It's My Right

I was born on March 20, 1983 in a tourist trap of a town in southern New Jersey. I don't know if I was born during the night or day, I don't know if my mother had an epidural, I don't know if she was alone.

I don't know if she ever held me, or even looked at me.

I do know that I went to the NICU for a week, and then "home" to my foster parents. They cared for me for the first six months of my life. I was not the healthiest of babies, it seems my mother made some not so great choices during her pregnancy and I paid for them early in my life. Luckily, nothing was long lasting, and by the time I was one I had caught up to other little ones my age.

My adoptive parents knew from the time I was a newborn that I was to become part of their family. The paperwork was complete by the time I was three months old, but due to some health concerns the state was not willing to release me into their care as I would be moving 3 hours away from the Doctors who had been treating me since birth. So I stayed.

My Mom kept in contact with my foster parents during my childhood, I would periodically go visit them and always LOVED it there. My foster sister is only a year or so older than me and we always had a ton of fun. I always knew I was adopted. I don't recall a conversation that involved me being told...it just was.

Being adopted has always been a major part of what makes up me, even at a young age I was so acutely aware of it. In first grade I remember making family trees in class. All the other kids were furiously writing away on their construction paper, chatting with each other about siblings and grandparents. I sat, pencil in hand with my paper blank. Teacher came over "Allison, why aren't you making your family tree?" I chewed on my bottom lip, a habit that I still have. "I can't, it will be a lie and I'm not allowed to lie."

As a six year old I had no real grasp of what being adopted was going to mean in my life. I just knew my family was different from others. I knew that no one else's brother had dark skin. I knew that my parents weren't my parents in the same way my friend's parents were.

As I got older, I understood more. I understood that my biological mother was very young and unready to raise me. I understood that the decision she made was hard, probably the hardest she ever made. I understood that at some point it would be my choice if I wanted to seek my birth parents out. I've never held any anger for them, only sadness.

Now I'm angry. I'm angry because I've been on a waiting list for THREE years to get non-identifying information. I'm not asking for names, I'm not asking for addresses, I'm not asking for ways to contact them.

I'm asking for my medical records.

Every time I go to the doctor I fill out the little form. Age, birthday, height, weight....family history. I always just write "adopted" next to the box and move on, but my thoughts linger. What am I not getting checked for that I need to be? What kind of genes are in my blood that I have passed on to my boys? I feel like I can't protect them without all the information.

The State of New Jersey disagrees with me, though if I had alot of money they could be made to agree alot faster. I was born just a couple years after all the records became sealed. It is unbelievable the hoops I have been made to jump through, only to end up back at the beginning...usually on hold. The last time the state contacted me, they told me I would have information within three months. Thats was over a year ago. I have not been able to talk to an actual person since then, and all my correspondance is unanswered.

There has been alot of talk lately of people's rights. People have a right to health care. People have a right to breastfeed in public. People have the right to own guns. I have opinions on all of these, none of which I'm going to go into now. The thing that sticks out to me is that in most of these debates people usually take the side of the child.

Children have a right to health care.

Children have the right to be breastfed.

I am the child.

I have a right to my medical records.

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