More on Medical Records

My last post shared a recent experience The Boy had as he filled out his first medical record. Seeing his discomfort at having to check "unknown" for every item on the list raised an issue that has been bugging me for a long time - the lack of historical family information, medical and otherwise available to adoptees.

My point in raising this was not to suggest that this would be enough. Adoptees should have their histories, they should know who they are. But given the mish-mash of adoption laws and policies in the U.S. at the moment, getting there will take time. Filling in the medical blanks seems to me to be an easy, logical first step.

In my Korean adoption experience, no medical information was provided and none appears to be in our children's files. Ever-wise Suz's comment on that post pointed out that this might not be because their mothers didn't provide that information, for she indeed gave it. Whether or not it has reached her daughter, even her daughter's adoptive family, is another matter altogether.

Imagining for a moment that my children's mothers shared their family histories, both medical and otherwise, with our Korean agency, where is that information? We have walked through our childrens files with our children and a social worker from the agency, and saw nothing like this. It could have been there, of course, but untranslated. Or perhaps there's a separate file, one we have no access to, for our children's parents. I've never considered that the latter possibility, nor have I heard that separate parent files exist, so I tend to think this isn't the case.

I've heard more than once how important the smallest detail can be to an adoptee. Like the fact that artistic ability ran in the family of am adoptee artist. Or for another, the fact that the blanket in which she was found was blue. Insignificant? To those of us who know where we came from, perhaps they are. But to an adoptee, they could be the first brush of color on the blank canvas of the past.


Dana said…
I truly believe medical histories and letters from birthmothers are destroyed by the agencies.

My husband's oma was very shocked and upset to find out that the letter she wrote to be sent along with him to his AParents didn't make it, but that the letter from his halmoni did. She really had no idea that the only information P2H had about her was from her mother-in-law's perspective (and was not flattering or particularly accurate). The medical forms she filled out were likewise missing from his file when he went to the SWS office in Seoul.
Seoul Siblings said…
After Ryan came into our home, we wondered why he was SO into music. He loved it when we watched stuff like The Wiggles or Hi-5, listening to music on the radio, and listening to me sing to him.

It wasn't until we got re-read Katie's information that we understood.

The First Mom sang to them in her womb. Something which I would have done myself.

I have often wished that we had more information both medical history and a personal type of history. Something where the First Mom answers questions like:

What is your favorite color?
What is your favorite number?
What is your favorite food?
What is your favorite animal?
What food do you dislike the most?
What time of day do you like?
What season do you like?
and more

As far as medical history goes, Ryan had an allergic reaction to milk. It would have been nice to know if his First Mom has or had a similar reaction.

Adoptees need to learn more about where they're from and that includes medical history both here and overseas.
Cavatica said…
It doesn't seem like this should be so hard so often.
Michelle said…
I don't think adoption agencies like to ask mothers too many questions, as the more they answer the more the reality sinks in that they are surrendering their baby for adoption. They are losing their baby. Better to get it over with quickly so she doesn't keep her child. God, they don't even make pictures a requirement.

Way back, some social workers did gather a fair amount of information - my non-id said that my mother played the piano, guitar, that she was tiny and had wavy brown hair - she was attractive and a social person. It also said that she had schizophrenia - but guess what? Ninety per cent of it was wrong.

To be honest, it helped, somewhat, but I needed her, not information about her. I remember getting the non-id and being so pathetically happy just to have one crumb of information about my own mother.
Anonymous said…
Often times the file that you looked at that was available to your children is the American files. I found out when I went to Korea in 1992, that I had a set of Korean files that had some very sparse medical info, but no family info. Basically, it just had the medical info from when I was found and any medical stuff (such as the botched ear surgery when I was 2).It contained info from when I was in the orphanage which I found interesting and helped me feel more connected. My American file didn't have any medical info whatsoever except from the adoption.

I feel for your son. I remember all too well about the "other" thing. It used to bug me a lot. I hated being an "other". When I was in grade school, before all the lists of races, it was just "Black" "White" and "other"...I still come across "Other" when I see the doctor and have to fill out more forms. I think that is why now I save every scrap of anything that pertains to my children. I don't want them to have that unknown feeling. It is rather unsettling to just not know.
suz said…
Completely agree with Michelles suggestion that the social wreckers keep questions and information from natural mothers to a minimum. We might realize someone was wrong and awful and keep our children. Then how would the agencies make a profit?
When we travelled to Korea in 2005 to pick up our son, we requested a visit to his birth city. We travelled with a translator provided by the agency. We visited the agency location where J's birthmother was councelled and met with her SW. The director and SW of that location sat with us with J's birthmother's file open and told us all kinds of things. We have a little more medical history than what was provided in Seoul (not much) and a ton of info relating to birthmom's likes and dislikes. FOr example we know what her favorite color is, what music she likes, her favorite flower and things like that. WE also got a better picture of her situation and why she chose adoption for her son. We were also given the originals of J's foot prints taking in the hospital. All this to say that I think the info is there it's just a matter of where exactly it is filed. Most of the information about birthmother/father (we got info about birthfather)is not is Seoul. I also know af someone who had there baby escorted and a letter from her baby's birthmother came too.
am i weird said…
My opinions on this issue tend to change from time to time.
Sometimes I like not knowing my biological mother's medical records because I feel like a clean slate and any problems she may have had do not affect the way I live my life to the fullest today.
Other times I wonder if she ever had some of the little bodily/psychological quirks I have had over my lifetime (although I have been so lucky to be a very healthy person - touch wood).
I have never wanted to meet her. I wouldn't even need her name (I can't remember if I have it or not - I probably do).
Just knowing some things like what her occupation was, what her talents/interests etc were would be enough for me.
I have very little information about her, with the view that she was scared and didn't want to leave much. My younger brother knows more about his bio parents than I do.
Although ask me tomorrow and I might say that knowing those extra things growing up may have done me more harm...I just can't say.
I suppose what is, is. I just accept it now.
If my birth mother knew there was no risk of me tracking her down then maybe she would have left more information that I would find interesting.

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