Last week Wendy Kramer posted on her Yahoo group a powerful and insightful piece of writing by adoptee Kristi Blazi Lado. She was responding to the MTV Generation Cryo series – sadly not currently viewable in the UK – where DC young adult Breeanna Speicher tours the US talking to the fifteen half-siblings she has found via the Donor Sibling Registry.
Kristi was struck by the attitudes of the parents of the donor conceived young people, feeling that they significantly mirrored parents in closed adoption situations. Parents, mostly in heterosexual couple families, often felt deeply threatened by the idea that their children were interested in making connections with their donor and half-siblings. Their anxiety and ambivalence was visceral and sometimes resulted in the donor conceived young adults themselves denying interest in genetic connections because they did not want to hurt their parents. Offspring were “saddled with managing their parents feelings of insecurity” and mothers were protective of their infertile partners, not understanding that interest in the donor or half-sibs was no threat to an existing father’s role.
Kristi declares, “This show has strengthened my conviction that the degree to which the parents have come to grips with their infertility and accepted the truth of their child’s origins will have a significant impact on the level of anxiety that a child will feel about searching for his roots.”
And that is the challenge for all of us in male/female partnerships, whether the donor is a man or a woman. We need to have grieved the child that cannot be before moving on to having the child that it is possible to have, whilst recognising that that child will become a young person/adult who may well be curious/have a real need to know something about the people s/he shares half their genes with. We need to be able to acknowledge that desire and support our children in whatever it is that they need from us…and the least that should be offered is our understanding and blessing in their exploration. Mixed feelings…for we are bound to have them, should be kept for couple, friend or counsellor conversations and should not be allowed to get in the way. Wanting to know more about those who are genetically connected is part of a very normal spectrum of feelings. The more supportive and understanding we are, the more it is likely that relationships in the family will stay the same or even be enhanced. Denial, resistance, reluctance to co-operate with information or threats that moving forward with making links will ‘kill your father’ are only likely to drive a wedge between us and our beloved children.
We have to deal with our own issues first. We are no good to our kids unless we do.