Sunday, October 30, 2005

Normal Life 99%; DI 1% and Growing....

On the side of the 99%......Potty Training Update

My son has been potty trained now since about the first week of his pre-K classes. During those first weeks he had a few accidents at night and we did a lot of extra loads of laundry. We then decided that for us he would not be taking steps backward if we had him wear pull ups at night which has worked out well. Each day that his pull up shows he had no accidents at night we make a big deal of it and he is quite proud of himself.

During each of the last two nights he has woken up in the middle of the night and crawled into bed with us. He never co-slept with us when he was younger and his sleeping in our bed was always discouraged. Last night he apparently soaked his pull up and PJ bottoms and after discarding them in the bathroom he then crawled into our bed waking me up. After realizing what had happened I got him new bottoms and a pull up and got him back to his bed. The time change did not help but we’ll see what happens tonight.

On the 1% side…...

As noted by my two most recent posts I find myself becoming and wanting to become more involved in the DI / DC community. My genealogical work regarding my ancestral village seems les important to me now as I want to learn more about what the state of personal rights are for DI conceived individuals here in the US all planning to be able to answer whatever questions and concerns my kids may have as they get older and come to terms with all of this. I feel more and more that I have a duty to do this as their dad. I never want to be in a position that I cannot say I didn’t try. I never would want to think about this as their issue not mine and I know that would never be. I am approaching the point that I am not just thinking about my kids but all the others out there here in the US.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Support Group Envy

Prior to going to Toronto I was already aware of the British support group Donor Conception Network as well as the Donor Conception Support Group, based in Australia. Each website makes it clear that the primary purpose of the group is to support DC families, including both parents and the DC conceived offspring, child to adult. Each also maintains links and access to the donors themselves who are looking for support or information. I meander through these sites with envy and wonder why the equivalent does not exist here in the United States. The answers to my question are probably not simple.

The short answer is that here in the United States we are too consumed at looking at the issue from the parent’s perspective of creating the children and not at the support needed once the children are conceived. We all figure that once we are pregnant we are all just like normally conceived families and tend to rely on standard support structures such as families and friends. The truth of the matter is that while we are like other families 99% of the time that remaining 1% can control our lives. The major issues we already know are who do we tell, when do we tell them, how to tell the kids, etc. etc.

The existing support in this country is bound up within major organizations like Resolve, and the American Fertility Association, who are pulled in multiple directions but obviously most concerned with counseling and support towards the creation of children not the after. More and more I am becoming convinced we need a central organization devoted to supporting our needs here in America that also looks at the system we have helped to create with an eye towards support, advocacy, and reform but the focus always being on the children conceived who will grow into adults.

How does the name the American Donor Conception Association grab you? A dream yes but perhaps a goal we need and must work towards.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Infertile Parents & Donor Conceived Offspring: A Shared Legacy of Pain

I attended the Donor Conception Symposium in Toronto this past weekend and I learned a great deal. The biggest eye opener for me as a father via DI was the pain and grief that a number of adult donor offspring are bearing. I was aware prior to this Symposium of the anger and pain that most adult offspring (of a generation older) felt but in those cases the individuals were adults when they learned of their true origins and the truth was kept secret from them. The offspring I was not aware of are those that were of the group that were told of their origins since they were very young. I can’t say this pain is shared by all adult offspring of the approximate age range 21 to 35 but it was apparent and raw in those attending in numbers at this Symposium.

The title of his post may be a bit misleading as truthfully the pain of the offspring is as they informed me a direct result of the removal of the pain felt by the infertile parents upon the birth of the children.

I met a lot of good people at this Symposium and while I cannot say I support their position that Donor Conception should be abolished I promised that I would make their position known and that I can empathize with the arguments behind their position. I should also point out that not all the donor offspring are in the camp of total abolishment of DC. Bill Cordray of Utah, an adult conceived by DI, stated he was not in favor of abolishment but was and had been working for years to reform the system in the USA and was a proponent of telling children the truth as early as possible. I expect to be writing more about this topic and its consequences shortly and more frequently.

The facts I do want to be brought out at this point are that the donor offspring are fighting not just for the right to know who their donors are but more succinctly for the right to know who they are by reclaiming their lost genetic, social, ethnic, and medical histories that are theirs via the donors who helped create them. Yes, I better understand the pain and loss due to the fracturing of the genetic father from that of the social father.

The main distinction I see and hope that would ease the pain or lessen the severity of it regarding my own children is that for most of these angry, despondent, grief stricken adult offspring (who knew early of the circumstances of their conceptions) they have little or no information regarding their donors. The concept of anonymous donors, in countries such as the Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand, was just that totally anonymous (the laws in most of these countries are changing or have recently changed - again to be left for another future post on this topic). The medical establishment chose the donors used and the keeping of what little records existed if at all.

For my own children (due to the consumerism of the USA) we were able to secure bios that include detailed descriptions of physical characteristics, personal likes / dislikes , medical histories of the donor, and his complete family (parents, siblings, grandparents) as well as educational and professional histories (again of the donor and his family). In addition we have a toddler photo as well as a CD Rom of the donor’s voice answering many of the questions detailed within the personal bios. When I informed the donor offspring I met of the level of this detail they were amazed. To be honest I felt guilty for having so much when they had nothing. Again as I state above I hope this level of detail will alleviate some of the pain that they might experience when thinking of their lost connections through the donor.

As I stated I met many wonderful individuals at this Symposium not only from the adult offspring community but others that I will speak about in subsequent posts.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Thoughts of a Half Sibling and Watching Kids Bouncing on Couches

This past weekend we visited my sister's as her older daughter was celebrating a birthday and a cousin of ours was visiting from out of town with his wife and son. At one point I asked my wife if we could tell my sister about the half sibling but she felt it was not the right time as the day was a celebration for the 6 year old and to bring up this topic would pull away conversations from that event. She was right.

As I watched my kids play with their cousins I could not help but imagine their half sibling also bouncing off the couch and the cushions laughing and giggling.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

The post title came to mind when I began to wonder if Dads like me really think about these issues (i.e., being a DI Dad) every day? Probably not is the answer. I know I did not until I started this blog. Then the question is have dads asked themselves the tough questions, received their answers, and then have simply moved on?

Certainly books like Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus among others have proven that most men and most women think and very often act differently. The majority of individuals on discussion groups like Donor Sibling Registry are full of women addressing sibling and personal issues regarding DI. It is to early to see how many men join the new DI Dads Yahoo Discussion Group. The presence of men on these sites is rare if not non-existent. So again why is this? I pose the answer that for the most part men address the issue differently and then for the most part move on. Sure there are expected events that will cause the issue to be re-examined (i.e. telling the child about the DI if that is the decision reached) but for the most part I think men just move onto the actual act of living life currently and being the dad to their kids.

I am not saying at all that women think of this issue all day either. I am just positing a reason why we do not see more men out there adddressing this issue on line. I am also not addressing (nor discounting) the psychological view that some men see the act of not being able to sire a child as a comment on their manhood. I am also not qualified to address this issue beyond my occasional comments.

Furthermore I am not saying there aren’t moments when these dads ponder what would have been different (the electric sheep analogy) had they been able to biologically sire a child. But I just think once the medical bills are done for many, not all, the issue has been addressed (aside from the fact that men are for the most part lousy about discussing their feelings publicly anyhow) and that is why we don’t see more dads out there. Do you agree?