Having no Medical History is Serious for Adoptees
When a child is placed for adoption, their life is put in danger if a complete medical history is not ascertained by the social workers or attorneys handling the adoption. The right questions need to be asked of both sides of the birth families and documented.
My medical history consisted of this:
"All family members were in good health as could be ascertained from the record."
Later in the file, the social worker admits that my father did not know about my conception, so there was obviously no investigation into my father's medical background.
However, my birth mother lived in one of the agency's maternity homes. There was plenty of time to gather information about her medical history. The agency failed to do this for me.
My birth mother was born with a hole in her heart and she had to have an extremely rare surgery when she was 5 years old. This information never made it in my file and/or was relayed to my parents.
In fact, no medical information at all was relayed to my parents, putting me (and them) at an extreme disadvantage every time I went to the doctor, hospital, when I carried my son, and even to this day.
I have been fortunate with my health; however ever since the death of Comedian Gilda Radnor in 1989 of ovarian cancer, I have had a very strong fear of ovarian cancer. I asked my doctor about getting a CA125 test but he didn't recommend that . . . too many false positives. I had good reason to fear this disease:
" the single greatest ovarian cancer risk factor is a family history of the disease."
My doctor and I decided to stay on top my pap smears and I began getting my mammograms at an early age since I did not know if my mother, sister, aunt or grandmother ever had breast or ovarian cancer.
I have tried to always be on top of any perceived health conditions, but I still worry that there is diabetes, heart and stroke on my father's side. When I finally got a little bit of health history from my birth mother at age 40, I almost didn't believe it. I was so used to knowing absolutely nothing about my health history, it didn't feel real to actually hear it. My doctor was quite shocked to get this information after all these years.
Steve Jobs was adopted and may not have known his family medical history. How important is family history in determining one's risk for pancreatic cancer? Does it have a genetic component?
Anitra Talley :
Few risk factors for developing pancreatic cancer are defined. Family history of the disease is one risk factor. Approximately ten percent of pancreatic cancer cases are hereditary. There are family registries and early detection studies for people who have a family history of the disease. http://live.washingtonpost.com/pancreatic-cancer.html
The family registries and studies won't help Steve (sadly), but they can at least be helpful to his children, along with Steve's medical history (since Steve had later in life received knowledge of both of his birth parents.)
One of my fellow Lost Daughters, Susan Perry, was diagnosed with Melanoma, a very serious skin cancer. She has this to say:
" When I had malignant melanoma over 10 years ago, I was a candidate for a medical study at U. of Penn following my surgery. When they found out I had no medical history, they had no interest in including me."
Learning of this incensed me. Exclusion due to adoption status. Sadly, this is nothing new for many of us, but when we are talking about a life and death situation, it is so unacceptable and wrong, that this alone should be reason to NEVER have a closed adoption.
All parties of an adoption should know each other's names, addresses and phone numbers so when an adopted child comes down with unexplained symptoms and/or there is a genetic disease in the family, the adoptive family and medical professionals can be prepared and ready to deal with this condition with all the facts and best information.
I understand this is the best case scenario and it doesn't always pan out this way, but let's not purposely leave a child in a medical abyss like so many adoptees are raised in.
It could literally change the outcome of your child's (or their children's) life span.