By lmkwp2 on February 26, 2018

While we feel that it’s extremely important that all stakeholders are properly educated before (and after) donation/pregnancy, we realize that not everyone is interested in reading a stack of academic articles on the subject.

Additionally, those who provide counseling services to the stakeholders and those thinking critically about the issues with regard to setting policy might also have fallen behind on the latest research.

This is why we put together the Donor Sibling Registry’s new Research Tree booklet — a summary of some of our peer-reviewed/published research papers. It’s the “Cliffs Notes” of research, studying all those in the donor family: the parents (biological and non-biological) of egg and sperm donor children, the egg and sperm donors, the offspring, and even the parents of people who have donated, the “donor grandparents.”

The link to the Research Tree booklet is also on our Research page and Booklets & Brochures page of the DSR. We’re having a few hundred booklets printed, too — so you can email me at wendy@donorsiblingregistry.com if you’d like printed copies.

Enjoy!
Wendy

By lmkwp2 on February 25, 2018
There has been a recent (heated) conversation on the Donor Sibling Registry Facebook group page about the Parent-On-A-Chain Jewelry.

When POAC founder Jennifer Moore first introduced the idea to me last summer, I liked it. I then ran the idea by our Board (a former sperm donor, another mother of a donor child [LGBT], a donor-conceived person, and a mental health professional) at our annual meeting last summer and they all thought it was a great idea, too. They all agreed that the DSR could get behind it, especially since some of the profit would be donated to the DSR. I also ran it by a lot of other people (all stakeholders) in the donor community and received only positive feedback.

The DSR was created to facilitate and celebrate the connection between half-siblings. Many people proudly wear these necklaces to do just that: celebrate the connection that they have with their half-siblings. Some donor-conceived people have felt the need to get their donor number tattooed onto their skin — a sperm donor number onto a foot, an egg donor number onto the back of a neck. I imagine that for most donor-conceived people, they’d prefer to wear a necklace, rather than get a tattoo.



Some donor offspring have recently expressed their dislike of the necklaces, and I do understand why. But I also acknowledge those who might wear the necklace instead of a tattoo to acknowledge the importance of the missing/unknown one-half of their ancestry, genetics, and first-degree genetic relatives. Or they might wear the necklace to celebrate the bond that they have with their half-siblings.

We’ve conducted quite a bit of research on donor-conceived people over the years, from many different surveys, some with as many participants coming from outside as inside the DSR. There is always a huge variance in how donor-conceived people view their conception — some are very angry, some are just fine, most are somewhere in-between, and many vacillate at different times in their lives.

For parents whose children don’t struggle or who are not angry, it can be hard to understand why some donor-conceived people are so angry. So, with regard to the necklace, some offspring see it as a celebration of the connecting they’ve had with half-siblings. Some see it as an important statement about their profound connection to their unknown biological parent, and that number is the only solid representation of that missing person that they have. Some see it as both. And some offspring don’t like the necklace, because they feel that it’s somehow celebrating the act of deliberately cutting one off from one’s genetic origins.
Just a note to say my son loved the necklace. He wears it all the time. I told him that the donor is part of him, just as I am. He cried! He proudly refers to him by number in a way he didn’t before. In some ways it’s like he now carries his father with him.” —Mom to a donor-conceived child

“[It’s] a reminder that half of us is nothing but some arbitrary number.” —A donor-conceived adult

“My daughter’s reaction to it surprised me. She held that necklace in her little hand as if it were a link to her donor. She liked it.” —Mom to a donor-conceived child

“I think the necklaces are really sweet.” —A donor-conceived adult

“This necklace is in poor taste.” —A donor-conceived adult

“I would get the necklace with my number and my sister’s name that I found through DSR. I would also get one for my sister as a gift, with our number and my name. We have given each other presents with our donor number on them ever since we found each other.” —A donor-conceived adult

So, I get it. For those who see the necklace as a negative, don’t purchase one. For those who see the necklace as a positive, we invite you to check out the options.




By lmkwp2 on February 24, 2018

Empty Chair

by Harriette Rovner Ferguson, LCSW

I am a psychotherapist specializing in working with individuals and couples who are experiencing infertility. I have been doing this work for well over 20 years and lately have concentrated on people using third party reproduction to create their families. I began to notice that it was hard for couples to imagine themselves as parents. How could they? After sometimes years of failed treatments, the thought that a procedure might bring them a successful pregnancy was just too hard to conjure up in their minds and so when they came into my office, talking about their future child was too far a stretch.

The problem is that I need to talk to them about their family building option and their belief of how their child’s conception would impact him/her later in their lives. My job is to open up a discussion about their feelings about disclosure (who to tell, who not to tell), family support, their individual feelings about being biologically or non biologically linked to their child and what they imagined this relationship would look like.

I began to wonder how I could help them believe that one day they might hold a baby in their arms. A baby who would call them Mommy and or Daddy. So when they sat down in my office and I told them that during our consultation (as mandated by their physician), they were not the most important person in the room, but their future child is. Everything that we will talk about will revolve around what is in the best interest of their child and nine times out of ten, they looked at me like I had three heads.

I am trained as a Gestalt therapist. We use an empty chair technique to help our clients focus on the different parts of themselves. The client places an imaginary inner child or the people in their lives that have hurt them onto the empty chair, which allows them to open up about their feelings. As they speak to this projected person, they can get in touch with the feelings and begin to name them, recognize them and start releasing the negativity from their lives.

Hmmm! I looked around my office and realized that I could use an empty chair with the people who are planning to have a child. I could ask them to project that baby/child/teen onto the chair (that has a few teddy bears on it!!) and when I questioned them about how they thought they might feel telling their child they were conceived through a donor, surrogate, gestational carrier, they could imagine it. If they sit for a minute and focus on the chair, they are able to let their heart and their minds project how they might feel.

So when I ask them "What do you think about talking to your child about his/her biological origins," they take the question in and ponder. Before I used the chair, most couples’ immediate response would be that they would not ever tell or they would wait to tell or they were undecided and were afraid to even think about it. But with the chair present and my coaxing them to think deeply about what would be in the best interest of their child, they almost always decide that if they have their child’s best interest in mind and heart and they want to be honest parents that their children can trust, they decide just like the research teaches us. The earlier the story begins, the easier it evolves and the family moves on to create a secure and stable environment where children can grow and flourish, no matter how they came to be.

So, thank you empty chair for bringing this imaginary longed for child into the room so these future parents can make a decision that will benefit all of the members of this beautifully conceived family.

Harriette Rovner Ferguson, LCSW, has been specializing in providing psychotherapy to individuals and couples experiencing infertility for the past twenty years. She is a mental health consultant to infertility clinics on Long Island, New York City, and Pennsylvania. She conducts interviews and evaluations for infertility patients entering an IVF cycle or those contemplating using a third-party to create their families.