Health

Finding a Mom Who Had A Baby Changed My Life – and How I Manage My Health Care



When I was a kid, my stepmother told me that I had another pair of parents who lived on a bean tree. My mother tried to plant her own seed in the ground, but a child never grew, so my mom and dad climbed the tree trunk and asked my parents if they could spare a child. “Can I see my bean plant parents?” I asked her. “No,” she replied. “The bean tree was cut down. There is no way for you to reach them.”

As an adopted person, I struggled with a sense of belongingness throughout my childhood and was burdened with the feeling that I was not bound to this earth as an adult. Identify parts of me that are innate, passed down from my biological parents, or learn even more complex behavior related to my identity. Looking in the mirror, I knew I had to be like the parents I started looking for in my early 20s but hit one dead end after another. I was born in the state of New York, where adoption records are sealed, and my adoption is confidential.

Through my research, I learned that my adoption was arranged by a child broker and that much of the information entered on my unidentified birth record was forged. My adoptive mother left when I was 12 years old, and I have a bad relationship with my father, who is not willing to give details about my birth. I connected to adoption boards and built potential family trees with information from third and fourth distant cousins ​​that I matched on Ancestry.

If nothing else, I want to access my medical information. Does my family have a history of heart disease or mental illness? I cannot tell you. Growing up in a dysfunctional family, I developed an anxiety disorder with acute panic attacks, dementia migraines, and complex PTSD. After eight years of being told that painful periods are normal for many women, I was diagnosed with endometriosis in my 20s. During my annual breast exams and OB-GYN appointments , I drew a giant X over the “family history” section of the application forms. Being wary of the increased possibility of any disease is not an option for me.

In 2019, I finally found my biological mother, who lived a subway train away from me during my many years in New York City. I have seven aunts and uncles, most of whom have gray-blue eyes, some with long legs attached to small faces, and all of whom are unpredictably wiggling and kind. . In my 40s, I finally saw my parts reflected back the way I used to see my features in the mirror.

During the first months that followed for me, my mother wrote me a letter detailing our family history. She also had her period as a child (I was 10 years old; my mother was 11 years old) and was diagnosed with endometriosis. The women in our family have thick breasts, and we all have varying degrees of anxiety.

If I had known my mother had endometriosis, I would have had the option of having my fertility investigated in advance. I’ve saved years of begging doctors to admit that I don’t have a low tolerance but am not receiving treatment for a serious chronic illness. I won’t have to silently wonder why my period pain is so debilitating that I can’t walk the block without feeling the sharp knives attacking my lower abdomen. I could have frozen eggs in my 20s and have a chance to become a mother. Endometriosis wasn’t the only culprit that took away my motherhood. The same goes for denying adoptees access to their medical history.

In her letter, my mother wrote about her experience with untreated endometriosis. “I had it, but they didn’t do anything for me. I’m sure it was because I didn’t have health insurance at the time. And that’s what it’s all about. Money, honey. “Even with health insurance, I wasn’t diagnosed with endometriosis until I broke down at work and was taken to the hospital. But she’s still right about the money, honey. Research into women’s illnesses is severely lacking, and women’s pain is often overlooked or misdiagnosed as mental illness.

Psychologists say I developed anxiety as a child to protect myself from trauma. I rarely talk to friends about my anxiety and work through panic attacks, some of which last for days. Today, knowing that I am prone to anxiety, I will calm down. I am also fortunate to have support from family members who go through it too. My aunt Shirley, a holistic healer, reminds me to always be present without neglecting my experience. With knowledge, I feel enormously liberated from the voids that once stood in my way.

Having my medical information not only makes me eligible for an annual breast exam under my insurance, but it also makes it easier for me to access my health care. While I can’t recall the years I’ve spent without that information, I no longer feel inadequate discussing my medical inheritance with doctors.

A year before I found my mother, I wrote a letter supporting a New York State bill that would delete records for adopters. In it, I said, “For once in my life, I want to check something else and not ‘other’ on a form asking for my personal background. I want to write the rest of my story. I want to be able to take precautions with my health based on my family history. I want to know what every other US citizen has a right to know. My adopted siblings fought so hard for our missing pieces. We want and deserve to be whole.”

It may have taken two decades, but I was lucky enough to find my biological mother. I know these are true. We both love vintage clothes and learned to sew at an early age. We are vegetarians who enthusiastically chase butterflies and see rainbows at the end of a rain. I’m still figuring out which parts of me are inherited, but the search for my mother and my medical history is over, and in a sense I’ve been discovered too.

You may be interested in:

I Did A DNA Test To Learn More About My Identity. I gained a father in the process

I’m Pregnant, And I’ll Do It Again In A Heartbeat

Fast facts: What you need to know about genetics and breast cancer risk

What is a home DNA test?

What is endometriosis?

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