A couple will have four children: the first was conceived naturally; the second with donor sperm; two are in the process of being adopted. "All four of our children are 100 percent in our family tree....The genetic connection has never mattered." (Emphasis added.)
Two biological half-siblings are being raised as cousins. "We decided they are not half-siblings, but donor siblings. We honor them [the sperm donors, apparently] but they are not part of the family [tree]."
Today's quiz: Which statements were made by individuals (three different people) conceived by alternate means of conception?
If you answered None of the Above, you are correct.
|My mother, my daughter Jane, granddaugher Kim and Lorraine, 1996|
Yet there is plenty of hard evidence that people do want and need to know where they came from, where they fit on the tree of life, whom they are related to, whom they look like, where they get all of their special and unique traits. There are websites devoted to sperm-donor children finding their biological fathers and siblings; the children of unknown fathers write columns and blogs and appear on national television talking about it. Coming soon: writings by children of anonymous egg-donors, as these children start growing up.
|My husband, Anthony Brandt, granddaughter Lisa and Lorraine last summer|
Everyone is entitled to know the full truth of their origins. When children ask "Who is my daddy?" or "Who is my mommy?" around age three or four, they should be told the truth, as much as they are able to comprehend. Answering, "You don't have a daddy, you only have a mommy," or "You have two mommies," or, "You have two daddies" may shut them up, but is a blatant lie, and the child will know it is a lie as soon as they reach the age of reason. And they will have learned that this is a subject they are not supposed to talk about, because their "mommy" or "daddy" has already lied about it.
|Psychology of Donor Insemination|
In today's complicated world of what is a family, we can create a model that seemingly accommodates everyone; in 2009 approximately a third of all sperm-bank clients were lesbian couples, according to the Times story. That number has probably risen since. Who among us doesn't know someone, or know of someone, who has borne such a child?
I've certainly been apart of a "new family model myself." I remember how thrilled I was when my granddaughter Kim (the second daughter of the daughter I gave up for adoption) was assigned to draw a picture of her family when she was in grade school, and I was not excluded. She was being raised by my daughter's adoptive parents (it was complicated, to those who don't know the story), and so they were front and center, and drawn bigger than me; but I was there too.
If a parent, or set of parents, try to talk themselves out of filling this need in the life they set about to create, they are doing great harm to that individual. To claim obliviousness is to delude themselves, and deny their progeny what they have probably always had for themselves: the full and complete knowledge of who they are. One cannot be a fully loving parent and deny an individual the truth of his or her origins. That knowledge is their unalienable right, for the need to know one's origins is universal. Anonymous sperm and egg donation should be abolished everywhere immediately, as it already has in the United Kingdom. As someone once wrote on an ABC message board:
Everybody wants to know where they come from, even if it doesn't turn out like you wanted it.--lorraine
* Who’s on the Family Tree? Now It’s Complicated
** When adoptees change their names back to their birth names
Lethal Secrets is recommended reading for anyone considering having a child with outsider sperm or egg.