November 19, 2004 -First Lady Patti Blagojevich and the Illinois Department
of Child and Family Services teamed up today to honor Illinois adoptive
families and newly adopted children at the third annual Illinois Celebrates
Adoption day. Illinois Celebrates Adoption is the statewide kickoff to
National Adoption Day, when courts around the country will finalize more
than 1,000 adoptions. Illinois is a national leader in locating adoptive
homes for waiting children, finding adoptive homes for nearly 36,000 children
over the past decade. The First Lady joined DCFS Director Bryan Samuels,
State Representative Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago), adoption advocates
and local adoptive families today to encourage adoption as a positive
way to build a family. Children at the celebration were treated to face
painting, clown shows, storytelling, and a performance by Ulich Voices,
a rap group composed of current and former foster children.
children in foster care, adoption offers children a chance for a loving
family and a bright future," said Mrs. Blagojevich. "As a mother
of two daughters, I know how important it is to have every child experience
family life, and to achieve stability and permanency."
As First Lady, Patti Blagojevich has worked tirelessly to promote initiatives
that help Illinois families bring up happy, healthy, and successful children.
In addition to her work with Adoption Awareness Month, the First Lady
also served on the DCFS Task Force, where she helped create a blueprint
to reform the agency. Mrs. Blagojevich also worked to promote the Prevention
Development Resource Project -- a partnership between DCFS and Prevent
Child Abuse Illinois -- that links parents with agencies that offer services
to those affected by substance abuse and domestic violence, or who need
other family support services. Most recently, the First Lady was honored
by ORBIS International for spearheading the Illinois Pediatric Vision
Awareness Initiative-the first state sponsored campaign in the U.S. to
specifically target amblyopia, or lazy eye, in children.
to the First Lady's efforts, the Illinois Department of Public Health
is using the observance of National Adoption day to remind adopted adults
and their biological families to record their medical histories with the
state's adoption registry.
your family's health history can save your life," said Dr. Eric E.
Whitaker, Director of the Department of Public Health. "By having
the information readily available, doctors can more closely monitor a
person's health for common diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and
diabetes, or even rare disorders like sickle cell anemia or hemophilia,
that can run in families."
Adoption Registry was established in 1985 and amended in 1999 to include
the Medical Information Exchange, which allows mutually consenting adopted
and surrendered persons and members of their birth and adoptive families
to voluntarily exchange medical information while maintaining confidentiality.
and more chronic illnesses have been linked to heredity and can be detected
and treated early if doctors know what to look for," said State Representative
Sara Feigenholtz, an adoptee herself. "That's why knowing your family
medical history is so important. The adoption registry is a voluntary
program that makes exchanging information easy. I'm encouraging every
birth parent and adoptee to take the first step."
Adoption Awareness Month is part of National Adoption Month, a nationwide
adoption awareness and outreach campaign. The culmination of this effort
is National Adoption Day (Saturday, November 20, 2004) when courts across
the country will complete the adoptions of hundreds of children. This
year, more than 1,000 adoptions of children from foster care will be finalized
on National Adoption Day. In addition, over 100 local communities around
the U.S. will bring public and private organizations, children, and families
together to celebrate newly adoptive families.
has posted impressive adoption results over the last 10 years, moving
a record number of waiting children into permanent homes. In 1997, 52,000
children were enrolled in substitute care; today, that population is down
to only 18,254 children. In 2002, DCFS received the national Adoption
2002 Excellence Award for doubling the number of permanent placements
in just one year.
successful adoption transitions, DCFS provides both financial and emotional
support to adoptive families. DCFS financial subsidies include ongoing
monthly payments equal to the child's foster care payments, Medicaid support
for medical expenses not covered by the family's insurance, attorney fees
and court costs. DCFS also provides counseling services to the family
and child, therapeutic day care, and educational services for newly adoptive
Lady was also joined today Judge Michael J. Murphy of the Cook County
Circuit Court, WGN-TV's Merri Dee, and Illinois State Bar Association
representative Gregg Garofalo. Illinois Celebrates Adoption is sponsored
by the Illinois Celebrates Adoption Coalition, a network of child welfare
agencies, adoption attorneys, vendors, and other individuals committed
to finding homes for adoptable children.
in the Illinois Adoption Registry and Medical Information Exchange can
get the necessary forms a number of ways:
· Download the forms from the Illinois Department of Public Health's
Web site at www.idph.state.il.us,
· e-mail a request for forms to firstname.lastname@example.org,
· fax a request for forms to 217-557-5279,
· call the registry at 217-557-5160 or toll-free at 877-323-5299
(Illinois residents only); TTY (hearing impaired use only) toll-free number
is 800-547-0466, or
· mail a request for forms to the Illinois Department of Public
Health, Illinois Adoption Registry and Medical Information Exchange, Division
of Vital Records, 605 W. Jefferson St., Springfield, IL 62702-5097.
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Illinois Department of Children and Family Services