Slightly more than a year ago, I told my daughter, who had just celebrated her 18th birthday, she was donor conceived. I was very nervous but she received the news with great joy and relief. To be honest, I knew her relationship with her social dad had always been distant and combative, but I was worried that she would no longer trust me for having kept this secret for so long. That day I learned I was truly blessed. First, my daughter thought I was kidding, and then she jumped up and hugged me, saying at the same time, “This is a wish come true.”
The next month was like a celebration for both of us. I had lived under the veil of secrecy much longer than I cared to and my daughter was finally able to tell me that she had privately thought there was something wrong with herself because she not only didn't like her dad but wanted nothing to do with him and was ashamed she was his daughter. She described the feeling of thinking he was her dad as equal to carrying around a heavy bag of rice that she couldn't get rid of because it was part of who she was. Somehow she intuitively knew they weren't related and it confused her because no one had told her the truth.
I've been on quite a journey since that celebratory month. I became deeply involved with helping others match with half-siblings and/or their biological father. Through this I met recipients, former donors and the donor conceived people. I also found blogs written by the donor conceived and I started to realize what a great mistake I had made.
These brave young people wrote from their hearts what they had purposely been denied and I realized that I had contributed to this suffering by my own selfishness!
As a mother of a donor conceived person, I suffered from the time I was pregnant with my daughter because I noticed a major change in my husband’s affection for me. I was confused, initially, because he had agreed to donor conception. He had 9 biological children of his own and had a vasectomy that wasn't reversible, yet he claimed to love me so much that even though I said I can’t marry you because I want to try to have my own biological children, he claimed he would accept a child conceived through an anonymous donor as his own.
I look back on my life after hearing from so many other mothers of donor-conceived people and donor-conceived people themselves and realize that biology matters so much more. My little family never had a chance. From the moment I conceived everything I wished for became too complicated for any of us to understand. My husband never was involved with her care – I always wondered if that was because he was that way or because he just couldn't. Speaking about the donor was taboo, so I continued to guess throughout my daughter’s life what my husband might be thinking. When she became an adolescent, I became the sounding board for both of them.
I don’t have a lot of answers for those families that have husbands that are infertile, single women by choice, or lesbian couples desiring children but I have one piece of advice: “Don’t use a donor.” Yes, you will love the child but you will also deny the child much more than your love can ever assuage.
Initially, my daughter was happy – even jubilant, hearing she was donor conceived but lately I've seen a change. We don’t talk about her conception a lot. She doesn't like to and at this point I still haven’t understood why – except, maybe what she would say would hurt me. She has asked me to look for half-siblings and her “real” dad but doesn't want to know more unless there is success. Recently, she asked me a question. She said, “Mom, there isn't anyone that knows who my father is, is there?” When I told her that the sperm bank knew who he was, she asked, “Do they know his name?” I responded, “Yes, they know his name.” I couldn't believe the change in her. “What is going on?” she asked. “You mean, there is someone who knows my real dad’s name and they won’t tell me?” Needless to say, she is furious.
I don’t blame her for being so angry. I blame myself. I am one of nine children raised by two loving, tho’ sometimes imperfect, parents. Throughout my life there were situations I found I could relate to one parent better than the other, but I could always relate.
Donor conceived people live with varying portions of the puzzle "who am I" and it’s confusing because there are sometimes significant pieces missing. Stop the confusion and say no to donor conception.