It’s not only Father’s Day today but our son Will’s 28th birthday. He’s coming for a meal this evening with his girlfriend and father and son will enjoy eating a lot of roast beef together and discussing work and the world as they usually do. Will has known he was conceived with the help of a donor since he was under five and has never shown any interest in or wish to search for the person who helped create him. In the film A Different Story (made by DC Network 9 years ago) he pays tribute to his donor as a ‘good bloke’ for helping others but also says that he is happy with his family and doesn’t need to know more. He is clear that his father is the man he will be sharing a dinner table with tonight.
Our eldest son Peter was conceived in my first marriage without any help. His ‘father’ left the family when Peter was one and did not return, nor acknowledge Peter’s birthday or Christmas. In late childhood Peter went through a lot of pain when he blamed himself for his father having abandoned him. Walter has been his father since he was four.
‘Zannah is curious about her donor and has registered with UK Donor Link, both of us giving DNA samples to exclude me from the mix, but what she would like most of all is to find a half-sib who looks like her. She has spoken out in the media quite a lot about how she would love to know more about her donor but that her dad is undoubtedly Walter.
In the film Donor Unknown Jeffrey, the former sperm donor, refers to the children he helped create as his ‘friends’. None of his offspring seemed to be looking for a father – Fletcher explicitly says that he won’t be having a father/son relationship with him. They are all very glad to have found Jeffrey but maybe, just maybe, the more important relationships are as half-siblings. Our experience in DC Network is that donor conceived young people are much more interested in half-sib relationships than they are in their donor and this was confirmed by research done on registrants to the Donor Sibling Registry by Susan Golombok’s team from Cambridge.
So what is a father? My money is on the nappy changing, homework helping, morning hugging, roast beef sharing ones.