Sunday, May 05, 2019

Then and Now - The Same Pain

On October 22, 2005, in Ontario, Canada, Diane Allen and the Infertility Network, hosted the first donor conception seminar I ever attended. Yesterday, 13 plus years later I heard the same pain from a number of donor conceived individuals.

The issues are the same. Recognition. Rights. Stigma. Ethics of donor conception.

Yesterday, I attended, here in NYC, co-hosted by the Center for Bio-Ethics at NYU and the New York Institute for Philosophy, a seminar titled The Ethics of Donor Conception. I only heard about via Twitter that morning. The first day was a Friday and I walked in at the start of the day two afternoon sessions.

Over the last 14 years the issues are generally the same although the reality and impact are highly polarized partially due to various factors including a now social media centered society where donor conceived individuals can meet and find each other via increasing usage of genetic DNA sites as well as websites and apps connecting individuals. Case law and statutory law over the years has impacted the parentage and legal responsibilities of all family configurations but especially single parent, same sex parent and now also poly and non binary parenting.

The seminar though suggested by a donor conceived individual was organized as an academic exercise for theoretical "natterers" to present papers and conclusions to other academics. But when such seminars are a rare occasion in the USA it attracted a healthy amount of donor conceived adults and young adults. A handful of psychologist and caregivers and I learned one other parent who was there on day one. I was the only non bio parent of DC individuals in the room.

Aside from the presentations and and the perfunctory questions from those academics attending or other presenters what I heard was pain and anger from the donor conceived in the room. Pain as to their loss. Pain as to why their rights are not being recognized and pain at how a few of the presentations could not recognize the real humanity affected.

I will say this that with a good 25-30 plus donor conceived individuals in attendance it became a lesson for the academics as they were schooled by the folks living this stuff.

I only saw two sessions. The first a good review of how parentage laws interact with laws addressing pro creative issues. The case law in this area has for years been driven by cases involving parental separation which is a shame rather than the thoughtful promulgation of neutral and fair statutes. The speaker has been involved in the creation of uniform model statutes then amended as individual states adopt such legislation. I thought interesting.

The second session was a purely academic exercise by an academic discussing whether responsibilities can be transferred vs delegates and it took the long way through various non DC hypotheticals to be applied to donor conception cases and I felt needed to be humanized more. Well intentioned for academics but not for real persons.

I would love to develop a seminar conference that addressed issues from the views and needs of families and individuals living this stuff. Like anything it's making the time.

Overall very happy to attend. It re energized my desire to write. Met some nice people that I would like to follow their activism and contribute where it makes sense to do so.

My main wish is that I can get more parents of kids to attend these kind of seminars so they can interact with adult donor conceived individuals to hear their views and points of concern.

One thing to note is that it's the academics and practicing attorneys with connections to legislatures that can shape the future and reform regulation. There need to be increased partnerships that can design middle of the road uniform legislation that make steps forward. Radical left reform won't sell in conservative state. The ASRM and infertility industry will continue to plod along affecting too many lives without regulation unless the issues are presented thoughtfully making people recognize and see the pain.

As the lead professor stated the press loves the feel good donor conception stories of siblings finding each other and instant connections especially of young children and teens that have not yet dealt with the questions or pain. Pain I saw again 13 years after I first saw it at a small conference, not so unlike this one, but now there is Twitter and Facebook and DNA testing.

Sent from my iPhone

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