No one has a right to someone else’s medical history. Experienced adoptee rights advocates do not use “need for family medical history” as a reason to restore adoptee rights to OBC and records access. Though medical histories are a genuine need for some, that argument can be twisted around and worked against us if some bright bulb politician decides that a solution to our sealed records “problem” is a state-created procedure to let biological parents voluntarily and anonymously submit medical histories to the state while keeping our records sealed and our civil rights in abeyance.
The truth is that until recently family medical histories in cases of adoption were very superficial and pretty useless. Many still are. But the truth also is that the lack of those histories is a huge gripe and often a problem for adopted people. While adoptee rights advocates do not use the medical history argument, we certainly don’t ridicule, mock, or shout down adoptees who need or want that information. It’s a reasonable, not weird request for the adopted and Not Adopted. The AMA makes a big deal of it.
No one opposes family medical histories except Monica Kelsey, founder and CEO of Safe Haven Baby Boxes, Inc., who finds them unnecessary since she says, she’s adopted and never needed one. Well, give that girl a puppy!
Every time the lack of family medical histories for boxed babies rears its head, she gets antsy and comes up with something like “the baby will just be happy to be alive,” followed by a mandatory snark at the questioner. Believe it or not, nearly 25 years ago when Ohio’s traditional Safe Haven bill was heard in the House Judiciary Committee, the now-notorious Jim Jordan asked the same question. I was there. Later, he was one of three House members who voted against the bill, in part due to his family medical history concern. It’s a shame Mrs. Kelsey wasn’t there to lecture him on his nonsense.
Judging from one of Mrs. Kelsey’s recent TikTok performance pieces, she continues to be offended by the idea that some misguided souls believe that family medical histories are helpful—and she got some pushback from otherwise fans who have actually needed family medical histories due to difficult-to-diagnose conditions in themselves or their children. Importantly, during the process of rebuke, Mrs. Kelsey showed how her own narcissism creates bad public policy for the rest of us: aka If I don’t need it, neither do you.
I’m having trouble posting the TikTok, but here’s the link.
Here’s the transcript:
As a child who was abandoned as an infant, later adopted—not one time I have ever needed my medical information or my medical history. When I go to the doctor, and I check that box that says “adopted,” they run more tests on me because they don’t have a starting point. I actually have an advantage to not knowing my medical information. So this is false. Absolutely false. You’re using this to turn this into your narrative.
The kicker: Mrs. Kelsey probably possesses a family medical history.
At the age of 37, Mrs. Kelsey located her birthmother in Michigan. They had a close relationship. She was with her birthmother when she died. She has relationships with other members of her maternal biological family, and one is part of her SHBB Inc team. All of this information and more is covered in various essays and articles published over the last ten years and easily available online. See: From my first breath to her last, published in her blog; and her autobiography, Blessed to Have been Abandoned (Chapters 3 and 4). I highly recommend the book to anyone interested in the psychology and agenda behind SHBB Inc.
It is inconceivable to me that at some point Mrs. Kelsey’s family medical history didn’t come up. Even people who have no formal medical history, and lived with their biological families know, simply by observation, if breast or prostate cancer, heart disease, kidney stones, or bipolar disorder run in the family. More to the point, Mrs. Kelsey reports that she meticulously researched her birthmother’s rape/conception story through public and private records, so she most certainly did not ignore obtaining a maternal medical history.
It appears that even her rapo biological father gave her a medical history.
My birthfather is a rapist, but that does not define who I am, (Live Action, August 11, 2013):
I have been in contact with my birthfather. I asked for his medical history and a DNA test, which he agreed to. When I followed up, he had hired an attorney and had asked me to stay away from him and his family.
Also see: When I confronted my birthfather decades Later here’s what happened, Lifenews.com, December 29, 2015)
I am simply flummoxed by the blatant historical revisionism we now get. Are we all supposed to be as ahistorical or unhistorical as the babies in the boxes? Apparently, what’s good for the goose is not good for the rest of us or the babies that Mrs. Kelsey is so eager to save.
While I’m at it . . . what medical provider has a checkbox on their intake form asking if the patient is adopted? I’ve never seen one. I asked around and nobody else has seen one either. Or even been asked if they’re adopted. Here are sample intake forms for new patients from the Mayo Clinic and my own cardiologist, neither of which give a cat’s meow if you are adopted.
About all those extra tests? This is the United States, not Denmark or Finland. Who pays for them?
Perhaps as a US Navy vet, Mrs. Kelsey gets A-1 “socialized” medical services from the VA and scads of free medical tests for the asking that the rest of us don’t. Or maybe they’re part of the Woodburn Volunteer Fire Department’s retirement plan. It’s not like there is one test that will determine markers for everything. Tests are specific. A Huntington’s Disease test won’t tell you about colon cancer. There are literally hundreds—probably thousands—of genetic tests available if you can pay for them–or if some low-paid functionary in an insurance company cubical across the country decides that you are high enough on their food chain to get them done. Doctors hire teams of employees to do nothing but hack their way through insurance negotiations and the patient usually loses The news and social media are full of people who can’t get life-saving treatment because . . . well, just because. I’d love to hear Mrs Kelsey explain how this advantages anyone.
In her recent blog, I’m a Christian Pro-Life Adoptee and I Don’t Like the Baby Box. Here’s Why Dr Deanna Shrodes recalls her experience 20 years ago with genetic testing:
When I was in my thirties, one of my doctors suggested taking some DNA-related tests to check for things like the BRCA gene. For some peace of mind, I agreed to do it and swallowed hard when I realized that the testing would be approximately $2,000 for all of the tests combined although they still didn’t cover everything genetically. We really didn’t have a few thousand dollars to spend on DNA testing to find out what might run in my family that I didn’t know about, but I was so desperate for insight on these issues that I went ahead with the tests.
Most of us don’t have thousands of dollars sitting around waiting to be transferred into a doctor’s bank account because we might come down with XYZ disease. Mrs. Kelsey’s refusal to acknowledge this, or even know it (which I doubt), suggests ignorance and arrogance about how people live outside of her rose-colored bubble. Perhaps it’s a strategy to convince potential parent-clients as well as politicians, funders, and the public at large that “total parental anonymity” is OK and family medical history isn’t important. After all, she didn’t need one, did she?
Just for Fun: Real Medical History v SHBB Inc Medical History
Ohio Safe Haven regulations require that a surrendering parent be offered a family medical history form designed by the Department of Jobs and Family Services that they can fill out at the location or mail in later, though they are not required to do so. Here it is:
Here is a very dissimilar Safe Haven Baby Boxes Inc “registration form” designed by SHBB Inc with a “medical information” section. The form is included in the organization’s famous orange bag found at box locations. Again—not required. And NO! This is not a joke.
It’s the bad attitude
The last sentence of Mrs. Kelsey’s TikTok and the arrogance it exemplifies grinds my gears:
You’re using this to turn this into your narrative
If anyone is turning discarded babies into their own narrative it’s Mrs. Kelsey imprinting her personal story and opinion on state laws nationwide, while ignoring everyone else. Take a problem as old as time, but practically non-existent in the US; create a moral panic that convinces politicians and the public that there is an epidemic of tossed newborns; and then make these newborn discards about her. She either ignores or pathologizes the very people whom her “solution” impacts—those of us fighting to overturn the secret adoption system and its surrounding shame and stigma; and those children that will be locked into that system’s baby box anonymity. The “you'” she rattles against, of course, are the millions of adopted people whose truth and rights she denies are relevant to her personal experience that’s, in fact, constructed on revisionist history for political gain and public entertainment, if not remuneration.
A family medical history is a nice thing to have, but as I said upfront, it’s not a “right.” It’s the white lies, the prevarication, the embroidery, the arrogance and contempt—Mrs.Kelsey’s attitude towards the family medical question—that is the problem.” Her response to the relatively soft medical history concern exemplifies her prediculous contempt and adopteephobic attitude toward us. Our horribly complex and varied adoptive experiences, rooted in class, race, economics, misogny, religion and culture, are too complicated and unpopular to be contained in her ego-driven babybox narrative. They and we best be marginalized and avoided. And hey! Maybe scapegoated!
“Because I don’t need one, neither do you,” (which doesn’t seem exactly true) comes from a place of social and economic privilege reeking of white saviorism. Why is public policy being created on privilege, anecdotes, and narcissism? The whole thing reminds me of the low-paid cubicle-sitter at the insurance company doling out treatment and payment authorizations by whim.
P J Zaebst says
Please publish this aRticle as widely as possible!
Knowing one’s medical history is one of a large number of reasons to find one’s birth family. Ms. Kelsey sounds like an example of the dog in the manger. I found out my information, but you, lowly abandoned adoptee, are not worthy of having yours. Can she not see, much less acknowledge, the overt hypocrisy?
Marley Greiner says
Thanks, Pam. It’s the utter hypocrisy that gets me–about everything connected with baby boxes. The movement has “nothing to do” with abortion, for instance, when Kelsey, Stenzel and other people involved have a long history of anti-abortion work, and their deep connection to Indiana RTL affiliates is seldom mentioned by them, but at the same time they call themselves the generic”pro-life ministry.” There are holes and contradictions in stories and weird uses of language. Why no mention that the State of Indiana allocated $1 million a few months ago to help towns pay for boxes? (I don’t think it’s been implemented yet). Why not just say what you are up front?
You are such an excellent writer–thanks for making the utter rightness of your position (and the wrongness of Kelsey, et al.’s position) so very clear.
Marley Greiner says
Thank you so much! I have no idea why people don’t question this outside of fear of being bullied and labeled a “baby killer.” The press is just impossible. Seldom a serious question. Adopted people/activists and adoption reformers are just about the only people who criticize and we’re ignored. The adopted just don’t count. We’ve been called l”satanic” for objecting!