Friday, May 18, 2012

Not Wasted

My year of delusion - the delusion that I was donor conceived - was not completely wasted.

It allowed me to remember things about my family that I had repressed.

It allowed me to unblock some of my feelings and create a fictional father who might be just like me and who might just like me. This is slowly leading me towards grieving for the parents I didn't have. And potentially healing.

It has ensured I will always know deep in my gut what it feels like to not know your biological origin. Just today, I had to buy a local paper which lamented the lack of a sperm bank in my country and featured a sob story by a 39-year-old woman who couldn't find a known donor (this is possible in my country) so she went to another country for treatment. A psychiatrist explained to the general public that the child will be fine not knowing who the father is as long as (s)he's properly raised and prepared or something.

And everything inside me screamed You Ignorant Fools!

You can't just expect everything will be unicorns and rainbows if you're nice and tell early. Many, if not most, people just need to know who their biological parents are and no amount of love in the world will fill that hole for a person who can never know.

Advocating will be easier, actually, if there's nothing personal about it.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The origin of the family rumor

I wonder where the family rumor that I was donor conceived originated.

Perhaps they used IUI or IVF and then I was born, looking nothing like my father or his family. Could people have thought I wasn't his? Could it have occurred to him too?

Could he spent my entire life wondering if the doctors perhaps used someone else's sperm?

Some things are still just too bizarre to be explained in any other way.

I'm NOT donor conceived

I finally did a DNA test - my father is my father. I have no other fathers but him.

The family story my aunt told me must have taken a wrong turn somewhere - I'm sure they did use ART to conceive me and that the "donor" bit got attached to the rumor somehow.

I spent a year on an emotional rollercoaster for no good reason. I made an absolute idiot of myself.

But there was something good about it: the idea of a possibly sane father out there who might be like me and who might like me enabled me to feel. I gave myself permission to love this non-existent man and grieve for him. I had never grieved the father I couldn't have. I hadn't felt any real emotions towards my father (or mother) for decades. I had blocked all emotions.

Now they came back - for a person who doesn't exist. It proved how vulnerable and, really, pathetic I am. I longed for one man in particular to be my real father - because he was nice and enjoyed my company and liked me and shared my interests and gave me books of poetry and short stories. Which was much more than I ever had with my father.

It was so easy to let myself believe this. To have a tangible reason why he couldn't love me. Why he resented me. Why I had to be sooo grateful just for being allowed to exist (I'm sure they had to use IUI or IVF and I did cost them something - at least, the shame he had to endure in front of the doctors) and why "You look like your mother" was so often thrown at me (I guess that was my entire sin - I didn't have to be another man's offspring to be resented, only not be his carbon copy - I really look nothing at all like him or his family).

I made myself believe I could expect nothing from him or his family - they owed me nothing. This made me remember how cold they were towards me.

But they owed me love and support, no matter who I looked like. My father should have loved me. He owed me that.

I might take some time off to process all this. I'd spent a lot of time obsessing over something that wasn't even true. There are other, real things to focus on, and although right now I feel drained and exhausted and deflated, it can only get better from here if I focus on my daily life from now on. I hope.

I learned and understood quite a bit about how DC persons and adoptees feel like. I will never be able to think in stereotypical terms on these issues again. I will always be an advocate for absolute openness and honesty and the right for everyone to know their biological origins.

If every DC person was certain to receive an original birth certificate at age 18 and lying to your children wasn't possible, these reverse crazy situations wouldn't be possible either.

I'm sorry if anyone feels lied to - I deceived no one on purpose.

I will not be deleting the blog - I stand by my opinions. My situation turned out to be different, but others are still being denied the knowledge of their roots.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The genetic mirror

Knowing your genetic parents gives you a very basic and normal, but so commonly underestimated and misunderstood, privilege of seeing the traits you potentially have reflected in their actualized form.

You see who you potentially are and who you can become. This is the genetic mirror all human beings should have a right to at least take a peek at.

When you don't know your biological parents, growing up and discovering who you are is like trying to determine what you look like by feeling your face with your fingers. You can guess the shape of your nose and chin and ears, but you have no idea what they look like to others. You can also never discover the color of your skin or the color of your eyes.

When you're raised by genetically unrelated people and are kept away from your biological parents, you may never discover, nurture and develop some really interesting parts of who you inherently are.

My suspect is particularly suspicious because he fits so well as the missing central piece of the genetic mirror. Who I remember him as is so much like who I never allowed myself to believe I could be, but actually am. When I describe him, I'm actually describing a less known me.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

It's not fair

Part of the reason why I'm so obsessed with discovering the whole truth about the circumstances of my conception and my biological paternity is that I feel the current situation gives my narcissistic social father an insane kind of power over me.

He is probably the only person alive who knows how I was conceived and - quite possibly - who my biological father is.

He knows something very important about me that I'm not allowed to know. I'm sure it's great fun for him to be able to treat me like a child in that way.

I have tried to give him a chance to tell me. I have asked him direct questions about their attempts at having a child and the circumstances of my conception.

His answers get more and more implausible and fantastical. Sometimes it seems like he's taunting me and flaunting it. The story changed from them trying for 12 years to only maybe not contracepting for a year or two, with variations in the meantime. The last time we spoke about it, he told a fairy tale of my conception that involved a romantic island in the middle of the Adriatic sea! When I asked him where my daughter got the red streaks in her hair, as none of his or my mother's ancestors had this, he flat out said, staring me in the eyes: "It must come from your husband's side of the family." I said no, I know even more generations of my husband's family, and reddish blondish hair has not appeared there. He repeated: "It must come from your husband's side of the family."

If my conjecture is true, I'll have connected the dots and found out all on my own. That would make so many things right on so many levels.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Update on my suspect: I received some photos

I have his chin and his cheeks and his nose and his forehead and his ears. His eyes, too, but he shares that with my mother. The resemblance is not breathtakingly striking, but it's there and it's real and it's haunting (I look quite a bit like my mother's family, too, and look NOTHING AT ALL like my social father).

I got these photos from the relative who inherited his house - she was his niece. He was her paternal uncle. Which, if the whole idea is true, makes her my first cousin and thus a very good candidate for a DNA test, right?

She'll be visiting in September and I'll probably be waiting until then to find out for sure.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


None of this could have happened if we hadn't split humans into body and spirit and claimed that bodies were completely irrelevant and spirit was all that mattered. This is NOT Christianity, it's the heresy of dualism. But Western civilization is immersed in it without even being fully aware of this.

This is how people can base their lives and families on the idea that nurture is what truly matters, and nature only provides the lowly base materials we'll get to form in our own image. That love is all you need. That family is defined solely on the basis of feelings, intentions, conditioning. That where our bodies came from has nothing to do with ourselves and who we are and how we feel and think and act.

Those who were raised by their biological parents can do this more easily - they can draw the nature/nurture, body/spirit, DNA/upbringing line wherever they please and claim "I didn't INHERIT my temperament from my mother, I'm like that because she raised me." They have the privilege of wholeness and integrity that they can then divide at will, drawing that imaginary line where they need or wish it to be.

Those not raised in their biological families know different. But they lack even the proper terms to express a desire for wholeness in a culture steeped in dualism.

Here's a great post on dualism in adoption by a Catholic priest who's an adoptee.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

One brief fantasy of a father

For a few moments, I thought I had some reason to believe I could guess who the donor was.

As there was no sperm bank in the country I was conceived in and fresh sperm was most probably used, so the donor had to be at hand for every attempt, I thought of a possible candidate.

The husband of my mother's aunt, who lived in that city with her. They helped with the DC procedure for sure and I was named after the aunt. The aunt was infertile, so they didn't have children. They're relatively distant relatives, but we went to visit them every year when I was a child. They sent us money during a time of crisis. He always talked to me a lot and insisted on my XYZ ethnicity (his own, and my maternal grandfather's, which seemed like quite a stretch to me at the time). He wanted to see me even after his wife, the only one related to me, died. I spent several days with him and we talked a lot. He gave me a bit of money and I expressed gratitude. He seemed annoyed that I was grateful for so little, while the distant relative that was going to inherit his house didn't seem grateful at all (I failed to see the connection - he didn't owe me anything at all, hence the gratitude).

I look a bit like him. He taught. I teach. He published a book in the field of humanities. I publish articles in the field of humanities (maybe a book in a few years too). He liked poetry and history. So do I. He was very interested in roots. As am I, quite obviously.

We really clicked. I really liked him. It would be great. He died but I knew him. No one's life would even be disrupted if this was true and I found out for sure.

But he was almost 70 years old when I was conceived, I then realized. That's quite impossible, isn't it? Would anyone even have considered his sperm? I really don't think so.

It was fun to think in concrete terms about a father for a while. To have a name and a face and traits and interests to base my existence and identity on.

And these things immediately assumed far less importance for me. I definitely understand how people who know their origin don't think it's all that important - it's not when you know it.

Monday, April 9, 2012

If the tables were turned - a fantastical analogy

This is just a bizarre fantasy. It doesn't mean anything. It doesn't prove anything. But it's fun:

I'm 13 years old, angry, and have a gun. I really, really, really want a proper father. It's such a strong desire that I can't think rationally. I have "daddy blinkers" on. I go from house to house and see happy-looking kids at a table, having dinner with their dad. The kids look great - smiling, well-fed, well-dressed. I bet their daddy would do just fine.

I enter the house and offer the kids some money in return for their dad. Ecstatic, they sign the papers and run off to buy toys with the money I gave them. At gunpoint, I take their father prisoner and escort him to my place.

He is then forced to play the role of my dad. He has to support me, both emotionally and financially, drive me places, help me with homework, maybe even pretend he's my biological father. I'll inherit all he owns, naturally.

At some point, he really wants to be reunited with his kids. I tell him: "They're not your real kids. They're just donors. They donated you to me. They sold you for a few bucks. I'm your intended kid. I really, really, really wanted you. I wanted a dad so much for so long and just look at what I did to get you. You should be grateful you were so wanted. Most dads aren't so loved and wanted, you know. You're special."

His kids later realize what they've done, so they try to find their biological father. They wonder where he is and if he's all right. But they're told: "Hey, you signed the papers. You waived your rights. You can't just disrupt this happy intended family now."

This couldn't happen, of course. But the main reason it couldn't happen is that kids are weaker and have fewer rights than adults. Kids can't just relinquish their parents. Kids can't just choose a parent. Parents in some situations have these kinds of power over kids. And if this sounds eery, and you wouldn't want to be in this father's shoes, this is how some of us feel were treated.


I imagine my narcissistic social father would have been appeased with the idea that whatever sperm they were using came from an educated, intelligent man - which it quite probably was in 1981 in a country without a sperm bank where a clinic had to provide fresh sperm on the spot - he would be able to pass the child off as his own and actually score additional brownie points on being the father of a smart little thing.

And, boy, did he do that! He bragged about me, he showed me off, he talked to teachers, he took all the credit. I was always top of the class and they never invested a dime in my education, as I always got scholarships.

When my mother died and he found a new girlfriend, he lost all interest in me until I was defending my M. Phil thesis (at age 26; he graduated from university - just barely - at age 28) and the possibility of being in the limelight again appeared to him.

After the defense, after he had bragged to the professors, he said "Thank you for making this possible for me" and then said he couldn't understand a word of my exposé. That he couldn't even understand what it was about. It was in our native language, not in English (which, by the way, he can't speak, nor is he capable of learning a single foreign language, even after years of study).

He said he lost me after I'd used the word "dichotomy". No, actually, he said something else and I only inferred that "dichotomy" was the word he'd found so challenging.

I didn't know I was DC back then, but I was shocked and somehow saddened. How come my own father is so, ummm... intellectually challenged that he can't understand simple, normal words, let alone the subjects that interest me so much?

Not understanding it didn't keep him from appropriating it - he knowingly discussed me with my mentor and the committee. 

I now wonder, had I at least been allowed to have occasional contact with my biological father and his family, if I'd have had some support and direction towards the scholarly stuff that interests me so. If I'd have had some understanding and someone to talk to about the topics that I obsessed over. I thought I was just weird and had weird interests, but now I allow myself to think of myself as an ugly duckling who might have benefited from at least some contact with a swan or two.

Others without fathers

An argument for continuing with the practice of anonymous sperm donation I really dislike is "So many children are born without knowing their fathers for various reasons beyond our control. Therefore, there is no right to know one's father, because you can't always enforce it."

First, that's like saying there's no right to private property because you can't always enforce it, as there are thieves in this world who never get caught by the police.

Second, google "I never knew my father" or something to that effect and you'll find oodles of heartbreaking stories by people whose right to know their father just wasn't enforceable. And these are mostly not DC adults or even people who had abusive stepfathers - just human beings who were never allowed the chance to meet their biological fathers and who are still suffering. Some of them fear they don't have the right to their grief, and some even apologize for it, but they still can't help feeling it.

Third, yes, injustices happen in this world - but do we really want to defend doing this to children intentionally by noting that it happens? That would be like parents wishing to genetically engineer a blind child (they themselves can see, but they really really want a blind child) and justifying it by saying that so many children are born blind every day and many are blinded in accidents beyond our control, and that particular child wouldn't even exist if they weren't allowed to engineer it. So the child could only be grateful, right?

Everyone knows so many blind people and they're all just fine, really. We know they're fine because they don't say to everyone around them "You know what? Being blind sucks. Life is a struggle every day. I don't think my life is any less worthy than anyone else's, and I certainly don't wish my existence away, but being blind is hard."

The mother's feelings

That just might be the definitive criterion in society for determining official familial relations and what the child is expected to feel.

It's not DNA (donors are not fathers, right?), it's not sex (conceiving via IVF with your husband's sperm still makes him the father, right?), it's not nurture (your stepfather who raised you from day one after your father died while your mother was still pregnant with you does not have to be your "real dad", right?)

It's how your mother feels and to whom she is loyal. She can claim when you're 18 that your real father, who'd knocked her up behind a bar and whose name she never knew, is your real father and should have been paying child support - if he could have been found.

Or she can claim that your father, who'd been married to her for years, but left her while she was pregnant for a younger, more beautiful woman, and whom you never met, is nothing more than a sperm donor, and your real father is the wonderful man she married afterwards who loved you like you were his own.

Or she might keep the memory of her late husband, who died while she was pregnant, alive by stories, pictures, mementos, and often tell you about your real father, who was such a lovely man - although you quite like her new husband and he's the only dad you've ever known.

And the child is expected to feel whatever the mother feels - DNA, nurture and sex notwithstanding, as we're not talking about rational arguments when we discuss who the real father is, we're talking about feelings - and if the child feels differently, that comes at the high price of betrayal and disloyalty.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Rumor Has It...

I can't get over the movie Rumor Has It... with Jennifer Aniston that I saw months ago. It's beyond infuriating.

Here's a plot summary:

 Sarah Huttington, recently engaged, goes home to Pasadena with fiancé Jeff for a family wedding. She hears a rumor that "The Graduate" (book and movie) are based on her family. Did her grandmother and her mom have flings with the same man just before her parents married? Is she a strange man's child; does this explain why she doesn't fit in? Was her mother happy? Is she too facing a loveless marriage? Where can she seek answers: her mother's dead, her father's a pleasant naïf. Ask her salty grandma? Better to ask the man in the triangle, the real Benjamin Braddock. With Jeff's blessing, Sarah heads for San Francisco, looking for the key to her past and to her future.

So far, so good, right? Much is made of her desire to find her real father and connect with him. Her quest is shown with a lot of sympathy.

Well, what happens next is this: she finds BB, her potential father, and he tells her that he can't be that because he's infertile due to a football injury. So they too have a fling which makes her the third generation of women in her family who's done that.

The next day, however, she meets BB's son, which naturally shocks her, and she confronts her once more potential father with it. He says he wasn't lying, he really is infertile, and his son was donor conceived, but he doesn't know it, and shouldn't find out now. Sarah promptly promises to keep this secret.

What's wrong with this picture? Why am I so angered by it that I find it hard to collect my thoughts?

In short, it makes me feel like a second-class person. Or make that third-class person: second-class persons are those who don't know their fathers and are looked down on because of that, but at least their desire to know is not denied. The donor conceived have no rights to facts or feelings.

The dc boy is shown as a clueless, spoiled, arrogant brat. He certainly ought to be grateful to have been created and even loved and accepted by BB, one is inclined to feel. And he certainly couldn't handle the truth - he's so obviously inferior to Sarah in her quest zest.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The fear of biological offspring

We hear it a lot - adoptees and donor conceived alike - that we should not be allowed identifying information about our biological parents because we'd stalk them, harass them, and generally ruin their lives.

Where does this fear come from? What does it indicate in those that feel it?

In my not so humble opinion, it proves they do believe what they pretend they don't: that

1) children sundered from their biological parents will somehow be damaged and different and potentially dangerous. Psychos. Nurture by those wonderful intending parents won't be enough to fix these young humans, and they'll be walking time bombs.

2) the desire to know one's biological parents is so normal, so natural, so strong that nothing will come in its way. They know it in their bones, though they may not admit it, that they themselves would do whatever it takes to break down the barriers separating them from knowledge of their kin.

3) there's something wrong about surrendering your child, whether through adoption or by donating gametes. Those who did this performed a service to those wonderful intended parents, so we must officially laud their actions, but of course they'll keep this a secret from their loved ones, their friends and families, for the rest of their lives, and if anyone found out about it, their lives would be ruined.

(But, wait, why should it be wrong? Can't you tell your girlfriend, before you propose, "Oh, and by the way, I already have kids with lots of other women. Probably"? Don't they have picture books entitled "Your daddy was a donor when he was in college: you have dozens of siblings you'll never meet" or "Your older brother was surrendered for adoption but we kept you"?)

The victory of Victoria is a great step forward and I'm glad that someone somewhere has recognized that the right to the truth about yourself trumps someone else's "right" to secrecy and lies.

I'm sure this will never happen in my neck of the woods, but I'm really happy for those DC in Australia who'll finally have their answers.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Intent as a basis for discrimination

It's quickly becoming my #1 pet peeve. Does it have a name? Or can I dub it "intentism"? The prejudice according to which those persons who intended to parent a child (and sometimes couldn't) are by default in every way better than those who didn't (but sometimes contributed "raw materials" up to and including the entire child, as is the case in adoption).

It is presumed that the sperm donor, the "birth" mother, and that even more faceless entity who knocked her up are by definition inferior. The discrimination is presumably based on the fact that intending parents usually invest money in obtaining other people's children. This money proves that they really want the child, they deserve it, and, since they have money to spare, they're instantly worthier human beings.

The offspring of these inferior parents should be grateful they were accepted by these superior social parents as their own.

But just what is so great about intent? About the burning desire to have a child, first your own, and then, if that fails, anyone's child?

Has there ever been any serious longitudinal research into the emotional effects on children (into their adolescence, at least) of being raised as very very wanted children by parents very very desperate to have them?

Is there even any proof that planned children fare better in life than 'oops' kids?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Instead of a biological attachment...

Couldn't help it. Had to share a link to a thread on a forum where an adoptive mother complains about how her "daughter" won't attach to her but has instead dared to call her grandma, who babysat only up to 2 days a week, "mama." This was apparently because the evil woman dared to hold the toddler, overstepping "boundaries." The evil grandma was then banned from seeing the child who loved her too much.

This is what my "father" did. Instead of a secure, biological link, one that can't be threatened by other nice, nurturing people in a child's life, all he had was my "attachment" to him. So it had to be forced. And my mother, my only biological parent, pushed aside, all bonding between us, starting with breastfeeding, sabotaged by him from day one.

I love it when my kids relate to others. Hug them, kiss them, talk to them. I love it that my daughters love their grandparents and their uncle and even my friends. No attachment of theirs ever takes away from me - I'm their mother and always will be. It's a scientific fact.

Inspiring: Erik Erikson. As close to being DC as they got in 1902!

I wondered why I loved Erikson so much and why he seemed to be the only one to truly understand identity issues. I also admit to thinking the name "Erik Erikson" was a bit funny and thought badly of his parents.

Now I understand. I believe we should all (symbolically) do the same: if we have no hope of ever knowing our fathers, we can "refather" ourselves by ourselves!

This wonderful, sane, compassionate man never knew his father's name. He had elaborate fantasies about his real father. Anna Freud, his analyst, told him to stop it and let it go, but he refused.

And he was still wonderful. In fact, it was his black hole in the place where his father should be that probably prompted him to be the wonderful man that he was.

There's hope for us yet!

Here's a full biography I love. It's in Word form. It paints a full, not always flattering picture of him, which includes the negative consequences of his identity confusion stemming from never knowing his father.

This is from a site I don't exactly love. But it's informative:

"Erik Erikson was born in Frankfurt, Germany, on June 15, 1902. There is a little mystery about his heritage: His biological father was an unnamed Danish man who abandoned Erik's mother before he was born. His mother, Karla Abrahamsen, was a young Jewish woman who raised him alone for the first three years of his life. She then married Dr. Theodor Homberger, who was Erik's pediatrician, and moved to Karlsruhe in southern Germany.

We cannot pass over this little piece of biography without some comment: The development of identity seems to have been one of his greatest concerns, in Erikson's own life as well as in his theory. During his childhood, and his early adulthood, he was Erik Homberger, and his parents kept the details of his birth a secret. So here he was, a tall, blond, blue-eyed boy who was also Jewish. At temple school, the kids teased him for being Nordic; at grammar school, they teased him for being Jewish.
When he became an American citizen, he officially changed his name to Erik Erikson.
Erik, son of Erik."

Here is the source. Italics mine. While the text is informative, I find the repeated word "little" patronizing, dismissive, and insulting.

And this makes so much sense:

"Erik's new stepfather was his pediatrician, Theodor Homburger. Homburger, who insisted on being referred to as Erik's father, conferred his surname on the boy in 1908 and finally adopted him in 1911. Despite this it became apparent, with the arrival of three half sisters, that Erik held a very different place in the family as the adopted stepson. Throughout adolescence he increasingly identified as an outsider, both within and in the local community. He was teased at school for being Jewish, and at synagogue for being tall and blond. His stepfather refused to accept his intense artistic inclinations. "