“Curiosity” About Unknown Genetic Relatives

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 and 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 others’ 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.