Adoption can be a beautiful way to grow your family, but it can also create a frustrating lack of information about your child’s health history. If you’re lucky, your child will have no health issues and you’ll only have to deal with seasonal colds and occasional tummy aches as they grow. That being said, knowing what kind of medical problems your child might be experiencing now and in the future will help you get them the care they need.
Why do you need a health history?
You might be thinking why you need to find out your child’s health history. After all, when your child is healthy, it’s not a pressing matter. But as children grow, it’s helpful to know what kinds of genetic health concerns they may face. Whether it’s lupus or diabetes, understanding what your child may be facing – now or in the future – can help you prepare and take preventive steps. Your child may also want more information as they grow and have children of their own. The more detailed your child’s health history you have, the better off they’ll be.
If you’re just starting the adoption process, now’s the time to seek your child’s medical history. Once an adoption is complete, it can be much more difficult to find information. Take the time to ask questions if you get the chance to meet your child’s birth family. Keeping some kind of openness in your child’s adoption can also be beneficial as your child will have access to their health history as they grow older.
Consider reaching out to the birth family
Unless you have an open adoption with your child’s birth family, reaching out to them for health information is understandably difficult. Thankfully, many birth families understand the need to know medical information and are willing to share what they know. Reaching out for health information doesn’t necessarily mean kindling a relationship. Each family and adoption is unique. Not all situations make open conversation ideal, but you and your child could benefit if you contact birth parents, grandparents, or even aunts or uncles from the birth family.
It may be difficult if not impossible to find health history information for children adopted in certain situations. For example, if your child is born and adopted from another country, you may have no health history for them. In these cases, your only option may be genetic counseling. Although that’s not a perfect solution, it can give you some basic markers to help form a health history for your child. Genetic counseling may also show which genetic diseases your child may potentially inherit, and what the risk might be.
Create a record
Even if you only have a limited health history for your adopted child, it shouldn’t stop you from creating your own health record. Do your best to gather what you can about your child’s medical history, then keep detailed records of things as they happen, such as vaccinations, childhood sicknesses, the presence of asthma, etc. These records will eventually help your grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Environment affects health too
At the end of the day, illness and medical problems aren’t just a product of genetics. The environment your child grows up in also affects their health. You may not know if your child has a predisposition toward diabetes, but you can encourage him to eat healthy and move together as a family. Make health a priority in your family. That can be a powerful piece of your child’s health history puzzle.