Hollywood star Angelina Jolie announced to the world that she had a double mastectomy to reduce her chances of getting breast cancer. She says she hopes her story will inspire other women fighting the life-threatening disease.
Jolie wrote in the New York Times on Tuesday the operation had made it easier for her to reassure her six children that she will not die young from cancer, like her own mother did at 56.
“Like her own mother did.”
Jolie, for whom money is no object, chose to pay the $3,000 to be tested to see if she carried the faulty gene which would put her at a higher risk for both breast and ovarian cancer.
When she tested positive, Jolie said her doctors had estimated she had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer. “Once I knew this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much as I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy,” she said.
As an adoptee, when I go to my doctor and I’m questioned about my family medical history, all I can answer is, “I’m adopted. I don’t know.” For millions of adoptees like me with no medical information, we are at a loss. We don’t know if we are at risk for breast cancer. We don’t know if we should spend $3,000 to see if we carry the faulty gene. We don’t know if we are at risk for heart disease, or diabetes. We just don’t know.
When will adoptees finally be able to get access to their family history, their medical backgrounds, and other vital life-saving information? When will all adoptees be able to have access to their original birth certificates which most likely hold clues to information that could save their lives and the lives of future generations? When will the Federal Government step up to the plate and unseal the birth certificates of all adoptees rather than leave that determination to individual states? I was born in New Jersey. Governor Christie vetoed a ruling that would have allowed adoptees to get their birth certificates saying changes were needed “to avoid any unwanted breaches of privacy, and the potential chilling effect on adoptions.”
What chilling effects? From reading many letters from birth mothers, they want to know that the child they gave birth to is healthy and happy. Many women who gave birth before adoptions were legal also fought to pass the bill saying the adoption agencies never promised confidentiality. If Governor Christie won’t unseal my birth certificate my only other hope is to wait for the Federal Government to unseal my birth certificate.
But I’m tired of waiting. Everyone involved in my adoption has passed away. Will I have to wait until I’m buried to obtain my original birth certificate?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.