Monday, August 29, 2005

Carrying on the Family Name

There is a strange but all to real pressure on men to have sons to carry on the family name. This pressure was only magnified internally by the infertility. Before we had my son I was always painfully aware that I was the last male among my father's children and among those of his siblings to have the family surname. What made it more evident in my life is that I am the family historian / genealogist. My son now bears the surname and he too may feel pressure down the road. My question as always is where a DI child accepts Mom and Dad as his parents what does the child think about the family that comes along with those parents? Do adoptive and DI children accept the adoptive parent's family tree as fact or a legal fiction?

For the record my uncle has only daughers and my father's other siblings were both women. For the record one had all daughters and the other all sons.

My response to the "carrying on the family name" comments growing up (pre knowledge of any infertility issues) was that while I am the last male bearing my grandfather's surname his brother had many male grandchildren of my generation. I would continue to state that "if it was to end with me it would continue with them and be no loss as we all issue from the same great grandfather".

These thoughts are all relevant as per the blogger Marty's comments to a few of my posts regarding the role of kinship (blood or not) in the relationship between DI children and the social father. It would be untruthful for me to say these issues have not played out in my mind. Again I turn to the fact that I love these kids and I expect I will have some interesting discussions with my son (and daughter) in the years to come.

One note that makes the issue of names interesting is that my wife kept her name after we were married. The children bear my surname. How this generation processes that difference will be interesting to see. Questions of why should Mommy's name disappear and not yours? But then again that is my brother-in-law's problem. He and his wife for the record have no children yet.


Julia said...

You wrote.....Do adoptive and DI children accept the adoptive parent's family tree as fact or a legal fiction?

I'm not a DI child so I can't answer definitively, but from what I've read, if the social father (and extended family) are firmly bonded and the social father doesn't hold back in his relationship with the children (due to whatever issue he may have with the whole situation) then the children usually have no more than a simple curiosity about the donor. They may want to know about that piece of themselves but I don't thik they will be seekig to replace you as their father unless you are no longer part of the family or the relationship was not strong. As with all parenting, if you know enough to be worried you are probably doing everything right. One ones who screw it up royally never thing about it, IMHO.

If you haven't read David Plot's book "The Genious Factory" I highly recommed it. Its an account of the rise and fall of one specific sperm bank but has great chapters from some of the DI children's point of view and also from the donors. I found it very interesting.

Marty said...

Thanks, highly interesting stuff. Tragically ironic that the last of the line would also be the family historian. It certainly makes you wonder whether or not your son will want to identify himself with the family history you have compiled (or perhaps his mothers), or seek to begin his own family line from scratch.

I wish you both the best of luck.