One adoptee answers another adoptee's question about how to get medical records.
|Q: I want to find my biological parents mostly due to me thinking I possibly had (**Specific disease removed to protect the identity of the adoptee, feel free to insert ANY medical issue here**). It scared me so much I want to make sure that the medical history in my records is accurate. How do medical histories for adoptees work? Is the medical information volunteered? Do they just sit the parents down and ask? My mom says I have nothing to worry about but, it's just to go too be true.
A: First, I just want to let you know that you don’t need an excuse to want to find your biological parents/family. Whether you want to find them for medical reasons, for identity reason, or simply out of curiosity about your ancestry, it doesn't matter. What does matter is it’s your human right to have that information. So, never feel like you have to explain to me or to anyone else why you want to find your bfamily. Biologically related people don’t have to explain why they want to see each other, why should you have to? Nonadoptees don’t have to explain why they want their records, why should you have to? Anyway, that was a slight tangent, but I wanted to put that out there to you.
I’m glad you’re probably not ill from the disease there was a possibility you might have. I bet that scared you to death! As far as medical records for adoptees: It varies. I was a victim of closed adoption through an agency. What that means for me is all the medical information I have, sans genetic testing I’ve paid for recently which is guesswork at best, is hand written on two small lines at the bottom of a rather ambiguous form that was given to my aparents when they adopted me. Some modern adoption agencies make a better effort at getting medical information and that is typically passed along with you to your aparents upon your adoption.
Consider pressing your aparents for whatever they may know. And keep pressing – Remember it’s YOUR information and you have the right to have it! I ask my amom all the time about info from my adoption and, every once in a while, she pops out something new I’ve never heard before. So, don’t let yourself get stuck in the guilt trap. You know, the one where you don’t want to make other people feel uncomfortable by asking questions about your adoption? You do not owe anyone anything. Ask.
Others have an open adoption and the afamily can contact the bfamily for information as needed. Sometimes the aparents have offered the information in detail, though that is rare. No, I have yet to hear of a closed adoption case where the adoptee and/or aparents actually sat down with the bfamily/bparents to discuss medical information. Typically, if you get anything, it’ll be a piece of paper. That’s what you’ll get if you've been adopted through an agency and you request a copy of your records.
Get ready to pay, though. My adoption agency charges $100 for “our” records and you only get non-identifying information. That doesn't include an extra $15 for registration on their reunion list. Registering and paying whatever fees doesn't guarantee you'll be reunited with your bfamily, by the way. I’ve met other adoptees who have had to pay $250 for “their” records. Nothing in the adoption world is free. If you were adopted out through an agency, call and ask them what the process is or look them up on the web.
There are also situations where a judge can order a closed record open for the purpose of retrieving medical information. That only happens if the adoptee can demonstrate a dire need for the information, though. ..Because our right to know doesn’t apply.. To make things even more complicated, laws governing the release of records vary state by state. I don’t know what state your adoption took place in, but here’s a fairly updated list of all the states and their different stances on adoptee records: http://www.americanadoptioncongress.org/state.php I searched for state-by-state information regarding just the release of medical records, but I haven’t been able to locate any yet. If I do, I’ll post it on my Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter.
Last I’d like to touch on what your amom told you, when she said not to worry. How can you not? Everywhere around you, especially in this age of genetic discoveries, there are reminders of how your biology can effect everything from your physical health to bad habits to psychological disorders to athletic ability. It is my firm belief that though environment may at least partially control which of your genes are active at any given time, you don’t know what genes have the potential to be activated in the first place if you don’t have knowledge of your biology. That sounds fancy, but it effects everyday life. Wishful thinking doesn’t negate the necessity of knowing your medical history.
I hope I’ve answered your question. I’m sure you have more now! Never hesitate to ask, I’m always here.
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