Saturday, July 3, 2010

Where are the offspring?

The donor conception community has grown significantly these past few years, and it has moved from being primarily a community of recipient mommies to a community of adolescent, young and older adult donor-conceived offspring. This is a trend that I feel is going to continue as the children of the '90s and later, who were brought up without the secrecy of earlier generations, come of age.

The online donor offspring community is primarily centered around the group PCVAI: People Conceived Via Artificial Insemination. It's a Yahoo Group that has several hundred offspring (must be 16 years old to join) from across the world. This is a fantastic resource for any offspring to meet other offspring and find a place where everyone is on your side. There's almost always another member who has a similar story and can give advice and comfort. I strongly suggest any offspring new to the donor conception community, or for those who have recently learned of their conception, to join PCVAI and gain the wisdom of hundreds of others.

However, for many offspring, unless they are raised with a sibling who is also donor-conceived, many have never met another offspring face-to-face. I did not have the opportunity to meet another offspring until I studied abroad in Australia in 2005 - and once I was there surrounded by the Australian members of TangledWebs, I was able to truly come to terms with my conception and begin to heal the pain.

Unfortunately there are still few enough offspring that there are not the local support groups like adoption currently has. Not to say offspring cannot attend a local adoptee support group - most are more than willing to open their arms of donor-conceived adults, however there are some significant differences and there are sadly some adoptees who are unwilling to be accepting towards "half-adoptees".

Occasionally there are meetings or conferences in which adult offspring converge and interact, but outside of these occasional events there is little face-to-face interaction. I do suggest for any offspring who has the opportunity to attend, DC conferences or adoption conferences are a great place to find like-minded individuals! I was a panel at the Infertility Network's (Canada) Conference in Toronto in 2005 and was able to meet many "big-wigs" in the DC community, and even had the opportunity to stand with Olivia Pratten (Can), Jo Rose (UK), and Bec Hamilton (NZ), and defend the POV that donor conception is harmful against a roomful of recipient parents and infertility specialists!!

Last but definitely not least are the small number of donor-conception support groups popping up in several large cities across the world. Many of these are still geared to mommies and their small children: i.e. the Donor Conception Support Group (Aus) and the Donor Conception Network (UK). Eric Schwartzman started a group in NYC: Donor Conception New York, which provides several events in the Greater NYC area for donor-conceived families. However, all of these groups are not geared for adolescent or adult offspring.

Which leads me to my main point.....

The adult donor-conceived offspring community has grown large enough that it's about time that we begin creating more formal types of groups for offspring to gather and socialize. Over the years there have been some meet-ups in various cities inviting any offspring in the area to attend, but they are few and far between and usually limited to a handful of large cities (NYC, London, etc).

I recently connected with one of my readers who is an adult offspring who also lives in NE Ohio. She only recently learned of her conception. After talking with her I began to count the number of offspring I know of who are from or currently live in Ohio. There was a good half-dozen names that I immediately thought of, and I know of course there are more with whom I have not connected/met with personally.

So if you are an adolescent or adult offspring from Ohio (or near Ohio: Pittsburgh, Erie, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky....), I would love to hear from you about your thoughts on putting together a group that would meet several times a year to meet one another, socialize and have some while meeting others in the same boat. Anybody up for Cedar Point or Kings Island this summer?!?!

I ask my readers this question:

Where would you like to see a donor-conceived offspring group created?

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