Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Seeking Half Sibling & Donor Contact

I posted a question earlier this week on the DSR groups asking if there were any married heterosexual couples out there who had or we're looking to make contact with either their child's half siblings or even the donor. I got a number of responses personally and only one response posted to the discussion group. I asked my question as it appears that most of the "looking for contact" discussions posted on these sites are primarily posted by single mothers by choice or lesbian couples. So I wondered are we (my wife and I) one of the few hetero couples looking for contact with half siblings?

Turns out we are not but married heterosexual couples are in the minority (at least in the talking about it world). The reasons for this are, I expect, simple and what you would expect. I must admit I have no data to support this theory. Married hetero couples generally either hide this issue completely or while they may inform their child of their DI conception no additional thought is given to locating half siblings until the child is old enough to ask. Or they hear of the DSR through either news pieces or articles, become curious, and get the bug to learn more. We ourselves learned on the DSR through the Oprah episode forgot about it and then saw a repeat and joined the DSR that night. Again there are a number of hetero couples (mostly through the moms) who are on the groups discussing the topic but the vast numbers appear to be SMCs and lesbian moms.

I am betting the thought of locating and making contact with the donor would be a step too far for these families to contemplate and I must admit it is not something I would do without a good reason, namely the health of my kids being at issue. I would have to further guess that while many non-genetic dads like myself had issues (some limited some more) regarding using DI we are all uninterested or perhaps afraid to seek out the donor. Emotionally it is obvious that meeting the man whose genetic material did what we could not is a hard fact to get over. I have discussed in other posts about my reservations or perhaps fears of my role being supplanted by this individual if he were to enter the lives of my children. Granted most adult donor conceived persons go searching for their donors not to replace their DI Dads but to answer questions ranging from health, identity etc. But the possibility scares the hell out of this dad.

Lia recently posted a comment to one of my posts stating in effect that its amazing how DI created families go out of their way to locate half siblings and then treat these half siblings as family while at the same time those same families purposefuly avoid making contact with the donor in effect distancing the children from the donor despite the common blood lines. I am not disagreeing with Lia's conclusion but for a dad in my position the reasons are partially stated above why contact with the donor would not be made. Additional reasons include the belief that the donor wants no contact based on the anonymous nature of his agreement with the cryobank. Granted with donors that may have changed from their days of donating.

In addition families who used DI to conceive their kids did so for the fact that they did not want and continue to not want an additional party as part of their lives and the lives of their children. It is a selfish decision from the parent's perspective and does not consult the children created and I admit that up front. No comments are needed to confirm that fact. Choice moms are for the most part women who decided to raise their kids alone by design and accepted that as part of their planning. And yes they also may welcome another person into their family makeup at one point but that is a personal family by family decision (and more likely than not would not be the donor). At the point they made this decision it was based on those facts. For heterosexual couples we see the family makeup as set, one mommy and one daddy, and a third parent is not wanted or needed. For lesbian couples the reasoning, I suppose, is much the same and a combination of the prior two. Again all selfish reasons but they are the reasons I suppose.

I would like to see the married hetero families speak out more but the numbers reflect the fact that an increasing number of choice moms are choosing DI so it makes sene that they are the currently the most vocal group on the discusion groups and many boards out there. So in conclusion from my perspective I pretty much knew why married hetero couples would seek out half sibs and not seek out donors, but I was curious what responses I would get and to work it through myself.


lia said...

Eric i think you need to accept that you have been 'sucked in' (Aussie jargon) to believe that donor conception is as easy as buttering sliced bread with no side effects. You now know that donor conception is a cheap form of adoption. And all the emotional costs of adoption are involved here and you have to abide by the rules of adoption. Those rules are that your children will ALWAYS want to meet and have a relationship with their biological father. You have to be big enough and brave enough to let this happen. Your reward will be that your kids will LOVE you ALWAYS regardless of the fact that you are not their biological dad. They will love you because you love them and cared for them and because you are their anchor. DO NOT BE AFRAID of the biological parent (unless he is an axe murderer) we all have enough love in our hearts to love many many different people in many many different ways. You know that so know it in your heart. Your kids will always love you because you are a GOOD DAD. As for there being more SMBC's and same sex parents on the groups right now, this ties in with the growth of the fertility industry. They are on a winner and will spread their exploitative tentacles into any segment of our society that they can. One fertility specialist here in Australia recently stated that it was their goal to ensure that in the future people would have sex for fun and would go to fertility clinics to have babies. The fertility industry has become so much more invasive (i.e. screening for sex and much much more). Thats why we as human beings need to stop this invasion into human procreation (for millions of dollars) and severly question the fertility industry because it is exploiting our most basic human need.

Florence said...

Hi Eric - I'm one of those who emailed you, and am interested to read your blog and give my perspective in this somewhat-public forum.

I'm one of the married heterosexual members of the DSR list, looking for my children's relatives. I have very mixed feelings about making contact with half-siblings, but do want to know who and where they are, both for my children's future interest, and for incest prevention. My husband has absolutely no interest in making contact with half-siblings.

However, he is pleased that the DSR gives us a chance, albeit slim, of making contact with the donor. He says he would like the opportunity to thank him; I think he's just as curious as I am to see the source of half our children's genes.

I know he has fears that the children will consider the donor their "real" father, but I think these are unfounded. Our children know very well who their real father is. And, when the day comes that our children are curious about the donor and half-siblings, I know that their father will subjugate his own fears to his children's best interest, and help them as best he can. I expect you will do the same.

DI_Dad said...

Florence - I agree that when the times comes I will do what I can to help my kids and if that means searching for and contacting the donor I will be there.

What Lia is not acknowledging above is that I am entitled to my initial reactions and fears. I would not be doing this blog and being as vocal as I am if I were not going to go the next step for my kids but my own human reactions as a DI dad must be acknowledged and respected just as I respect and acknowledge the experiences of a Donor Conceived person (including donor and donor wives such as Lia).

lia said...

Sorry Eric! I am completely aware of your fears, they are so obvious that I simply didn't feel the need to acknowledge this. I suppose I thought I had by constantly reinforcing the fact that your kids will love you regardless of whether the biological father comes into your lives or not. But you are definitely entitled to those feelings. I can identify with them too to a certain extent because I felt massively threatened by Michaels appearance of two donor conceived chidren, not to mention meeting their mother. Michael still has three other donor conceived daughters out there somewhere and it is going to a real challenge if they surface and become a part of our lives because I will have to go through the whole thing again. But I can say that four years later Myf and young Michael are absolutely no threat to me at all and I enjoy a really wonderful relationship with them both and I am relaxed about it and glad they are in our lives. I also feel close to their immediate family. With work we have all overcome our fears, so it is possible but there is absolutely no doubt that it is a difficult step to take. Again, you only need to look at adoption reunions to get an idea of what to expect. I suppose the goal would be to look at successful stories and try to follow that lead.

DI_Dad said...

Lia -

Thanks for the acknowledgement. Just please try to make your points with a lighter hand. Especially, please, with the TTC guys on their blogs. They are trying and they understand the issues and you'll get much farther with your points without hitting them over the head.

I got a bit cranky this morning and will admit I posted my own cranky message about feeling pressed (in this case by you) on the DSR discussion group about this ongoing hard core comment barrage. I apologize after the fact as it was especially cranky. Like I have said repeatedly try making the points without killing these folks and me. I realize you guys, Michael etc, have been pushed aside more than a bit by the various groups/boards but I think if perhaps diplomacy is used more than gun boat comments/posts things could ease up. At least I would hopoe so as you guys do have some great and valid points. People just don't like having issues thrust down their throats.

Thanks again for your honesty. Your position as a donor Wife is certainly one of the more unique in all this craziness.


Rel said...

I can understand your fears, the fears of my own dad and the fears of men who have donor conceived children. I have lived it (through my dad) and spoken about it with him.

I think the best advice i have for any dads of donor conceived people is that if you really love your children then you will allow them the opportunity to know their "sperm donor"/biological parent, if it is important to them. It is not about replacement at all, it is about knowing one's self better, through knowing one's history and identity. I think not allowing one's child the opportunity to know more is cruel and a donor conceived person may then react badly to such reactions.

I know you know most of this, but i thought i would reiterate.

I know my dad still maybe doesn't understand and perhaps feels threatened by T5, but i will tell him until the day i die that he should not feel that way and that i will always love him as my dad.

lia said...

I don't know how I am hitting you over the head? I've made it my point to give you a lot of positive reinforcement by stating often that your kids will always love you and that you are a good father (and I realy mean that because you are being open to reality and truth and yes I know it hurts. Do you know how many times I told M that he had only donated sperm and did not have to have a relationship with any of these people and could we please go back to our old lives? I knew however that this was crap and that there was no turning back, and I think you do to). As for the other blogs (and sperm donor groups), they get what they give. I do empathize with you and believe me I had (I say had because I really think that we have resolved this) a ton of empathy for M's kids social father because he, like me, isn't biologically related. M was biologically realted and the mother was but the social father and I weren't so I had a lot of empathy for him and really went out of my way to support him. Michael and I, because we are married, also did a bit of family planning (before all this happened) and accpeting two fully grown children (and their mother) out of the blue as legitimate family members was only slightly less challenging than what it must have been for the social father to suddenly have to deal with us in his face. It is hard for everybody. Again I just think that is SUCKS that we are all being falsly informed about the ramifications of all this. I just don't see how this can work, unless you start to call a spade a spade and recognising it as adoption and allowing retrospective identity release to everyone born this way. Donors when they are young (dumb and full of cum) should be warned of the consequences of having people come into their lives 18+ years later claiming parentage. And donor recipients should be made aware of the strength of biological ties and be asked to accept this as part and parcel of donor conception. It upsets me when people try to deny the importance of all this. It strikes me as flippant and shallow and I can't believe that people are prepared to place themselves in that sort of situation just in order to parent. It seems to me to be a gross deception to the people they are creating and calling their children. I'm sorry if I am not putting this across in a nice palatable parcel, but really, how can you?

Richard said...


Thanks for your putting your comment here. As a future DI dad it's nice to understand how a DC person feels about their dad and how the relationship that you have with him is unaffected by your search for the missing half of yourself.

I'm not a dad yet but I hope that my children will be as understanding and considerate of my needs when the time comes for them to seek out their donor.

I know this maybe taking something of a liberty but is there any chance of you posting something about the relationship you have with your dad on your blog? I would love to read it and I think it would help a lot of people like myself understand why we need not fear the donor and instead embrace him into the lives of our children.


Liz's Mom said...

My husband and I conceived our daughter 19 years ago using donor insemination.

I just told our daughter a few weeks ago about how she was conceived and she is very relieved, but ONLY because her dad is not a good father.

My husband's own biological children only contact him when they want money. There is even one son, I have never met, who won't have anything to do with him. It is very sad.

My story may not be the norm but I hope it brings to light the fact that biology or lack of biology does not cause/create a loving relationship.

Don't ever worry about DI being a reason for your child(ren) not to respect and love you. All kids go through phases where they appear not to do either AND because your children are aware of how they were conceived they may use it against you (at times) but your loving relationship is the bottom line.

You have proven to me (unless you are one of those really, really psycho individuals that can fool anyone) that because you write about your concerns, care deeply.

I love your blog. Thank you for providing this perspective.