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Your Adopted Child’s Medical History

The first two to three years of a child’s life are critical in terms of development. This is when a child’s brain develops and forms nerve patterns—helping shape the way they learn and retain information for the rest of their lives. When a family adopts a child, there are many unknowns, specifically regarding physical health and family history. We know that early intervention is always the best tool, but how do we obtain the most comprehensive medical information available?

Accessing health records and information is much easier the closer you are to the birth of your child—while your child may have a separate medical file, their information is likely all contained within their biological mother’s medical file. Pregnancy and delivery are emotional, stressful, and intense; it’s no surprise that information can be lost in the chaos. Additionally, access to the birth family may become more limited as time goes on, so it’s important to obtain everything you need early on. While it’s not realistic that a birth parent would be able to forecast their future health; there are other important reports you can request:

  • Basic information: This description should include the age, health, and genetic origins of the birth parents and birth siblings. Along with the genetic evaluation, this information can determine if any genetic conditions reside in the family.
  • Genetic evaluation: these evaluations are used to determine the risk of adult-onset diseases such as Huntington’s Disease or breast cancer.
  • Description of prenatal care: What was the maternal lifestyle of the birth mother? If your child is not a newborn: was there any chance for neglect?

Obtaining medical records and other pertinent information from a birth family can be tricky—there are privacy laws to protect everyone involved in the adoption process. If you find that your family has been given little information regarding your child’s biological family, there are few options you can explore to attempt to gather more detailed documents.

  • Some states allow you to obtain your entire adoption file as long as you meet certain requirements—contact your local health department to inquire about access to adoption files.
  • Petition the court: This option is typically used in a closed adoption. The petition will request access to your child’s adoption file due to medical reasons.
  • A less conventional method is using tools such as AncestryDNA or 23andMe.

Any information is better than none at all—don’t be discouraged if you feel you aren’t pulling in as much medical history as you hoped. The best thing to do now is to use the information you have to set a successful path for your child.