Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The meaning of the term Donated Generation

This blog introduces the term Donated Generation, but why have I used it?
If we are to look at other groups of disenfranchised people that have had their kinship forcibly severed through institutionalised means, we have the Stolen Generation (of Australian Aboriginal children), the Forgotten Generation (of Australian children taken as wards of the state) and we also have a generation of children who were Child Migrants from WWII and who were not orphaned but taken from their families. Some of these forced separations went on for several decades, however these kinship separations have all stopped within a given time frame, leading to the term “generation” being used. Similarly in donor conception, a child is forcibly severed from biological bonds of kinship. The current ethos prevailing around a large proportion of the world (notable exception is the USA), is that it is acknowledged that knowledge of the donor/progenitor is important to the welfare of the child and that now at least these offspring will have access to identifying information once they reach maturity such that these bonds can potentially be partially, but never completely re-established (and that is best case scenario).
For those conceived prior to such changes in the paradigm, they may forever be left in limbo and forever separated from their kin due to poor record keeping, destruction of records or a maintenance of anonymity. As donor conception became mainstream in the 60’s and 70’s, and changes allowing access to identifying information starting appearing in the 90’s and much later as a whole, we have created a generation of donor offspring that will never know their true biological parentage and heritage. We have a generation of people who have been donated away by one or both biological parents.
The term “Donated” in this context, while I feel that it is an oxymoron, as in all instances there has been an exchange of money for the gametes and therefore does not classify strictly as a donation and would be better coined as vendor donation. It is the term that is widely used to describe this form of conception and is enshrined in literature, popular media and our society, therefore the term has been carried on here.
Yes there will always be children conceived through donor conception, however, it is sincerely hoped that current and future offspring will have far greater rights in regards to knowing their kinship. While the effects of forced separation will carry over into future generations as an indirect effect and can never be erased or ameliorated, the numbers of those that are directly affected by such barbaric practices of anonymity will diminish.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

I never considered what I will tell my children...

This was a question that was posed by a DC offspring to many other donor offspring.
Here is my take on it as it happened to me very recently in part due to the article mentioned in the prior blog post.
It's funny that I was always glad that my parents started telling me from the age of 3 but it has taken me till my daughter is the age of 6 to tell it ALL.
Anyway, for some reason when my daughter was 4 she was able to pick that the paternal person on my side (stepfather) was not related genetically to me the same way my wife's father is to her. And then when she saw the picture of my Dad (deceased) she was able to work out that we were not related either as we had just been through all that you got mummy's eyes, daddy's hair stuff and the similarities between myself and my Dad could not be much more different. She basically wanted to know who my Daddy was in the same manner that I am her Daddy and my wifes Daddy is hers and from that context it was clear that the biological and sociological were linked in those situations but not for me. Somehow I managed to sidestep the issue and we moved on, but it was quite possibly the hardest question I have EVER dealt with because my daughter wanted to know who her grandfather was and why he wasn't in her life like her other one was. This completely broke my heart and it still upsets me.
Then just recently I appeared in a newspaper article that was on the Senate Inquiry being held here in Australia, how I helped to get it going and that I was looking for my father. Of course the title read something like "help me find my father". My daughter who was excited about the story and seeing herself in the paper noticed the title and asked the question.
So I sat down and explained a bit more of the birds and the bees (had a previous small talk about it), that went along the lines of describing how myself and my wife were able to have her and her brother but that my mum and dad could not do the same so they got a doctor and another man to help out.
She immediately says without any prompting, or any influence from me on this:
"So you are trying to find your real father."
Her exact words - they are burnt into my brain.
In one way hearing it like that from my daughter was incredibly painful but also soothing and reassuring at the same time.
It still blows me away how children see things in black and white for what they really are rather than all these layers of grey that us adults choose to put on top of things. She understands what it is about and I don't know why I didn't do it sooner (makes me a bit of a hypocrit really).