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Adoptees and donor conceived seem to have much in common…

11 Jan

By TAO

Insomnia struck again, so, I just watched the last two episodes of Generation Cryo.  I didn’t watch the series, just the last two episodes.  What I don’t know, is, if they realize that there could indeed be more than just the 15 who signed up on the donor sibling registry – and whether that was part of the discussion earlier in the series, because realistically, with the number of parents who tell vs don’t tell – the likelihood of more siblings is there, unless, the cryo bank knows those were the only families, and, know they were the only source.

It was an interesting glimpse into the lives of a few young adults who are donor conceived, understanding, that glimpse was merely snippets selected from the overall picture. Of course, there was no randomness to the selection pool because they all had the same biological father – yet that creates a unique situation, similar to the twins who were deliberately separated at birth, and adopted into different homes.  Different in that only half of who they are came from the same person, but similar with the different environments they were raised in.  (some had full siblings raised in the same home.)

Yet those snippets, show the reality that the adults made decisions that for some – clearly only fell within their comfort level.  One of the dads specifically, seemed very uncomfortable to say the least, and likely very angry too as to this whole process.  Sitting back – the lack of genetic connection appears to be really hard for him, to the point that he could deal with it when it was only a vial, a medical process, not a human being that contributed 50% of the genes for his children.  From the outside looking in, it is hard for me to understand why after so many years, the obvious familial love, why he couldn’t understand the flip side – that if the lack of the genetic connection caused him such grief, then, how could he not step outside of himself and see the lack thereof, the not knowing, or knowing you had others out there – might mean something to his kids?  I’m saying that not just based on the last two episodes, but one of the clips from a previous episode that appeared to relate to him having issues with his kids wanting to know their siblings.  It seemed that he only wanted his nuclear family, only that was acceptable.

I was also struck by the one dad’s lack of understanding of how his words could cause his kids to understand, without any doubt, that he did not want them to know their biological father, end of story.  He didn’t have to come out and say it, but he played the loyalty card.  I think he just made his kids life so much harder, and, I suspect their mom identified the loyalty issue the kids would feel, and while she didn’t say that – perhaps – that is also what fueled her push back – the mama bear protecting her cubs mode.   That style of parenting – we must be the be all, and end all, of their kids world is unknown to me, and I am thankful for that.  I know other adoptees haven’t been as fortunate as I, in that respect.

The fact that the siblings connected first, and spent some quality time with each other as young adults, will likely help in maintaining a long-term relationship – especially now with all the different modes of keeping in touch at their fingertips.  Meeting at that age, when they are all evolving into adults should make it easier, than meeting when you are set in your ways.  It should also help in any relationship they do choose to build with their biological father, they aren’t going it alone, and it seems they are all okay with other siblings not being at the same stage, or having the same desire for connection at this point in their lives.  The not so curious commonality I saw with adoptees from closed adoption, the lived reality that we would never know, and how you can live quite happily despite that, and be okay, but, once there is a chance the what if’s, and what could be suddenly become reality, it dispels the need, or your belief that you don’t care, or are curious.  Rather, they just hadn’t been given the choice, the key to unlock that part of who they are if they wanted too, and acceptance isn’t the only option they have – it changes everything, bit by bit.  The different stages of recognition of what you want, and when you are ready for the next step, or, that you don’t want to go further, but, recognize that you might in the future, or not.

For years, I have said that the reproductive industry should have looked to the knowledge gained in adoption in regards to adoptees.  From what I have read, they felt donor conception is completely different – that is was the “adoption” and “separation” that made all the difference for adoptees.  They seem to have made a grave mistake.  How many donor conceived will pay the price for that decision?  I find it indelibly sad that once again, the adults didn’t think of the kids, their needs, desires, the challenges they would face.

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13 Comments

Posted by on January 11, 2014 in Adoption, adoptive parents, biological child

 

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13 responses to “Adoptees and donor conceived seem to have much in common…

  1. Don't We Look Alike?

    January 11, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    I have always found the concept of anonymous sperm donorship to be outside my moral boundaries, and yet so many people over the years have never understood where I was coming from.

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    • TAO

      January 11, 2014 at 6:46 pm

      Because they aren’t looking at it from the child’s perspective like you do (plus you have a grounding in adoption going way back) – or they really see no value in a genetic connection.

      What I didn’t put in the post that I should have – one sent a letter to the biological father, another sibling set asked the cryo bank to see if he was interested in contact. He responded to the letter sent by one of his children – and responded to the cryo bank but stated he would answer questions but wanted to remain anonymous (like that was the main point). Jumping to conclusions like I always do – I have to wonder how many truly wanted anonymity vs being told they HAD to be anonymous – you know because the parents wanted that… Yes, I have trust issues when it comes to stuff like this!

      Hope the year is going better…

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      • gsmwc02

        January 11, 2014 at 8:44 pm

        The donor wasn’t married nor did he have children he was raising. I think the letter Bree (the main character) sent him spooked him and that’s why he came back with that response to the two siblings who sent a letter through the Cryo bank. You have to wonder would his feelings on being anonymous differently if he was married and had a family. Personally I think the US needs to move towards the UK model in terms of banning all anonymous donation.

        With technology being what it is today flying under the radar and not ever be found. So I don’t think anyone who anonymously donates could ever remain that way. Eventually they will be found by the children that are conceived from their donation. Similar to closed adoptions where birth/first parents are being found.

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  2. Deb

    January 11, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    This post made me think of the couples that are donating their leftover embryos that are currently in frozen storage. This obviously means that a man and woman’s combined DNA is available to be implanted in another woman’s womb so she and her partner can have a family. I can’t imagine what kind of problems this could cause (sarcasm).

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  3. gsmwc02

    January 11, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    Generation Cryo was a great series. Coming from MTV it was a surprise that they put together something that has as much value as it did. Showing the emotions on all sides as well as siblings who all group up in different households from lesbian couples, infertile couples to single mother all using a sperm donor to conceive the children they raised.

    Eric Jacobson has a lot of unresolved grief from his infertility that unfortunately and unfairly are impacting his children. When infertile couples are going through different ways of having children it’s very hard for them to think that the baby they desire will become an adult someday. Because it takes so much physically and emotionally sometimes they don’t care and just want that baby and deal with the other stuff afterwards. Not that any of it is right or that it’s fair to the child/adult but I think we need understand where that is coming from to help these people so their children don’t suffer.

    Hopefully series like this bring awareness and that parents of donor conceived children and those considering using a sperm donor conceive children can learn from it. For my wife it reinforced her belief that using a sperm donor wasn’t for us and that she couldn’t have gone through it. I never wanted to see her have to go through treatments for a chance (not a guarantee) for a child that was not biologically related to myself. But I would have been comfortable had she not had issues on her end. I would have been more open to using an open donor after watching the series. I never would have wanted to see the person I was raising have to go through so much to find out who represents 50% of their DNA.

    There is much to be learned from a show like this and you hope there will be more series like this to bring awareness to the general public who are unaware. I know the cast has said that they won’t be doing a follow up season but there are others out there that you hope have the courage to put themselves out there.

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    • TAO

      January 11, 2014 at 10:56 pm

      Greg – you can put the blame for that squarely on the backs of those who do not see donor conception to be similar in any way with adoption. Both the intended parents and the industry. There is a reason for homestudies in adoption and from the time way back when I was born they focused on whether or not the couple had come to a level of peace with their infertility – back then they say how crucial it was. How can people and the industry not realize it now 50+ years later? How can they not continually monitor what is being learned?

      Sure you can give him grace in the beginning – not so much 18 years (?) later because it is obvious his children aren’t babies. Even if his infertility is not resolved or whatever the term is, his maturity should be able to see how that could affect his kids that love him – for their sake – not his feelings.

      Anonymity should be banned.

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      • gsmwc02

        January 11, 2014 at 11:54 pm

        Tao,

        In the case of adoption do those home studies really make that big of a difference? I mean there are still issues in adoption with insecure adoptive parents who close open adoptions.

        Let me be clear, I am not defending Mr. Jacobson in any way. I do not approve of how he has handled the situation. I think there comes a point where you have to put your ego aside and support your child. All I am doing is explaining what is driving his behavior. Maturity has nothing to do with it if he was under the impression that the donor would never enter into the child’s life at any point (bad assumption on his part).

        If you notice the other infertile dad acted much differently. Whether that was because he was able to conceive a child later or dealt with his infertility much differently, I have no idea. There was another dad who was never on camera at any point so it’s impossible to say what that dynamic is. The set of siblings that seemed to be the best adjusted were the ones who had a single mom that used DI.

        Things are much different now than they were 20 years ago in that seeking therapeutic help is more accepted. I spent 7 months in therapy last year and everyone I told (friends and family) don’t look down upon me for it. Would that be the case 20 years ago? I am not sure it would be.

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        • TAO

          January 11, 2014 at 11:59 pm

          Good homestudy agencies will say you are not ready to adopt. Ones who are in it for the money – probably not. Insecure parents can be caused by many things – it isn’t just infertility.

          He didn’t have to go 20 years ago – he could have gone a year ago or whenever his kids signed up on the donor registry because that was certainly a red flag.

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          • gsmwc02

            January 12, 2014 at 11:08 am

            I haven’t gone through the process so I am just going based off what I’ve read of homestudies but how many good home study agencies are there?

            I agree that he could go for therapy at any point and I hope he is going now. I don’t think he ever believed his children could meet their biological father even if they connected with the siblings. But I think he should have taken it upon himself to go prior to his kids being born. I also agree that insecurity among parents could be caused by things other than infertility. The thing I found interesting is that the main character Bree’s non biological mother who could have been insecure due to her non biological connection wasn’t. In fact she was very supportive of Bree’s search every step of the way.

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            • TAO

              January 12, 2014 at 2:52 pm

              Greg – it depends on how you do the adoption, what route you chose, how the state regulates requirements for homestudies – I do think there are good homestudy providers, and I think there are ones who rubberstamp, and everything in between. Just like there are great doctors to scary doctors – great teachers to ones that shouldn’t have a job. Great human beings to ones that are not. I do think some of the older long time agencies likely do the best in that regards, despite some of them – whose other actions paint badly in regards to treatment of mothers – they want the home the child is going into to be the best fit possible.

              I think some people have the ability to put two and two together so they aren’t insecure. They can say – I have X number of years of a solid relationship and memories that can’t be denied or disappear. I love her/him and want the best for them and the fact that I can love and have a relationship more than one person means she/he can as well – otherwise I am saying they are not the same as I am. Really, people just have to be secure in their relationship and use common sense…if it’s good – it will be as good or better after.

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            • heatherrainbow

              January 12, 2014 at 3:26 pm

              Homestudies are generally done by the adoption agency. So, asking how many good homestudy agencies is the equivalent of asking how many good adoption agencies are there? Let us be clear, that just because there are some good adoptive parents and happy adoptees doesn’t necessarily mean good adoption agencies. It is the “anonymity” that is overlooked, how about asking the question of all three parties, the adoptee, the adoptive parents and the parents who relinquished for each adoption. When one is missing from any of the group of the question asked, then it is an incomplete answer to whether the adoption agency is good or not. For example, I’m sure that my daughter who is 15, and her kidnappers think the agency we all used was great. They got what they wanted. (Except my daughter who got what they gave her, a pack of closed adoption lies). But, figure me into the equation, and it was not a good equation. So, if any of us feel the adoption agency was not ethical or failed us all in some way, then they are not a good agency. The issue? Let’s see how many adoptees, adoptive parents and parents who relinquished to participate in answering these questions in a scientific way, as a third independent party.

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  4. eagoodlife

    January 13, 2014 at 3:27 am

    A good assessment by an agency will focus on those things which may arise later for adopters – attitudes to teen sexuality, relationship to own infertility and the connection, and all those areas in which the adoptee is acknowledged as other than a baby. Those areas are as vital as the ones about parenting babies and young children and if they’re not the prospective adopters have not been well prepared or served well by the agency.

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  5. dmdezigns

    January 13, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    Heatherrainbow, my homestudy wasn’t done by an adoption agency. It’s an independent agency that only does homestudies. I’m not sure it removes the conflict of interest though. They don’t get paid if they don’t pass you.

    My ex-husband was a sperm donor in his 20s. At the time, we needed money. We were both immature and unknowing. There was no counseling provided for sperm donors. And it was easier, less painful and better money than donating plasma. It supplemented without taking the time of a second job. Neither of us gave any thought at the time to a child conceived that way wanting to come back and find him. In the early 90s, I doubt there were even many adult children of IVF and they weren’t being very loud yet. We both assumed the parents going through the procedure would be the parents and there would be no need for anything else. Naive, I know.

    Flash forward to now, when I was doing fertility treatments, the first IVF used our stuff. The second was donor eggs from one of my family members. It didn’t take. We were comfortable with family egg donation as we would still have relationship and questions could be answered later. The counseling we had to go through talked about how to share with your kids the method of their conception. The idea was there that they might be curious later about the donor. Of course, they didn’t go any further than curious.

    When that second IVF failed, we decided we weren’t going to try again. The next option was anonymous egg donor. To us, the only difference between that and adoption was that my husband would be the genetic father. On my side, it would be just like I had adopted that child. We took almost 2 years before we started the adoption process. When our first match failed, a good friend offered her and her husband’s embryoes, which was incredibly thoughtful. We all agreed as we considered it, that any children would know their biological siblings and be able to have an open relationship with their biological family. In the end, I guess I had really processed through my grief because I didn’t want to go through another medical procedure. I had no need to be pregnant. I had no emotional need to give birth. And I see no difference in conceiving with donor eggs or sperm and adoption. The similarities to me are overwhelming.

    Now, I’m raising 2 siblings. I’m maintaining contact with their original families. I’m expecting that they will want to at least explore a relationship with them. And you’re 100% right, the fertility industry needs to come to terms with the fact that they are still selling the lies of adoption in the 50s.

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