I’m 41 & female. When I was 26, my mother told me I was donor conceived.
I had just moved with my husband from my home state of Minnesota to Idaho. The reason for the move was that my parents had just divorced, and my mother had moved to Idaho to be near family, and we went too because my mom & I are and have always been very close.
I couldn’t help but note that this revelation came once they had divorced & were not getting along at all. Clearly, her decision to tell me stemmed from a place of anger at him…. hoping I would stop having contact with him in an attempt to rob him of me & thereby punish him for hurting her (they divorced because he was unfaithful). I don’t blame her, and don’t believe she was fully aware of the reasons herself. She was hurting. He’d shattered her entire reality – 33 years of marriage – in one fell swoop. I knew how she felt. I thought my parents’ divorce was the hardest thing I’d ever have to get through… my entire life basis, my rock, the one constant in my life no matter what else fell apart… my parents’ marriage…. had crumbled. And within weeks, I was absorbing that my dad… was not my dad. I loved him, but we were never close. We just never understood each other or connected. I never did tell him that I knew. I felt it would serve no purpose other than to hurt him & it didn’t change my relationship with him, so I didn’t want him to think it would. I also did not feel guilty keeping this from him. He decided, right along side my mom, to take this road. Their situation was a result of decisions already made by them and kept from me. My entire childhood, I felt wrong. I felt out of place and different from other kids. I was an only child…. lonely & desperate for brothers & sisters but my parents told me my mother was told not to have more children due to health problems. I know now that they could only afford “fertility treatment” once. I asked my mother several times while I was growing up if I was adopted. I knew I was different. Note – we are people. We are not easily fooled; our sense of knowing tells us something is off and we know that as surely as we’ve ever known anything. We are not “treatments” or the physical representations of our parents’ desire to have children… We are not donated genetic tissue. We are not sperm. We are not a procedure. We are human beings. And we suffer. Who relishes feeling like a freak without being able to pinpoint why?
Now I know. I have a biological father I’ll most likely never know anything about. I have siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents that I’ll never know. I have ancestral roots I’ll never be able to trace. I have a story – MY STORY – that I will forever be denied the right to read. I don’t look like my mom, or, obviously, my dad. I can sing. Can he? Neither of my parents could carry a tune if it was in a bucket. Does he care that he has a biological daughter who has sang in musicals on stage? Who sangs June Carter Cash’s Wildwood Flower in front of an audience with so much emotion that it made her and the audience cry? Who barely held it together when she got to the lines
“Now I long to see him and regret the dark hour
He’s gone and neglected his pale wildwood flower” because it suddenly & unexpectedly made her think of him? Who wonders every time she passes a stranger, “Is that him?” Who wonders if he’s where her love of travel & Tudor history come from? Where her nose comes from? Where SHE comes from? I’ve seen stories here that talk about a woman’s innate, uncontrollable need & RIGHT to bear children; to impart her DNA to a tiny new person. What about that tiny new PERSON’s innate, uncontrollable need/right to know where she/he comes from?? A right adoptees are given, and we are not. It’s understood that adoptees’ emotional & mental well being (not to mention their physical well being when discussing the topic of medical history) hinges largely on that NEED we all have to know what has made us and where we come from. But we are not afforded the same. We… the silent suffers, the freaks…. We donor conceived who chose the circumstances of our existence no more than an adoptee…. Where is our choice? My parents were given this “choice” when they could not make children together. My donor made the choice to donate. Where is my choice? Please do not tell me to be grateful I’m here. I did not ask for this. And how do you know I am not grateful? I do not think donorship is a bad thing. I think anonymous donorship is. It is possible to be grateful for the gift of life, and at the same time, question the ethics of our conception. We suffer. And we are not given choice. The signature on the form that accepted the “anonymity” of that donation did not come from me. My parents gave consent. My donor gave consent. I…. did not.
My dad passed away last year. He passed alone, not having seen me for 5 years. We just…. drifted apart. I feel enormous guilt at the thought him dying alone in a hospice center, his body finally giving out…. He died of Parkinson’s Disease. I loved him. But every time I talked to him or looked at him, I was reminded all over again of my donor origins. Our relationship suffered. He suffered. We suffered. I could not change the way I felt, no matter how guilty that made me feel – which, in turn, made me feel even more guilty. And even through all this pain, one fact was clear… this was not my guilt, but it had been given to me. This “secret” was not my shame, but it had been given to me; given to me because who else is it going to be given too? S**t rolls downhill…. and settles on the flat ground at the bottom.
We have to realize that this is wrong.
I’m still unable to look at my dad’s urn without crying. I can’t listen to Johnny Cash’s It Ain’t Me Babe or Neil Diamond’s Holly Holy without crying, because my dad loved those songs. I still feel guilty because I know I didn’t love him as much as I should have. Because I couldn’t…. and I tried.
Does my biological father love those songs? Does he love hummus like I do? Does he love history like I do? Does he love live concerts like I do? Does he get chills listening to Kurt Cobain singing Where Did You Sleep Last Night like I do? Does he lean left in his politics like I do? I’ll never know. Because I was robbed of two fathers.