Red herring…

15 Jun


So, I was reading this post today, not a bad article in general, but the distancing language made it clear to me, that the genetic link wasn’t to be considered a familial link, just genetic, and while it could be important, how important was it really.  The last sentence in the quote below, just seem disingenuous in a post about donor conception and families and whether or not the genetic link is important.

“Throughout the history of mankind—the history of families—genetic lineage has mattered. But are we currently in a post-genetic age?  We now know that two unrelated people share 99 percent of their DNA in common.”

While I’m not disputing it is true, I am disputing the relevance in including it in an article on whether, or not, knowing who your genetic parents are is important.  I say that for several reasons and the obvious one is because humans, chimpanzees, and bonobos, all share somewhere (depending on the type of testing) between 94% and 99% percent of their DNA (source)…but that was left out, I assume because the reader knowing that, would then realize that 1% difference must be pretty important and is very relevant to who you are, the line you came down from, and why you are different from you neighbor, friend, co-worker, but similar in some to many ways to those within your ancestral line.

Another reason, much less scientific mumbo-jumbo, but what it really comes down to, is that your ancestral line is a connection that secures your place within your family tree, a map if you will, that stretches back generation, after generation.  Your ancestors passed down their legacy and connection every successive generation, including, to you.  I would think that most who want to procreate and become parents, also want to see themselves reflected in their children, and perhaps, on a deeper level the idea that even after they are gone, a part of them still lives on in their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and beyond.  We shouldn’t be trying to say this is wrong, or denying how important it is too many.  It is in large part, who we are as human beings, and why we also look back to where we came from.  That connection to the past (however far back you want to go) is grounding in way that nothing else truly is, you come from that line, those people are your people despite never having met some of them, you followed after them, you are family, you aren’t alone, you aren’t an only.

So that is why I say it was a red-herring to distract by pointing out that humans are 99% the same (and omitting what other species we are so similar too), it was designed to deny the importance for some, the most fundamental element of all – that basic connection through time from whence you came.  Which I also feel inclined to point out, at the same time takes nothing away from the family you are raised in, belong in, love, and are loved by, because that is a separate and different subject.  In turn, your family shouldn’t willingly take that away from you, or assume that it won’t be important to you, because you didn’t choose to grow up having your nature and nurture split between two different families (whether that is adoption or donor conception).


“I saw behind me those who had gone, and before me those who are to come. I looked back and saw my father and his father and all our fathers, and in front to see my son and his son, and the sons upon sons beyond. And their eyes were my eyes. As I felt so they had felt, and were to feel, as then, so now, as tomorrow and forever. Then I was not afraid for I was in a long line that had no beginning and no end. And the hand of his father grasped my father’s hand and his hand was in mine, and my unborn son took my right hand and all, up and down the line that stretched from time that was to time that is not yet, raised their hands to show the link, and we found that we were one, born of Woman, Son of Man, made in the Image, fashioned in the Womb by the Will of God, the Eternal Father.”

~ Robert Llewellyn, How Green Was My Valley




Posted by on June 15, 2014 in Adoption, adoptive parents, biological child


Tags: ,

16 responses to “Red herring…

  1. eagoodlife

    June 15, 2014 at 12:52 am

    Absolutely. Those links are vital, literally, for our lives to have meaning and connection. Those who can overlook that have not yet come to understand it.


  2. Beth

    June 15, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    Are they saying that our descendants are important…
    But ancestors – not so much?

    If I am an only, and my ancestors are of no importance, many think I can be molded into anything, like a blank slate, write it as you wish.

    It’s hard to talk out of both sides of your mouth and make much sense.
    Of course many of us know we can be close and loving family with those who we are not genetically linked.
    But do we have to make linking to our ancestors Unimportant, do we have to make that a fact to make the other thought truly true???
    Not in my world.

    Makes one wonder why so many donor conceived are trying to connect with their genetic ancestors, just like the many other people who don’t know who they are genetically related to, or don’t know them. Those who want or need to know more, those who search for answers, for so many reasons.


    • TAO

      June 15, 2014 at 3:04 pm

      Yep, that pretty much my take. It amazes me that people can’t give human beings credit for our ability to hold complex and at times contradictory feelings and still get along splendidly. People let their fears to precedent over plain old common sense…


  3. Deb

    June 16, 2014 at 6:08 am

    Thank you for this post. Sometimes I think the feelings I have based on genetic link are crazy thoughts. I keep asking myself…How can they be important when everyone else says they are not?
    A first mom.


    • TAO

      June 16, 2014 at 1:49 pm

      Deb – I think it’s different for everyone, they have always been important to me – both my adoptive parents AND my first parent…to me that is my normal seeing as my nurture came from one family and my nature the other. I do think it is often something that isn’t as important to folks until the realize, they too are mortal, and start looking back as well as forward…


  4. dmdezigns

    June 16, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    That article used a lot of words to say almost nothing. Basically all she said was that genetic heritage isn’t THAT important. The rest of the article was just filler. I was really annoyed with the “bloodlines and genetic links are less relevant today” statement. Someone should tell then, because obviously they have a flawed business model. This was just a bunch of BS designed to make infertile couples feel okay spending $$$$ on donor conception. We were told it would cost us $35,000 to $40,000 for IVF with an anonymous egg donor. This article is a salespitch and nothing more. It’s designed to sell more donor conception so that REs can make more money, and the consequences be damned.


    • TAO

      June 16, 2014 at 4:11 pm

      But pretty typical both within adoption or IVF…discount and dismiss what isn’t part of it, and can’t be for obvious reasons, and reassure it will be just fine, just you wait and see…they’ve been spinning the story each successive generation since I was born. This article shows clearly how the same message is recycled over and over again. Still haven’t got to the post genetic age.


      • dmdezigns

        June 16, 2014 at 4:27 pm

        Yeah, I know. That was my pissed off response. lol. I like the link you shared, good story and food for thought. It’s amazing how many people thought everything would be the same. Glad to see that the adoptive father is trying hard to be supportive although I couldn’t tell about his wife.


        • TAO

          June 16, 2014 at 4:33 pm

          Oh, don’t worry, I have plenty of pissed off comments too 🙂

          I did think it was a very sincere and willingness to grow…that matters most of all. I did note any mention of the wife’s feelings were missing.


  5. cb

    June 17, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    “It’s hard to talk out of both sides of your mouth and make much sense.
    Of course many of us know we can be close and loving family with those who we are not genetically linked.
    But do we have to make linking to our ancestors Unimportant, do we have to make that a fact to make the other thought truly true???
    Not in my world.”

    It seems that people have to think about adoption in black and white and if it is not one extreme, it must be the other.

    I think that dismissing biology is an important factor in getting women to consider adoption – after all if “biology means nothing”, then the biological mother is considered to have no more right to parent her child than anyone else.

    Anyone who tries to argue about genetic/biological links can often be called selfish and delusional.

    When talking to PAPs/APs about the effects that adoption might have on a child, I no longer refer to biology directly anymore as one will be attacked. Thus, I now refer to the separation of nature and nurture n the concepts of being “born to” and “as if born to” (dual identities) and the ways we adoptees deal with those concepts. I think APs with children over the age of 7 start to undestand that perhaps adoption isn’t just a simple “trade up” and is not totally without consequence.


  6. cb

    June 17, 2014 at 11:09 pm

    Btw the one thing I really hate is how often one is patronised because one wants to search – we get talked about as if we are all insensitive fools out to hurt our APs and BPs with our foolish behaviour.

    And twice now I’ve been accused of being discriminatory towards IF sufferers just because I think that anonymity should be ended in donor conception (some countries have already banned anonymous donations).


  7. Tiffany

    June 18, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    What absolute and utter nonsense. I was a psych minor in college, and a biology major. I really, strongly dislike Psychology Today, as did all my psych professors. It’s mostly pop psych fluff.

    If genetic linkage wasn’t important, then there would have been no need for the two men to mix their sperm to prevent knowing who the biological father was. Obviously, since they did that, it did matter, as the author points out. She then winds her way through why knowing your genetic heritage does matter combined with why it doesn’t at the same time. So basically a completely inconclusive article based on pure opinion only.

    Of course genetics matter. We are a product of our DNA, and that is only passed to us through biological conception. We are all tied to our ancestors, and while there can be varying feelings of connection to this idea for individuals, the fact remains that we are largely the sum of our genetic parts. Nuture forms and molds the nature, but we are all hard-coded in many ways. To think otherwise is to ignore science. The author’s silly comment about humans sharing 99 percent of our DNA is a ridiculous statement to make in the context she is presenting. Of course we share much of our DNA- we are all humans! This is a basic tenant of a species. Some species share more DNA than others. Cheetahs are almost identical, gentically. It’s a rare case of genetic uniformity. They went through a bottleneck at some point in their species’ history that resulted in a very small gene pool. Still, they remain individual animals. There is nothing in this point that relates to the human need to understand our ancestry. Psychologists really need to stick to their field rather than attempting to make over-reaching assertions about the intricacies of genetics.

    My daughter who is adopted is a beautiful and wonderful little girl who bears a striking resemblance to her other father. I see her mother in her eyes and hear her in her laugh. I see her father in the little dimples she gets in the corners of her mouth when she smiles. I know why she gravitates so strongly to music, especially drums (she “was born with the rhythm in her soul,” as my husband fondly says of her, speaking as someone with an utter lack of even basic musical talent). I know why she pulls on her hair when she’s bored and where she got her tenacious, strong, and vivacious personality. I love every last bit of my daughter, and I embrace the long line of ancestors who each contributed something of themselves to create this amazing little girl. Why would I try to hide, ignore, or belittle any of that???


    • Andre'

      June 24, 2014 at 5:21 pm

      Secrets belittle us all. Father left out. Third parties and hidden agendas in adoption. Yes indeed I appreciate the qualities inherent in my off spring, even if it reflects not me but the grandparents. Glad you shared in making this world a better place.


  8. eagoodlife

    June 19, 2014 at 12:46 am

    Obviously Tiffany you have not obtained your daughter through the uncertainties of donor conception and will be able to give her a strong sense of her own identity and connection to her past. I find the hierarchy of adoption so very sad. The manner of conception, the reasons for adoption, the immorality of the adoption industry etc are all important to adoptees because they reveal so much about adopters, but in the end it is usually the genetic connections that matter most, no matter what we chose to do about them. We are all born ‘with the rhythm’ in our souls, the rhythm of our ancestors heart-beats and recognition of that when we meet biological relatives, often gives us the life foundation we cannot find in any other way.


    • Tiffany

      June 19, 2014 at 12:57 am

      That’s correct. We adopted our daughter and know her parents. I find adoption sad as well. I love my daughter, but I do not love the manner in which she came to us because it caused her separation from her parents.

      I love how you phrased you comment. It is so true. I think those who purposely seek anonymity short-sighted and… selfish. I know that’s a harsh word, but take the men in the article who mixed their sperm so it wouldn’t be known who the bio father was. That decision was about them. They never considered (or if they did, they discounted them) the possible implications to the child who someday will be an adult and want to know.


      • eagoodlife

        June 19, 2014 at 6:33 am

        So few do consider the implications for adoptees. In my view there should be no anonymity in adoption or the creation of children. Men like Elton John and his husband think it is romantic and all about them when they mix their sperm so that the father is not known and both can be considered as fathers. Sadly not knowing our biological relatives is so often a recipe for unhappiness.



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