Adoption Advocacy: Health History Forms

My kids, three of whom were adopted, have already returned to school or are getting ready to go back. My kids range from the ages of nine to eighteen. In preparation for the coming school year my kids had their annual physicals last month. The purpose of the physicals was threefold: to bring vaccinations up to date; track and access their individual growth and development; and, for two of my middle-schoolers, to satisfy the requirement mandated by the state’s athletic governing body for participation in sports.

My pediatrician had to fill out his section of the form and sign it, attesting that each child was “cleared” to participate in sports. As parent I also had to complete two additional pages of questions, which was fine, until I realized there was no consideration for adoption anywhere within the two pages. Several parts of the form inquired about family history, about information we don’t and will never have. There was no area to address the aspect of adoption (There was on my oldest child’s college health forms, albeit not correct wording, which I addressed), so I did my best, drawing a nice large “X” throughout those sections and adding my own terminology.

Now parents, you may shake your heads and wonder, “Why not just answer the questions according to ‘our’ family history?“ In this case, “our” refers to biological health history. Your health history does not include your child(ren) you have adopted. Answering the questions as such ignores your child’s birth history, which is wrong, and unhelpful medically. Avoidance of correcting the forms might trigger your child into feelings of shame and self-esteem issues, especially as they become older and are more aware of what is going on around them and witness how you deal with and respond to adoption. If you do have your child’s health history, then include it, but still make sure that somewhere on the form you have clarified that your child was adopted.

Advocacy is part of the adoption landscape. Education of others—doctors, teachers, other parents, etc.—often falls to adoptive parents. Don’t accept the forms if they do not address adoption. Your child has a birth history and whether you know all, parts of , or none of it, your job is to make sure that the information reflects who your child is and that those who are asking come to understand that adoption should be acknowledged in a respectful way.

MLJ Adoptions is a Non-Profit, Hague-Accredited adoption service provider located in Indianapolis, Indiana, working in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Pacific Isles. We are passionate about serving children in need.