Putting the pieces back together.....
Posted on 06/30/07
Like many on the DSR, my husband and I suffered through many years of infertility treatments before realizing our dream of having a child through the use of IVF using a sperm donor. Back in 1994, we like many parents, were told to go home and keep his conception a secret. We did as we were told. But through the years, I kept coming back to the same thought. Did our child deserve the right to know his history? Did we have the right to deny him half of his genetic identity just because we wanted to keep "the secret"? One fateful night last year I was awoken from a nightmare in which my son was in urgent medical need of only something the donor could provide him. I panicked. As mothers of donor conceived children, I believe we always have this scenario lurking somewhere nearby. I had watched the 60 Minutes special on the DSR just a short time before and had kept that information in the back of my mind never realizing that I would ever have a need for it. But that nightmare changed everything. I immediately got up and frantically searched through our papers looking for the donor profile. We had actually torn this information up years ago (attempting to hide the evidence?) and had kept it in a bag in the closet. Like a puzzle, I put the pieces back together as best I could and at 2:00 a.m. jumped on the computer. I searched through the registry and there, in the wee hours of the morning, I found my son's biological father. In a twist of fate, he had just posted his information on the registry just a couple of weeks before.
I immediately wrote him an email and we continued a short email correspondence for another couple of weeks before signing off. A year went by and my son was in need of surgery which would require general anesthesia. I contacted the donor with a minor medical question and he answered it promptly, and thus began a very prolific two month email correspondence which ended in not only our 12 year old son being told how he was conceived, but in a meeting with his biological father as well. It was an amazing day for all involved and our son was even given the opportunity to speak on the phone with his biological father's parents as well. He was absolutely in heaven and the look on his face will forever be etched into my heart. For me, it was as if the final piece of the puzzle had been put in place and everything was whole again. I could now breathe a little easier knowing that this child would be sent off into the world to build his life based on a foundation of truth.
I would imagine the question that some of you will ask is Was his world 'rocked?' when he learned the details of his conception. I can honestly answer that at this moment in time, he has embraced this unique side of himself with amazing poise, grace and at many times, with humor. He has accepted his fate, and seems to have found a new sense of who he is. It's not that he was unhappy with himself before, but this new sense of identity finally meshed with the one he was living with inside. It was always difficult for him to understand why he was so different from his Dad both in personality and physicality, and this new information just brought more balance into his life and an understanding of why he felt so different. I have read so many stories from donor conceived children who felt that they had sensed something was different all of their lives, and I believe in his own way, our son also sensed that things weren't as they were being portrayed.
My husband and I had always intended for him to know eventually. We just never knew when that time would come. For me, every child deserves to know who they are and where they came from. Do we as parents have the right to keep that from them? To quote a donor conceived child, 'It was like looking into a mirror and seeing only half of my reflection' after he found out how he was conceived. Our child deserved to see his entire being every time he looked into a mirror which made the search for his donor that much more urgent. I also am of the opinion that the more people in the bleachers cheering for your child to succeed in life, the better. As parents, we are not perfect, and if we had the means to put just one more individual in his life, such as his biological father, to help guide him through the murky waters that lie ahead, then we owed him that. In our case, he didn't just gain one individual, but an entirely new set of family whom I believe will be cheering for his well being from here on in. What a gift to give to a child and certainly one we could never deny him.
I believe I can speak for everyone involved when I say thank you to Wendy, Ryan and the Donor Sibling Registry for making all of this possible.