Incorrect Medical Information Given to My Adoptive Parents in 1956

Lorraine Dusky’s post

“Who serves ‘Adoptees’ Best Interests’?”

spurred me to write this in response:

When my adoptive parents “got me” in 1956, my natural father told them that my mother died less than a month previously from uterine cancer. Because of this, as a teenager, I had twice yearly PAP tests, looking for uterine cancer.

I was reunited with my father and siblings and extended family (natural mother’s family) in 1974. No one talked about health issues. They were too busy comparing me to the others as to who I looked like, who I sounded like. Meanwhile, my father handed me my mother’s death certificate. Cause of death: cancer of the kidney.

My grieving father had given the wrong cause of death to my adoptive parents (I do not blame him in any way – he had just lost his wife of ten years and the mother of their five children). They (my adoptive parents) in turn, gave me the wrong information. I, in turn, had been tested for the wrong medical problem.

In college in the 70s, I developed very frequent bladder and kidney infections. I asked my gynecologist if it was possible that these were indications of cancer. That is why we petitioned the hospital for my mother’s records, and mine, at my birth and during the three months prior to her death. To my relief, no, my bladder and kidney problems were due to stress and not inherited tendency to cancer.

My full blood siblings, however, drilled it into me that I “did not have my facts straight”. They told me off, saying that Mom died of cancer of the uterus and that I was lying. Apparently, our grieving father had told them that our mother died of uterine cancer.


Apparently he had never given them our mother’s death certificate.
Additionally, the judge who presided over my adoption never bothered to ask my father for my mother’s death certificate. This was in 1956, a time when society believed that babies were “blank slates”. Environment meant more than biology.

My father was not required to fill out medical history forms during the months before my adoption became final. Nothing was mentioned about his medical history, nor of his parents, cousins, aunts and uncles. My father was not required to provide any medical history of his deceased wife’s family. My father finally told me in 2003 what his parents died of a few years after he relinquished me. His father had gangrene in his leg. His mother died of colon cancer.

Health care is vital. We adoptees need to know the truth.