A DI dad’s thoughts on Father’s Day

Having only returned from holiday yesterday I was a bit slow to realise today is Father’s Day.  My own dad died many, many years ago.  I think of him often and don’t feel the need to have a special day, but when I saw the blog that DI Dad Eric Schwartzman had re-posted I thought what a wonderful Father’s Day message this is for men like him who have been unable to contribute to making their family genetically, but have wholeheartedly embraced the role of father.  Like my own husband, Eric does not feel threatened by the donor whom he acknowledges as an important person he hopes his children may be able to meet some day.  I highly recommend Eric’s blog, Life as Dad to Donor Insemination (DI) Kids http://di-dad.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/my-2007-fathers-day-post.html?m=1

This post was originally published in 2007. It has been my sporadic tradition to repost it on Father’s Day.
With Father’s Day on the horizon my thoughts stray to the man whose gift allowed my children to come into being. This man is not the doctor or mid wife that delivered them. This man is their sperm donor. My children were conceived via Donor Insemination.

Without this man’s gift, these children would never have come into being and into my and my wife’s life. I am occasionally asked if I resent that this man could do what I could not. I can comfortably say I do not. On the contrary I want to thank him.

When I was diagnosed with non-obstructive azoospermia 12 years ago I was told that I should expect to never have children of my own. The fact that my children are not biologically linked to me has never lessened my love for them nor my belief that they are indeed my children. At the same time I am cognizant that there is another man whose role cannot be nor should be minimized.

To me he is and is not simply their donor. For now to my children he is in effect non-existent as they don’t fully understand the concept of donor insemination. They have been told of their conception story and that a donor was used but this is still too much for them to truly comprehend as they are both less than six years old. Someday soon this will change and I wonder how that will play out. For now the knowledge of his existence rests with my wife and me and as I see it I have a responsibility to not let the truth of him fade away.

The lives of my children are as much connected to him as they are to me. I do not pretend to argue nurture is greater than nature but rather together play a role in these children’s lives. I have his bios, medical, social, and educational. I have a toddler picture of him and a recording of his voice. All of this info is being saved for them as it is part of who they are.

Everyday I see articles addressing infertility and the use of donor conception from the side of the couples going through infertility, women choosing single motherhood, or lesbian or gay couples looking to start families. There are court cases around the country redefining what is family and who has the right to be legally defined as a parent or not. Under New York State law I am considered the legal father to my children. But despite that fact I know that someday my children will wonder about the man that is one half of their genetic make up.

Most heterosexual families of donor conceived children choose to never tell their children of the conception story fearing the child will turn against the social parent or for fear or shame of the perceived stigmas of using another person’s sperm or eggs to create their children. In my opinion these parents do so for their own reasons and not for the benefit of the children who have a right to the truth. I recently contributed an essay to a book series titled “Voices of Donor Conception” and have been increasingly involved in the discussions of these topics on the Internet.

The central issues surrounding donor conception, including donor anonymity, regulation and reform, have been or are being addressed in several countries around the world including Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada among others. The United States has not yet entered that discussion and currently there are no federal laws directly regulating the sale of gametes [i] nor are there any regulations imposed on the administration of the various cryobanks and clinics that solicit gamete donations and sell these gametes to the public. I am in favor of reforming the practices of this industry but I am not here today for that purpose.

I no longer fear the donor’s shadow but rather acknowledge his presence and if my children ask that his contribution be honored this or on a future Father’s Day I must honor their wishes if I am half the father I believe myself to be to them. So on their behalf I wish him a Happy Father’s Day and I say to him thank you for allowing me to do the same.
[i] “Reproduction and Responsibility: The Regulation of New Biotechnologies” The President’s Council on Bioethics, Washington, D.C., March 2004, Chapter 6″

http://di-dad.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/my-2007-fathers-day-post.html?m=1

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About oliviasview

Co-founder and now Practice Consultant at Donor Conception Network. Mother to two donor conceived adults and a son conceived without help in my first marriage.
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4 Responses to A DI dad’s thoughts on Father’s Day

  1. Silver says:

    Wow – very cool dad! Love his sensible attitude to being a dad and to the donor.

  2. Lorraine says:

    Great read. Regarding this comment:
    “To me he is and is not simply their donor.”

    Just not sure why the term “donor” implies (in his mind) something less than what it is. They aren’t donating money, but something that creates life. Being a donor is significant and not simple at all, IMO.

    • oliviasview says:

      I wasn’t quite sure what this sentence meant either, but knowing Eric over many years I know he has nothing but respect for donors and for the particular man who helped him become a DI dad.

  3. gsmwc02 says:

    Another great piece from a great man. I admire Eric about as much as I do anyone in the infertility/non biological parent community. He is a role model for everyone to strive to be like. I’ve never met Eric in person though a few months back we learned we were sitting a few rows from one another at a baseball game but I feel like I know him. If by some miracle I become a parent someday, I hope I can be a fraction of the parent that he is.

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