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Finding Your Adoption Medical History [5 Methods]

Your adoptive parents are your family through and through, but because you don’t share their genetics, your medical history might look like a blank page.  

Your adoption medical history is the information about your birth parents’ health background. This background includes mental health as well as physical. Getting access to your adoption medical history can give you insight into whether you are at risk for hereditary diseases or genetic mutations that could significantly impact your life.  

For some adoptees, obtaining adopted infant medical history is easier than it might be for others. Why is that? 

  • If your birth parents chose an open adoption, this information might be more readily available than if they chose a closed adoption.  

  • While closed adoptions aren’t as common today, they do still happen.  

  • If your adoption was closed, getting access to your adoption medical history might be more of a challenge. 

This article breaks down adoption and medical history and the different ways you can learn more about your medical background. 

Why Your Adoption Medical History Matters 

Knowing if you’re at risk for potential congenital diseases or disorders can help you determine what testing and treatment are right for you. The sooner you can get this information, the more proactive you can be in taking preventative measures. 

If you are at risk of a hereditary disease, these findings can also reveal the likelihood of you passing on these hereditary diseases to your own children and how often you should be screened. The more information you have, the more empowered you will feel taking charge of your own health. 

How to Access Your Adopted Infant Medical History 

How you access your adoption medical history will depend on your unique adoption situation. Is it an open or closed adoption? Do you know who your birth parents are? The answers to these questions will affect how you go about getting access to your adoption medical history. There are five ways you can learn more about your birth family’s medical background. 

1. Ask Your Adoptive Family or Adoption Professional 

If you had an open adoption, that means that your adoptive parents have likely stayed in touch with your birth parents. They may have already obtained the documents containing your adoption medical history from your birth parents.   

The agency you were adopted through may also be able to help you. They likely have your adopted infant medical history on file. Most adoption agencies require that the birth parents provide medical history so that they can have a clearer picture of the health of the baby.  

Your adoption agency may also be able to help you if your adoption was semi-open. In a semi-open adoption, contact between the adoptive family and birth parents is mediated by the adoption agency so that both parties can maintain their privacy. You could ask your adoptive parents to reach out to the adoption agency and request access to your adoption medical history. 

2. Ask your Birth Parents 

If you want to go directly to the source, you can ask your birth parents about your adoption medical history. However, this may be a more complex process depending on your circumstances. If you had an open adoption, you could reach out to them directly if you feel comfortable doing so.  

When it comes to closed adoption and medical history, getting this information may be more complicated.  

With a closed adoption, the adoptive parents may be granted medical background information about their child and the birth parents. However, this information is limited to what is available at the time of the adoption. If new medical issues arise, there’s no way for the adoptive family to know. 

If you don’t know the identity of any of your biological family members, you could consider starting a search and reunion process. You can do this in several ways, like turning to DNA databases such as AncestryDNA or 23andMe or attempting to unseal closed adoption records.  

However, there’s a lot to consider before starting a search and reunion process to identify your biological family. If you just want to find your adoption medical history without reuniting with your birth parents, then there are a few other options you could try. 

3. Inquire Through the State 

Even if the records have been sealed due to a closed adoption, some states consider adopted infant medical history to be non-identifying information.  

This means you can request these records, but the requirements and process for doing so will vary from state to state. Some states have open adoption records for adoptees that can be accessed through the local health department. 

4. Genetic Testing 

If you are someone who was adopted through a closed adoption and have no way of accessing your adoption medical 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.  

However, because of the broad scope of this testing, it can yield unreliable results related to very rare conditions. This can lead to further unnecessary testing, resulting in higher medical bills and causing further anxiety about your health. Genetic testing may be necessary in some cases, especially when it comes to determining the risk of certain cancers.  

Talk with your healthcare provider to determine if genetic testing is right for you. 

5. Petition the Court 

 While this is an option for you, it is one of the more complicated routes to take. In the event of a closed adoption, the court will open adoption records under extraordinary circumstances.  

In this case, those circumstances would have to involve you suffering from medical issues that require your adoption medical history to determine a diagnosis and/or treatment. This process will also vary state to state. 

 You can find more information on finding your adoption medical history through these helpful resources. 


Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. American Adoptions provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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