Thursday, January 30, 2014

DI Dads Supporting Dads-to-be

Every week I approve new members to the Yahoo DI Dads support discussion group. Generally the new members are either men contemplating using DI with their partners or their spouse is already pregnant via DI and the dad-to-be is looking for support. Their first posts generally involve how will they bond or feel about the child, or perhaps will the child know that they are not its biological father. It runs a gamut of several questions. 

This morning I received an email providing in digest form the posts and responses of the last 24 hours. I am quite proud to say no sooner had one new member posted his concerns that several  current members rose to offer their support and comments how they too felt and how their fears were addressed or without out merit as the love and bonding came automatically. 

These men all want to be fathers, nature or circumstances, threw them curves that prevented it naturally so it is expected that they all have the capacity to love their DI kids and that the kids will love them back. I am proud of our little community and know that any man that steps through that virtual door will find support from guys who have been there and can voice their opinions. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Dreamt of More Half Sibs

Earlier today via Twitter I re-tweeted posts including videos of sibling groupings and meetings I had not seen before. The Tulane sisters Today Show video, a vid posted to YouTube by the California Cryobank of a young teenager meeting 5 of his half sibs (Donor 5114) for the first time at a Taos reunion. The oldest sib in that group on camera was maybe 15. 

After posting these 5am tweets I went back to bed and amusingly dreamed of a gathering of my own children and their half siblings. The group in my dream grew from its current and known 4 sibs to what I think was about a dozen and was comprised of mostly teenagers.  Like many dreams the events were disjointed and not totally clear. 

I do recall a donor number check as well as a discussion with the oldest half sibling in this dream grouping about a class she attended in school that addressed the ethics of donor conception. That reference must have been as a result of watching an AnonymousUS video questioning the ethics of the fertility industry. 

Ok, I am very amused as it is rare this topic has invaded my dreams much less any that I remember. Time to make hot breakfast for my two very real and hungry children. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Family History and Genetic Kinship

I am meeting today second cousins I have never met before. Over the years I have always been involved with my family's genealogy and history. Facts that some folks here on the Internet have used to chastise me for my use of donor conception to conceive my children. The statements made have centered on the fact that by using DI we intentionally cut our children off from their genetic past and heritage. 

During the years we, my now ex-wife, and I were trying to conceive either via traditional IVF or via DC, I was always involved in various family history projects. My work has been used by numerous young relatives passing it off as their own school family history research. 

It certainly was never our emotional intent to create these genetic and heritage disconnects when using donor insemination. No parent who used DC intentionally did this with any type of malice but in plain truth it is the effect.

My kids know my family history. They know part of it is not theirs biologically. But from a heritage standpoint it is theirs. We chose a Jewish donor whose family had Eastern European roots very similar to my own. Now some religious pundits would argue we should not have used a Jewish donor due to some finer points of Jewish Halacha law but we wanted these connections. Medically the donor's family bio was about the same as mine as well so there was no genetic improvement there as well. No eugenics here. 

The point is where the kids will likely never know the donor's parents' names it is likely the experiences of my family heritage wise probably doesn't differ too much from the actual donor's family. The bio Great Grandma and Great Grandpa probably came over in steerage just as mine did, traveling from similar shtetls to America. Yes, there is still a very real and true disconnect that resulted and the kinship percentages reflected in the above chart which would drop to zero for most boxes. Perhaps my continuing research may cause some angst to my children regarding their not knowing their biological cousins and that family but perhaps the kids can look at these second cousins once removed and say they probably just like my own, guess I'll keep them. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

How do you define what biological kids feel like?

This past Monday the NYT column Motherlode ran a column titled “Would a Pregnancy Through a Donor Egg Feel Like ‘Mine’? written by Amy Klein.  It’s an interesting question and I can see where a woman would ask the question.  What is amazing to me is that we have the technology to allow a woman to become a birth mother and to bond with the child in this manner.

 It is certainly a bond no dad, biological or social, can ever experience. [I am discounting the transgender dad who never switched out his female parts.]

 Now granted a woman carrying donor eggs is a far cry from being a father to children created via donor insemination.  But it begs the question what do biological children feel like that are different than my own DI children?

 Many men before their DI kids are born worry about binding with the children and that somehow the children will know the dad is not biologically related and reject the dad.  I have seen from my own experience and been told by most dads, that upon seeing their DI children and interacting with them in every normal way dads do, that the bonds form quickly and naturally. 

 So the answer to the above question, for most dads, is that these kids are our kids.  There is no different feeling.  These kids not only feel like mine. They are.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

When Divorce Magnifies Donor Conception's Losses

Today's NY Times includes an excellent column under the Motherlode column titled "When Divorce Magnifies Adoption's Losses".  It is worth reading for any parent and especially divorced parents of donor conceived children as many of the issues mirror our own.  The author Deesha Philyaw along with her ex husband apparently write a blog titled CoParenting101 discussing issues of divorce that I will be following going forward.

Mandatory Donor Conception Workshops ? Voluntary?

Over the years I have often referred to my children's DI conception as analogous to a half adoption. The term allows people to see the similarities between the two communities with respect to various issues. One of the issues I have discussed before is how couples / individuals looking to adopt have usually been required to go through an interview process and very often some sort of educational seminar or workshop prior to an adoption being granted. I have often wondered why the use of donor conception methods does not require a similar process. 

The answer lies I suspect in the fact that in the adoption process the child already exists, has rights, and the State has an obligation to ensure the child is placed with an individual or family best suited for that adoption. In cases where donor conception is chosen, it is being used very often to overcome infertility issues or the fact the couple (gay/lesbian) cannot obviously procreate without the use if third party gametes and here there is no child who rights and safety must be currently safeguarded by the State. 

Should cryobanks / clinics require some sort of counseling or information sessions prior to starting DC procedures? Perhaps. Some offer information or counseling in some form but I am unaware if it is mandatorily required by any such institution currently. Certainly no US state health law requires it that I know of. Let me know if your state does. 

My own view is I wish there was some requirement. How it would be administered, signed off on, I cannot say but I would expect the experience would shift the paradigm from donor conception from being used as an infertility mask to a opportunity for the potential parents to understand the issues and possible ramifications / questions / issues that the donor conceived individuals may face in their lives. 

The UK Donor Conception Network offers such a seminar that I did not realize existed.  I would love to see such seminars adapted here by local chapters of the American Fertility Association or Resolve.  

Do I expect legislation or regulations here in the US to require such seminars to be in parity with local adoption laws? Unlikely. Medical establishments and cryobanks want no roadblocks to easy use of DC as simply a treatment option and want little or no contact with any additional red tape. 

Should such seminars be encouraged? Yes. To require them to be mandatory? Unlikely it will ever happen but I would vote Yay. There are simply to many benefits to the adults and to the children of knowledgeable and loving parents. 

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Building Half Sibling Relationships

My kids make up two of four total half siblings from our donor. How they relate to each other is a confluence of several factors. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. How these relationships will develop over time we can only guess. Every group is different these kids are not the exception. 

I suggested to my kids that they call each of their half sibs for the holidays. I admit watching the siblings on Generation Cryo has me hoping the kids will all be close as they grow older. They seemed interested but like real tweens and pre-tweens (is there a term?) are more interested in their electronic devices then true human contact. 

Apparently my son J spoke to his male half sib N (new reference letter) for all of maybe five to ten minutes, seemed tired, not into it, and hung up even before giving his sister Z a chance to speak to N.  What was strange is that J and N have always had a very rambunctious silly rapport over the phone. N lives West and its been about a year and half before these kids saw each other. 

This past Summer we took a road trip South and visited the kids other half sibling M, a girl, which made Z happy as she wanted some half sibling girl time. The one night stay was a lot of fun for all. But since the trip maybe the kids have spoken once. Different lives. Out of sight and not day to day is not exactly brothers and sisters. 

The boy out West has always wanted siblings. And misses my two exasperated the distance is so far.  The girl down South is a very vivacious independent kid. Each of the four is different and yet share much.  

Who knows whether they will grow closer. My own two last weekend visited their cousins via their mom's brother. Much younger and closer distance wise but seeing them is also rare. 

Family is how you define it and what you make of it. Despite my trying to keep the connections it will be up to them and I have to take my cues from them while occassionally providing opportunities to develop those relationships. Only time will tell.