I started this blog back when I found out that I was donor conceived. I wanted a place to record and talk through this journey. What I’ve come to realize though, is that it’s not really a big deal to me. I think that’s why there have been frequent long periods of silence here. The only times my donor conception really come up are when I’m discussing the topic of donor conception or family medical history. Those really aren’t things I discuss that often. I’ve realized this is one of the smallest parts of what makes me “me”. The initial revelation was a bit rocky, knowing that my mom and dad had hidden this from me my entire life, but we’ve talked through all that, and I don’t feel that our relationship has been damaged by it. The key factor in my feeling that way is the fact that at the time of my conception, both of my parents were given the standard professional advice of the day. That was to never tell me about my conception. Fortunately, the attitudes of the professionals/experts have evolved in the 30+ years since.
Obviously, not all donor conceived persons feel like this is no big deal. There are also feelings of anger, betrayal , and loss. These reactions don’t seem to fall along lines of those who have “always” known and those with later life discoveries. There’s no pattern of those who didn’t necessarily have a great home life growing up holding the most anger. I found that interesting. There are adults on the forums who claim that they had wonderful families growing up, but they are furious over the use of donor gametes. There are donor conceived people who fight against any kind of donor conception (this is a minority but a very vocal one) at all to those, like me, who have child(ren) via donors. So I obviously can’t speak for everyone, but here is where I am and have been for a while now.
At one point, I was interested in identifying my donor so that I could get his medical history. Then, I found twenty.three.and.me which gave me a genetic health analysis that more than satisfied my needs. The interesting thing about that is that the results actually revealed that I was a carrier for a genetic condition through my mother’s side of the family that we had no idea about. Having satisfied the one real “need” related to finding my donor, I’ve found myself at a place where I have no desire to make contact with my donor or any of his other offspring.
On Donor Conception:
My feelings on donor conception are that it should definitely remain an option for people who could not otherwise create/expand their families. I lean heavily toward using open ID or known (actually KNOWN, not strangers found on a website) donors, but I’m not absolutely against anonymous donation. I encourage prospective parents to choose ID option or open donors, but do not fault them for making a different decision. More and more methods of finding genetic connections are popping up all the time. This makes me feel that before long, “anonymous” donors won’t have the same level of anonymity and that donor offspring will have easy access to the most important pieces of their genetic makeup without the need for open/ID option donors. This is the reason for my less than emphatic stance on this topic.
The one absolute in this whole thing for me boils down to honesty. Here and now, in 2013, when almost every expert would agree that hiding adoption from a child is wrong, why don’t we hold donor conception to the same standard? Why is it still socially acceptable to hide the truth from a donor conceived child? I absolutely cannot be quiet when I hear that someone plans to hide the truth from their child. The child in question may end up feeling like me, that it’s no big deal, or s/he might have a greater interest in some sort of connection. The point is that this is the choice of the child, not the parent. It is absolutely the responsibility of the parent to share all available information about the donor with the child. A parent is supposed to be trustworthy. Finding out that you have been betrayed by the person/people in your life who you are supposed to be able to trust the most is more damaging than any donor information could be.
If there was one piece of advice I could share with every family considering donor conception, it would be honesty above all else. THIS is the one thing that my discovery has made me adamant about. Lying and or hiding the truth about donor conception is the one aspect of this whole issue that I will always speak out against. I cannot think of a single justifiable reason to hide this from a child at this time in society. This information is part of the child’s story. S/he should have access to all of it and ultimately the control over what to do with it. The donor information BELONGS to the child, not his/her parents.
Contact with “Diblings” AKA Donor Siblings:
I don’t really have strong feelings one way or the other on reaching out to other families who used the same donor before the child is old enough to make that decision. For our family, we want Little Man to be in control as much as possible. So we try to do enough to keep as many options as we can open for him without making too many decisions before he can speak for himself. The decision of whether or not to contact donor “siblings” is a decision that should be made by each family according to their comfort level until the child is old enough to request more information. Once the child is old enough to make the decision on contact for him/herself, control should be handed over.
How my feelings have changed:
There was a time before learning about my own status that I was threatened by the thought that someday my non-biological child would want contact with his donor or the donor’s other offspring. When my mom told me that I was donor conceived, I realized that the feelings I have/had for my dad were not at all affected by the revelation. The only thing that changed regarding my relationship to my (only) father was that I felt even more loved knowing the extent my parents had gone to while TTC. This made me realize that my feelings about our son one day possibly wanting to reach out were completely based in fear. The idea that we should try to share as little as possible with him because *I* was scared was selfish. We will be honest with him when he asks questions, and we will provide him with age appropriate pieces of his story along the way without waiting for his questions. I hope that he always knows that he was the priority in ALL decisions we made throughout this process, and that if we fumble along the way that we were doing our best. He deserves nothing less. This is his story to tell, not ours.