Like many adoptees who search for their origins, my mom told me that she needed to know her medical history in order for a mysterious condition to be diagnosed. She was rejected by the state of Tennessee when she tried but learned her mother was dead – which devastated her. This spoke to me that there was more to her yearning than knowing what this condition was. In fact, at some point, she said to me “As a mother, I would want to know what became of my child.” The state could not determine if her father was alive or not and that was their excuse for denying her. He was 20 years older than my grandmother, so my mom was pretty certain that he was also dead. It turns out, she was correct, he had been dead for 30 years at the time of her inquiry.
She was eventually diagnosed as having Vestibular Migraines. She said it was possible that it could be genetic. She described it as a feeling that if you were leaning against a wall somehow the wall support is not there. Like whatever holds you upright disappears and that it is a balance problem that causes dizziness. Fortunately, I do not seem to have inherited it though I occasionally experience what my Ophthalmologist has said are Ocular Migraines.
One problem adoptees face, if not even told they were adopted, is medical history information that isn’t actually theirs. We knew both of my parents were adopted but I only knew THEIR medical history, which was at least “something” but nothing about their parents, because they died knowing next of nothing about their own original parents.
Once I learned who all 4 of my original grandparents were and something about their causes of death (for most of them, at least) or related health issues (my paternal grandmother had some breast cancer removed but died of a heart failure), the importance of caring for my heart is clear (my mom died of a massive heart attack in her Jacuzzi tub – my dad’s heart appears to have simply stopped and he stopped breathing, no one knows which came first) .
My paternal grandmother’s breast cancer might be related to the smidgeon of Ashkenazi Jew my DNA revealed and the mammogram technician told me it matters, even though small, and to keep getting scans.
It isn’t right for adoptees to have to make crucial decisions for themselves affected by a lack of factual information.