Genetic Testing Adoption Updating Records

Placing a child up for adoption is a difficult decision for any birth parent to make. Birth fathers and birth mothers usually choose adoption because it is in the best interest of the child. One thing birth parents can do that will help their child in the future is to provide a family medical history that ‘s as complete as possible.

Providing Medical Information at the Time of Adoption

If you are considering placing your child up for adoption, start compiling a complete medical history. Include your parents, grandparents and siblings in your records as well as your own medical records. Many diseases and disorders run in families, and your child should have information about his or her entire biological family. For example, a birth mother may never have had breast cancer, but maybe her mother, grandmother and a sister had it. This would indicate that her child may be at high risk for developing breast cancer in adulthood, and may want to have regular screenings for the disease.

Doctors recommend that you compile a complete ethnic history of your family, as well. Some diseases and disorders are more prevalent among specific ethnic groups. For example, heart disease is common in people of African, Mexican and South Asian descent. Complete ethnic information can help your doctor with DNA profiling as your child grows older.

Updating Medical Records

Occasionally, despite extensive research into the family ‘s history, birth parents find out later that they missed something in the file. This could be due to several factors:

  • A close family member contracts a disease that could have a genetic link, like heart problems or cancer.
  • You develop a condition, such as adult-onset diabetes, that doesn ‘t appear until middle age or later.
  • You have another child who develops a genetic disorder such as cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia.

Each of these cases indicates a disorder for which your adopted child could be at risk.

Information from Genetic Testing

As genetic research advances, our capacity for determining our risk for inherited diseases has increased dramatically. If you ‘ve had a genetic test and discover a high propensity for developing a serious disease, this information could prove critical for the medical care of your child.

In many cases, birth parents are unmarried, so the information from genetic testing may be limited to that from a single parent. For example, if the birth mother discovers that she is a carrier of a particular gene that is a marker for an inherited disease, her child ‘s risk may be minimal unless the father is also a carrier. Contacting the biological father could be important.

If you ‘re not sure what to do with the results of a genetic test, consult with a genetic counselor or your doctor.

How to Update Medical Adoptee Records

Experts agree that updating adoptee records in light of new information is important, yet few birth parents do so. If you discover new information about your family ‘s medical history that would be beneficial to your child, make every effort to pass along that information.

The first step is to contact the agency that placed your child. You can also ask your doctor to contact the agency, or you can find out about the rules in your state by contacting the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse (NAIC).

One indirect way to convey medical information is by writing a letter and placing it in your child ‘s file. Keep in mind, however, that your child is likely to see this letter only if he or she tries to search for you, so it may not be the best way to communicate important or time-sensitive information.

Some birth parents opt to search for their child. If you choose to do this, be honest with yourself about your reasons for doing so. Is it solely to pass on genetic information? Or are you looking for a relationship with your child? In the first scenario, you may choose to have a search consultant help you in your quest.

If you do find your child, you can decide not to make contact, or you can get in touch with the adoptive parents to see about arranging contact. These situations can have positive or negative outcomes, and birth parents should be prepared for both.


Randall, M.C. (2000). Birthparents and genetic information. Retrieved November 29, 2008, from the GeneticHealth Web site:

Randall, M.C. (2004). Should you search for your birth child? Retrieved November 29, 2008, from the DNA Direct Web site:

State of Connecticut. (2008). Bureau of adoption and interstate compact services: Adult adoption search. Retrieved November 29, 2008, from the State of Connecticut ‘s Web site: