Medical History?
I'm just wondering how the birth family's medical history is obtained. Do adoption agencies get medical records, ask the birth parents, or both? Could someone explain the process?
I think they are getting better at providing history but still have a long way to go. I also believe that most prospective adoptive parents shy away from demanding that info and requiring that info be updated on a regular basis, or even understand what needs to be included. Good for you for asking the tough questions, I hope you fight for the info.

Speaking from experience from adoptions during the closed era (50/60/70's), my medical history that was noted on my sealed court files...stated: mother in excellent health, father in good health...so now you see what was gathered back then, and of course that info was sealed by court order so even if it had contained anything useful it was not available. Examples of when a detailed updated history would have been helpful to me the adoptee: when my son passed away, when I had two back to back life threatening events that stumped my doctors, and the fall out to my life because of not having adequate access to or knowledge of my history to prevent those events from happening in the first place. As a final note, I was able to get the judges (my mom petitioned the courts) to open my file AFTER my two events so that I could search and find and obtain more info...similar to the phrase - closing the barn door after horse escaped...

Good luck and hope you stand your ground if you adopt a child.

Kind regards,
Dickons
I relinquished my son in 1972, so the agencies may not even operate this way anymore. The way it worked back then, the expectant mother was asked to fill out an extensive list of possible medical problems for herself, the expectant father, her parents, and her siblings.

The thing was, though, that I was 16 years old, so I didn't have a huge medical dossier yet. Both my parents were in their middle 30's, and they had none of the diseases they would get in later life.

Fortunately, I was reunited with my son many years ago, so I supply him with my updated medical history whenever another middle-aged disease crops up. Also, he now has the knowledge of what killed my father, and he knows what caused his grandmother's stroke.

The important thing about medical history of birth parents and their immediate families is that it be updated on a regular basis, since so many birth mothers are young at the time of relinquishment.
Our agency collected a 30 page packet of info from the bmom which included medical history among several other things. The problem is you are going on the bmom's word (not to say a bmom is lying but our bmom's info was collected at time of DD's birth so how can you remember everything?).

I also think the agency would have done this for the bdad, had he been known. We did not have much to go on as bmom was adopted and her 3 other children and 3 other siblings were adopted as well.
Thanks for the info.

If I adopt, I will certainly do my best to get the medical history and updates. Knowing my parents' medical history has helped me a lot in life so I would want the same for my children.

sheababy said...
our bmom's info was collected at time of DD's birth


That does seem like an odd time to ask for medical information.
Noko said...
Thanks for the info.

If I adopt, I will certainly do my best to get the medical history and updates. Knowing my parents' medical history has helped me a lot in life so I would want the same for my children.



That does seem like an odd time to ask for medical information.



Ours was a baby born situation. Our bmom didn't contact the agency until 20 days before her due date. The baby was 10 days early so you can imagine trying to fill out 30 pages of info, choose a family etc is a lot to think about in that short amount of time.
Agencies are supposed to obtain medical records from/for the birth family. Ask your agency to make sure that they provide this service. Our son's biological father wouldn't fill out any of the forms, but we do have his birthmom's information.

:hippie:
Rredhead,

I have a few of questions that I hope will help prospective adoptive parents and current adoptive parents to really stop and think hard on this subject and consider the rammifications that the lack of info can have on their child for the rest of the childs life.

1. Did you ask the courts to mandate the retrieval of the medical history from the fathers side of the family? If yes, what was the answer. If no, why not?

2. Does the agency have a process in place to accept and forward in a timely fashion updated medical history for your child? If yes, how much will it cost you or the adoptee to receive the info? If not, did you question how you would obtain future medical history updates?

3. How detailed is the medical history you received and to what level of degree of relatedness did they include (1st degree, 2nd degree, 3rd degree)?

Kind regards,
Dickons
You're getting great advice, but please remember that not all of us that place a child can provide good medical information. I filled out a 30 page questionaire as well. This was after my son was born and he was in the hospital and we didn't know if he would survive or not. I wasn't in the greatest frame of mind. Add to that I am adopted myself, during the closed era, my first mom has refused contact, and I don't know much.

Open adoption helps, but it isn't always a panacea. You also have to remember that you are trying to build a relationship and that letting other people have all of your medical information can create a squicky feeling for some people. Remember what these people are entrusting you with and treat it as you would want your medical information treated.
We are still trying to gather medical information on our DD. The bmom did fill out a form, but she left a lot of information blank because she did not really know the answers. Her family was not very close so she did not know if certain things ran in her family. She only knew answers that pertained to herself and her mother.

We have very little info on the bdad. The bmom completed his forms. We sent them to him again and he sent them back with conflicting information. We are still trying to sort it all out.

We do hope one day to have a more complete medical history. I suggest going over the paper work with the agency and asking about specifics that are not included. As you build a realationship with the bfamily maybe more information will be given to you. And keep in mind the bparents just may not KNOW the information you seek.
I agree with all that's been said above. Our agency had the birthparents fill out a medical and social history questionnaire. But the truth is a lot of times a birthparent may not know their own medical history that well (they may be young, not know much about their own medical history later on their extended family's medical history, or could even be adopted themselves; and a lot of times you will not even get information about the birthfather).

However, we did look at situations from several agencies before making a decision. And I noticed a lot of variability in how thorough they were. We shied away from a few cases where there were blanket "none" statements with long arrows drawn down an entire column or across a page. Also, there were some cases where the birthmother obviously had not filled out the questionnaire herself, although she had signed that she did.

Our agency did make an effort to obtain records from the few prenatal visits that were done. Again we didn't get a lot of info b/c prenatal care was minimal, but at least there was some info obtained.

In the end, even with all the info we got, it was a leap of faith. You should definitely ask for all the information you can, but also realize that often the information will be minimal at best and may not be that reliable.
adobe1234 said...
Our agency did make an effort to obtain records from the few prenatal visits that were done. Again we didn't get a lot of info b/c prenatal care was minimal, but at least there was some info obtained.


Our situation is one in which the bmom has some congitive limitations and likely doesn't know her medical details or what issues may have genetic relevance...and since she is estranged from her family, they are not likely to assist. Bdad and his family's actions have indicated that they are not willing to put the baby's interests first, and the are resentful about losing rights, so I am doubtful they will provide detailed information on that side either.

Are we completely at the mercy of whatever information the family is willing and able to provide, or do we have legal recourse to access any actual medical records for the Biological-parents?
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