The Dreaded Question: What Is Your Family Medical History?

2

My interest in finding my roots started early. In fact, I have been trying to find information about my biological parents since I was in middle school.

I had adopted friends who’d found their birth parents and I was happy for them, but I was upset about my own missing information at the same time. When I turned 18, I called the adoption agency that I had been adopted from to ask for information on my birth parents, but I was told that they could only send me the non-identifying facts. It took 11 long years of my persistent emails and calls to receive it.

To finally know something as simple as what time of day I was born was amazing! The information also included my parent’s height and weight measurements, and the fact that my bio-mom was 16 years old when she had had me. That helped me understand why she did not keep me. Both of my parents were from religious families, but different denominations. My mom’s biological father was unknown to her, which makes me wonder if she ever felt or feels the way that I do.

Agency workers claimed they had no accompanying family medical history for me, but that they would let me know when my biological mom contacted them with any updates. I let them know that I was not going to give up.

When I asked if there was anything else that I could do to uncover my family medical history—they told me they would notify me when my biological mother died. What a cold response. I hung up the phone and cried. This felt like a personal attack and reminded me of the awful remarks people used to make to me while I was growing up. Some called me “adopted trash.” It sucks knowing that some people just don’t care. I had reached another dead end—back to square one. Still, I took in a deep breath and decided to keep trying.

I wondered why someone from the agency couldn’t just ask my mother if she wanted to meet me, or say, “Hey, the child you gave up is going through a lot of health issues right now. Any information you could give us would greatly help her. It could also potentially help her children.” After adoptions were made final, did the agency really no longer care about those babies and moms who were in their care?

I made the decision to contact some people who had stayed at the same maternity home as my mother. They described it as a horrible place—the agency had lost many records and the state of Texas had even closed it for awhile. It later reopened, but it was said to have never really improved. I hope the agency and home is better now.

The family that raised me since I was a baby had always told me I was adopted. As soon as I wanted to find out about my biological family, though — like who I might look and act like, and where I had come from — it was game over. I was told that they were probably dead. And now the only parents I’d ever known didn’t want me around; they were very hurt and mad at me.

It meant nothing to them when I explained that they were the only family I had ever considered to be my family. Eventually, they started to push me away, only to officially kick me out of the house when I was 17.

I have had some hard times since then, including two abusive marriages, being sexually assaulted, and abducted by a trucker for months. I was young, vulnerable, and had no idea who to trust in the world—I found myself in terrible situations.

I do not talk to my adoptive family anymore, though I have tried to get back in touch to offer an apology. It seems I am not good enough for them, so I have moved on. Today, God has blessed me with an amazing and extremely patient husband, and I have beautiful kids.

I now wish to give my children as much information as I can about our side of the family and me, including our medical history.

I have ongoing health issues. I see doctor after doctor trying to sort them out, and each time, I am asked the same thing: “What is your family medical history?” I answer, “I was adopted and I don’t know anything.” They look at me as though they don’t know where to start with the medical testing. Sometimes they even ask: “Is there is any way you can find your family history?” And I always reply, “I desperately want to know and hope to some day.”

Now, as I wait to have dangerous medical procedures performed, I wonder why my petition did not make it through the court system to open my adoption records and provide me with the medical answers I need. Isn’t my life and the health of my kids important and valued? Many of my conditions are genetic. I believe that the mystery illness I am struggling with now, which doctors are stumped over, is genetic as well.

Every year, I write to the congressmen and governor of Texas asking them to help the adoptees with sealed records get the answers they need. Knowing if your biological family has a history of cancer or other medical issues can save your life. Also, knowing who you are and where you come from, I believe, is everyone’s right.

Even if a biological parent never wants to meet his or her relinquished child, I think agencies should have mediators who work with families and adopted people to provide more answers for them. For those parents who do want to meet, let them. There are ways to help everyone and heal the hurt. Many agencies and states provide this basic human right – why not Texas? Why not every state?

For some of us, our lives depend on it.

Thanks for visiting our online community. In addition to stories like this one, you can find valuable resources, discover your rights to your original birth certificate, meet other adoptees, and join the discussion by commenting (below) or on our Facebook page.

Subscribe to our blog to receive more adoptee tales, and consider adding your voice to our Secret Sons & Daughters collection. 

image_pdf

About the author

Shaye Woolard

Shaye is a wandering adult adoptee, but who is now blessed with a family of her own. Having to deal with multiple health issues, she hates hearing the repetitive question: What is your family medical history? She feels like she is cheating her kids out of knowing where they come from, and she wishes she knew the same. Shaye was adopted in April of 1985 from Smithlawn Adoption Agency in Lubbock, Texas.

2 Responses

  1. Claudette

    I have been in reunion now with my sister lost to adoption about 4 years now. I think one of the most positive moments was after she went to the doctor and she said for the first time she was able to fill out a medical history form. For us that are not adopted, I think in many ways that is something that we take for granted. For my sister to know that, for example, breast cancer was not hereditary was a huge issue. The “unknown” is not fair and if anything I can say is extremely positive about our reunion it is that she now has an extremely accurate med history. I wish that she was not so fearful of her a-parents “finding out” that I found her. I hate secrets and lies. I hate the fact that I have missed 40+years of having a sister in my life. I grieve every day knowing that things will never be the way they should be!!!

    Reply
  2. Linda Hacker

    I’m a Birthmother and I totally agree.
    Non identifying info is dated at best.
    There has got to be a way for adoptees to get info they need.
    As it turns out I was fortunate to find my daughter and that was one of her first questions and statement to me…. If nothing else please give me any current health issues ! I do wish they would do something!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tags