I’ve been sent a link to a really good posting that appeared recently in the Motherlode blog in the New York Times. It’s by an English woman, Tamsin Eva, who has lived in the US for the last twenty years and has a girl and a boy by donor conception…same donor. Her children are now nearly four and two and for most the last couple of years she has lurked on the Donor Sibling Registry watching half-sibs to her two being registered, but not posting herself.
I think a lot of families share this reticence…particularly heterosexual couples who, after years of trying to make a family like anyone else, are reluctant to give up their return to the ‘normal’ world by admitting their difference. As Tamsin herself says, “…I simply didn’t know if I was ready to acknowledge the connection”.
Tamsin’s first step on to the bridge of acknowledgement was to start reading My Story to her older child. This achieved she then took a deep breath and registered with the DSR, typing those first tentative words into the site. Instantly a match popped up and the next morning there were two messages from parents with children from the same donor. Since that time a relationship has developed with the women who Tamsin describes as warm and welcoming…people she’d like to have a drink with. She cannot imagine what took her so long to take this step. One that had become somehow more tortured and sinister the longer she lurked.
The future for Tamsin’s family and the others she is now in contact with is unknown. All their lives have been irrevocably changed by the connection but, certainly for the time being, it looks like being warmer and richer for have taken that first step…and I for one wish them the very best.
How sad then that it is just these warm and loving connections that are being prevented in the UK by the HFEA’s defensive and legalistic stance in refusing to allow donor recipients to have the unique identifying numbers attached to their donors. The fear seems to be that donors who know their numbers may contact recipients who are looking for half-siblings via an on-line forum or web site. In fact we know of a situation like this within DC Network…it has happened…but the parent was looking for connections and after she recovered from the initial shock, corresponded by email with the donor until they had established trust and is now very pleased for the family that this link has been made. On the whole, and there may be some exceptions, people will only be found if they want to be…if they are ‘out there’ looking themselves. It is slightly risky, there is fear of the unknown but there is potentially an enormous amount to gain, as Tamsin has discovered. I suppose I’d like to know more about how Tamsin’s husband feels about it all. It’s so often the women who make and maintain the contact. And of course we don’t know how children whose parents have linked up when they are little, will feel about half-siblings when they are older…but I’d take a bet that most of them won’t regret being part of the re-defining of the modern family.
http://dlistblog.com/2012/07/sticks-and-stones/ for Tamsin’s response to ignorant and abusive comments about her blog
http://julieshapiro.wordpress.com/2012/07/06/diblings/#more-3042 for Julie Shapiro’s supportive comments about Tamsin’s blog