I've been 18 for 7 months now and since I found out I was so impatient to turn 18 so I could 'legally' start searching for biological relatives and join Donorlink UK. However, since actually turning 18, I've found that I'm no where near as impatient to start looking and although I have filled out the registration forms to join Donorlink I am no longer in such a rush to send them off and take my DNA test.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
I'm just now getting a chance to post this here.....since I blogged about it on Cryokid several weeks ago....but it's just so important that I felt it was necessary to mention it here as well.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
I wanted to address/respond to this quote by Laura Witjens (An 'egg donor' and Chair of the National Donation Gamete Trust in the UK)in this article:
"Finding Your Biological Family" http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/sep/26/finding-biological-family-donor-register
Laura Witjens: "I would try to help them find any missing links, but I would resist letting them call me mother because I am not. I am absolutely clear to my own children that I have only one daughter and one son, and that although there may be people out there who have a bit of mummy in them genetically, they are not my children."
Although I'm very grateful, on one hand, that Laura Witjens (An 'egg donor' and Chair of the National Donation Gamete Trust in the UK) promotes 'open donors', I think this really demeans the importance and responsibility of biological/genetic parents NO MATTER HOW A CHILD IS CONCEIVED. The intentionality of 'they are not my children' is not respectful or deserving of respect.
This really sums up why I am very much against the practice of 'donor' conception as a whole. She IS their mother. Her 'non-choice' children are just as much her children as her 'choice' children. Yes, her 'non-choice' children have other loved ones but that does not absolve her from responsibility – ESPECIALLY emotional responsibility. This really cuts to the heart of the problem with the disconnects that even 'open donors' create.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Very interesting/worthwhile read:
"Journey into the bubble"
"Open Letter to Alison"
I have been reading Alison's blog (http://journeyintothebubble.blogspot.com/) and I am both heart sick and awed by what she has shared. Alison if you are reading this, I hope you consider sharing your story with the media or in a way that draws attention to your/our plight.
We live in a world of competing sorrows but rarely is the plight of the 'child' (who are children for a VERY short time) to know/be known/loved/supported by ALL the people they come from and belong to, reported on in a balanced manner as the plight of the reproductive (and personal relationship) angst of 'adults'.
Alison, thank you so much for sharing your deeply personal story and thoughts. I hope by doing this you will find a donor to heal you and the 'donor' (your biological father/half siblings/extended family/ancestry etc.) to complete you.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
There is a lot of debate in fertility “circles” about birth certificates and many court cases whereby one or both of commissioning parents seek to have their names put on a birth certificate where otherwise it would have another persons name on it under law.
Rather than address the legal status of each person in relation to the child and their place or lack thereof on a birth certificate I wish to analyse what a birth certificate actually is and what should occur as a result.
A birth certificate is supposed to be a truthful and legal document which describes the progenitors of a child. It is a pedigree that traces our genealogy. It is our heritage. Historically the progenitors of a child were always the raising parents which were traditionally married or in a de-facto relationship. So the people that raised you were also your biological father/mother and appeared on your birth certificate as such. The problem now is that because your biological parents may not be the ones that raise you due to some fertility treatment procedure, the birth certificates can become a fraudulent document when a non-progenitor is placed on it instead.
Just as we use pedigree papers to trace the biological lineage of animals such as dogs, cats, horses etc, we can and do use birth certificates for the same purpose in humans. Historians and genealogists use them to trace a person’s heritage and history. If we replace a progenitor on a birth certificate with a social parent then we create false history and the truth becomes clouded by lies. We are rewriting history with erroneous claims.
It would appear as though the non-biological parent who seeks inclusion on the birth certificate or replacement of the biological parent does so out of fear that the child will then not recognise them as their dad/mum. There is no evidence to suggest that this is the case. There is too much emotion placed on a birth certificate when none should be placed on it at all. It is purely a document describing the genetic history of each person, it has absolutely nothing to do with who raises or loves you. They can be two entirely separate things and should be kept separate when it comes to creating a birth certificate.
Those who are a party to a fertility treatment and subsequent rearing of child but are not the progenitors can still be recognised as the legal parent of the child without having to be on the birth certificate. It is time we recognised the truth and recorded the facts on birth certificates rather than play deceitful games with fraudulent documents. It is up to each country/state to decide if they also wish to include the social/non-biological parent AS WELL on the birth certificate, or to create additional documentation detailing the legal parenthood of each child. What they should not be doing is usurping the truth.
My birth certificate is a lie and not worth the piece of paper it is written on, is yours?
Saturday, June 27, 2009
End of Anonymity: Is just knowing a name enough? (Re: Michael Jackson's children)
I cannot believe that Michael Jackson is dead. I'm still in shock. While he was alive there has been little media coverage on his children. They were always covered by either masks or veils and the public was left to wonder, do they look like their father? Who is their mother?
My parents used an anonymous 'sperm donor' to conceive me back in the mid 1960's and I've been involved in advocating for the identity rights of those conceived from the same method of conception as myself for the past 5-6 years. I and others, want to see an end to anonymous 'sperm/egg donations/vending' and 'traditional surrogacy'.
Since Michael Jackson's passing, if you Google search "sperm donor" you will find numerous articles on the nature of his children's conception. Did Michael Jackson use a 'sperm donor' and/or 'egg donor' and/or 'surrogate' to bring his children into the world?
I haven't seen pictures of his children until just recently and I have to say, they don't look much like their dad. Regardless, Michael Jackson was their dad. No one is perfect and I haven't ever spoken with his children but I'd bet that they adored him regardless of their biological/non- biological relationship with him. No doubt, they are in profound mourning and will require years to come to full (if ever) acceptance of their loss.
I do wonder though if they feel as confused over their 'donor/surrogate' conception as I and many other 'donor' conceived feel? Do they wonder who their genetic father/ mother/ grandparents/ siblings/ cousins/ ancestry/ heritage are? Do they feel a loss?
Now that their dad is gone, will they feel more open to explore what their 'donor' conception/surrogac y means to them? Will it take having children of their own to fully explore their feelings and how it relates to their own children to search for more information?
I advocate for the end of anonymity in relation to 'sperm/egg' donation/vending and surrogacy, but I also do not think that just knowing a name is enough. I believe everyone does have a responsibility for their own sperm/egg when combined to create a new (out of the womb) life (including 'sperm/egg donors' and 'surrogates' ) that includes more than just identity disclosure â€" and nothing less than open doors and open hearts.
Michael Jackson's children are not abandoned by any means but are they genetic orphans? I hope not. No doubt, there are many people willing to be involved and supportive in their lives but is that enough? I hope and pray that their genetic father/mother/ grandparents and extended family have also kept their doors wide open to these children. Love might make a family but we can't just write off genetics and the importance of genetic/biological family. They all matter.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Check out Michael Galinsky's brand new blog at Donor 67. Michael is one of a growing number of former sperm donors who are joining the Donor Sibling Registry and trying to make contact with their biological children.
Monday, June 8, 2009
I have simulatneously put this post on my own blog for the simple reason that I think that genetic genealogy testing has the "potential" to provide some answers for those of us that do not have any and have no means of being able to make a search of any sort. Thereby giving some of us an avenue of moving forward, maybe not all the way to our goal but perhaps at least part of the way. After all it has been a successful avenue for at least one DC person.
In an effort to compensate for the lack of heritage and knowledge of my genetic father that was forcibly imposed on myself by being donor conceived I undertook a genetic genealogy test from Family Tree DNA. While there are numerous companies offering such services, FTDNA was settled on due to having the largest database, a factor of great importance when trying to create a match with a potential distant relative. Once the testing kit arrived in the letter box it was a simple matter of collecting some buccal cells (cheek cells from the inside of you mouth) via a scraping, then sending it back to the testing company and waiting for the results.
The genetic genealogy test in regards to paternity works by following the Y-chromosome through the generations, as such, finding more information on your genetic donor father and your heritage through that part of your family tree is only possible for male offspring. Unfortunately female offspring are unable to do this. However, if they are a product of donated eggs they (as well as male offspring) could potentially follow the maternal side of their family tree through mitochondrial DNA testing which follows the maternal line. Both tests implement the premise that both the Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA are highly conserved and do not change when passed onto the next generation. Small changes do occur occasionally due to mutations and is the reason why we can then see who is closely related to each other through their DNA and why most people are related to each other if we go back far enough in history.
I purchased the Y-DNA 37 markers test from the option of 12, 37 and 67 markers on the recommendation of FTDNA with the theory being that 12 markers are not specific enough to verify a relation whereas 67 were supposedly too specific and that a certain degree of ambiguity is desirable when a person has no knowledge of their heritage or a genetically inherited family name (eg. adoptees and donor conceived).
These markers are assigned DYS (DNA Y-chromosome segment) numbers and a numerical value is returned based on which mutation has been detected in the test by looking for Y-STRs (short tandem repeats). It is these numbers which are used to match yourself with others that are related. From my results, FTDNA matched me perfectly to 4 other individuals at the 12 marker level, and to 2 others at a genetic distance of 2 at the 25 marker level. The genetic distance is a measure of how many markers are different and by what degree they are different. This was within the FTDNA database, however, it is possible to put you values into a wider database such as Y-SEARCH which allows people who have been tested by other companies to put their values online and to search for matches. The advantage of a database such as this is that it can be considerably larger and it allows you to conduct more thorough searches by changing the parameters to which matches are made which is not possible on the FTDNA site and subsequently, people that can be related could be excluded from being shown to you through the FTDNA results. Putting my marker values in Y-SEARCH allowed me to match to several individuals at more than 30 markers with a relatively small genetic distance. While it may at one level be beneficial to keep some level of ambiguity in your testing for those of unknown paternity. It can also create other problems in that by not being specific enough to confirm a close relation. From 37 marker results it is possible that someone that may appear close is actually quite distant at the 67 marker level, and conversely someone who may not initially appear as the main person of interest at 37 markers may be considerably close at the 67 marker level.
In addition to the marker values and possible matches that are obtained through such testing, a haplogroup can be assigned to your results. This haplogroup basically describes a part of the population that originates from a common ancestor through the use of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). As such depending on what haplogroup may be assigned to you, the region from which your paternal line comes from can be pinpointed or narrowed down. For example my haplogroup is most closely associated with the British Isles and Western Europe. This haplogroup can be defined to a greater level through Deep Clade testing which then has the possibility of further refining your ancestral origins to a region within these areas. My haplogroup assignment is also supported by the greatest number of matches I had of certain markers which define recent common ancestor origins to the areas of England, Scotland, Ireland and Germany.
So how do these results affect my knowledge of my heritage and my quest to find my genetic father?
In several ways;
First the matches that I have been able to make provide a basis to conduct further research. For those in the databases that have selected to allow their contact details to be accessible, they can be contacted and research can be conducted on their family history to see if there is a possibility of a closer link.
Secondly, the surnames (and their derivatives) that can come back as matches can be used by donor offspring to cross-reference with in my case names of medical and science graduates which comprised the donor pool at that time as possible avenues of enquiry.
Thirdly, any haplogroup assignment could also help narrow down the name pool of potential donors from the aforementioned donor pool based on certain family names originating from certain areas of the world.
The use of such testing has been used successfully previously with one donor offspring in the USA finding their genetic father by matching up with a close relative. There are also other companies which conduct health analysis of DNA. These tests analyse a person’s potential susceptibility to certain illnesses based on genetic links with these diseases.
The thing that must be noted is that any genetic genealogy result obtained is dependent on a close or distant relation also having undergone testing. While currently the greatest population of people undergoing such testing live in the USA, the British Isles and Western Europe, with more and more people being tested everyday, for those that may not get closer to discovering their heritage or even their paternity initially, eventually they may get there given time.
While I cannot show here the results of any matches as enquiries are ongoing, they have not excluded any of the information and lines of enquiry that I had obtained through other means before undergoing genetic testing. In regard to further genetic testing I may in the near future increase the number of markers to narrow down some of the potential matches if the line of enquiry deems that it would be of benefit. A further refinement of the haplogroup assignment by Deep Clade testing may also assist in this and will be assessed on its necessity as required. A full DNA “health” analysis is something that I will undertake to fill in the gaps of a family health history that I am missing. While genetic genealogy testing and DNA health analysis may not give to me the genetic father that has been missing in my life, it has the potential to provide for not just myself but also to my children a picture of our heritage (the origin of my paternity by region) but also a family health history which will be just as important to them as me.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
WHO AM I?
How do you define identity? What role, if any, has genetics played in shaping the person you are today?
We’re SEEKING DONOR OFFSPRING to participate in an international high end documentary series on Assisted Reproductive Technology and the link between biological and genetic history and identity. What makes this documentary series unique is that it is told through the eyes of the offspring conceived through ART; your EYES.
We want to hear your stories; your perspectives; your insights into the impact of the technology that helped bring you into this world and your vision for the future.
WHO ARE WE?
Please allow us to introduce ourselves:
Tammi Michelle Faraday is a Television, Feature Film & Documentary Producer, Investigative journalist, Human Rights Lobbyist, Television Presenter, Broadcaster, and one time Senior Associate of an international law firm.
Tammi recently returned to Australia after being based in London for two years working as a producer on critically acclaimed and award winning feature films and feature length documentaries for the BBC (UK), WGBH (United States), SBS (Australia) and Channel 2 (Israel). These include: (a BBC/WGBH feature length documentary about the Iraqi insurgency); (a BBC Panorama investigation about the private international nuclear network); “Yitzchak Rabin - Case Unclosed" (a groundbreaking documentary on the late Prime Minister of Israel); “Rape on Trial" (a BBC Panorama investigation about rape and the criminal justice system in the UK) and the multi award winning feature film in Australia, “Wil".
In 2008 Tammi launched her international film production, media and communications company - Juggernaut Media Management.
Ros Tatarka is an established producer with an extensive track record primarily in television production. In her early career Ros worked on some of Australia’s most iconic television dramas including Prisoner, Neighbours and A Country Practice. She later went on to Associate Produce the mini-series Snowy and the first nine telemovies of the successful Halifaxfp franchise. As Producer her credits include the first series of Something In the Air, and the telemovie and first series of Good Guys Bad Guys, for which she won an AFI Award.
Ros was most recently engaged as the General Manager, Industry Development and Investment at the State Government Agency, Film Victoria. In this role, Ros headed up the business unit responsible for stimulating and supporting growth and excellence in the Victorian screen industry.
In 2008 Ros returned to the independent sector and through her production company, CreatEve Pty Ltd, is developing a slate of projects including feature film, television drama, documentary and new media.
For further information please contact Tammi Faraday on + 61 (0)401 952 962 or email@example.com Ros Tatarka on either +61 (0)411 567 556 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
From Kathleen LaBounty:
Cynthia Davis, of the Missouri State Legislature is looking to ban anonymous donations in the state of Missouri and give all donor-conceived offspring the right to access the donor's identity at age 21. She is hoping to have a hearing about her bill (HB355) within the next three months. She is looking for donor-conceived adults and families from Missouri to speak there.
If you are interested please contact Cynthia Davis at Cynthia.Davis@house.mo.gov.
Summary of the Introduced Bill
HB 355 -- Sperm and Egg Donations
This bill allows an adult child born as a result of a sperm or egg donation to obtain identifying information regarding the donor by requiring the name of the biological parent and the donor parent to be shown on the child's birth certificate. The State Registrar will file the original birth certificate in the event the non-donor parent requests a new birth certificate. Unless contracted in writing, no legal relationship will exist between the child born as a result of a sperm or egg donation or the child's parent and the child's donor. In the event of a birth as a result of a sperm or egg donor, any person or entity required to file a birth certificate must send the Department of Health and Senior Services documentation of the birth including the child's name, sex, and date and place of birth; the biological parent's name or other parent's name; and the donor parent's name.
An adult child of a sperm or egg donation made prior to January 1, 2010, can make a written request to the circuit court in the county in which he or she resides to secure and disclose identifying information of his or her donor parent. Donor parents can register with the Children's Division within the Department of Social Services if they choose to allow a child to obtain his or her identifying information. Any adult child born as a result of a sperm or egg donation will be subject to the same requirements as an adopted child when seeking identifying or non-identifying information regarding his or her donor parent. Children born as a result of a sperm or egg donation made after January 1, 2010, can receive a copy of his or her original birth certificate indicating his or her donor's identifying and medical history information from the State Registrar and the donation facility.
I just realized that there was a problem with the comments section, and you couldn't post a comment for some reason. I've fixed the problem, so hopefully anyone can now respond.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Hi everyone! What are your thoughts on this?
I always thought donor-conception was a treatment for infertility? Since when is a woman with 6 children already (albeit through DC) in need of more "infertility" treatment....and thats not even getting started on the 8 implanted embryos that have created the US Octuplet media frenzy!
"33-year-old Nadya Suleman says the octuplets were a sign from God that she should stop having children".....to be completely controversial, there are some people out there who may consider that the sign from God was needing the infertility treatment in the beginning! (Disclaimer: I am NOT of that opinion myself).
However, being an unemployed, single mum of 14, she is now "counting on God to help provide for her family but acknowledged that she already was "struggling" financially to raise her first six children"...so just in case he doesn't (and that God can be mysterious in his ways!) here's her website, so you can offer the family some best wishes....and a financial donation, of course.
Oooh, listen to me! I've surprised myself - I'm usually someone who's very happy to sit on the fence!! :o)
What a weird and crazy world we live in!
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
This unbelievably biased and poorly researched article (see below) is written by a libertarian believer in the laissez-fair/free market promoting donor/vendor/surrogacy ANONYMITY.
ReasonOnline – "Free Minds and Free Markets"
Who's Your Daddy?
Children of sperm donors are seeking more information about their once-anonymous fathers, sometimes at the risk of the fertility industry itself.
By Cheryl Miller – February 2009 Print Edition
Please read the comments, specifically, this comment (see below) made by Bill Cordray (a donor conceived man from the United States who is one of our most out spoken public advocates):
Bill Cordray, January 27, 2009
Tonio wrote: “I do not believe that anyone has an unqualified right to know who his parents are.
It's not the state withholding records, it's the doctors.”
Good point. There is no law in any state that gives a doctor the power to prohibit access by a donor conceived people (DCP) to the records of their identity. There is also no law preventing them from exercising this presumed prohibitive power of procreative preclusion. States wash their hands of their responsibility to the public to regulate infertility medicine. When DCP protest, the doctors say they are giving infertile people choice. In reality, the whole system is set up by doctors to promote a lucrative business that is self-governing, Laissez-faire, libertarian, whatever. The point is they make all the rules that ultimately do not protect anyone more than their own selves. They institute protections to sheild themselves from accountability, not to protect children, infertile people, sperm donors but only themselves. Donors and intending parents come to doctors and have to play by their rules, without any say in contracts and without recourse to state laws or even guidelines. State legislatures, courts, and governors have had no idea what the doctors are doing and cannot act without risking a counterattack by one of the most powerful lobby groups around, the AMA. The history of DI goes back to 1884. It’s cloak of secrecy and binding “contracts” have made its practices virtually unknown to society and therefore state governments. Until DCP came forth to speak out, no one knew that there was even anything possibly wrong with such an altruistic mission as helping barren women to have children. Now that governments know something about us does not mean that the “rights” issues are resolved but only that no one has expressed these issues effectively yet and so society is still ignorant of the profound sense of injustice that we DCP feel. We see our rights as being violated by such a system but we have not found the same kind of voice as Martin Luther King to make society understand it in their heart.
“[Tonio]: The doctors are withholding records to fulfill their contractual obligations to the donors.”
Well, this is meaningless since it is the doctors that created these contracts and who are the source of our disenfranchisement. The contracts have cleverly pitted the “rights” of infertile people against the “rights” of the donors, with the central figures (DCP) left without a voice, since we did not yet exist until after the contracts were signed. This manipulation of a balance of rights is meant to keep the prime mover in the background, as if he played no part and was just a “provider” instead of the creator of the whole system. Why does it seem that the DCP are such threats to grown adults deliberately chose to deny the DCP access to their identity? If we are so frightening that the contractual parties need protection from us, then why were we created in the first place? Certainly we are not created for our own sake, but for the interests of future parents, the ego of donors, and the profits of the doctors.
“[Tonio]: Absent of any legally enumerated right to know one's parentage, the state is passively enforcing the contract by failing to overturn it.”
That’s not really plausible since such contracts existed decades before any government was even aware they were being written. In addition, the validity of these contracts have never been seriously challenged in US courts and may be totally indefensible, much like the various yellow-dog contracts common during the era of laissez-faire Economics, prior to the Great Depression, until the Supreme Court struck down the Sanctity of Contracts tenet before the beginning of WW2. And yet these untested contracts, 70 years later, are somehow given an air of sacred script even though they expressly restrict the rights and interests of DCP, those of us who are now human beings because of the contracts but had no voice in how these writs would so deeply affect us. By the way, the concept of a donor’s right to privacy has no definition or principle that is consistent with the Rights of Privacy as first suggested by law student Louis Brandeis (not codified, by the way, until Brandeis was on the Court) and later expanded by Roe v. Wade and other decisions. As part of the contracts that infertility doctors and clinics have written, a donor’s right to anonymity is a legal invention, made up out of thin air, not by legislatures or approved by courts, but by doctors themselves who have presumed this power to define who has rights and who doesn’t in DI.
[Tonio]: “DONORCONCEIVED: Philosophers spout off this sort of thing all the time. There is a difference between philosophy and law. I realize you want the law to say something different than what it does, and I take no joy in pointing this out to you, but we are a nation of written laws, not of philosophical opinions. Wikipedia, and donor-conceived support sites, are not legal references. Sorry.”
I suppose you are correct in the strict sense but please remember that it was a political philosopher who pointed out that the natural rights that Jefferson proclaimed are as much a part of our heritage as those mere civil and social rights that change with every session, vary from state to state, and get clarified by court decisions, evolving over time and expanding in greater freedoms. After Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney declared in his Dred Scott Decision that Negroes were not citizens, Abraham Lincoln said that all Americans had naturally endowed rights, even black slaves, which are inherent, superior to civil and social rights, and not subject to majority rule. Out of this philosophical opinion came the Emancipation Proclamation, the Fourteenth Amendment that actually codified Jefferson’s natural rights, Johnson’s Civil Rights Acts, and the eventual election of a President who would not have been considered a citizen if Taney’s decision remained as the only legal precedent. Rights evolve and become codified when those of us who suffer injustice commit to the fight for the recognition of our natural rights. All we would need is action from President Obama to ratify the UN Charter on the Rights of Children and we would have enough precedent to push for the legal recognition of what we already know is our natural right to know our identity. We DCP see anonymity a social problem that restricts our identity interests and so we are no different as moral entrepreneurs as other rights advocates as King, Rosa Parks, Betty Freidan, Mario Salvo, Samuel Gompers, and Abraham Lincoln.
Monday, January 26, 2009
So last night I went to the local "Robbie Burns" celebration dinner. I'd been asked a dozen times if I was going, said no every time (haggis and turnips aren't my thing, especially when they cost $35), but picked up the phone midday Saturday and there was a neighbour saying someone would buy my ticket if I'd buy my kid's (cheaper) and please won't you come? So what could I possibly say but yes?
FYI Robbie Burns was THE Scottish poet, lived in the late 1700s, wrote many things you would recognize if you heard them (but might not know they were his lines unless you were Scottish or someone dragged you to a Robbie Burns dinner), was apparently a drinker and a womanizer and died at the ripe old age of 30 something. I learned all this last night. The one that got me is that a line or two from his poetry was the inspiration for Hemingway's famous novel "Of Mice and Men." Who knew? I was transported, whether I belonged there or not.
So at the dinner were some bonafide Scottish descendants (here in Canada a lot of people came from the British Isles originally) and the rest of us who wondered why we were there apart from it being yet another community event. My kid was digging through the book of Scottish clans/plaids and wondered if she had any - and fortunately I found one or two names on her dad's side and one on my mom's side (not proven, but enough for the evening). So she was happy.
But it got me thinking about roots, especially as the single malt Scotch overcame the heavy load of roast beef and mashed potatoes (the haggis and turnips didn't do it for me, or her, so I think the Scottish blood, if we have it at all, must be seriously thin).
I drank enough single malt to confess my birth circumstances to a few more neighbours, even good friends, who didn't know before. It's not like I try to keep it a secret, but it's something that's also odd to bring up in conversation unless the moment is right.
What I like about living here is that most folks are farmers. So when I say "I'm an AI baby" and they look blank, all I have to say is "like cows" and they suddenly get it. As dairy and beef famers have been doing that almost as long as people...
Don't know where I'm going with this exactly - it's weird to compare oneself with a cow so that people understand, but nice when they get it.
What's harder is going to a dinner that is all about genetic connections to a place, a name, even a person, and know I'm missing a big part of that....
"The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft a-gley
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain
For promis'd joy!"
(Robbie Burns, late 1700s)
I'll leave it to all of you to decide what this means to you...
Thursday, January 22, 2009
I don't even know quite how this works yet...but...I am 48, conceived in a Boston hospital in 1959.
I didn't actually find this out until I was 37 and pregnant with my first (and only) child. My mom came north to visit and dragged me through an hour or more of something she needed to "share" with me before she came out with it (I worried she was going to die soon, so the news I wasn't who I thought I was was a relief at the moment). Seems my "life father" (what do you call the man you grew up thinking of as your father who in an instant turns out not to be that? I haven't figured out a good term for it yet) was not my actual biological father.
If you're reading this most of you have been there and done that by now. It's provided me plenty of food for thought over the years since the revelation and I hope to share those thoughts from time to time here, but for now, this is just a hello to all...
Sunday, January 11, 2009
I am a medical researcher with a strong background in the biological sciences. I have also worked for and with clinicians who are involved in reproductive technologies and or the obstetrics and gynaecological fields. This career path has shaped my perspectives on the issues of donor conception. I have always known about my conception and I consider myself very lucky to have been told from an early age. It did not change the love I had for my dad and it made it easier to deal with and accept as it was always a part of my life and is not something that I all of a sudden had to come to terms with. As a child my dad was my father, it did not matter that we were not biologically related. I was always too busy being a child than to stress over my origins.
The family unit is recognized as the greatest factor in our lives. It is important to recognize that sociological and biological fathers can be two separate things. And while a family is what you make of it, there is however a basis to the phrase “blood is thicker than water”. Genetic connectedness, are ties that bind.
It is this genetic connection that I have been trying to locate during an 19 year search for information. It started off as a search for non-identifying information and to obtain a family health history. At one point it would have been of great benefit to have had a family health background to help assess a condition that I had. During this time I have encountered numerous brickwalls and hurdles. The fertility units that I contacted over several years provided differing accounts on my records, with them being lost, being destroyed or of unknown location. This was very frustrating as was their answering or not answering of certain questions I posed to them. Only through contact with individuals that were conducting the practice at the time was I able to track down my mother’s treatment records. These documents contained a donor code, but no records to link this code to a donor. Apparently, donor records were not kept. The changing of stories by these clinics which has occurred to not only myself, but numerous other people that I personally know, has led me to be very cynical of their practices and what they report to customers and the media.
While I started off searching for non-identifying information as I at one time agreed with anonymity – I have now changed my perspective and I wish to know who this person is. This view changed after the birth of my daughter. It was a moment not too dissimilar to the moments that parents often report experiencing when they hold their child for the first time and stare into their baby’s eyes. It was an acceptance and knowledge of a biological connection. That no matter what might happen in the world, we would always be father and daughter. No one or no thing would ever be able to change this. This biological connection made me think about how I would feel if my daughter grew up not knowing who I was. This was a concept I could not bear to think about, instead I applied it to how this notion did in fact mirror my own life. While events transpired that I do not know who my donor is, and I may never know, there will always be a biological connection that can never be broken.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
I was born in October 1974 to my Mother and the man I grew up thinking was my Father. I grew up always wanting a sibling and being told that was not going to happen. I used to think I was a twin who was separated at birth or imagined that some of the older students at the private school I went to were my "secret" siblings. Little did I know back then, that my Mom had gone to the Tyler Medical Clinic (Westwood area of Los Angeles) in the early seventies to conceive a child using anonymous sperm donation. This secret was kept from me until I was 22 years old.
Growing up I had a lot of cousins, but always felt alone. My parents owned their own business and were gone all the time. I grew up mostly at my Grandmother's house. When I was 7, my parents divorced. I was devastated, my whole life changed... My older cousin used to tease me and say "I know a secret that you don't know...". To this day, I wonder if she really knew the truth. I started to fall in love with movies, TV, actors/actresses. I wanted to be a part of that world and not my own.
When I was twelve, my Mom remarried and when I was 14 she had my brother (the natural way). I was excited to finally have a sibling, yet didn't understand why my parents only had me... As I got older the tension between my Mom and I grew. We were and to this day still are very different. It always seemed everyone was against me. I didn't feel like I belonged in my family or at my school (Private Armenian school). I had big dreams, I wanted to be somebody, I wanted to go to UCLA, I wanted to experience the world... but there was always someone discouraging me from being ME!
I still remember the day I found out. I was 22 years old. My Mom, my little brother and I went to the Fallbrook Mall in West Hills. We shopped for a little bit. I remember my Mom being very quiet and avoiding eye contact all day. Then we sat in the food court to get something to eat. My Mom sent my brother off to the Burger King across the court and we sat down, she looked me in the eyes and said she had to tell me something.... I just remember thinking "great,what am I going to get blamed for now...". She started the conversation off with talking about my Dad (at this time, he was in a nursing home, he had mental issues that I always feared I was going to have). I remember her saying "Jack is not your real Dad". I questioned her and she just repeated herself, then she proceeded to tell me that she had me with the help of a sperm donor. I freaked! My brother recalls hearing me from the other side of the food court just yelling at my Mom, saying "what??" ,"You lied to me!" etc... The whole conversation is a blur. I don't remember everything she told me that day. I do remember exactly where we sat, where we parked and what we bought. I just can't remember what exactly was said...
There were a lot of tears shed that day. I was relieved that genetically I would not have the same mental issues as my father. I was happy to know that having curly hair and being tall and not quite looking Armenian wasn't a curse, but kind of special. Yet, the anger and hurt from being lied to my whole life really hurt. Growing up I questioned why I looked different and my questions were always dismissed. Even then I knew, I really knew some part of me was missing. I wish my Mom had told me a lot sooner and not later. I guess I should be happy she told me anything at all, since the clinic did tell her to keep this a secret from everyone, especially me!! To this day, I still do not know why my Mom chose that day to tell me...
Over the years I have wondered about my biological Father. The man that I share half my DNA with and I want to find him and thank him for what he did. I want to find my half siblings, and see what interests we share and if we look alike. I want them all to meet my son, who is quite the little handful (like I was). Every so often I ask my Mom more questions and she still says she knows nothing... I don't understand how that could be possible and why that would be ok... How could you not want to know what nationality, what background, medical history, family history the donor had?? How could you trust that the sperm you were given came from a healthy donor?? And, how could it be legal for the clinics to destroy OUR information?? I have no anger towards my Mom ( I have trust issues, but not anger), it wasn't the Donor's fault either, but Tyler Clinic - yes, I blame them. I blame them for taking up all my free time to search for my other half, I blame them for making me fill out medical forms stating "unknown" for my paternal medical history, I blame the clinic for not allowing me to know my half siblings... I am not trying to replace anyone , by any means. I just want to fill in the gaps, to know I am half Armenian and half ??? To know I got my small hands from my Mom, yet my height from my Bio-Dad.
If you are considering using a sperm donor to conceive a child, please get all your information. Ask for ID release, tell your child as soon as they are born where they came from. Talk about it, be honest, don't hide any information. The hurt when you find out stays with you forever... Better yet, if you want a child, really want a child... adopt. Give a child who doesn't have a family a good home and a good family. Anonymous sperm/Egg donation is not the answer, ask any Donor Conceived adult...
Friday, January 9, 2009
I was conceived on May 24th, 1984 outside of Cleveland, Ohio. There was no candlelit dinner or even conversation between my parents that day. In fact, they had never even met. My father was likely sitting through a graduate school lecture in Georgia and had no idea that 1,000 miles away his own biological daughter was being conceived in a doctor’s office. My identity was severed that day, through artificial insemination by anonymous donor. My unmarried mother felt her biological clock was ticking and opted to raise a child herself. With the support of family and friends she set out to have a biological child. Eight and a half months later I was brought into this world in the middle of a legendary blizzard. Five pounds ten ounces, a healthy baby girl.
In elementary school I began wondering about my biological father. The questions were piling up and I had no way to answer them. I remember dreaming that my father was some famous person or did something remarkable. I dreamed that one day I would find him because I wanted to know this foreign half of me. I even wondered if I could use my DNA to trace my father – a strange foreshadow to the current use of genealogical DNA tests for male offspring.
When I was 18, after seeing a television program about donor conception, I confronted my mother about information regarding my biological father, and learned that she had virtually no information. The only information she recalled was that the sperm bank her doctor used was in Georgia and she had asked him for a donor with brown hair and blue eyes that was around 5’8. After some searching I concluded that my mother had used the Xytex Corporation in Augusta, Georgia. Unfortunately I had no donor number, so the chances of finding my biological father or any half-siblings were virtually nil.
Over the next five years, every once in a while someone would join the registry from Xytex who seemed to fit the description I had, but after three negative DNA tests with donors and other offspring, I felt that I was at a dead end. Last year my mother came across a vial number in her medical records from the day of her insemination. She told me it didn’t look like the numbers I had told her about (it had a dash in the middle) so it never crossed her mind that it was my donor number, but in fact it was.
My biological father was Xytex donor 2035: Born February 12, 1961, English, brown hair, green eyes, 6’0 tall, 175lbs, B+ blood type. He began donating in 1982, as a senior in college, and continued to donate until 1989. Based on my academic interests in biology (and that my mother has no aptitude for science), I believe my father may be in the science/medical field.
I have not found my biological father, or even any half-siblings yet, but I will continue to search for them because of this intense desire to know this other half of me.
These small bits of information that many of us "older" offspring have are surely not enough to replace what has been eliminated from our past. Being deliberately denied the right to know how our genesis is something that the average person simply takes for granted, but for those of us with this void it is of the utmost importance. We are human beings, not products of a financial transaction without thoughts and feelings, and we deserve to be respected as much as every other person in the world.
I contributed two essays to a book titled Voices Of Donor Conception, Behind Closed Doors: Moving Beyond Secrecy and Shame.
My story is outlined in the first essay which is available to read by downloading PDF here
Karen: Mother and donor-conceived adult
This mother has an interesting perspective on how her donor-conceived status affects not only her, but her children.
I'm Laura, I'm 17 from Southampton, England. Before I was told about my conception I was always curious as to why I was nothing like my social father or as to why we never really got on or understood each other. It was always in the back of my mind that, perhaps, I was adopted or my Mum had an affair.
My social Father developed myloma (bone marrow cancer) when I was 13 and a couple of weeks after they told me about that he had a reaction to the steroids he was taking and started acting really strange. On the same day my Mum came in to my room in tears and told me that her and my 'Dad' needed to talk to me. I remember them sitting me down and explaining to me about how I was conceived that how my social father was infertile. Due to the state my social father was in when they were telling me, I wasn't told in the nicest way possible to say the least. I remember spending the rest of the day in my room in floods of tears thinking about what they had told me. I felt upset, angry, betrayed but, strangely above all, relieved. The man I had thought to be my Father who I had never got on with wasn't my biological Father after all. This may sound a bit mean towards my social dad, but there was things that had happened before I found out that I will never forgive him for. I felt angry and betrayed because it was like I'd been lied to about what is, in my opinion, a very important thing - to know who your father is and where you come from. I think people take that for granted unless they are in a situation like this. I also felt anger towards my parents for not telling anyone. Not even family members on my Mums side. It was asthough it was a shameful secret and I was in the middle of it all. I felt asthough I was the secret. Eventually, I told the family because I didn't like the secrecy of it all.
For the next couple of months after I was told I didn't really feel any interest in finding my biological father, or any other half siblings/relatives. But eventually, after the initial shock of finding out, I started to get curious. I emailed the doctor who helped my Mum concieve me and ended up having a meeting with him to talk about the possibility of me finding any relatives. He told me that there was little to no chance of me ever finding any one of my relatives, that all the records of donors had been destroyed and if I was born literally 3 months later than I was then I would have recieved non-identifying information about my donor but, being born in May 1991 means that I'm not entitled to any information on him at all. All I've been told is he possibly has dark hair and is tall.
I have been searching for relatives online but theres not a great deal I can do until I'm 18, which is in another 4 months (I've been counting the months since I first found out when I was 13!). When I am 18 all I can do is join donorlink UK, have a DNA test and hope they find a match. I've always felt that theres a part of me missing. A big part. Its almost as if I will never know who I am and where I've come from fully until I get information about my biological family. Information that might not ever come to me. All you can do is wait, and hope.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Like many others faced with infertility, my parents turned to sperm donation to create their family. My conception through anonymous sperm donation occurred May 4, 1981 at St. Luke's in Houston, Texas. Following standard practice of the time, my parents recieved no information about the man - including medical heritage, heritage, or a donor number - beyond the fact that he was a student at Baylor College of Medicine. Therefore, my mother could not provide any other information about this man when she told me of my history at age eight. I initially did not care, though, and instead viewed my conception as special and magical. I felt very wanted and enjoyed the concept of an abstract family. However, eventually my fascination progressed to curiosity about the man who contributed to half of my genetic make-up. Among many other questions, I wanted to know whose face I saw reflected in my mirror given that I do not particularly resemble my maternal relatives and how we were similar. I requested my mother's medical records, only to be informed that they were destroyed years ago. By college, I experienced grief and loss in being intentionally denied access to own flesh and blood. I found it ironic that what leads many people to donor conception in the first place - the desire for a biological connection - had been severed between my biological father, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and me through anonymous sperm donation. With little information to go on and no records available, I turned to the old Baylor College of Medicine yearbooks. I naively believed that one man would jump out of the pages within a few hours and I would find my answers. However, I began to realize that I could resemble dozens of me. I gradually obtained contact information for all 600 men in the yearbooks, sent them letters, received 250 responses, and completed 16 DNA tests. Despite a 900-hour search, my biological father has yet to come forward. I now try to use my story to raise awareness about donor conception and advocate for needed changes within reproductive medicine.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
The year was 1952. I was in my grandparents apartment in New York City. We lived in Buffalo at the time and had come to NY so my father could go to a convention. On this particular evening my parents had gone into the city for a function. I had eaten dinner and was sitting in the spare guest room on the bed reading a book. I was about 9 years old. In the next room, the dining room, my grandparents were still sitting at the table after dinner with 2 other couples. I can remember this because the table seated 6 and I couldn’t wait to finish and get away from the talking and smoking. Although I can’t remember the entire conversation I heard, it went somewhat like this. They were discussing why my parents only had one child. Back in the early 50’s I guess only children were not the norm. My grandfather said that my mother had had to go to a doctor in Chicago in order to have me and that was because my father had had the mumps and could not have any more children. At the time this really piqued my interest because I wanted a little brother or sister like most of my friends. When I was born my parents lived in South Haven Michigan and it was true my mother had gone to a hospital in Chicago for my birth. I tucked this information away and over the years I thought about it and added to my storage of facts about my conception.
Because I was an only child I spent a lot of time around adults. I was quiet and a bit shy and sometimes they forgot I was there and listening. I heard a lot but didn’t ask questions. I really did wonder why my mother had to go to a special doctor in Chicago if my father was the one with the problem and could not have children.
With this in mind, I heard my father tell one of his friends, a doctor, that he did have the mumps before he met and married my mother. He told his friend how terrible it had been and painful because he had become very swollen. I figured out later what he was talking about.
I have brown eyes and my mother and father both have/had (she is alive in a nursing home in Maryland) very intense blue eyes. In high school I learned in biology class about genes and eye color and how it is almost impossible for 2 blue eyed parents to have a brown eyed child. The operative word here is almost.
My mother always kept a picture of the doctor who was her OB/GYN in Chicago. It was among the other pictures in the family album but it was there and if I came across it she would say oh, that was the doctor who delivered you - he was such a nice man. I later found letters he had written to both my parents during WWII when he was stationed in the Pacific asking about me and the family. Just a family friend??? I wasn’t sure.
My father was always reserved and formal and a bit cold. He was very religious and had been raised in Western Maryland the son of a farmer. He never disciplined me. If I did any thing that was in the least bit against what my parents considered proper, my mother would scold me with “You don’t know what a good father you have.” Later I wanted to ask why I didn’t know and why they didn’t tell me. I thought later that she was telling me that he was so good because he had allowed her to have me and that I was allowed to be born.
When I was 19, I got engaged to a young man who was studying premed at the University of Buffalo. We intended to wait until he finished medical school to get married but he got malignant melanoma and died in 1962, 6 months after we married. We knew he was terminal but we wanted to get married and so we did, big church wedding, the works. The point of this is that during that time, while he was undergoing chemotherapy and radiation I was informed that he could not have any children after this treatment. I spoke with my mother who then told me that I could have a child using donor sperm and that it was not difficult to do. And, I didn’t ask her how she knew this. I was distraught, young and didn’t want to question her.
I never thought about asking either my mother or my father about this. I knew it would hurt him and it would cause pain to them or so I believed. I just tried to forget about it but later when I married again and had children, I began to dwell on the sperm donor and the question of who he was. I came to the conclusion it was probably the doctor. Why had my mother kept his picture and letters from him for so many years. I was in my forties by then and over the years I would go through periods of questioning but I never asked them. Then too, I thought maybe she had had an affair with this doctor and my father knew about it and raised me as his own child even though I was the child of my mother’s illicit affair. If that was the case it would explain the eye color, and why she would say “you don’t know what a good father you have.” and the secrecy. And one big question I had was if they had used donor sperm why didn’t this beloved doctor know that thing about the eye color. You would think if he was picking the sperm donor he would have found one with blue eyes.
Again, I did not ask. Time passed and my parents aged. My mother developed dementia and was put in a nursing home. My father died at 96. It was time to investigate. I searched on line and found the doctor’s son. I wrote an email and he answered. His father had passed away but he was willing to meet with me and gave me information about his father. It was possible that his father and my mother had had an affair or that he was the sperm donor. And, he had had brown eyes. I was certain I had found the piece of my identity. I traveled to his home and met him and his wife. We went out to dinner and I looked at pictures of their family. There was a slight resemblance but nothing you could really pinpoint. I later asked if he would do a DNA test with me and he agreed but the test turned out negative. So I am where I was before and I am getting older.
When the internet was first conceived I began searching for information about anonymous sperm donors and artificial insemination in the US in the 1940’s. There was no information out there. I found no books, no groups, no blogs, nothing. I am writing with my story just to let anyone in this circumstance know that you are not alone and that there are many good people out there in the same situation. It is important to us and to our children. I want to know whose genes gave me my love of languages. Who gave me this adventurous spirit that took me to the Middle East and gave me 2 half Turkish children. Who’s blood lines are in me and my kids and my grandkids. Was he funny, was he a bit silly, did he love dogs, did he have some of the same medical problems I have. Do I have half siblings out there. Where are they. Could we laugh together.
I guess the point of all of this is don’t wait and do ask. It will hurt you much more not to know than it will hurt them to tell you. Others have made it a secret not you. I am 65 years old and even though I have little hope of finding any information at all, I have listed on sites for donor conceived children. I have recently paid to list on the DSR and found that they only go back to 1945. I was conceived in 1942 and born in 1943. I would like to find anyone who was born in Chicago in the 1940’s or 1950’s who is looking for information about sperm donor conceived during that same time period but I don’t think I will find anyone. I do hope that the rest of our group will have the benefit of time and technology and legally be able to trace their roots.
Monday, January 5, 2009
Welcome to Donor Conceived Perspectives. I created this blog because I felt there was little information available for other offspring, parents, potential parents, donors, and the public to hear what donor-conceived individuals actually think.