Genetic testing of children in the foster care and pre-adoptive stage may be thought to facilitate child placement and satisfy prospective parents’ need to know. But, the policy analysis in this paper recommends great caution, especially given eugenic attitudes in the history of adoption and the risk of creating a second tier of un-adoptable children. Testing should be done only when two conditions are satisfied: test information is medically useful for childhood onset diseases; test information supports and does not diminish the child’s access to present and future healthcare (or the child’s future insurability). Public policy needs to make a continual re-evaluation of balance of risks and benefits of genetic testing for this vulnerable population. Medical use of genetic information will change in the fast-approaching genetic era.



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