There have been some long conversations going on following two of my previous posts. Although they are enormously worth reading they are very difficult to follow because of the way WordPress randomly seems to offer the possibility, or not, of replying to a particular comment. The dates and links between comments become very confused. Because of this I am going to reproduce a comment that was made by ‘Liz’ on 28th March on the blog https://oliviasview.wordpress.com/2014/03/17/donor-conception-for-life-the-joy-of-half-sib-relationships/ but I do encourage you to go to the original and read the comments leading up to it and those afterwards as well.
In my original post I had mentioned that Generation Cryo is to be shown on TV in the UK. Two others mentioned how good and indeed moving they had found the series but a donor conceived adult who posts as My Parent’s Donor is My Father reminded us that the stories of those who feel less positively about their beginnings should also be heard and posted a heart-rending one for us to read. I agreed that indeed all views should be heard. Liz then posted the comment I am reproducing below. And I do so because it brings together in a way that I have never quite managed, lot of thoughts that I have had swirling in my head for a long time but possibly been reluctant to write. This is partly because I can’t martial my thoughts in quite the articulate way that Liz manages to do and partly because I in no way wish to deny or attempt to minimise or denigrate the feelings of those donor conceived people who are in pain or distress. All feelings are real. But nevertheless I do find Liz’s analysis compelling and feel that DC people need to think seriously about what she says. Sometimes, and it will only be sometimes, it may be easier to blame the method of conception rather than the shortcomings of parents or circumstances of upbringing. See what you think.
“I find it hard to distinguish the specificity as to the causes of this negative experience.
I have even seen adoption opponents suggest that biological connection will produce similarities in hobbies, personality, and empathetic connection. But this is clearly not based in factual evidence, as we all know biological children who have drastically different hobbies, personalities, intelligences, and a lack of common interests or personal connection with their biological parents.
Some thoughts that I’ve had for several months, that quite frankly befuddle me: I do not understand why these negative stories are presented as evidence against donor-conception, when, in the negative stories, I tend to hear at least one, if not more then one, of the following:
(1) Late reveal, which causes some degree of identity crisis and resulting trauma. The parent(s) cannot be trusted by the child as they lied for years.
(2) Divorce/ dislocation/death in family structure at sometime between infancy and 18 yrs.
(3) At least 1 un-empathetic or socially-inept parent. This parent has a difficult time relating or communicating with the child. The parent does not connect empathetically with the child. There is a lack of commonality of interests, a personality clash, or the parent does not have much empathetic talents or abilities.
(4) A lack of high quality parenting (I’ve also noticed that at times this parenting ineptness is normalized — the person may not be able to recognize the lack of skills. The inept parenting skills may be explained by the donor conception.)
(5) Mental, physical or sexual abuse. Sometimes the physical abuse is excused as “normal” for that time period.
(6) A degree of economic insecurity in the family.
(7) A lack of economic support for the goals and dreams of the child.
(8) A lack of emotional support for the goals and the dreams of the child.
(9) A lack of sufficient emotional support for donor conception (This lack of sufficient emotional support is directly connected to the inept or low- to middling-value parenting skills. In other words, the talent of the parent falls within the lower quantiles of parental ability.)
(10) Parents who care deeply about genetic connection. (This is obvious, but these parents should not utilize donor conception, as they will communicate this belief to their children. This element falls in the inept parenting category.)
But all of the distress is attributed to donor-conception. This confuses me when these other elements are so clearly articulated.
I will hear people say they had a “happy childhood,” but then the person will describe one or more of the above elements. Sometimes people reveal almost all of the above elements, but still call some aspect of their parenting “good.” Other times they see the above inept or low-value parenting as a result of donor-conception. (ie – My parents divorced because of donor-conception, rather then “my parents divorced because they could not figure out how to emotionally relate with maturity and talent.”) I’m not sure what to make of that, but people tend to normalize their own experiences.
For the person unconnected to donor-conception, it appears that we are expected to ignore these other elements, and blame the distress solely on the method of conception. However, research has long shown that low-value or un-empathetic parenting, divorce, familial instability, and economic insecurity all contribute to emotional dissatisfaction. Research also shows that high-value parenting, familial stability (no divorce or dislocation from infancy), and economic security (and strong support of the child’s education and dreams) contributes to emotionally balanced growth.
That said high-value parenting cannot overcome everything. Major traumas, severe disabilities, biochemical imbalance in brain function (mental illness), severe or chronic physical illness, pain disorders, and other critical events may inhibit the happiness and emotional growth of people.
I have also wondered if some children have a greater need for conformity, and a low tolerance for their family being marked as “different.” This would be a trauma of social stigma, which may affects some children much more then other children. For example, some children may be very upset if their brother is identified as gay, especially if they are teased at school as a result, while other children are little affected by this non-normative situation. I would imagine that some children may be quite distressed by any sort of element which places them into a non-normative category.
Forgive the bluntness and the long post. But I cannot help but think that others who also read the stories may be thinking along similar lines. In other words, the causality of the negativity may appear to be obvious to the story-teller, but it may not be obvious to others.”