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Happy, Grateful, and Lucky!

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Yesterday, I was reading one of my favorite blogs Regular Midwesterners, when I came across a comment that caught my attention and linked to a page that basically said if you were not “IVF-made” or adopted, then you should consider yourself lucky. Let me stress for a second that this page was linked to by a reader of Regular Midwesterners and is not affiliated with the site itself.

The blogs linked to from that original link, which I refuse to post here, were full of entries arguing against the use of donor sperm, eggs, or embryos and against adoption. I find it especially interesting that the first page even used the term “IVF-made” when the real point was to say that not being raised by both of your genetic “parents” is the problem. This, to me, already pokes holes in the validity of the argument, when you consider that IVF technology is often employed using the sperm and egg of the couple intending to raise the child. I am not saying that people are not entitled to their own opinions or feelings, but these blogs were what I would consider inflammatory and over-generalized, and the statement  “ivf-mades and adoptees are adults like you, but not happy for the gift of life or feeling grateful or lucky to be adopted – candidly, you are lucky to not have either of these starts to your life,” in particular actually made me quite angry. The best I can do, since I am not an expert in the field of reproductive technology or the long term effects, is to tell you the story of two people who stand in direct contrast to the statement I quoted above – myself and my wife.

I do, in fact, consider myself lucky! Imagine for a moment that my parents had not so desperately wanted a child… It is not as though they made the decision to use donor sperm over having a child without assistance. It was obvious after nearly a decade of trying without assistance that they were not going to have a child that way. During that time, they also had a failed adoption attempt. They had so much love to give and wanted to share that with a child. So they sought out help. I had an amazing childhood. My parents were/are incredible parents, and now my mom is an amazing Granny. I have no doubt that had my father been given the chance, he would be over the moon at holding the title of Grandpa. I cannot imagine them not having had the opportunity to raise a child of their own, and I count myself lucky to have had them as my parents. I do not feel “abandoned” as some of these bloggers claim they do, because some stranger deposited his sperm in a specimen cup and donated it to be used for my conception. I actually feel quite the opposite. I feel loved and wanted, because my parents, the ones who raised me, wanted me badly enough to go to such lengths. Why would I feel abandoned by a sperm donor who quite frankly, I’m sure had sacrificed sperm for much, ahem, less noble causes?

As I have mentioned before, my wife, “Mommy” was adopted. I cannot speak for her directly, but I will share some of the things she has told me that make it very clear she is grateful to have been adopted and would disagree with the above statement as well. She has told me that she does not feel abandoned. This is someone who was left at an orphanage by her birth parents. She doesn’t feel abandoned, because she was chosen. Her adoptive family had all these children to choose from, and they picked her. She was wanted. She also feels fortunate, because at the time of her adoption, she was not doing well in the orphanage and required medical treatment including a blood transfusion. Her adoptive family took her in despite her illness and made sure she had what she needed. Even after adoption, she did not have an easy childhood with the loss of her adoptive mother to a terminal illness. She still feels grateful to have been adopted. She would love to find her biological family, but that desire is not mutually exclusive with feeling fortunate and is definitely not an indication that she feels abandoned.

So color us happy, grateful, AND lucky – all those things we’re not supposed to be as the product of artificial insemination with donor sperm and as an adoptee. I hope this entry gives comfort to those of you who are raising children whom you have adopted or have conceived with the help of reproductive technologies and/or donor sperm. We don’t all grow up resenting those who gave us life or gave us a home. Some of us will be forever grateful and love you all the more!!

Note: This post was read and approved by Mommy before publication.

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About Momma

Back in the late 70s, my parents used donor sperm to conceive. The product was me. I did not know until the month that my own son, carried by my wife, was born, that I had been conceived any way other than the "old-fashioned way". So, here I am, the non-bio mom to a little guy who was conceived with the help of donor sperm having been conceived through the use of donor sperm myself. This is surely an unusual family dynamic, but I am certain that it is not entirely unique. I reside in the Midwest with my wife "Mommy" and our son "Little Man".

4 responses »

  1. I think it’s wonderful that your one little family has so many unique experiences of kinship and love to draw on as you raise your little… He will be strengthened by sharing these experiences – adoption, donor conception – with you both. I’m so looking forward to hearing about how you all navigate his donor conception and how he comes to understand it himself.

    And I’ve read these blogs you refer to as well. Good gawd they’re frightening. *shudder* Must go read happy queer family blogs now…

    Reply
  2. I find the range of complexity on this issue to be one of the challenges to all of us, not only as parents, but as human beings which challenge (for the good I believe) what makes a “family.”

    We have a friend (who is adopted) who strongly disagrees with our choice to use an anonymous donor to conceive our daughter. She and her wife intend to use a known donor to conceive. She is very close to her adoptive family (much more so than I am to my biological family).

    As both my wife and I survived very difficult childhoods we believe there is more to our destinies than is determined by genetics. Our friend mourns the family she can never find and feels that children have a right to know their biological parents. It’s hard to argue with her, because I suspect that in her shoes I might feel the same way. But I can only walk my own path, as my daughter can only walk hers (when she learns to walk of course ;). Our biology is only one part of the puzzle which makes us human.

    Reply
    • I think, for the most part, there is an important distinction between adoption and insemination with donor sperm. A man who donates sperm is giving a bodily fluid that may or may not contribute to the conception of a child. Birth parents are letting go a a little person whom they have nurtured through pregnancy. I have some curiosities about my donor but don’t really care if I ever meet him or not. We did not know as we chose our donor that I had been conceived through donor-insemination, but looking forward, I would make the decision to go with a sperm back again. The only difference (and not to downplay it, because it is a big one that I actually intend to devote a whole entry to) would be that I would want to choose a willing to be known (WTBK) donor. That would leave the eventual decision on whether or not to pursue contact up to my child. I feel guilty that we made the decision to go with a closed donor, because I feel like that wasn’t really our choice to make.

      Reply
  3. Your stories are fascinating, especially in light of the comment and link left on Regular Midwesterners. When I first saw that comment/link, I thought it was a strange kind of spam and almost deleted. I decided to go ahead and post it, though, and was glad a few people responded. Unfortunately, the woman, “Angela,” never replied to elaborate her viewpoint.

    I too spent some time looking around at her various (extremely bare-bones) websites. It always gives me pause and anxiety when I hear about an adoptee who is deeply unhappy (or someone conceived through donor insem.) But I’m also very dubious of anyone who claims to have a universal truth about adoption. Something I’m learning is that I can’t ignore that there is probably a likelihood that my son will experience a sense of loss about his adoption (could be small, could be a major factor in his life). At the same time, it’s way too easy to assume that there is a general truth or single story about THE adoption experience, when so many variables affect each and every adoption, including the circumstances of the placement, the relationship to birth parents, the particular sensitivities of the kid’s personality, etc. Anyway, thanks again for sharing, and I’m going to keep following your site–and today I added it to my site’s links.

    Reply

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