At nearly every medical visit, we are given a checklist of diseases and conditions and asked to check any that have occurred in our family history. Most adoptees who were placed before the era of open adoption have the same answer – “I don’t know. I was adopted!” And even for those who may have received medical information at the time of their birth, the information is often very limited and does not reflect current health issues that may have occurred in the biological family over the years. Having a “heads up” on a possible genetic condition can help adoptees to be proactive in their own health care.
I have heard of lives saved because biological family members updated their genetic medical information for adoptees. Sadly, I have also heard of lives lost because an adoptee was not aware that they were at high risk for a certain disease or type of cancer.
Many adoptees and birth parents may not be aware that LSS has a Birth Parent Information Update Form, which can be updated at any time and placed in the file. Birth parents can provide any information they would like the adoptee to have. The form is then given to the adoptee should they inquire and have an interest in receiving this information. The form also enables birth parents to give their current contact information to the adoptee if they desire to have contact. If a birth parent does not wish to have contact, they can also make their wishes known. If the adoptee contacts LSS, we can let them know of these wishes, however, birth parents should be aware that adoptees can still petition the court for the release of their adoption information.* Unfortunately, the adoption record on file at the time of the adoption often lacks complete medical information and does not include medical conditions that may have occurred within the birth family after the adoption. I recommend both birth parents and adoptees contact LSS so that any concerns regarding health information as well as concerns regarding contact can be shared. Contact us at 1-888-201-5061 or 605-221-2346.
For adoptees not placed through LSS, the South Dakota State Department of Social Services also offers adoptees a Voluntary Registry for adoptees and birth parents and siblings who wish to exchange contact information (https://dss.sd.gov/childprotection/adoption/registry.aspx).
*Per SDCL 25-6-15, adoptees, upon the age of maturity, may petition the court for the release of their adoption information.
-submitted by Joyce Twite, Administrative Support Specialist, Adoption