Americans for Open Adoption Records

Americans for Open Adoption Records posts about reasons why any adopted person should have access to their own adoption records. Adoption records can be illuminating for an adoptee. They may show information that most non-adoptees take for granted, such as race, single or twin birth, other siblings, mother and father’s names (if available), and also some potentially important medical history.

I knew my birth-family for the almost 11 years I spent in foster care until my official adoption at 14. Therefore, I have had access to medical information and medical history that may not be accessible to many American’s who were adopted at much younger ages, or who were a part of closed adoption proceedings. However, my younger birth sister was adopted young and part of closed adoption proceedings. She already had 3 children before I met her in her 20’s, and was able to tell her to screen for Epilepsy. Her oldest child had already had a severe seizure and because of this knowledge, she was armed with the knowledge to screen her other children for Epilepsy and for other genetic diseases.

An adoptee has the same right to know their medical history as anyone else does. If the adoptee is aware of heart disease or diabetes in their immediate birth family, they can be forewarned to be screened for these illnesses. A woman might want to know if there are genetic triggers that may complicate a pregnancy. Open adoption records would be helpful for doctors who would have a basis to go on when treating patients who were adopted.

Even something as simple as knowing your race or races can be a huge advantage. There are different illnesses that certain races are more susceptible to than others. I cannot imagine any person not wanting to be forewarned about potential health risk factors.

Sometimes records contain information that is not health-related, but gives the adoptee information they may not have expected. For example, I was able to view my own adoption records, and was touched by some of the information in them that I had never known.

Social workers have chronicled my life almost as long as I have been alive. One excerpt from my own record was, “Rose is almost 3 years old. She is a quiet child who tries to take care of everyone. She follows her mom around and mimics her actions, including trying to vacuum. She tries to get her mother to sit down while she takes care of her.” This is interesting to me, because I was put into foster care just after that. The information from this record, not only gave me a childhood story that I’d never had, but taught me more about the reasons that the removal into foster care was a necessity for my own well-being.

AMFOR and organizations like this, have a worthy purpose. Knowing what is in your adoption records is one more step into knowing important information about who you really are.