Category Archives: Politics

Angelina Jolie had Mastectomy to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

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.

Advertisements

Unsealing Original Birth Certificates

Sometimes I wish I was running for president and, by law, had to produce my original birth certificate. Because now, I can’t. My records are sealed. The date stamped on the New Jersey birth certificate I have is thirteen months after my date of birth. I wonder what happened during that time. And what about the nine months before my birth. Don’t I have a right to know about my own birth? It’s my story.

It breaks my heart to see so many faces of adoptees and birth moms posting their birth dates on Facebook, like families searching for survivors after 9/11 or a devastating hurricane, hoping to find some family member who will recognize them. Who will know their story. Know who they are. Where they came from. Will want to meet them. Hug them. Tell them they were loved. They weren’t a mistake. They were a blessing. Maybe for another family, but a blessing non-the-less.

Wanting to know about our origins does not diminish our love for our adoptive family. The family who raised us. But no one should be denied the opportunity to know everything about themselves.

Hereditary illnesses. Genetic defects. Cancer. Heart attacks. Diabetes. Conditions passed on from one generation to the next. Those unwanted gifts from blood relatives. The questions on every medical questionnaire at every doctor’s office. I don’t know why there isn’t a place to check: adopted, history doesn’t apply.

Sealed records are not fair to the millions of adoptees searching for any information about their past or for the birth moms who want to find the children who’s birthdays they’ve remembered in silence every year. What can we do? I’m not sure. I’d personally like to take this to the Supreme Court. Realistically, I can’t do that alone.

Write to me. Comment. Tell me your feelings. Why you want to know about your origins. Why you would like to have your original birth certificate unsealed. Maybe together we can make a difference.

How to Get Published

If you were an actor
A star on TV
Or movies or films
Or videos you see.

Your words would be quoted
Your photos displayed
Your scent set in perfume
They’d publish your play.

They’d market your book
Your poems and your thoughts
If your name was famous
Your work would be bought.

Just say you’re a Kardashian
Or Hilton already
Or Clinton or Streisand
Or even a Getty.

Your words would get noticed
You’d sure get a bump.
If you were a Seinfeld,
A Bloomberg or Trump.

Or Rowling or Baldwin,
Obama or Carter
A Kennedy, a Kotb
Or famous globe trotter.

It’s not all about
The writing you do
It’s just who you are
The name you’re born to.

Still, never give up
Write every day
When you become famous
They’ll hear what you say.

Why Romney Never had a Chance

I figured it out. 
It took quite a while. 
It was more than his words
It was the tone of his smile. 

Rather than glisten
With childlike glee
His eyes revealed pain
When they should have crinkled 
You see. 

Eyes tell the story
Far more than words. 
His eyes remained steadfast
Defying his blurbs. 

While his lips turned upwards
Portraying joke or joy
His brow-line remained planted
As if disdain was his ploy. 

Only once did I detect 
A twinkle of joy
On the occasion of loving
His wife, grandchild or boys.  
Aside

My two adult step children visited this past weekend when they were in town for a family wedding. We had just finished a late dinner. After clearing the dishes from the table, it was gift time. I returned to my … Continue reading

When Wall Street Hit Home

I found little pleasure reading the headline news announcing the bank I had worked for had failed. Before I resigned due to my husband’s job transfer, I was extremely depressed going to work each day. I still recall the evening news reporting the country’s outrage over Wall Street bankers raking in billions in bonuses. As Goldman Sach’s executives received nine million dollars and AIG bonuses hit the million dollar mark, I sat in dead silence as employees in our mortgage department read their email saying there would be no raise or bonuses this year. Salaries were being cut. I couldn’t wait to leave.

On my last day of work, leaving the building was surreal. I felt like I was walking down death row passing other inmates on my way to an execution. Sadly, most of the cubes were empty. Amid the hum of computers, occasional flutter of files, rattling of papers, it was the sound of quiet that overwhelmed me the most as I strolled through aisles that used to be packed with employees.  Hit hard by the economic downturn, the remaining shell of a company barely resembled the vibrant business that existed a few short years before. Prior to the recession, you couldn’t navigate the cubicle maze without bumping into someone sprinting to answer an important call or snatch a fax from the machine to make sure it didn’t get buried. Phones rang off their hooks as brokers, bankers, lawyers, appraisers, demanded immediate attention. Keeping the process going, we helped turn the dream of home ownership into a reality. We financed the deal. We were heroes!

No longer offering subprime loans, zero down mortgages, no income verification options; business was down, way down. The fax machines, with their empty trays, sat silent. Broken chairs filled the barren cubes. On my last day I was happy my new manager, who I hadn’t even met yet, was out to lunch as I placed my key card on his desk and slipped out the back door without being noticed. I couldn’t face anyone. At the time I didn’t know which group was worse off, the employees that were let go, with severance and unemployment insurance, or those few remaining souls left to do quadruple the work on less pay.

Although no advance notice is given to the public when a financial institution is being closed, employees saw the writing on the wall. Everyone knew it was just a matter of time before it became a reality. Before I resigned it was depressing for the few remaining employees to walk through the corridors. Once humming with the symphony of voices, phones and faxes, entire blocks of cubicles had become dark, serving as mere repositories for boxes. Those select workers devoted more time to shredding files than servicing loans. Despair reigned as desks were cleared and computers where carted away. Often the only evidence of human existence was the occasional crumbled post it note or dusty coin stuck under a worn out fabric divider.

Reading the newspaper article about the bank’s foreclosure, I tried to imagine how the takeover played out. Picturing Michael Douglas as “Wall Street’s” Gordon Gekko, (I just like to picture Michael Douglas), a bank failing due to greed and corruption was probably not that far off.  Headlines always point out how banks pray on our basic desire to buy more than we can afford. I was remembering how I felt some people should take responsibility for their situation. I saw customers wanting a bigger house, a newer car, even when they were maxed out with bills. Customers used their credit cards to shop, not paying attention to their total balance. Those making only minimum payments didn’t realize that the spontaneous dinner they charged at Red Lobster would never be paid off. But why worry? The envelope next to that credit card bill is for another credit card charging no interest at all for six months! Such a deal! We can charge that 50” flat screen TV. We can buy that new car. Why wait? That house we thought we couldn’t afford? The nice salesman says we can! And not with 20% down. Not with 10% down. Still, today, amid the financial crisis, we can still buy a house for 3% down! What happens when the value of that house drops? What happens when that homeowner loses his job and can’t pay his mortgage?

Today, more people are out of work. Those no longer collecting unemployment insurance are not even counted in the national figures. Banks are charging more fees. Housing is down. People need jobs. Nevertheless I’m still getting inundated with credit card offers in the mail. I can charge more, buy more. I can refinance my mortgage. And, if I’m really lucky, I might have inherited some money from a Nigerian Prince.

My question is: why does Wall Street have so much money it doesn’t know what to do with it? Every time I see the stock market decline I picture the movie Trading Places. I’m sure the real life Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy character stock manipulators are deliberately letting the stock prices drop so they can buy cheap when it hits rock bottom. While the retired are losing their homes, the wealthy “professionals” are profiting from an artificially volatile market.

And what about those job creators? Why haven’t they created jobs with all their money? If I had an extra $20,000 to throw around I’d add a deck on my house. That would create a few jobs.

I’d like suggestions for what can we do to make a difference. What can I do? What about if all those protestors each bought a sandwich from a small vendor?