you. I know because I tried to get this information.

Any searching adoptee will tell you that no clue is too small to be considered. Ninety-nine people can take a look at the same set of facts, and they will all reach the same conclusion. Then along comes one other person who looks at the very same raw data, but comes to a different conclusion. I thought that maybe  I could be that 100th person.

I wrote to Nancy Golden, one of the owners of Midwest Adoption Center and my personal CI. I requested copies of everything that is in my CI file.  After all, my case was considered unsuccessful and it was  dismissed after two years. Wouldn't  you think, though, there must be some notes lying around somewhere? That's what I thought.

I have to go back a few years in my story now. About a year after being dumped by the CIs.   I petitioned the Cook County Circuit Court. I asked  the court for copies of everything that existed in my adoption file, plus a copy of my original birth certificate. I won the case and the late Judge Stephen Yates  ordered copies of all of these adoption records turned over to me.

As the days went by, I began to wonder.  What happened to all of the information that the CIs had collected during my 2-year long search? There must have been a lot of stuff. Where was it now? I figured  that  in some file there must be working copies of obits, marriage, divorce, and death certificates, birth certificates, census records, church records, military papers, etc. --all information that is open to public inspection.  So why shouldn't it be opened to me?

Because... I was still thinking of myself as that 100th person who just might glean something different from all that material. And so I wrote my request.

I received a reply from Kathleen Hogan Morrison, Attorney for Midwest Adoption Center. It was her legal opinion that the Illinois CI law does not permit CIs to ever release any data that they collect during a search.

The section of the law that Attorney Morrison referred me to states that any CI who improperly discloses information identifying a birth parent shall be “liable to the birth parent for damages and may also be found in contempt of court.” She continued to site the law, which says: “(2) Any person who learns a birth parent’s identity, directly or indirectly, through the use of procedures provided in this Section and who improperly discloses information identifying the birth parent shall be liable to the birth parent for actual damages plus minimum punitive dames of $10,000.” [750 ILCS 50/18.3a.)

        But Attorney Morrison. I already know the
        identity of my birth parents.

        Shut up and keep reading.

“Ms. Field is incorrect in her assertion that ‘the legal barrier of confidentiality has been lifted.’ In fact, confidentiality continues. Neither Midwest Adoption Center nor any Confidential Intermediary has the right to share identifying information about other people, which may or may not be in the Confidential Intermediary file. The prohibitions and sanctions set forth in Sections 18.3 (a) are intact. The Confidential Intermediary file may not be released to Ms. Field.”

So, if you choose to use the state-run Confidential Intermediary Program, you should know that there will be yet another file being compiled about you and it will also be withheld from you - permanently.

I believed that after my win in court and a new law stating that I was fit to have my OBC , I would at long last be in possession of all state-held files about me. Wrong!  There's still a file somewhere, layered with dust and stained with spilled coffee stains, with MY NAME on it. This file is being withheld from me by the state.

How can anyone say that adoptees are treated in the same way as non-adopted citizens? It just ain't so.

Grannie Annie


Mary Lynn Fuller said...

Bottom line - adopted adults are still little children UNLESS they were born prior to 1/1/46. The public was told that effective Nov. 15., 2011 we would be treated like those not adopted but it is not true.

Grannie Annie said...

YOu know what, Mary. I was born before 1946 and I am still being treated differently than non-adopted persons. I sent in for my obc on May 24th, as the new law proscribes. Vital stats hasn't even cashed my check yet.

And the fact that I know somewhere there is a CI file with my name on it tells me again that things are different for those of us who were adopted.

Anne said...

Hard to believe these things are STILL happening to adult adoptees in 2010. Today, the majority of Americans believe that all adult adoptees have access to their own original birth records and can locate their birth-parents anytime they wish. Sadly, we know this is not true. I still can't access my own records in New Jersey even though I've been in reunion with both of my birth-parents for years now!! Thank god I was lucky when I searched over 20 years ago and accidentally found information about my birthmother that led me to her. Otherwise, today I wouldn't be able to find her and would still be in the dark about my origins like so many other adult adoptees today.