By admin on May 30, 2015

In a recent chat with an adult donor conceived person, she mentioned that she had read my last blog post, and was uncomfortable with my use of the word “curious” to describe how donor conceived people may feel about their unknown genetic relatives. She felt that the word “curious” comes across as a “trivial and a fleeting whim…”.

My son Ryan has always used the word curious (“eager to know or learn something”), both before and after meeting his donor and several half siblings. While it was never trivial (“of little value or importance.”) for him, his curiosity did seem to be more present in his life at some times, and faded into the background at other times.

What I have found is that some offspring are indeed eager to know about their donors and half siblings, and some, as she describes, do “have a deep longing and psychological need to know and connect with their biological parent and the family which is connected to them their children [and future children] though them.”  I’ve learned that  there is a spectrum of curiosity, desire, and longing to know about your unknown genetic family.

I say this to the parents who don’t understand that some people can feel much more than “curious”:  Please try and consider that other people may feel differently than you. This person described her longing as “deeply spiritual”. I get it. I think I would feel the same if I had no knowledge of who my first degree genetic relatives were.

For those who feel a great deal of pain or anger about not knowing one half of your ancestry and genetics, and who long to know your biological parent or half siblings, please understand that just as your feelings are valid, so are these folks who might only have a mild curiosity. Please do not negate the feelings of the donor conceived child or adult who isn’t struggling as much as you may think they should be.

Please don’t assume that other’s feelings are not valid just because they don’t mirror your own, just as I wouldn’t want them to assume that yours weren’t.

 


By admin on May 25, 2015

I have read one recent blog, and been interviewed by one researcher in the past week about DSR offspring only reporting “good” experiences in regards to meeting half siblings, and wanting to hear about some of the “bad” experiences. After facilitating around 12,000 half sibling connections, and talking to, and researching thousands of parents and donor conceived people, I find this odd.

For me, it’s like asking me to tell you about a “bad” experience when a child met his first cousins for the first time. Or when two people in a family don’t get along, see eye to eye, or who don’t want to spend time with each other. Is this a “bad” experience”? Or just a part of the family experience?

Do half siblings have to adore each other and share common interests in order to classify the meeting as a success? I think not. I think having access, and being able to know these first degree genetic relatives is their right, but bonding with them and defining these new relationships is then their choice. And for young children raised knowing their half siblings, there is just no issue. These people are just their family members. Like other relatives, the ones they live nearest to are the ones they are more likely to see the most.

The researcher asked me to tell her if there cases where the child under 18 wasn’t mature enough to handle this type of situation. I think these folks are looking at the situation from the outside in, and not quite getting it.  Children take the meeting of half siblings in stride. Just like meeting any other relative, some of them they like more than others. Some they would rather spend time with, others- not so much. It’s very simple.

Usually, it’s the parents who are much more likely to fret about how to define it all.  When the parents move forward with meetings in a steady, joyful and confident manner, the kids are likely to also view the meetings positive. When parents interject their own fears or worries, this might throw unnecessary angst into the connections for the kids.


By admin on May 18, 2015

In a recent Donor Sibling Registry Facebook conversation, the rights of donor conceived people to connect with genetic relatives on DNA websites was questioned, in regards to violating a donor’s privacy. Some feel that a donor conceived person shouldn’t contact close genetic relatives found on DNA sites, for fear of infringing on a donor’s privacy.

When donor conceived people spit into a cylinder or swab their check and send it in to commercial DNA testing sites like Family Tree DNA or 23andme, there is a good probability that they will connect with distant, or even close relatives. This includes half siblings and or genetic mothers and fathers.  I believe that donor offspring have every right to make those connections, of course respecting the boundaries, wishes, and privacy of those they connect with.

For decades, the rights of donors to remain anonymous have been first and foremost. It’s now time that the rights of donor conceived people to be curious about, search for, and connect with their first degree genetic relatives are acknowledged.  In this day and age of commercial DNA testing, here’s my advice for prospective egg and sperm donors: if you don’t want to be known to your offspring, just don’t be come a donor. Because even if donors don’t submit their own DNA, chances are that some known, or distant unknown relatives of theirs, have spit or swabbed, and this makes donors very findable.

If you are a former donor and think you’ll never be found, it might be time to start educating yourself about what donor conceived offspring are looking for when reaching out to their genetic mothers and fathers. We have heard from thousands of them, on the DSR and through research projects, and we know that they are not looking to invade or disrupt your life. They are not looking for an active parent. They are not looking for money. They just want to know where they come from- their genetic and medical history, along with their ancestry. And if relationships evolve after connecting, then that’s icing on the cake.