Sunday, June 14, 2020

One Part of the Family Story

Julie over at the Instagram account HappyTogetherChildrensBook I believe truly nails the message I have come to believe over all these years.  Donor Conception is only part of each family's story.

At the same time Jana Rupnow through her Instagram account Three Makes Baby has created a new Family Tree Project where the traditional family tree is upended to include epigenetic influences which extend beyond simple bloodlines.  Epigenetic influences include non-physical traits and physical traits of family members you live with and various traits with family members you don't live with as well as other factors that influenced the individual's life including climate, activities, food as well as cities the individual has lived in.

At the core of all this to me is how we live our lives.  Certainly a donor conceived individual's genetic and medical history that come from their biological parents, including their donor, play a big part of an individual's story and that of their family.   There is no denying that in any lexicon. But it's not the whole story.  How we live our lives and the time we devote to differing segments of our life also play major roles in our stories.  Our achievements and tragedies play a role in our development.

My children, my teenagers, may have started their story from the genetic code wrapped up in their DNA, which they got from their biological father, their donor, and their mother, my ex-wife.  But their social development was also impacted by my divorce from their mother.  It is also impacted by the schools they attended and the neighborhoods we live in and the friends they chose.

The drive to find a donor or biological half siblings can consume a donor conceived individual's time and focus.   For some that focus is key to understanding who they are.  But their story includes many facets of who they choose to be as well.  Granted those choices are shaded and colored in by how these choices may be preprogrammed into each of us.   Don't read this to insinuate I am a fatalist.  I am not.

One of the hardest concepts that parents must understand, whether it's a SMBC, a single dad, a pair of hetero parents or a same sex couple, is that donor conception was merely a tool, an avenue, that allows families to be created.  Donor conception sidestepped the anguish, and pain of facing the infertile diagnosis.  As parents it's how we raise our donor conceived children that define our stories.  Our jobs are to focus on their needs.  Helping them to process their story, but also to allow them to live full and robust lives.  Our family stories are not defined solely by the use of donor conception, but as our children grow, it is how our families live our lives that are primary drivers of the family, donor conception is major factor but only one part of our stories.

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