Posted by: DD | December 30, 2008

MOTHER FATHER

Whenever I hear or read something that infuriates me, it is a true test of my patience not to go off half-cocked. Doing so normally gets me into trouble and I end up eating shoe leather.

On the other hand, once I’ve cooled off or had time to research, I get bogged down by my rational side trying to convince me to be fair. To present both sides. To not offend. Unfortunately, it then loses all meaning.

This will be one of those posts that will either piss you off or it will not. I won’t apologize if it does. I will add that none of your comments on the poll, which are now also published, were taken any other way but with sincere openess.

Does becoming a sperm donor or egg donor make one a “mother” or “father”? I guess it depends on who you ask.

Me?

No.

As I thought about this over and over again, I realized that the ONLY people NOT referring to the donors as Mother and Father were the donors themselves. So why is every one else?

If I thought about the literal sense of donation, then Fathers would be made with every one night stand. Mothers would be made every time there was unprotected sex during ovulation.

That doesn’t count, you say, because there was no intent?

OK, so for any couple who has gone through IVF, IUI or even procreative sex, they became Mothers and Fathers even if there was no conception, right?

Now I’m just being argumentative, you say?

Yes, I am, because our society has become so uptight in our pursuit of being politically correct even when it logically makes no sense to do so. What’s wrong with the donor being called a Donor?

What bug flew up my butt and inspired the poll (final results were 74.59% said no, donors do not become mothers/fathers while 24.59% said they did, which at one point was as high as 33%, and there were 51 votes)?

This comment to a thread I subscribed to. I won’t link the thread because the response really had nothing to do with the topic:

I was conceived through an anonymous sperm ‘donation’ (no money exchanged) back in the mid 1960’s through a private doctor practice. I learned of my conception origins at 18 but didn’t feel entitled to acknowledge the confusion this created for me until I had children of my own.

It was only until I saw how much my children were a part of, not only my husband and me, but our collective (bio/genetic) families. This was no long just a personal loss, this was much bigger than me. I searched for my biological father (my parents donor) after the birth of our second child and learned that because I was not of his marriage that I and my children (his grandchildren) could never be acknowledged, recognized or embraced by him – our extended bio/genetic family (grandparents/half siblings/aunts/uncles/cousins etc) or know or be a part of our family ancestry/history.

I see many reasons why donor (especially vendor) gametes/traditional surrogacy is wrong, not for religious reasons but for human dignity reasons. Knowing a name is not the same as being loved and embraced. These methods of conception are not the same as adoption, although they share many issues in common. Adoption (which has many ethical issues of its own), as an institution, is very pro-child. Adoption does not intentionally separate a person from their bio/genetic mother/father/family. It recognizes this separation as a tragedy. BUT donor/vendor/traditional surrogacy intentionally creates a child that will not be loved nurtured, unconditionally embraced or supported by one or both of their bio/genetic parents and extended family. This puts adults wants for a child (pre-conception), before the needs of a child (post- conception).

Of course people conceived through donor/vendor/surrogacy need to be accepted, loved, supported (THAT MUCH MORE SO) by the Catholic/faith community. But these methods of conception — when a child/person is intentionally created in a way that PROHIBITS them (and their future children) from being acknowledged, embraced, loved and nurtured in a fully inclusive way by ALL the people they come from and belong to — do not.

Verbatim and in its entirety.

I do feel sorry for this person as she found out what I think is too late in life that she was donor conceived, but third-party conception has a rather slow learning curve. No one knows the impact of what we tell or don’t tell our children until that moment, and usually it’s too late. In another 20 years, will the trend to tell your child as soon as they are toddling that there was a donor or they were adopted or were bore by a surrogate, come back and bite us on the ass? In some form or another, yes. That child will probably resent “feeling” different then other children. Then again, some children never have an issue. It really is a matter of perspective on life and temperament.

Also, I find myself asking, hypothetically, what right did this person have in asking to be embraced by her donor and his extended family? His donation was not intended to increase his genetic lineage so it seems a rather large leap to assume that 30 years later, he would welcome with open arms that possibility by a stranger. Not only would I never expect ZGirl’s genetic donor to ever acknowledge her if the two were ever to learn of each other’s identity, I also would never demand ZGirl to acknowledge the donor’s family as her own. The donor’s children are not my daughter’s half-sisters or half-brothers. These are terms modern society puts out there to both welcome, and yet exclude, children in a mixed marriage. They are titles to make sure that the Consanguine Family never rises again, and rightfully so.

It was this statement that pushed me over the edge, “Adoption does not intentionally separate a person from their bio/genetic mother/father/family. It recognizes this separation as a tragedy. BUT donor/vendor/traditional surrogacy intentionally creates a child that will not be loved nurtured, unconditionally embraced or supported by one or both of their bio/genetic parents and extended family.”

Adoption is the most intentional form of separation  out there! While I understand her intent in the statement, there is no such thing as an “accidental adoption” unless it’s a swapping of newborns in the hospital.

And to state that donor and surrogacy intentionally creates a child that will not be loved, nurtured or unconditionally embraced or supported by the genetic parents and the extended family??!! Fuck her. And fuck her “non-bio” family for screwing her over by making her feel as if the only unconditional love she could get was from her genetic father and his family since it seems apparent that they did not provide it themselves..

I am not so arrogant to believe that my anger about the quote is directed purely at this stranger. I am angry that it made me question the choices we made. The choices we will eventually make with our own children. How dare I allow some one else’s shitty experience cloud the utter joy I have when my daughter reaches for me, smiles at me, laughs at me. Her mother. Her ONLY  mother.

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Responses

  1. hoo boy! I got nuthin here and that’s ironic because my father ended up being nothing more than a sperm donor who was ashamed that he got caught. This will have to soak for a while.

  2. I completely understand your reaction. I think parents eventually question whether they are doing the right thing no matter what and having a donor-conceived child just puts those questions (doubts?) to the forefront. And then to read how SOME donor-conceived children perceive how they came to be as negative, well, let’s just say that I try to read blogs by donor-conceived children to get a sense of the issues my child might face some day and to tell you the truth it’s hard to read.

    I know that the sampling I see is biased. A pattern seems to be that these are usually people who were not told early on and felt somehow betrayed by not being told. We certainly don’t hear from those who were told of how they were conceived later in life and have no problem with it. Much of the time, I end up concluding that there are additional issues these people have which they “blame” on the fact that they are donor-conceived when in reality that is not the source of it. I don’t know if I’m right, of course, and maybe I’m deluding myself because I don’t want my child to end up feeling the way they do but that’s my impression a majority of the time.

    Plus, there always seems to be the assumption on the part of the donor-conceived children that the donor somehow wants to be a part of their lives just as much they want to be a part of the donor’s lives and family. And I often wonder if the donor-conceived children got their wish how many of them would be deeply disappointed.

    Ok, I think I’m just rambling now so I’ll stop.

  3. All I can pass on is what an adopted friend told me when I asked her if she ever intended on looking up her birth parents and I quote
    “no, they couldn’t help but be a disappointment when compared to my real parents”.
    I trust you know my jaded heart well enough to know that I would NOT make something like this up although I know a huge number of people out there would take issue with it.
    It all depends on who you end up having as your “real” parents. If the people you live with love you and nurture you then I don’t think you will have a void that needs filling. If the reverse happens, then I think you will of course want to find your “real” parents, even if such a thing doesn’t exist.
    I think the genetic crap is simply that…,crap. I used to hope I would find out I was adopted as I thought that would go a long way to explaining why I never “fit” in my family.
    Oh and by the way… Zgirl does so have a couple of mothers – I would be happy to provide unconditional love anytime you want to send her my way so doesn’t that count?
    Hugs (just to show you that I’m not completely the hoary old beast you believe me to be)
    DinoD

  4. Lordy lordy I could write a book on this! I donated eggs in an open situation because that’s what the recipient and I both wanted. It fit for us but should in no way, shape or form be required!

    I gave a family some some starter, they grew the babies and gave birth and nursed and raise the children. That pretty much makes them the mommy and daddy, and the whole birth thing sure as hell makes them the biological parents.

    I don’t even think of myself as a genetic “parent” as the word implies extensive involvement and childrearing. I don’t do any of that. Am I concerned about them, yes because their parents are dear friends of mine and I care about all of my friends’ children. But the title and honor of being parent in any form is solely theirs.

  5. I simply don’t get why this girl is so upset other than it seems to be that she doesn’t feel her mom and dad gave her unconditional love. Maybe there was a bad parenting issue here or something.

    Honestly how many times do people need to be told that parents are the ones that are loving you, feeding and clothing you, cleaning up your puke, reading the bedtime stories, saying NO when you want to do something stupid and not caring if you hate them at that moment.

    An egg and a sperm are both useless unless there is someone to love them when they hook up and make a baby.

    You know I have 2 sons genetically related and one that isn’t…..I really don’t give a shit. They are ALL my sons and the fact that our oldest was a product of two teenagers that had a steamy night, each donating the respective egg and sperm—well, it doesn’t matter. I am his mother.

    If a child is loved at home, it doesn’t matter where the genetic material was obtained.

  6. Wow. There is just so much wrong in that woman’s statement that I’m impressed that you even knew where to begin in being annoyed. My head is still spinning.

    I’m not adopted and wasn’t conceived using donors so really can only guess, but I don’t really get the whole wanting a relationship with biological parents or donors. I totally understand wanting to maybe meet them and hear the story of how they came to their decision. But anything more than that I don’t get, but maybe that’s just me being ignorant.

  7. I have to say that the whole question hit me kind of hard. My sons are both from Donor gametes. I think of the donor with great gratitude. I can accept that my sons might be interested in her and her two children some day. But never for even a moment have I considered her a mother to my sons. She is a genetic relative. Mother and Father are titles for people who do the parenting.

  8. For all intents and purposes, my daughter was created by a “sperm donor”.

    Yes, we were in a “relationship” at the time. And yes she knows who he is, she actually has a very good relationship with his parents and sees them on a bi-weekly basis.

    Does this change the fact that he is nothing more than a sperm donor??

    Not one bit.

    Does it make my husband any less her “daddy”??

    Not even close.

    In technical terms, her “donor” would be referred to as her father, and it’s true. But his lack of involvement negates any so-called “bio-bond”. He walked out on her AFTER she was born. To me, it doesn’t matter WHEN he denied himself to her. He did it, and that makes him nothing more than a donor, and quite frankly, if it was up to me, he’d have NO rights to her, and she would never even know he exists.

    Parents are not created by a biological/genetic bond. Parents are created by raising, and loving a child. Biological expulsions are just that, and nothing more.

  9. DD, this was something I’d never ever really thought about and I’m glad that you made me think more about. I mean, Nat (Ben’s father by sperm) has made me think of what a father really involves (i.e. The Daver) versus someone who donated his spunk and does very little heavy parental lifting. Dave is his father, Nat is his sperm donor.

  10. I struggle enough with adoption language. But when we faced the option of donor conception I never thought of the donor as a parent.

    But I do think the genetic ties may be significant to the child on some level at some point in the future. I think the key to not having the anger you read in that thread/story is being honest with the child whatever their story.

    Those angry adoptees and angry donor conceived children/adults all seem to have stories that involve lies.

    Maybe it’s the lies that are the root of the anger, not the source of the gametes.

    It’s more complicated than that, I know, but those are a few of my thoughts.

  11. Again, another jackassy – infertiles who want a baby are selfish line of thinking. Because we need help to have a baby we are awful self absorbed people who probably wouldn’t even care about that baby should we get lucky enough to have one.

    I look at the whole donation business like blood donation, it’s a valuable, noble, and some would argue, life saving act but it does not create any lifelong bond. I am forever grateful to the woman who donated her eggs and made me a mother but as far as I’m concerned she is not tied to my daughter.

    And she could not possibly love my daughter any more than I do or embrace her any more devotedly than she is embraced by my family and my husband’s family. That I know for a fact.

  12. Hi DD–

    Jeez oh man…

    What more loving thing can a parent say to a child than, “I wanted you so much, I went through such crazy things. I wanted you so much that I had someone very kind help me make you.”

    Seriously, how much more wanted could you be or be made to feel? Baby, you are the inverse of accident!

    Sara

  13. I agree with previous commentors as well as you. The board poster has issues with her parents that she is projecting on to the whole donor situation.

    I never knew my “dad”. My mom stayed in close contact with his mom so I know my grandmother very well. However, over the course of my life I think I have heard from him twice. Both times, I had to initate the contact. I finally met him when I was in my late twenties. This man IS my biological parent but he is never, and never will be, my father. A father? I don’t have one.

    So, I find it laughable that people would think that a donor could be termed a mother or a father. Give me a break.

  14. I think donor gametes are perfectly fine (and actually, pretty darned spiffy), as long as you’re honest with children who are conceived in that manner.

    On the other hand, I don’t think it’s fair for those of us who weren’t conceived via donor gametes to dictate how the children who WERE conceived via donor gametes should feel about it. Clearly the commenter you quoted has some issues, but hey, that’s how they feel. Those are their authentic feelings, and they’re entitled.

    My daughters have a half sister who lives very very far away. When she comes to visit, they latch onto her immediately, even in the throes of stranger anxiety, even when they scream and pull away from the local family and friends that they see much more frequently.

    They share a bond that quite honestly, I used to think was total crap. I didn’t think genetics meant anything. I mean, you can love your spouse, and THEY don’t share any genes with you (one hopes), right? But I don’t know how to argue with really tiny babies, so there you are.

    Do I think that being a sperm/egg donor makes you a father or mother? No. No, I do not. Absolutely not.

    But a child may see it differently some day, or(want to) share a bond with their genetic siblings. I think it’s all well and good for us to have opinions on the matter, but ultimately, this is their deal, not ours.

  15. Ok, I started off reading prepared to disagree, but I don’t, for the most part.

    The only problem I get hung up on is what if your child needed some sort of medical procedure, and half siblings could be a match for whatever needed to be done?

    I’m thinking about this a lot, as neither of my biological children will have a full-blood sibling, but both will have half siblings. You know, GOD FORBID it’s ever an issue, but it’s one of those things that has been on my mind a lot.

  16. DD, I think Beagle’s comment is closest for me. I don’t think that the egg donor is another mother for z-girl. But she is a genetic relative – perhaps we don’t have the right word given the optimal connotations of the word ‘mother’ – but in current language the donor is z-girl’s biological mother.

    Experience shows that children in general do want to know their genetic relatives, even when they are very very happy and loved and centred in their adoptive families. Not always, but mostly. We have less knowledge of donor babies for obvious reasons, but given the growth in understanding of genetics it would be surprising, but of course not impossible that at some point z-girl did not want to know about her donor and therefore her genetics. It won’t weaken her bond to you, her mother, and perhaps as a family you can come up with better language. And as Summer says, the problems seem to come when children have been lied to, which you are not going to do, so it’s likely that when this request comes, it will come without fear or anger on z-girl’s part. It will not be about looking for another mother, it will be about understanding her genetics.

  17. As someone who is also donor conceived I would like to respond on the other side of the spectrum.

    First off, not a single person that has responded here is donor conceived, and I don’t think any of you have ANY right to make judgements about our situation.

    Secondly, as for the term mother and father, I would like to explain that most donor conceived adults have two terms: father and dad – our dad is the man who raised us, who loved us, etc – our father on the other hand is a genetic term….our biological father, our parents’ sperm donor (he’s not really our sperm donor/vendor, we didn’t pay for him).

    We have every right to want to know who our biological father is, regardless of how loved we are by our parents. We are not looking for another dad…we only want the answers to these most primal needs.

    I have known all my life that I was donor conceived, and yet despite knowing for almost 24 years, there is still a deep and largely ignored yearning to know that other half of me —- where does my love for science and biology come from (the only class my mom nearly failed in college was General Biology), where does my passion for travelling to foreign countries come from (my mom never had a passport until last year), where does my facial features, terrible eyesight and freckles come from.

    All of these things are something that people who are not intentionally denied any and all right to know the man who fathered them cannot and will not understand. This is not about kids who have deadbeat dads, or their father died when they were young. Those things are not intentional but are collateral damage for the surrounding situation. We on the other hand must live with decisions that our parents made without our consent, that will forever impact our lives and the lives of our families.

    Please check out my blog “Confessions of a Cryokid” (http://cryokidconfessions.blogspot.com), for more information about the opinions of donor conceived adults.

  18. […] my MOTHER FATHER post must have pricked a nerve since it become an email topic that eventually made its way to […]

  19. I just commented to your “And with this I will let it go” post. Thought it might be worth re-posting on your original post “MOTHER FATHER” as well —

    Hi DD,
    I’m actually the person who posted the comment you quoted from the The American Fertility Association Blog.

    I am so sorry to have upset you. Honestly, that was absolutely NOT my intention.

    I had a wonderful upbringing. My parents did nothing wrong. I ADORED my dad and had a very close relationship with my mom. My dad died when I was 18 and my mom remarried about 10 years later. I ADORED my step-dad. He opened his heart and family to me and my/his grandchildren even though we were not bio-related. My step-dad could NEVER replace my dad (and vice versa). My bio/genetic dad could NEVER replace either one of my dad’s but I do still consider him my bio-father — and yes, there is an emotional attachment involved even though he never opened his heart/family to me or his grandchildren.

    Your children will love you unconditionally no matter what. I am sure that you love your children unconditionally as well. But as part of that unconditionally please consider opening your heart/door/family to your children’s genetic mother (or as you would prefer to call her – donor). Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you did find her, she was open to contact, you formed a friendship and unconditionally embraced the children that are of both of you. That would be the most unconditional motherly love. Don’t be afraid.

    My most heartfelt apology and wishing you (all of you) comfort and best wishes for the new year.

    I also wanted to bring this to your attention as well:
    New Study on Egg Donors (Recruited from Donor Sibling Registry)

    Important take-away: “THE OVERWHELMING MAJORITY, 97.4% WERE OPEN TO CONTACT WITH RECIPIENT FAMILIES”

    SOURCE: http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/DonorSiblingRegistry/message/11502

    Presentation at the “Fertility 2009″ Conference in Edinburgh Scotland:

    Title: Long-term follow-up of 155 anonymous egg donors

    Jennifer P. Schneider, M.D. and Wendy Kramer B.A.

    This study presents findings from a large sample of egg donors recruited from the Donor Sibling Registry (DSR), a US-based registry that helps to educate and support egg and sperm donor families, as well as facilitate connections between half siblings and/or donors. An online survey asked about medical complications and subsequent health problems, contact with IVF clinic, willingness to have contact with recipient families, donors’ satisfaction with the donation process, and current feelings.

    Results were based on 155 women <1 to 22 years (mean, 9.4+-5.2 years) past their first donation, which occurred at a mean age of 26.4. Reported medical complications included 32.6% with some degree of OHSS and 4.9% with subsequent infertility. Only 3.9% had been contacted by the IVF clinic for medical updates; 34.2% reported medical changes they thought would be of interest to donor children and half had attempted to report these changes to the clinic, with variable results. Many of those who did not report didn’t realize they could or should. The overwhelming majority, 97.4%, were open to contact with recipient families, 2.6% were uncertain, and 0% said no. A common theme was desire to know the outcome of the egg donation. Donors frequently had not sought information because of confusion about the definition of “anonymity” or “confidentiality. ”

    Conclusions: IVF clinics need to give anonymous egg donors clearer guidelines re asking for outcome information or giving the clinic medical updates to benefit their genetic children. Additional long-term studies are needed to ascertain egg donors’ risks of infertility or cancer.


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