A recent trip to a pediatrician’s office for a routine check up for my now second grader prompted a familiar question.
“What do you know about your daughter’s birth parents?“
Any information I have will be shared with my daughter according to her best interests and already has been to a certain extent, but suffice to say, it’s limited.
A minor symptom can prompt a doctor to speculate something that sounds to me like, “It could be a pimple, OR, it could be a rare, potentially fatal disease because…”
Here it comes.
“… we really don’t know without the birth history.”
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard a health care professional reiterate those stinging words, I’d be able to retire early. While it’s always said with good intentions, it’s a jabbing reminder of one of my downfalls as an adoptive parent; one I have no control over, but something I’m lacking in nonetheless.
To be clear, I do have medical records charting her early years in an orphanage in India. But what I don’t have is the medical history of her birth parents.
This is something to ponder during the adoption process. In my experience, adoption agencies tout the obvious benefits of having that information when they champion open, domestic adoptions; i.e., an adoption that takes places here in the United States (domestic) and includes some on-going contact, to varying degrees, between the birth parents and the adopted child in his or her new home (open). In contrast, a closed adoption does not include continued contact after the adoption is finalized.
There’s been growing interest in modern society in tracing our ancestry. This translates into DNA web sites and in adoption circles, there are more social media outlets to reconnect adoptees with long lost birth parents. It seems everyone wants to know their history.
When those connections are made and it’s rewarding for all parties, that’s fantastic.
It’s not unusual for parents in international adoptions to have zero information about their child’s background.
And you know what, that’s ok too.
That’s not to say I’m shrugging off the value of medical history. On the contrary, of course I’d welcome whatever information available that can contribute to a child’s upbringing. But I’ve learned NOT having that background doesn’t take as big a toll on parenting as you might imagine.
I have been to several pediatricians for various reasons in recent years. I’m fortunate that my daughter is healthy overall and like any parent, I pray that continues.
The more I hear it, the more the line, “we really don’t know without the birth history” loses impact on me. Of course in response to certain symptoms, it’s an entirely valid concern. In other cases, I’m on guard that it could be an easy excuse to rack up insurance bills on genetic testing that may or may not be necessary.
I entered into this process fully aware of how unaware I would be in the years to follow. While I’m curious about her birth parents, I feel confident my ignorance in this area doesn’t really make a difference in terms of how I parent.
The past doesn’t always dictate the future. The truth is, NO parent knows what’s in store for their child. When it comes to health, wealth, employment, relationships, etc., even birth history only gets you so far.
If I knew, for instance, that she had a tall birth mom with diabetes and a birth dad who was athletic and good at math, but suffered from allergies, would it change anything? Not at all.
In response to any illness, I will always get my daughter the best medical care I can provide as it’s needed. Whether you birthed your child, adopted him or her knowing birth history or entered into a blind adoption, you would do the same.
As I write this, my little angel is strumming her new guitar. She flips back and forth between the two songs she knows the words to: “Let It Go” and “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Never mind, that Christmas is months away. Never mind, that it sounds like, well, a seven year old who picked up a guitar for the first time.
I’m not thinking about whether she comes from a musically-inclined birth line, instead I’m thinking it may be time for guitar lessons.
Regardless of what I DON’T know, I watch in awe as she grows and blossoms into the darling young lady that she is, with little thought to her genetics.
Maybe the reason her past is seemingly insignificant is because I feel in large part, both of our lives truly started when we came together.
This is what I DO know about her birth parents:
I know she was loved enough that they wanted her to have an opportunity at a better life.
I’ve read varying estimates that range between two million and 18 million homeless children in India. These are not the ones in orphanages, but rather street kids who wander around and are easy prey for pimps and all kinds of criminals. Wrap your mind around that.
Millions of children.
My daughter’s birth parents are to be applauded for making an incredible sacrifice. They wanted to guarantee her a shot at a better life, even if it meant giving her up.
Isn’t that the most important thing to know?