Dear It’s Not easy- I agree! and I’M GOING TO DO IT, a message from a Donor Conceived Child
Hello, I know that you both did not ask for a reply so I preface this response with a clear statement that my opinion is not, nor will it ever be, a fact. Neither of you have any obligation to listen to my opinion nor do you even need to read this. I simply found both of your perspectives intriguing and relative to my own thoughts and opinions on anonymous donor conception. However I will use your statements to frame my own experience, and I hope that is okay with you both. I will start with my personal childhood as a donor conceived child.
I am currently a 21 year old college student; a girl trying establish her career path and discover her passions. At 14 years old, my fully related sister (who was 20 at the time) and I were told of the origins of our conception. Our parents married very young at age 18 and decided to have children. Unfortunately, after years of trying, they remained unsuccessful and discovered that my dad was/is infertile. They chose to use an anonymous donor for the conception, and did not tell their family members as their initial discussion of the topic gained negative feedback. When I discovered what my parents chose to do to have both my sister and I, I have never been more grateful. My dad selflessly raised 2 daughters of no biological relation to him, yet I could not ever picture a man more worthy of the title, “best father in the world.” I know it sounds corny, but this man gave up his entire life for his girls. He coached soccer teams, he went to dance practices, he spent every moment of his life that he could with us, as did our amazing mother. I will never be more grateful for the childhood I had with two incredible parents who devoted their entire lives to raising us. Finding out that I wasn’t biologically related to my father made me sad only because he is such an extraordinary person and I was disappointed that I did not inherit his genetics. However, knowing of the selfless decision by my parents to conceive a child through sperm donation, made me realize how truly wanted and loved I was. My parents have given me everything in the world, every opportunity to succeed and I will forever be honored to be a part of such a loving family.
With that being said, a part of me always knew. I questioned whether I was adopted, whether I was a part of an affair, or something along those lines. I always buried those thoughts as I knew that my mother would never have an affair, and I looked like her spitting image so I was definitely her child, but something felt off. I pushed these thoughts far away, until the day my parents came to us with the origins of our conception. I actually sat there and guessed and said, “what, are we sperm donor babies?” and they replied with only a nod. This fact alone, I believe, proves that children are intuitive. Whether or not you tell them, a part of them knows. In my parents’ day, sperm donation was not something that was openly discussed. Along with that and their parents’ disapproval, their decision to remain anonymous was absolutely logical and comprehendible. I do not and will never fault them for their decision to choose an anonymous donor.
For future prospective parents, however, I encourage you to be open with your children and to choose a donor that is willing to have an open relationship. I may not have fully understood the dynamics as a child, but at 14 I was mature enough to understand that my father is and ALWAYS will be my father. He is an irreplaceable part of my life regardless of whether or not I am biologically related to him. I will always and forever be the child of the mother and father who raised me, and I love them more than I can ever describe in words.
Along with this deeply rooted connection and love for my parents, I also have a connection to my donor. It may not be a father-daughter connection (in fact I am certain that it is not). However there remains a biological connection to this person and it subconsciously eats away at me more than I would like to admit. I am mostly curious about my family history and my medical history. All 4 (so far) of my half siblings and my fully related sister from the same donor have struggled with some degree of mental health issues that my own parents don’t fully understand. Whether it’s depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or others, we all have experienced an uncontrollable sadness in our hearts. By finding each other, I believe that we have learned more about ourselves and revealed pieces of our own puzzles that create a more whole picture as to who we truly are.
Yet without our donor, there will always be one large puzzle piece that is missing. I don’t speak for all of my siblings but for me personally, I feel a bit lost and afraid of how my life will turn out without being able to consult someone who truly knows my personality, for they’ve experienced it themselves. I have an innate desire to know the full truth to every situation (hence why I am attracted to law as a profession) and because of this, I am troubled constantly by the possibility that I will never know my full genetic makeup. I understand that adopted children struggle with this as well, and their situation may be worse than my own, but I don’t believe that a system that monetizes my conception should be allowed to fabricate and/or withhold information that I believe I have a right to. The Cryobank that my parents used has been accused of fraudulent documentation, falsified medical and educational background information on donors, and deception when it pertains to contacting donors while representing donor offspring. I hope and pray that the system is more regulated now, but currently I live in constant anxiety, fearing that the cryobank never actually contacted my donor, that his medical information was false, and that I may be at risk for diseases that were not listed on my paperwork.
Although I am fearful of the industry, I would like to address the author of the passage, “It’s not easy- I agree!” I understand your struggles to decide whether or not to use either an embryonic donor. As a sperm-donor conceived child, I too struggle with my emotions towards my own conception. However, I would like you to know that I, as a DC child, understand and appreciate the decision my parents made so so much. Family is 100% who loves you and looks after you. My parents are and always will be my family through and through, and I don’t believe that your child, should you choose to go through with donor conception, will ever resent you or feel less like your family if they aren’t biologically related to you. However, I personally feel a desire to know my own biological information. I want to know the origins of my conception and to understand my genetic and family history, for my own purposes. Some people may not care about these bits of information, but I think the withholding of them creates an even more passionate and fierce desire to know. In this case, I think it would be beneficial to have an open relationship with the couple whose embryo is donated. They will not be the mother and father of your children, but they will be able to provide your child with information that they have a right to should your child choose to seek it. Pain will not be caused in your child as long as he/she has the option to know their own genetic information. Otherwise, he/she may feel (as I do) that it is unfair to withhold information from the person who has the most inherent right to it, especially when their life was actually monetized.
To address the author of the passage, “I’M GOING TO DO IT,” I agree with you almost entirely. You are correct in that a DC child not knowing their genetic information is almost equivalent to when a couple breaks up and a mother moves away before the child is born. This does happen, however that child likely will still search for his birth father, and on top of that his conception wasn’t the result of an industry that profited from his conception. This makes it seem a bit unfair to the child that someone outside of even his/her own family is in possession of information about him/herself, yet he/she is forbidden access to it. And yes, I recognize that parents who don’t share information with their adopted children likely have it way worse, which is why I feel guilty even feeling any type of negativity towards donor conception. I want to let the donors in this situation know that you are truly doing a wonderful thing, you are providing a life to a family that desperately wants to raise a child. That is the most beautiful gift you could ever give someone and I am eternally grateful for the life that my donor provided me. I only encourage you to think of the child who had no say in the situation that craves his/her own genetic information. They know it’s out there, they know that someone has possession of it, yet they can’t access it with anonymous donors. I know that it is scary to think that a child might consider you a father when that is not the role that you signed up for, and I truly hope that no one ever puts you in that position. An open relationship, I believe, will help you establish a relationship that is not father-daughter/father-son, but one that is still a form of family. I hope that potential donors do not feel discouraged by my experience, but feel increasingly comfortable with an open donor relationship with offspring, as I think that it could be a very special bond and one that benefits all involved.