Health Information You Should Disclose To Potential Adoptive Parents

Relationships & Family Articles

Putting a child up for adoption is never easy, and one of the more difficult aspects of this process is divulging health information about yourself and your child to prospective parents. Despite the potential drawbacks (e.g. possibly negatively impacting your child's chances of being adopted), it is important adoptive parents know what health challenges a child may have in the future so they—and the child—can prepare themselves. Here's the type of health information you should tell parents.

Family Medical History

It's expected that you will provide information about your personal health history to the agency or the parents directly. What often gets left out, however, is information about the health of your parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Even if you personally didn't suffer a particular illness, your family may have a predisposition for certain diseases that presented themselves in other family members.

For instance, breast cancer is associated with abnormalities in two genes. Women who have these abnormalities have a higher risk of developing breast cancer, are more likely to get it earlier in life when they do, and tend to have the cancer affect both their breasts when it occurs. If something like this happened to several female relatives or quite a few men in your family got prostate or breast cancer, then chances are pretty good that one or both of these abnormal genes are present in your genetic pool.

Compiling a report about the different diseases that have presented in your family can help the adoptive family and child take proactive measures, such as getting cancer screenings on a yearly basis. Some of the most common diseases you want to be sure to add include:

  • All cancers
  • Heart disease
  • Strokes
  • Autoimmune disorders such as Lupus, Celiac, and Type 1 diabetes
  • Sickle-cell disease
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Kidney disease

While you are not required to divulge personal information such as the person's name or age who got the disease, it may be helpful to disclose the affected person's sex and relation to you, as this can help prove helpful in diagnosing certain diseases or conditions.

Mental Health History

As hard as it may be to talk about physical illnesses prevalent in a family tree, revealing a family history of mental illness can be even more difficult because of the stigma surrounding mental illness. While some prospective parents may be willing to take a child with physical disabilities, some of those same parents may see mental illness as a deal breaker due to the misunderstandings surrounding psychological diseases.

It's still important to disclose information about mental illness in yourself and your family for the same reason it's essential that you divulge knowledge about physical ailments that have plagued your family. It will allow both the child and his or her adoptive family to prepare for what may present in later years. If the parents know that bipolar disorder is something you or one of your parents struggled with, they will more likely seek help for the child sooner than if they didn't know about this propensity beforehand. This can save the child a lot of grief associated with going undiagnosed.

History of Addictions

Lastly, it's essential you tell potential parents about any addictions you or family members may have struggled with. There are two important reasons for this. First, some addictions have a genetic aspect that can increase the child's risk of becoming an addict when he or she gets older. For instance, studies indicate that the onset of alcoholism can be partially attributed to a person's genetic makeup.

Secondly, drug and alcohol use during pregnancy can result in a child with physical or mental health issues. Even if the baby appears normal after birth, the child may suffer developmental or behavioral issues as he or she gets older. Potential parents need to be aware of this possibility so they can take appropriate action to prevent or mitigate these problems.

Sharing personal information like your health or addiction history can be hard and even humiliating, but it's a necessary step to take to help ensure your child has the best life possible. For more information about or assistance with disclosing this type of information, discuss the issue with an adoption counselor. You can also visit sites like to learn more. 


11 April 2016

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