The Anna Kavanaugh Charitable Foundation
ADOPTEE RIGHTS/MEDICAL HISTORY
Adoption is a complex issue even for the most well adjusted and happily raised adoptee who was part of an open adoption plan between birth parents and adoptive parents. Many adoptees struggle throughout their childhoods and on into adulthood with questions about their biological beginnings. Where and who they come from, who they look like, why were they placed up for adoption and do they have biological siblings? As an adult, it becomes increasingly important to know your medical history. For an adoptee, the answer to these questions are lost in a void of the unknown. This is discrimatory in a sense as it places adoptees at a disproportionate risk over non-adoptees.
Knowing your medical history can save your life. The significance of that fundamental fact is immeasurable. Expensive medical equipment and years of research, as well as patient practice, still cannot provide physicians the same kind of firsthand information that family medical histories can. Every adopted child, or their adoptive parents if the child is under age, should have the right to crucial access of the medical records for both their birth parents, if possible. This does not infringe on the privacy or identity of either biological parent. Dependent upon circumstance or illness and disease, the life of an adoptee could hang in the balance without this information.
With significant advances in the evolution of medical technologies, genetic disease testing and prescreenings, an adoptee deprived the basic knowledge of their biological medical history is left behind in healthcare and at a serious disadvantage for life-saving interventions. Without the arming of this birth family data, an adoptee cannot partake in the testing that could allow them to know what diseases they are likely to face in their lifetime. Therefore, they are withheld from obtaining care or treatment that may otherwise be utilized in their lives with the hope of postponing, minimizing, or diverting the onset of disease. A lack of biological medical history blinds the preventative practice of medicine.
Biological lineage is a human rights issue, which is difficult to understand for non-adoptees. Until legislation is passed in states effectively requiring all birth mothers, and fathers if available, to provide detailed family history for the child's adoptive parents, adoptees are sentenced to suffering discrimination in their health and overall length or quality of lives. When a non-adoptee has the ability to ward off a potential terminal disease or condition, yet an adoptee cannot, then there is an urgent need for change. Not all adoptees have a desire to make use of preventative medicine practices, treatment plans, and pre-screening technologies, but those who wish should not be denied the right.
Some states have already passed legistlation to allow an adoptee their medical records, however it does not address the real issue at its core or succeed in the securing of a complete record of an adopee's biological history. Records surrounding the birth may be inaccurate, incomplete or intentionally kept hidden from physicians out of a birth mother's fear for her confidentiality. Unless birth parents are required by law to submit accurate and detailed family histories for the best interest of the child, adoptees are at risk when they do not need or deserve to be.
"For me, being adopted is like living in a reflection of yourself. No matter how close you stand to the mirror, or how many hours you spend studying your face, you can never quite reach the place inside of you that makes you real."
- Anna Kavanaugh