Find Your Adoption Mental Health History [Getting Answers]
If you want to find your adoption mental health history because you want to better understand yourself, we're here to help.
When it comes to adoption and mental health history, the accessibility of this information will depend on whether you had an open or closed adoption. With open adoptions, there’s an open line of communication between your adoptive family and your birth parents, which means you may be able to get this information directly.
However, if you’re in a closed adoption, files are sealed and the identity of your birth parents is not known to your adoptive family. This means the process of finding your adoption mental health history may be more complicated
This article breaks down adoption and mental health history, why it’s important and how you can gain access to those records.
Understanding Your Adoption Mental Health History
Many adoptees begin the search for their adoption mental health history in hopes of finding answers to questions they may have about their mental health.
Your mental health history consists of information about any possible mental illnesses and the likelihood of them being passed down through the bloodline. With access to this information, you can gain insight into whether you are likely to develop any behavioral, mood or thought disorders.
If you’ve been struggling with anxiety, depression or other mental health issues, there’s a chance that you may have inherited a disorder from one or both of your biological parents. Many mental illnesses are genetic and can be passed down through generations.
If you are at risk of developing a mental illness, there is a chance that you may pass this on to your own children. If you haven’t had any mental health concerns, obtaining your adoption mental health history is a great way to stay proactive in taking care of your own mental health and that of any potential children you may have.
How to Find Your Adoption Mental Health History
When it comes to adoption and mental health history, there are a handful of ways you can access this information. Which method you use will depend on your own adoption circumstances and your personal preferences. Listed below are four ways you can get access to your adoption mental health history.
1. Ask Your Adoptive Family or Adoption Professional
For adoptees in an open adoption, finding your adoption mental health history can be as simple as asking your adoptive family. They may already have this information or can ask your birth parents about their mental health background to determine if you may have inherited any mental illnesses.
If your adoptive family doesn’t have this information, then you may want to consider asking the adoption agency you were adopted through. All birth parents are required to provide a medical history so the agency is fully prepared for any situation. You could reach out to the adoption professional your adoptive family worked with to get access to your adoption mental health history — although there is a chance the agency will only have limited information.
2. Ask your Birth Parents
This will be the best method for getting an accurate picture of your adoption mental health history. If you had a closed adoption, you might feel like you’ve hit a dead end.
In a closed adoption, records are sealed to keep the birth parent’s identity confidential. The adoptive parents are still granted access to some of the medical background of your birth parents, but this information only extends to the time of the adoption. If one of your birth parents were diagnosed with a mental illness after the fact, there would be no way for you to know.
Some adoptees have had success in finding biological family members through search and reunion efforts, using things like DNA databases (like AncestryDNA). If any of your biological family members have used these sites, they will show up as DNA matches. This could allow you to reach out and get the answers you need.
However, it’s important to take your time to consider the larger impacts of discovering and reuniting with your biological family.
3. Inquire Through the State
A handful of states have open adoption records for adoptees. Some states also consider medical backgrounds to be non-identifying information. Depending on your state’s laws and processes, you may need to apply to get access to your adoption mental health history.
4. Genetic Testing
If you are someone who was adopted through a closed adoption and have no way of accessing your adoption records, genetic testing might be necessary. Genetic panels provide you with a map of your genetic information and show your risk for any diseases or other potential medical issues.
If you have had luck in connecting with your birth parents or finding your adoption mental health history, genetic testing could be an option. Genetic testing can determine what physical or mental illness you may be susceptible to. For genetic testing for mental illnesses, these tests look at your “pharmacogenetic markers” to determine which medications would be best for your particular mental illness, if any.
However, it’s important to understand that genetic testing is not a perfect science. The results genetic panels can yield may be too broad, creating unnecessary anxiety about your mental health and driving up your medical bills. There is still a lot of research to be done before genetic testing can be considered 100% accurate when determining your risk of developing a mental illness.
You deserve to have closure when it comes to learning more about your mental health and its connection to your birth family. To get the information you need, you can helpful resources here.
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