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Baby Matters

Branches of Health

March 1st, 2016

By Trent Wilkie

My one and a half-year-old son is the Babe Ruth of slamming his head into things.

Not a day goes by without him getting another bruise, cut, scratch or random indentation into his majestic skull. These encounters with gravity and mass don't bother him; rather, they seem to invigorate him. He mostly laughs the experiences off and then tears across the room looking for another way to give my wife and I a heart attack.

We do our best to protect him from himself. We have, with varying degrees of success, baby proofed our home. But there is something we can't baby proof, his genetics.

I was adopted in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia in 1975 and for all I know about my medical history I could have been born a triplet. I have no idea as to the state of heart disease in my biological family. No inkling of cancer threads. No warning towards Huntington's Disease, or any of those dire afflictions.

Growing up I sometimes fantasized about who my birth parents could be, but mostly, it wasn’t really something I sought. At times it was more of an annoyance. Not the fact that I was adopted, but for the intangibles that come along with it.

For example, when studying family trees in elementary school I got in more than one fight with teachers about how I should be exempt from the task. It was irrelevant to me. My family started with the people who adopted me and, now, continue with my son, my wife and the family I chose.

Also, people would tell me that I look like my brother (who wasn’t adopted) and I would just nod politely and he and I would laugh after the fact. It was weird as I had no blood connection. That was a bit of a bummer. Nobody looked like me except by sheer coincidence.

There was one wonderful moment when I found out that I had a sibling. Rather, she found it out. I was contacted by the Nova Scotia adoption agency several years back. It turns out that I had a sister and she wanted to contact me. We connected. It and she is/was rad. She is a police officer in Nova Scotia. We share the same weird sense of humour. She looks nothing like me, in my opinion. Lucky for her. We are still in contact, but like me, she has never found our birth parents. I hopefully will change all this. Now, onto the medical stuff.

It was weird that I never really cared about my health; in fact, I dodged doctors as much as I could. I only went when I was forced too (getting stitches after playing a game of 'Catch this rock with your face' when I was 8). I have been fairly successful at the medical dodge, but with our little guy making history relevant to me, I've decided to get the works.

Blood work. Needles. Stress tests. 

The blood work discovered a chronic cholesterol problem. When my doctor asked about my family history, and I told him that I didn't know my family medical history, he looked at me like I just blew my nose in his shirt. He was visibly incredulous.

This got me thinking.

With a child, and with possible negative historical medical situations, it is unfair to not give him the best possible chance to be the first person to live to 123 years of age.

This is more difficult than it seems.

From what I understand, a biological parent cannot be contacted unless they want to be. The explanation I was given was, what if they didn't tell anyone about putting a child up for adoption and restarted their life? The introduction of an unwanted child could have drastic negative effects to that person's life. And I sort of understand that. But, not when it comes to affecting the well-being of my child.

So, I set off to find my birth parents (either of them). And that is where I am now.

I have contacted the Nova Scotia Adoption Services and got the ball rolling.

Where I stand right now, this story is a bit of a cliff hanger. The agency will see if my birth mother or father want to be contacted. I’m not sure how they do this, but they put out their feelers. Then I just wait.

To be honest, if neither of them want to be contacted, I will push for at least their medical history. I think it only fair. I mean, I don’t really care about me, but nobody messes with my boy. Except for my boy. And Elizabeth.

Trent Wilkie is a writer/journalist/performer in Edmonton Alberta, Canada. Trent has written for everything from CBC Radio (The Irrelevant Show) to The Canadian Emergency News to Adbusters to the Edmonton Sun and Trent is also a member of Mostly Water Theatre, a sketch comedy troupe and has also performed in several Edmonton International Fringe Festivals and had varying degrees of success. As well, Trent has also been a wilderness canoe guide for over 10 years. Having paddled all over Canada, he considers the deep dark woods a therapy that only comes at the cost of comfort. When taking time off from trying not to be boring, Trent likes to relax while watching horror movies and trying to write the perfect three chord song.


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