We are adoptees from the Baby Scoop Era. We each have our own story and views on adoption, at this time only one of us is still talking. We started this blog to have a space to just be. We were impacted in different ways by the lack of current updated family health history because of being adopted. While having the family health history may not have changed the course of our diseases – the knowledge in my case may have made a difference.
Just a little rant…
Adoption advocates should be advocating to ensure a process of continued access to family health history for the adoptee, that any raised child in their family would know. Family health history is fluid and ongoing. Both families (not just the mother) should be educated about the need to sit down with the elders in their family and create a comprehensive family health history, and a process set up at the time of the adoption to keep it updated as new information evolves. That should be a common sense tenant in the phrase “In the child’s best interest”. The current argument is that with most adoptions being open that is no longer an issue. Stop and ask yourself if the open adoptions you know of (or are party to) include the father and his family. What about the semi-open adoptions that are mediated by the agency, or the ones with updates going only one direction. How many of those adoptions can you say have any chance of family health history being updated as it happens. We are in the era of personalized medicine that is being denied to adoptees solely because we are adoptees, an entire class of individuals excluded, like we are excluded from accessing our original birth certificates in many states. Adoption advocates are not looking after our best interests before(or after) we are adopted.
When you face a medical emergency it is too late to go to the court where the adoption was finalized. And once you get to the court (which can include travel) you must then submit a petition which then moves slowly through the process before it gets to the judge. If the judge determines the petition indeed is “good cause” and grants the petition, then you simply have access during business hours to the adoption file in some states. In other states you don’t get access, they only tell you what is in the file in regards to medical information that is as old as the adoptee. If you are lucky that your state unseals the file to you, you must then search for the family taking into account the very real possibility that the mother may have married and changed her name, and/or moved out-of-state, or already passed. All of this takes time, effort and money you do not have when you have a medical emergency. When you finally find the family (if you are lucky), you must then approach and make contact – all before you can ask for the family health history and sometimes is not given.
That process does not work in the case of true medical emergency which is the only time the judge will deem it “good cause” to unseal the adoption records. Something has to be done to ensure “best interests” are looked after at the time of adoption.