Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Stages of Donor Conception Comprehension and Loss
The following was an old rambling of mine that my friend Lindsay had posted on her blog many years ago. For some reason I had been thinking of this old post recently and decided to revisit it. The original writing was in response to a question I received from a recipient mother about the various stages I had been through during my life. They were the ones that applied to me and may not necessarily apply to everyone.
There were several stages that I have been through (probably about 4). Those being:
1. A naive child.
I used to be proud about being DC. I was grateful, because otherwise I wouldn't have existed. Even though I would have liked to have had some non-identifying information, it did not affect me greatly. Perhaps I was preventing myself from feeling loss about that - I don't know (a self-defence mechanism perhaps). I had my dad who to me at the time was my "father". It is important to recognise that there can a difference between a father and a dad. As a child I was too busy being a child than to worry about other matters.
2. Mild curiosity - wanting some non-identifying information, but happy with DC.
There was no sense of loss at this stage for me, otherwise there would have been no way I would have even contemplated donating myself which I was pretty close to doing. By being happy with my mode of conception (proud and grateful), there is no way that that position could coexist with a sense of loss.
3. Increased curiosity - wanting identifying information, the first stages of mild loss (repressed), but still grateful to be alive.
For a period of time when I wanted to find out non-identifying info and also identifying info (prior to the birth of my children), I had to accept that I would not even find out that info as a consequence of being alive. So while there may have been some mild loss at that stage it was repressed because I still had to feel gratitude to the procedure that created me.
4. Acknowledgment of loss and the profound effects that it has.
It was only when I realized the true nature of my loss could I see that I did not have to be grateful and happy about being DC, and that in-fact that the losses forcibly imposed on me should be treated with contempt and anger.
I think some people may have another stage between 3 and 4 above, but for me it was a monumental leap from mild loss that was repressed to full blown loss and anguish.
But for me and I think that it would have to apply to most others is that if you feel grateful and therefore happy that your parents who wanted you so much were given this wonderful gift by a truly altruistic man, then how are you able to feel loss?
To feel any kind of loss is an acknowledgement that something is wrong with the process and that the process has caused some form of harm which does not coincide with the cliche above. Any form of loss is a form of suffering, suffering is not the goal of altruism.
With a lot of discussion in regards to loss and the like there is often what people call a final stage, the stage of acceptance. Which, in this instance would be my stage 5. However, while thinking about this it just brings up further questions. Many conclude that if someone gets to the stage of acceptance then they have moved on, they have put the issue aside as being resolved or assimilated. Looking at stage 4, if we are to continue with feelings of anger and resentment, it can be quite damaging to the psyche and is emotionally draining. I can honestly say it would be great to be able to put it aside and move on and not deal with this issue anymore. It is tiring and it would be nicer to spend my time contemplating and spending my energy on other things (admittedly having my own children, while originally igniting the fire under the issue, makes me focus on someone else for the majority of the time which is a good thing).
Anyway, even though I could see that it may be possible for me to move to a position whereby I have removed anger and resentment (an acceptance of my loss), I do not feel that I have to accept what was done to me and other donor conceived people as being OK. Perhaps it is more a matter of forgiving but not forgetting.
I think that this would be an easier transition to make if all legislatures around the world acknowledged the rights of donor conceived children as being greater than the desires of adults and made the appropriate changes to ensure that the losses we can potentially experience do not occur. So while there are still people who are having their kinship and genealogy removed, their identity stunted and their medical history deprived of them, I feel that I would be a poorer person for not trying to do something about it.
If I were to take a more Buddhist approach and try to avoid suffering, which might be easier to do by just “forgetting” about it or ignoring it. It would then mean I would be turning my back on those others who may go through similar suffering and have no voice. I don’t think that that would be the moral and ethical thing to do on my part, which would be bad karma and be a different source of potential suffering.
Only time will tell.