I was chucked off a couple of years ago for being too blunt (the actual reason given was for advertising DC Network, but I had been a thorn in their side for years). I never rubbished or attacked anyone personally but I was sometimes very challenging of the unofficial but dominant culture of this fertility forum that posts have to be kept fluffy and light and that all decisions made are equal. For instance, pointing out that conceiving a child abroad might not be in a child’s best interest is not allowed. Neither is getting anywhere near asking someone who has decided not to ‘tell’ about donor conception to give logical reasons for doing so. Even pointing out research or factual information is frowned upon if there is the slightest chance anyone would be upset by it. The separation of strictly moderated Telling and Non-Telling threads completely disables any reasonable debate between people who might just learn something from one another. Of course personal attacks and harsh judgements are always wrong, but these days every opinion has to be hedged around with carefully worded acknowledgements that ‘others will think differently and that no-ones opinion is wrong.’ Well, actually when it comes to donor conception, there are some courses of action that definitely disadvantage children and it should be OK to point this out…kindly, supportively but clearly. But FF is simply into positive reinforcement, help, hope, hype, any way to get a baby is OK.
Children conceived abroad quite often carry characteristics of their donor that reflect their country of origin. Love is not always enough when raising a donor conceived child. There are risks and responsibilities. Children sometimes need lots of questions answered. Those who find out their origins by donor conception later in life often feel betrayed. Children of solo mums sometimes really want a dad and would like their mum to marry. Children conceived by embryo donation do sometimes wonder who they are and where they belong. Occasionally parents do not bond with their donor conceived children. These, and many other topics are taboo on FF.
Is it really a kindness not to allow people to know these things? Mixed feelings and experiences are normal in everything in life. Can it really be in peoples best interest that they are protected from understanding all sides to the incredibly important decisions they are making around creating a new person? This is about them but it is also about a child or children as well. They are going to have to live with the consequences of the decisions that their parent or parents have made. If people are only exposed to the false sentimentality and blinkered perspective available on FF, then real life with a donor conceived child could come as a terrible shock to them. I write as an individual, a mother of donor conceived adults, but also in this context as someone who responds to the many cries for help DC Network gets from families who find themselves in trouble down the line. The relationships that break up leaving a child not only grieving for their lost family but also untold about donor conception and usually with one parent desperate to ‘tell’ and the other not. No adult can know if separation or divorce is going to be part of their future but they can take responsibility for telling their child early so that they don’t have to face learning about their beginnings just when the family is falling apart. DC Network has never shied away from facing the difficult stuff. FF could learn a thing or two.
Update at 8th February 2015 Unfortunately someone has been sending private messages on Fertility Friends to people who post on the NOT Telling thread. The intimation is that it is DC Network organised. This is absolutely untrue. It would be a stupid and counterproductive thing to do. In any case DCN welcomes those who have yet to make up their minds about whether ‘telling’ is right for them. No-one in this state of mind would ever receive anything less than a warm welcome at DCN. Those who have made up their minds are unlikely to approach the organisation. Sadly this action has now led FF management to announce that a private room will be set up for non-tellers to talk to each other completely secluded from information and debates which may help them understand their child’s perspective on the matter. http://www.fertilityfriends.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=248488.220
…and at 9th February It would be laughable if it were not so sad. Management pitted against Not Tellers attempting to exercise what they see as THEIR right to free speech. No such right given to the Tellers, however, who must keep their opinions to themselves for fear of upsetting these delicate ladies who are so insecure in their decision about not telling that they cannot be exposed even to the innocently stated personal Pro-telling position of Mr Anthony Reid himself. Read and gawp! http://www.fertilityfriends.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=248488.240