I donít know my family health history
because I was adopted, what can I do?
If you are adopted, ask your adoptive parents if they
received any medical information about your biological parents at the time of
your adoption. They may be able to provide you with more information about your
You can also contact the adoption agency to request the medical records of your biological parents [Note: Not all adoption agencies collect medical information on birth relatives; this is becoming more common but is not routine. Laws concerning collection of information vary by state. Contact the health and social service agency in your state for information on how to access medical or legal records.]. If the adoption agency has current contact information for your biological parents, they may allow you to contact them directly or
they may contact them to obtain family health history information on your
behalf. If you were adopted through an open adoption process, you may be able to
discuss your family's medical history directly with members of your biological
It is important to remember that your genetic makeup is not the only factor determining your health outcome. An individual's health is largely affected by lifestyle and environment as well, so you must also pay attention to your adopted family's habits, environment, and lifestyle (for example, their diet and level of physical activity).
If you are adopted, start your family health history with you. Then you can pass your family health history information on to future generations.
The National Adoption Clearinghouse
Offers information on adoption and is a helpful resource for those who would like to learn how to search for/obtain information on their birth parents' medical and genetic family health history.
About.com: "Recording Your Family Medical History - an Important Medical Record"
This Web page provides information about how to collect family health history information if you were adopted, and it also contains links to helpful online tools and resources. Please see the following article on "Adoptees and Genetic Information" for more detailed information on this topic.
The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG)
- Brochure: "How Lifestyle Impacts Your Health" - This illustrated brochure describes how certain lifestyle behaviors can be beneficial or harmful to your health. It identifies and gives examples of types of health behaviors that can increase or decrease disease risk.
CDC National Office of Public Health Genomics (NOPHG)