Both our donor conceived children – now very grown-up adults – have said quite spontaneously from time to time how much it means to them to know that they were wanted. They were, very much so, but we have never laboured the point about going to such trouble to have them. That’s part of our story, not theirs. I have, however, been aware for some time that some donor conceived adults very much resent it being pointed out to them how very wanted they were (and are)…as if they should be grateful in some way. It has been unhelpful to have parents insisting that ‘being wanted’ is somehow going to solve all the questions a donor conceived person might have, but it has been equally unhelpful to have some donor conceived adults insisting that all DC adults feel a sense of disenfranchised grief because they aren’t allowed to have negative feelings.
I hope Damian Adams, an Australian DC adult and commentator on donor conception matters will forgive me for re-printing a post he made very recently on this subject on a Facebook group. It tells it like it is from a DC adult’s perspective but also acknowledges that not everyone feels this way. It’s important reading for all parents. We can never ever know how our children are going to feel.
On being WANTED:
This is something I’ve wanted to address for some time and while this was raised recently, this post is not addressed directly at those people rather the concept (rather it reminded me to address this topic). But before I start on that I will preface the following with saying that in the outcomes for donor conceived people there is a whole rainbow of emotions with some being completely happy and others who are traumatised and everywhere else in between. All views are equally valid but we also have to remember that this is a lifetime journey where views can change dramatically during that time (they certainly have for me). For others they will not change at all. Also note that I often use the term “some” because not all are of the same perspective.
Ok now on to being “wanted”. I have heard this phrase used more times than I can count as well as the matching statement that other children are born into other scenarios which some people view as worse. What these statements do to “some” offspring is they impose what is termed in the literature as existential debt. This is where the child is aware of the efforts and costs that their parents went through in obtaining them. Because of this, “if” they do have any negative feelings they may be afraid of voicing these in fear of hurting their parents feelings. This is termed disenfranchised grief whereby the donor conceived person feels unable to express or process their grief.
We as a society recognise the tragedy when a child is born into a situation whereby the father may have run off (dead beat dad) or the tragedy of when the birth parents for whatever reason are unable to care for the child and have had to give that child up for adoption. Yet we are still having difficulty acknowledging the loss for donor conceived people simply because the kinship separation was planned and that the child was wanted in this manner.
Just as in any family the outcomes for any child will be varied depending on a plethora of circumstances one of which is NOT being wanted. Just as evidence of bad outcomes can occur from unplanned parenthood, so too can evidence of good outcomes. Conversely the same can be argued for when parenthood was planned and the child wanted, there can be bad and good outcomes.
This post is not meant to offend anyone in any way but rather as a means of presenting another perspective that some people may not have thought about before. I do not imply that every DC person will feel this way, far from it, but many that I have had discussions with over a great many years do have difficulty dealing with the use of the term “wanted” (others also feel extremely happy about being wanted). Additionally just as some parents and donors can be upset about terminology and various posts, so too can the donor conceived.
I’m away again between 5th and 11th August – walking in France this time, so look forward to being back with you the week beginning the 12th.