Saturday, May 07, 2011

Another View of "Donor Unknown"

Kim from the blog “Where Love and Chaos Reign” left a comment earlier today on an earlier post that she was disappointed with the film “Donor Unknown”. She posted a full review of her thoughts on her blog which I found quite interesting and worthwhile to read and encourage folks to do. Yes, I realize I have spending a lot of time and text on this one movie.

Kim and I each came away from the movie with different thoughts and perspectives. I was struck by much of what she wrote. Two statements have stayed with me. I think these statements stuck as I don’t think my liking the movie was at least consciously driven by these thoughts. But I’d like to expand or explore why.

“the more we hold up movies like “Donor Unknown” as an opportunity for people to understand how are families are built, the more we do ourselves a disservice.”

“holding up the donor as some sort of icon in our families minimizes the completeness of our own familial unit”

How Families Are Built

I am not sure my recommending the movie is holding it up as a model as to how families are built. Yes my children, ages 9 and near 7, look at their half siblings as their brother and sister. And yes those words may be too suggestive as to the relationship they have to these other children at this point. But it helps them to understand the connection to these siblings in a way that the term “half siblings” does not register for them at this time. While my kids use the terms brother / sister at their young ages we have discussed that they are more like distant cousins. They know the difference as they have each other and know most full siblings live with each other.

But returning to Kim’s point I can understand her concern. In the movie, the Fletcher’s mom states at least in reference to the donor that he has to earn his way into being called family. Similarly the half sib Daniele seems to be a step with drawn from Jeffrey, the donor, as opposed to the others who are more interested in developing a relationship to him. But yes seeing the half sibs start treating each other as family may give third parties a misunderstanding as to how we see our family structures expanding or rather are dealing with such issuess due to the use of donor conception.

Donors as Icons and the Minimization of Family

Kim’s post certainly was correct that the eccentricities of Jeffrey help make the Donor Unknown movie interesting. Although I think had the movie had a donor who was a normal married man with two kids of his own 20 years out past his college / sperm donation years it would have been more interesting to me. I certainly did not look at Jeffrey as an icon and I don’t believe any of the siblings who participated in the movie thought so either. Although the fantasies they had of the donor prior to learning about him do evoke that image of the possible perfect father figure.

I am wondering if thoughts or concerns that interest in a donor can result in views that a family configuration would be minimized have to do with the differences in my and Kim’s family units. Certainly two mom families are equal in love shown to children as heterosexual couple families. But I know there are folks out there that may feel children without fathers in the home suffer. Right now my kids 100% of the time live in households missing at least one parent. Each parent is trying their best to let the kids know the other parent is always there even if not in the same house, So my focus is not on the donor. But again my kids at school are not seen as possibly “missing” something that kids from sex parent households may encounter. I don’t know. I know I never felt our family was minimized by thoughts of the donor. Certainly I did not get the feeling from the movie that any of the young people who came from same sex households felt their families were minimized.

Again I think Kim's review is worthwhile reading. I am curious for your reactions to my thoughts and Kim's full review.

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