Evolution of a Donor Parent’s Thought Process

By admin on August 19, 2013

I posted these (rambling) thoughts on the DSR’s Yahoo group this morning. A friend asked if I could make the posting more public….so here it is.

I guess that I am in a unique situation, being the moderator of this group for
13 years, speaking with many donor conceived people, donors and parents, and
conducting research and and publishing many papers on the these concepts and the
experiences that we all have had.

I too, would not have my amazing child with out donor insemination. Actually,
because it was 23 years ago, I would not have my child without anonymous sperm
donation, as that’s all was available back then. For many years, as I began to
see donor offspring struggle, I thought that if I spoke out against anonymous
donor insemination, or the reproductive medicine/sperm donation system that is
behind it, in any way, it would somehow negate my child.

Now though, while I continue to be thankful for such a system, as again, I
wouldn’t have my child without it, I am also willing to acknowledge that this
very system has indeed been harmful to many people. It is broken, it is
antiquated, and it needs to move forward in a much more positive, healthy,
responsible and ethical manner. Can I go one step further and say that donor
insemination should be banned altogether? No, I just can’t because, again,
without it, me and so many others wouldn’t have our wonderful children.

But, I believe that we can, and must look at the issues, for example:
compensation, anonymity, proper counseling and education of parents and donors,
disclosure, demanding accurate record keeping, updating and sharing of medical
information between families, tracking limiting the number of births for any one
donor, follow up health studies on egg donors, comprehensive medical and genetic
testing, and think about how to tackle them, and make this system better.

For me, the first step in looking at what is broken, and what should be fixed,
was to look at those people that the issues most profoundly affect. First and
foremost in my mind, are the donor conceived people. So while us parents might
be hesitant to criticize a system that helped us have our children, we have the
opportunity to look at not only the the families who came before us, but more
specifically, the older donor conceived people. The following posts are from the
past few weeks on the DSR. You can see the range of curiosity and emotions:

“My parents had me when they were 46 years old, and had to use donor eggs and
donor sperm. I want to try and find out who my biological parents are and where
my genes are from.”

“Basically, I just want to know, who I look like, why I am the way I am, because
sure I look like my mom somewhat, but there’s missing pieces that I want to be
filled so I can feel at peace.”

“I have lived 19 years with questions that I was never willing to ask. 19 years
of battling for an identity and feeling as I there was something missing. I had
forgotten my desires and ignored the slight emptiness that lived inside of me,
but that changed a few months ago. A leader in my *** group told her story on
how she found her birth parents, and while it was not the same situation as my
own, I once again felt the urge, stronger than ever, to fill in the hole inside
of me and get some answers.”

“I have, my whole life, had the completely irrational belief that I have
siblings. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I found out that I was a donor
offspring and realized that this might actually be possible. It wasn’t until
after I nearly died as a result of a medical condition that I realized that not
having half of my medical history was a serious problem. I’d like to know more
if I can. I’d like to know if I have sisters and brothers. I’m hoping to find
anything I can. ”

It wasn’t until my son ryan said publicly that he thought anonymous donations should
be banned, that I felt the full freedom to feel and express those sentiments
too. While he was always one of those children that wanted to know his donor and
half-siblings (this is why we created the DSR!), he did not anguish over it. But
over the years we both saw how many others did, and how so many struggled, just
as in adoption, by being cut off from one half of their ancestry, medical
backgrounds and genetic family.

I do appreciate the differing thoughts and ideas here on the DSR. I know that
some of you will continue to defend donor conception as it is, and some of you
will never stop speaking out against it. I also appreciate that most of the time
we do have compassion for each others point of view. I encourage everyone to
not be afraid to always keep an open mind, and be willing to reconsider your own
long-held opinions with every bit of new information that comes your way. If you
had the same experience and background as the person you disagree with, you
would probably feel the same as they do. These are not black and white issues,
we are dealing with a great deal of grey matter, and having to maneuver through
uncharted territory. (My most sincere thanks to all of you who have helped me
expand my grey matter over the years!)

I have had this quote taped over my computer for many years:
“The measure of a man’s intelligence is the number of conflicting ideas he can
hold in his mind at the same time”- F. Scott Fitzgerald