For the majority of the population the term father and dad are used interchangeably, however, for children and adults conceived from anonymous sperm donors, these two have very different meanings. I have a dad but I also have a father, and while it may seem impossible to some, they are two different people.
My dad has raised me as his own since I was four years old (when my parents married) and later legally adopted me, and I would never see another man as my dad but him. He may not have been the best dad in the world, but he tried his best to accept me as his own (my half-sisters are his biological children), and treated me no different from my sisters. We may not have had the best relationship in the past 19 years, and like most teenagers I’ll admit I have hated him at times. But he’s still my dad. Yet, one thing he never could be to me is my father. That right is reserved for the man who brought me life; and whether or not I ever have the chance of meeting him, he still holds that place in my heart and mind.
Many people expect us to refer to our biological fathers as our donors; and colloquially we often do simply because it is easier than explaining the significance of terminology. However, they are not our donors. They donated their sperm to our mothers, not to us. Using the term ‘donor’ attempts to desensitize the impact of their decisions and refrain from acknowledging that they are in fact biologically related to us.
A company called Family Evolutions (www.familyevolutions.com) has begun selling children’s merchandise that bears the saying “My daddy’s name is donor.” The motivation behind these t-shirts according the company founders is to empower donor-conceived children and therefore these children will not miss this intrinsic loss. Since everything always places the rights of the adults before the children, these kids are now being brought up to conform to a stereotype that the deliberate loss of a father does not cause maladjustment and donor conceived kids are just peachy about their situation!
Those of us who have spoken out to negate this image are ostracized and silenced, insulted and put in the box of “emotionally instable”, which of course must be the only explanation for our grief! The rights of the infertile, the gay, the single, and the donors continually trump our rights. We were not present at our conception to sign a confidentiality agreement, so how is it that we seem to be bound by one??