Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving...oh yeah, and be grateful to have been born

On this day almost every American family gathers together to eat roast turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry jell-0, and of course pumpkin pie. It is also a time that most families spend reflecting on their lives and all that is good.

Well, my extended family does the former, but very rarely do we actually make it to the latter. There were close to 20 of us at dinner this year, always held at my cousins' house about an hour away. There's never a holiday that goes by in my family without some sort of argument or crisis that involves some sort of yelling or taking sides. This year it was comments by a non-family member about our President which raised many eyebrows and sent a few of our more conservative relations out of the dining room in a pissed off flurry. Well, that comment and the fact that she unwillingly called 4 different people fat, and told several others they needed to get married! All the "adults" -- basically my parents, aunt, uncle, and my mothers cousins -- then argued about who held the Christmas get-together (a supposed monthly dinner outing for the so-called 'adults') last year and who should holding it this year. Apparently it's now going to be the day after Christmas at my parents' house........that took all of 45 minutes of intense arguing to decide.

Oh the joys of family.....

So anyways, on to more important discussions here.

As I mentioned, my family kind of misses the entire point of Thanksgiving. We spent more time gossiping about other family members and arguing.

So maybe I come by the fact that I'm un-grateful for being born honestly.....or maybe not.

Being grateful for our lives is something that EVERY donor-conceived child is indoctrinated with from day one.

  • We are told that our parents' medical or social infertility is a terrible thing and that they wanted us so much that they used a special person to help have us!
  • We are told that we should not need our biological parent and that loves makes a family! Despite the fact that our parent(s) chose donor conception over adoption so they could have at least a partially genetically-related child, we are told that genetics are not important and that it's the person that changes our diapers that is the real parent.
  • We are made to feel as though we hold the weight of our parents' infertility pain, and that that pain is far superior to any pain that we could possibly ever have, and thus we must be happy with our perfect lives.
  • We are informed of the immense costs involved in IVF and ART and that we were very expensive children to conceive and thus must be more loved and more special than any other child.
  • We are made to feel excessive guilt if we even THINK that we would want to know our biological parent.
  • We are taught to love our social parents so much that we could not even think of possibly hurting them to find our biological family.

This only cuts to the surface of all that donor-conceived children are put through in their lives to be made to be grateful to have been born. But you know what, I'm just going to say it now because it needs to be said, loud and clear.

If I had to choose between being conceived with half of my identity and half of my kinship deliberately denied from me for eternity....or never being born? I'd choose never being born.

Now, before you go call the suicide hotline on me, let me explain. First off, if I was never born I would never know that I was never born and thus there is no loss involved. There would be no one to grieve my non-existence because they would not know that I did not exist. This is not a terrible thing, despite what many people may think. However, since I am born and I am a 24 year old woman, I HAVE A LOSS, and that loss is my biological father. We were not adoptees, where supposedly they were rescued from an abortion or being thrown in a trash can, and are subsequently told to be grateful to be alive. We were created to carry a loss. A loss that no human being should have to endure.

If a child is born and their father has passed away sometime between conception and birth, we as a society sees the injustice and the unfair life dealings for that child and feel sympathy for that child's loss. While this is indeed a loss for that child, he or she has dad's extended family in their life, pictures and stories and memories. As donor-conceived children, we are not given that luxury. We are seen as a cure for infertility and nothing more. We are seen as "miracle children" that are so loved and wanted that nothing else should matter. No one feels sorry that we are not able to ever know our biological father, because "he just jacked off in a cup for money" and "he could be a murder...or worse, a communist", and "he signed a contract and his privacy is more important".

Well, you know what??? I'm sick and tired of being grateful - of being just "happy to be alive" - of being so wanted that nothing else is important!! So I'm ungrateful.

I'm ungrateful and I wish I was never born to be denied the right to know my biological father.


Anonymous said...

wow now you've really broken the taboo.... beyond the donor conceived, our society has so many unhappy people walking around but we persist in the myth that we're happy and life is a gift in itself

Triona Guidry said...

Well said!

Joan M Wheeler said...

I'm so sorry you have to go through life this way! Even though I am an adoptee, I have been very clued into what the birds and the bees are, and have been fighting for your rights since, well, since at least (if not longer) the year you were conceived.

I wish I could take away your pain. I actually tried to prevent it by trying to end Assisted Reproductive Technology long ago. I see it as immoral, unethical and cruel to the people created by these means. And what does that say about your father?

I can only give you my caring and support.

Joel M said...

This is a very emotional subject and after reading many of the posts, I see that you have a very negative perspective on the topic, and for that I’m very sorry and want you to know that I completely respect your feelings and opinions. However, I do feel I need to provide an alternative view on the subject because after reading your posts, I have to disagree with almost everything you say. As someone who was born through artificial insemination as well, I feel perfectly content with my life, very comfortable and happy with my family, and other than pure academic curiosity have no interest in knowing the identity of my biological father.

Again, this a subject where there is clearly no right or wrong answer, but it seems to me that the people who were born through artificial insemination and feel incredibly negative about it tend to be people who have grown up with some type of family issue. The question becomes would you still feel the way you do about artificial insemination if these issues were not present during your upbringing? I apologize if it feels like I’m overly psychoanalyzing anyone, but it feels as though people are using artificial insemination as a scapegoat for not dealing with the true family issue at hand. I also don’t mean to generalize, clearly this does not apply to everyone, but I do think it’s a trap that many fall into.

I guess my final thought on the subject is that people should feel comfortable enough, proud enough, and secure enough with themselves to not let their identity be defined by this unknown entity. Be thankful for your life … but do it for yourself, no one else.

Lindsay said...

Hi Joel,

While I understand your POV, and I do acknowledge the HUGE spectrum of opinions of offspring in regards to their conception, I personally think you have this backwards. I believe that donor conception often is the CAUSE of family issues, and that the negativity towards ones conception is a valid response to a situation that has caused the individual harm. I am not saying that ALL DC families end up with problems after using a donor, but for a significant proportion, the secrecy, the lack of genetic ties, and the parents' uncomfortable feelings towards the procedure in general, and the astronomical rates of divorce among DC families, cause great disharmony.

And I think that this disharmony can cause some offspring to feel negatively towards their conception. But I believe that it is the intrinsic loss associated with donor conception that is at the heart of all of those of us speaking out, at the heart of our feelings.

Often, this loss is not triggered until an offspring gets married or has his or her first child.

Take Damian Adams for example. He never had an issue with his conception and actually thought about donating when he was in college, but when he had children it was like a lightbulb went on. He realized that his children would never know their grandfather, cousins, aunts and uncles, and that the bond between father and child is so precious that how could anyone give it away, sell it to a stranger.

I still stand by my claim that donor conception creates a loss, and for many individuals that loss is something that cannot be overcome. Those who do not feel the loss now, I can imagine for many it will come later in life....the death of a parent, the birth of a child, etc.

Anonymous said...

I stumbled on your blog while researching the pain of children of divorce. I cannot compare my own situation with yours except in the respect that my mother has always defended leaving my dad as a good thing for us. It wasn't. It was her choice and we had no choice in the matter. It seems like this is the way of the world now. Parents make choices without a thought of what the children would want or choose. You had a right to know your own father and have him be your father. Keep blogging. My heart goes out to you.

Joel M said...


The logical progression of a child displaying negative feelings toward parental figures due to family issues caused by the act of Artificial Insemination makes perfect sense to me, however, it all hinges on whether or not the act of Artificial Insemination causes the family issues. I have not personally done any research on that claim so I cannot say whether or not statistically that is the true, however, it seems to me very difficult to find accurate statistics on the subject since my guess is the majority of people who are verbal on this subject are most likely people who have had negative experiences.

In response to the loss created by Artificial Insemination, on a personal level I suppose only time will tell. I have not lost a parent, nor do I have children. However, I would also pose the theory that people who do feel the loss now might find as they get older and experience more that life has to offer (including, but not limited to having children and/or losing a parental figure) that in fact maybe being born, even with this challenge, was still worth it. Again, I suppose only time will tell.

I will close by saying that I am not saying that people who were born through Artificial Insemination should just suck it up and be happy with life. I’m just trying to put it into perspective. It seems like lots of people are dealt far worse cards in life and yet still wouldn’t opt to have never been born. I guess more than anything I’m just trying to find out how two people with the same situation can feel so completely different.

Lindsay said...


While I agree that many of us who are "public" with our views are those of us who are discontented with donor conception, I know of MANY offspring who are much closer to your feelings. Many are curious to who their biological father is, many would like to know siblings. Most disagree with anonymity as a concept because they believe that a child should not be denied that knowledge if he or she so wishes to have it. But there are plenty out there, many that I am good friends with, who are perfectly content with their lives.

There is a group called PCVAI (People Conceived Via Artificial Insemination) and there are over 300 adult DC members, with VARYING opinions and POVS. While the majority are not publicly active, it can be very emotionally draining, no matter your POV, I just wanted you to know that a good portion of the PCVAI members would likely agree with your position.

I do not try to hold all views of offspring, and I always state that there are varying opinions among adult offspring (I don't believe children can accurately portray their opinions because they are still often greatly influenced by their parents, and are not emotionally mature enough to understand their feelings).

I do though, try to bring reform to the current system so that not future children will have to go through what many of us do go through. That is, banning anonymous paid donors, and promoting disclosure, and instituting a world-wide registry of all donors and offspring so that siblings can be found, medical conditions can be compared, and that offspring, parents, and donors are provided with the information they need.

So in that respect, I do think I speak on behalf of all offspring. Yes, there are some offspring who are less interested in finding their donors, but as ID-release donor offspring have shown in studies, they are less upset about their conception, and actually are less emotionally attached to the idea of their biological father. Knowing that he will be available to them when they reach 18 is a comfort to some, just having his name there and they can contact him when they want. For those of us with anonymous donors, we are not given that luxury.

So, banning anonymous donors really has nothing to do with my personal feelings towards my donor conception, but rather is something to provide vital information to persons created through these procedures so that if they want or need to know their father in the future they so can.

That is why I talk so much about loss. To me, it is a loss that I am denied the right to ever know my biological father, and that is a loss that no person should have to endure, so I am trying to stop that from happening to future donor conceived children and adults.

Lindsay said...


Elizabeth Marquardt, a child of divorce, wrote an excellent book called "Between Two Worlds The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce".

She is also a strong advocate for donor conceived people. A study led by her on donor conception, will be published in the book "My Daddy's Name is Donor" in 2010. She also wrote a paper from 2006 I believe called The Revolution in Parenthood: The Emerging Global Clash Between Adult Rights and Children's Needs that you may enjoy reading as well.

Thank you for your support!

kisarita said...

Since I don't have many donor-concieved to talk to, I have asked friends with poor fathers whether it would have been better if he was just totally out of their lives with them not knowing who he was, and consensus seems to be that the donor seems to be preferable to the abusive dad, but not to the id-known, absentee dad.

Joel, would you mind contacting me off list? I have been considering insemination for a few years and have not been able to come to a conclusion one way or the other.

kisarita said...

Lindsay, the thought occurs to me about ID- release donors who are comforted just knowing that his identity available for contact when they so choose-
what if when they do contact him they find that he is already deceased? And now they will never have a chance. I can't imagine the the huge sense of loss, now thatit is coupled w regret at not acting sooner.

BTW I rejected California Cryobank because they stated that if the donor was deceased, or could not be located for any other reason, they WOULD NOT release identifying information. All they do is facilitate an introduction. People purchasing from CCB should find out- in writing- whether this policy has changed or not!