When most of us think of our medical history, you can look back and connect the dots for any or all health issues we may have, or even conditions we may be predisposed to in the future. What if you didn't have access to those ailments? What if there was a gaping hole between the information you knew about yourself, and what you could possibly be looking at health wise?
This is a common issue for adoptees, specifically those in closed adoptions. It has often been touted as the primary reason why adoptions should be open (though this is not the only reason why adoptions should be open). However, if you have a child that has an unknown medical history, how do you deal with the lack of knowledge surrounding it?
Medical issues are an ongoing battle for some. In some families, diagnoses won't come until later in life, and as such, an adoptee could be missing an integral part of their medical history for an inopportune amount of time. For those coping with mental health issues, this could be astronomically detrimental, because with most the best defense is the right combination of medications, and adequate/proper diagnosis.
When you are in the process of adopting, open adoption is surely the best way to make sure that you have ongoing communication with those who would have information regarding medical issues that may arise. For those who are in a closed adoption, or have no information regarding medical history, a keen realization that the adoptee is not made of the same genetic code is the most integral item to cling to. Recognizing that issues may arise that may not be of the adoptive family's medical history is important, and it's key that we listen to the adoptee when he or she believes that there is an issue. We should also be careful not to over diagnosis based simply on genetic differences, a common problem that adoptees face as they are growing up.
The lack of any side of the medical history is likely to prove difficult should issues arise. Adoption has yet to find a clear cut way to insure that adoptees have access to all this information because in many cases, one of the biological parents’ information is missing, or not a part of the equation. When this is the case, an adoptee is now faced with the reality that there is much about their health that they may not learn until they come upon it themselves, a luxury most of us take for granted.
There is no easy way to combat this issue. When you are in the process of adopting, making sure that a thorough history is present is one way to stave off future questions. Again, not all of the information is going to be present, all the time, so adoptive families should be aware of the obstacles this can potentially set up for their child in the present and in the future.
Credits: Danielle Barnsley-Cervo
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Note: Our authors are dedicated to honest, engaged, informed, intelligent, and open conversation about adoption. The opinions expressed here may not reflect the views of Adoption.com.