For years, Leigh Ecke repressed her childhood — the physical abuse from her “small-time cult leader father” and the subsequent decade she spent in Texas foster care. But when she became pregnant with her second child, Ecke decided it was time to dig up her past. She made what she thought was a routine request to the Department of Family and Protective Services, asking for her paper record.
Three years and several follow-up calls and letters later, the state had given her nothing. It took an attorney and a hand-delivered request to the agency’s head of records to get a single disk filled with mostly illegibly scanned files.
“It’s a betrayal. I was a kid in their system, a part of their family, and for three years they gave me the finger,” says Ecke, a 38-year-old social worker who lives with her husband and kids in Colorado. “I don’t have a family to keep records for me, to share information about my life. It’s so paternalistic, like I’m not competent to have my own records.”
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