Zero-Sum Thinking and Donor Family

By lmkwp2 on September 16, 2020

This made me think of donor family terminology.


Apples are a fruit.


A complete sentence. A statement. A fact. That apples are a fruit changes nothing for the banana, or the orange. The banana is not less of a fruit because the apple is one also. The fruit’s fruit-ness is not diminished by the apple being a fruit too.

As you read the proclamation of apples as fruits, you probably didn’t feel the urge to qualify the statement. You probably didn’t feel that other fruits needed to be defended. You probably didn’t think that anything else needed to be added to the sentence in order to make it a complete thought. —Claire Saccardi

In psychology, zero-sum thinking refers to the perception that a situation is like a zero-sum game, where one person's gain indicates another's loss.

Acknowledging the biological mother or father doesn't take away from the non-bio mother or father that raised you. Too many parents (and sometimes offspring) are afraid that if they connect with, acknowledge the importance of knowing, or even call a "donor" a genetic/biological mother/father/parent, it will somehow diminish the importance of the non-bio parent. (This is why most parents don't tell.)

When donor-conceived people have the opportunity to incorporate previously unknown genetic relatives into their lives (e.g., biological parents, biological grandparents, or half-siblings), it in no way takes away from the family that raises and loves them. When egg and sperm donors connect with children that were born from their donations, it in no way threatens the integrity of their existing family. One doesn't threaten, diminish, replace, or negate the other.

Incorporating donor relatives into our lives is adding to and expanding our idea of family.
Once you realize this, you can acknowledge that these connections can be celebrated instead of feared.


(View graphic at full size here.)