Saturday, January 10, 2009

Always Wondering...

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...


Anonymous (visit their site)


Thanks for sharing your feelings. I'm considering using a donor egg with my husband sperm and wanted to do some research on how DC people feel about their conception and genetic background.
We have considered adoption and made enquiries, but the reality is that where we live they aren't many young healthy children for adoption, they are generally older and with serious health and behavioural problem. We talked about it and don't feel prepared to take on such challenges knowingly. We also looked at international adoption but found it to be too lengthily, costly and largely unregulated.
Remaining childless is too sad for us to consider it an option. Donor seems to be our only chance to be parents.

Where we live anonymous donor is no longer possible, which is good; the donor identity can only be disclosed to the child once he/she is 18, till then the information disclosed to prospective parents and resulting children is very spare in my opinion.
If I ever have a DC child I will be open about it from day one to the child and to all around, I also would like to know as much as possible about the donor and also would like to have some kind of reassurance that if contacted by my adult child she and her family will be receptive and not upset my child.
I'm sorry that people like you are not able to trace their genetic parents, I'm also thankful that you are voicing your feelings and that changes are been made in the law in some countries so that DC rights are considered.
Although some of the comments from DC are deeply upsetting for someone like me whose only chance to be a mum is by using a donor; namely comments stating that is better not to be born than being DC. I can't comprehend it, surely the happiness in our lives (love, family, friends, experiences..,) offset the sadness that life can bring, wether is not knowing your genetic parents, despising your genetic parents, or any other sad circumstances in our lifes.

All the best,