Did you share your family medical history at the table this Thanksgiving?
After learning I was adopted I found a public service link in an email sent by Web MD about National Family History Day. It explained how the Surgeon General officially declared Thanksgiving a day of sharing medical history.
"Creating a health record will make it easier for every family member to preserve his or her health," the Acting Surgeon General said. Here's the press release from 2007.
Many health organizations agree and even my family doctor mentioned the importance of knowing genetic dispositions for diseases. There's even a YOUTUBE video.
Since 2008, I've somewhat let go of National Family History Day. It was nothing less than cruel that my mother lead me to believe that I shared her (and my father's) family medical history. In my extended family, the lie, the deception is absolutely never brought up. The birth family I've come to know is never discussed, it's as if they were never found. And, my medical history being different from my brothers has been long forgotten.
For some time now I've needed to go to the doctor for the basics (annual women stuff) and asthma check up/med refill. You would have thought I had no insurance or was stricken with Iatrophobia. (There's a phobia for everything, even fear of doctors.) I put it off so many times it got to be funny, and then odd, and finally puzzling.
"What are you afraid of?" My husband asked while I was "borrowing" med's from my son.
After being defensive and angry that he hadn't encouraged me or reminded me to go to the doctor, which must equate he doesn't care enough about me, I finally called and made an appointment. In the quiet spaces I knew I was veering way off course, but I really wasn't sure why.
While driving to the doctors office this morning I thought what am I afraid of... and I came up with nothing.
I sat in the waiting room reading about the history of Arizona in a magazine. A sweet women stricken with osteoporosis sat next to me. She got up, bent over to about her waist level while she shuffled to the magazines that lay on the side table next to me. We chatted about the Cosmo quiz described on the cover and how she wasn't about to work on her sex life, much less "kick it up a notch."
We laughed and she leaned over and touched my hand and said, "Lovely to laugh with you dear, I'm quite nervous."
Suddenly an arctic chill rushed in, all the reasons for the delay, the thing I was indeed afraid of was simply... remembering. Her soft touch shot through me, instantly I thought of my mother and was frozen in the memory of what she did.
My mom, who I dearly loved, cared for at the end of her life, and sat with while she took her last breath- lied to me my whole life.
I've thought of the reasons she may have had to keep my adoption a secret, but the number one reason to tell me was so I could know my medical history. She put my life at risk by keeping the secret. I've dealt with so much; I'm not mad or angry, actually I have forgiven her actions and released them because they aren't mine to own. I've given them to God, it's between Him and my mother. However, when I'm faced with the recollection of her choice my heart feels the damage from three years ago.
My birth mother, like many I know, ultimately let go of their infants because they were doing what they felt was best for their child. My adoptive mother sadly did not do what was in my best interest. Seriously, which one was the harder choice? (I ask rhetorically.) One grew from love, the other out of selfishness.
Being honest about the beginning of ones life is paramount. When you don't tell a child of their beginning it's deceptive and harmful to them and your relationship. When you don't tell an adult of their beginning and that they are using the wrong medical information its dismissive of their health and well being. It's reckless.
If you're an adoptive parent keeping a secret, it's never too late, do what's best for your child whatever their age. As we near Christmas, the gift of family history and concern for your child's health and well being could be the most treasured gift of all.
Everyone wants to know thier begining and their medical history. It's a human right.