Due to the length this entry was becoming, the time involved in researching and writing it, and the need to get information out immediately on the abomination known as Illinois HB 5428, I am publishing this blog in parts. Depending on the finished product it will be in either two or three parts.

Here, in Part 1, is an overview of the bill and its murky passage through the Illinois House. I also comment on machinations that appear to have gotten it passed under everybody’s radar when similiar bills for more than a decade have been met with loud howls from us.

Illinois Open and Bastard Nation will release an Action Alert shortly. This entry and the part(s) to follow should be read in conjunction with the action alert.

NOTE: In 2008 I wrote extensively on HB 5428’s predecessor look-alike, HB 4623. Two of my blogs llinois Warning! Trainwreck ahead for records rights and Illinois: That train keeps a rollin’ – more piece-a-crap legislation context the current mess. I will also reference others as we move along.


And I feel like I’ve been here before/Feel like I’ve been here before/And you know it does make me wonder/What’s going on under the ground

David Crosby, It’s All Coming Back to Me Now

Sneaky Sara is at it again!

On March 18, the Illinois House passed HB 5428 the latest incarnation of Rep. Sara Feigenholtz’s Illinois Adoption CI/Registry Cash Cow Protection Act. If passed. HB 5428 will keep original birth certificates and adoptee vital records under the padlock of the State of Illinois and at the mercy of the Illinois Adoption Registry and Medical Exchange (IARME) (a Feigenholtz creation) and its state-contracted searchers /confidential intermediaries at the privately owned Midwest Adoption Center. MAC is so secretive that it doesn’t even publish the full names of its staff on its website. Feigenholtz calls this “progressive.” This is what we call bullshit:

Intent of legislation. Adoptees have a right to their original birth certificates– unless they don’t.
The General Assembly recognizes that it is the basic right of all persons to access their birth records, and, to this end, supports public policy that allows an adult adoptee to access his or her original birth certificate. The General Assembly further recognizes that there are circumstances under which a birth parent may have compelling reasons for wishing to remain anonymous to a child he or she surrendered for adoption. In an effort to balance these interests, the General Assembly supports public policy that releases a non-certified copy of the original birth certificate to an adult adopted person upon request unless a specific request for anonymity has been filed with the Registry by a birth parent names on the original birth certificate.”

Illinois Open has summarized the bill:


All original birth certificates will be open until Jan. 1. 1946. If you were born after Jan. 1, 1946, then the birth parent can invoke a “denial.” This denial will only be good until December 31, 2010. As of January 1, 2011, the birth parent will have to file a Birth Parent Preference Form. If any person selects choice “E”, which is a denial of all information, then the adoptee will not receive a birth certificate. In essence, this is really a round-about disclosure veto.

and parsed out the bill so you don’t have to:


Will this bill give all Illinois born adoptees the right to request and receive their original birth certificate without any conditions and without any falsifications. A. No Who will get their original birth certificates under HB 5428?

a) Those adoptees born before Jan. 1 1946.

b) Those adoptees who were born after Jan. 1 1946 and whose birth mothers do have not nor will not file any affidavit of denial or negative birth parent preference form. If the birth parent files any affidavit of denial, it prevents the adoptee from getting an original birth certificate.

c) Some adoptees will receive copies of original birth certificates with identifying information deleted by the state. These redactions will occur if one party named on the original birth certificate opposes its release.

d) Matching members of the Adoption Registry – adoptee will get an original birth certificate.

What recourse is given to an adoptee who doesn’t get his birth certificate?
The adoptee must wait 5 years. Then he/she can petition the CI system for a free search.

What efforts will the state make to inform birth parents about the new law?
1. Public service announcements in media.

2. Notices distributed to doctor’s offices, religious institutions, social welfare organizations & retirement homes.

3. Informational website

4. Announcement on all websites of adoption agencies in IL

5. Notices accompanying every vehicle registration renewal application between Oct. 31, 2010 and Nov. 1, 2011.

6. Notices enclosed with driver’s license renewal applications beginning 30 days after effective date of this act and thru Nov. 30, 2014.

What about denial forms filed before this act? I
If a birth parent has filed a Denial of Information prior to Jan 2, 2011, and there is no proof of death, then an adoptee may receive a non-certified copy of the original birth certificate from which all identifying information pertaining to the birthparent who filed the denial will be redacted. An alternative would be for a birth parent to file a Birth Parent Preference Form and select one of the 5 choices given. They range from no contact and no birth certificate, to contact with each other and document issued to the adoptee.


It is obvious that the facilitation of this Act would require a fiscal note. The Department of Public Health would establish and maintain the Registry for the purpose of allowing mutually consenting members of birth and adoptive families to exchange identifying and medical information. A new Advisory Council will be set up, members listed in the act itself. This Council will have a wide range of duties in the issuance and decision making process concerning the issuance of birth certificates and the interpretation of this Act. A Birth Parent Preference Form is in the current law already. It gives birth parents five different choices about having contact with their children. THIS IS NOT A CONTACT PREFERENCE FORM because the choice made by the birth parent is legally binding. If a birth parent selects “E” as an option on the preference form, which is the choice for no contact with the adoptee, then the adoptee will receive an uncertified copy with all identifying information redacted.


Unlike last session’s similar HB 4623 (death by committee neglect–or was it staged?), “introduced” at a press conference and greeted with much media hype and pimping, HB 5428 has been a state secret–like a bastard sealed inside an Illinois original birth certificate. (Remember this press conference. I’ll come back to it in another blog.)

Last session’s fanfare aside, Feigenholtz has a long history of playing the shell game with her “access” bills. That is, she submits a meaningless irrelevant shell bill as a placeholder until she and her crony Melisha Mitchell, a professional searcher/CI and director of the search company White Oak Foundation, get around to injecting their real agenda into the shell. Then, the “real” bill seems to get lost on its way to the Internet. House hearings in the especially-created-for-Feigenholtz Adoption Reform Committee which she chairs, are misrepresented, postponed or cancelled at the last minute or, as it seems in this case, not called at all (or at best only whispered.) Floor votes are announced after the fact. (Read That train keeps a rollin’ referenced above to see how the scam worked last session. )

lllinois Open, Bastard Nation, the American Adoption Congress, the Green Ribbons, and independent bill watchers who check on bills weekly (or more often in Illinois due to Feigenholtz’s incipient sneakiness) only learned of the NuBill’s existence last weekend–after it passed the House– when the St. Louis Post Dispatch published Bill on adoption advances in Springfield.

I did not look for HB 5428 myself, so I can’t verify personally, but I’ve been told by three unrelated bill watchers that NuHB 5428 (at least in its current form) did not show up on the Illinois leg page until it was too late to do anything in the House. P-D reporter Kathleen Foody told me in an email that she covers the Illinois Statehouse for the paper and that the bill “caught her eye.” Since we’ve heard not a peep from Illinois news outlets we can only assume that the bill hasn’t “caught their eye” due to Feigenholtz’s silence and deceptive practices, or they’ve been warned off. Whatever, the Feigenholtz-Mitchell machine decided to hush-hush it.

According to HB 5428 history, the shell bill was filed on February 4 and received a first reading the following day. The original four page bill (printer friendly) was introduced as a noncontroversial bookkeeping procedure to delete four words from 750 ILCS 50/18/05:

[amending] the Adoption Act. In provisions requiring the Department of Public Health to inform the public of the Illinois Adoption Registry and Medical Information Exchange through notices enclosed with driver's license renewal applications, deletes language providing that the notices are required only until December 31, 2010. Effective immediately.

On February 16, the bill was sent to Feigenholtz’s Adoption Reform Committee where on March 3, it was amended from a sunset deletion to an adoptee “access” reincarnation of last session’s HB 4623.

NuHB 5428 (59 pages printer friendly) not only deletes a date, but beefs up the Illinois Adoption Registry and Medical Information Exchange more than it already is with a tangle of complicated forms, “choices,” tiers, and restrictions for adoptees, first and adoptive parents, and others, turned out in language that a Philadelphia lawyer would find difficult to decypher.

The bill received its second reading on March 10. On March 15 and 17, Amendments 2 and 3– more bureaucracy to the already overburdened bill,–were introduced respectively on the House floor. On March 17 the amended bill received a (recalled) second AND third reading (short debate). On March 17 and 18, new sponsors were added. On March 18, the bill passed (short debate) and was sent to the Senate for a first reading on March 23.


The bill currently resides in the Senate Assignments Committee where new Senate sponsors have signed on, and it waits to be sent to a friendly complaint committee. John Cullterton, Feigenholtz’s mentor when he served in the House, is now President of the Senate.

NEXT: Sara Feigenholt’s Small Circle of Friends.

ADDENDA: Triona.73 adoptee published a must-read blog on HB 5428. I was going to mention this is my series, but I think it’s essential to put this out now (but out of place):

IL HB 5428 would make it a CRIME to pursue your own search via non-identifying information (damages plus $10,000 minimum punitive fine). From the bill text:

Any person who learns a sought-after relative’s identity, directly or indirectly, through the use of procedures provided in this Section and who improperly discloses information identifying the sought-after relative shall be liable to the sought-after relative for actual damages plus minimum punitive damages of $10,000.

Yes, you heard that right. If you’re not adopted, it’s called genealogy. But if you are adopted, under IL HB 5428 you will be penalized if you attempt to search on your own. This is so that all Illinois adoptees and their birth families will be forced through the jaws of the intermediary program’s profit-making machine.

I’ll be posting more blog reading in my next entry.

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  1. Thanks, for saying it just like it is! We evidently have legislators glued to Sara (to put it nicely) for this piece of trash bill to have passed the House and without those of us watching for her sneaky tricks to even learn about it until it was too late.

  2. Thank you for posting this and keeping tabs on the situation here in Illinois. As you mentioned we at Adoption Reform Illinois (sponsored by the Green Ribbon Campaign) are following the under-the-radar progress of this bill and are working to defeat it. We’re continuing to post the bill’s status on our web site:

    We also have a petition going on to defeat this bill and introduce clean legislation in Illinois.

    Please help us defeat Sneaky Sara and her cronies who are touting this bill as being “for” adoptees when it is anything but.

  3. Thanks for the link. This bit about penalizing adoptees for genealogy is jaw-droppingly abhorrent. HB 5428 needs to die in committee, and the sooner the better.

    P.S. I think you meant 73adoptee not 72. 🙂

  4. Thanks for covering this abomination, BD. A few of us Moms have been reading it with trepidation. I especially hate the intermediary section. There is good circumstantial evidence that a SW who acted as an intermediary up in Canada delayed a contact because SHE FELT that neither party was ready. Why is it, that for every good SW who is concerned about their cases, there are two who seem to want to play God? Contact vetoes, intermediaries and mandatory medical forms still leave the industry in control, IMO.

  5. I am really suspect of the paid intermediaries and searchers who support these dirty bills. As always….
    Follow the money!

    Also notice who comprises the ‘panel’ who will be the semi-annual watchdogs (reporting) for monies/fees received by the paid intermediaries and searchers. Talk about a ‘conflict of interest’!

    I have a hunch these intermediaries and searchers have their own agenda in supporting these dirty bills. Their profitable jobs/businesses and side-jobs/income would dry up, if all this slop wasn’t included in these dirty bills. To add insult to injury many of these paid intermediaries and searchers are *Birth Mothers*!

    Just like the adoption agencies of old…accepting *donations* from adopters….many searchers accept *donations* as well. I know..because I used an *associate* of one of the co-author’s of the Illinois bill, when I was searching for my then very adult daughter, over 10 years ago. (The adoption agency refused to help me, including refusing to give me my own non-id.) I asked this “associate” woman what she charged for her services (she did not hold other gainful employment outside her home)..she said it was free..but did accept *donations*. Being the *grateful* “birth mother” that I was at the time…I sent her a very thankful “donation”.

    Do I regret sending my “donation”, absolutely 6 days I was speaking to my daughter. But I do regret that there are those among us, that support dirty access bills for their own personal monetary gain agendas. No different then the adoption agencies, adoption lawyers, brokers and facilitators that also profit off the backs of women and children.

    Is amazing what one can learn as the years pass by in Adoption Land.

  6. I agree with Mandy. There seem to be an awful lot of women who are CI’s or Searchers or have another financial interest in these bills, and the panel that gets to sit twice a year and discuss how much money they took in just screams problems. I am suspecting that they all have uppermost in their minds how they can insure their own job security.

  7. Mandy, trust you to find the hidden sources of contamination. While some of us go around our arses to get to our elbows, you zero in on the target. I would also think that the assumed “prestige” of these mothers/experts/searchers would suffer as well as their pocketbooks. Real adoption reform and clean bills would certainly decrease their bank balances.

    I plead guilty to still being a bit idealistic and naive. It hurts me to see women I thought of as friends trying to sabotage good efforts by their sister moms. Can we say “Judas Iscariot?”

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