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.