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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Developing the Relationship

I’ve been looking at the relationships that have developed between offspring and their biological parents (or what is often incorrectly termed their donor) recently. I find this interesting as it shows a window into the future as this phenomenon becomes more prevalent due to the use of identity release donors and genetic genealogy. In particular I have been trying to look at what perhaps might be classed as successful reunions or should that be termed successful union as they were never united in physical consciousness previously.
Just with anything like this there appears to be a rainbow of experiences and emotions. I have met a few where there is a distinct acknowledgment that they are father and child, while others describe their relationship as more friendship based and others perhaps more distant. I’d like to focus on the friendship based relationship as I see this as becoming more the norm for “successful unions” even though I am a firm believer that it is a father-child or mother-child relationship based solely on correct “original” linguistic and biological classification.
I see the friendship relationship as being favoured for a few reasons:
1) To acknowledge a parental, father-child or mother-child relationship has the potential to create pain as it is an acknowledgement of what was separated and what has been deprived of both parties. It also has the potential to cause anguish for the non-biological parent as they may fear that their role in the child’s life has been diminished even when the child does not feel that way at all. As such the friendship model is protective to the triad.
2) As we mature our relationships with our parents often change as well. Many people feel that their relationships with their parents become more friendship based as they become adults, move away from home and start families of their own. Most people will only be meeting once the child is no-longer a child (they have reached the age of maturity and are now allowed to access identifying information). It would be difficult to create a fatherly or motherly relationship with the offspring as they are no longer a child who also does not necessarily need that parental style relationship anymore.
3) When we look at reunions for other disenfranchised groups such as adoptees, the relationships are often but not always either constrained or strained. It is difficult to form those deep meaningful familial relationships when you do not grow up with each other and spend years in each others company. Going further than friends will always be problematic due to the lack of these shared lifetime experiences.
While I cannot speak for those from single parent households or same-sex households. The communication I have had with other offspring (of which the vast majority are from heterosexual married households due to the prior prevalence of DC being used in this scenario) is that the majority are not seeking another father or mother because they have those already in their lives or because they are adults now themselves. So it may be that the friendship relationship would be the best case outcome for most offspring.
I wonder how many donors fear connecting with their biological children because they do not have time or the vested interest in what they may view as raising another child when that may in fact not be what the other party is seeking? Perhaps this is another misconception? Although as we see increasing use of known donors who do have contact with these children before the age of maturity, this fear may be more grounded than for previous eras. Especially when some donors are finding out that they have 20, 50 or more than 100 offspring.
It will be interesting to see how many fathers/mothers (donors) and their “donated offspring,” become friends due to the shared looks, behaviour and interests.


Anonymous said...

Very very true. I wonder the same, and believe that your very well thought out relationship scenario's to be on the mark.
It is true that even growing up with one's own biological family the relationship with parents does actually become more friend based.
Also i agree, it is very unlikely that a child/parent relationship would eventuate with a biological parent who has not experienced the dc persons childhood with them. This is when bonding and trust occur.
And YES, misconceptions galore. Agreed.

marilynn said...

You are real close to getting it because you are embracing the plain and simple term of father for a man with offspring.

Your pondering the types of relationships that are likely or that tend to form for people in reunion and you talk about it often being more of a friendship than a parent type relationship - you give some accurate reasons for that in my opinion. But I want you to notice something...your doing it that thing you are trying to avoid. Is it more of a friendship than a parent child relationship? Think. What is your relationship to your paternal great great grandfather? You did not know him and he did not know you, you were not raised around him he died before you were born and yet the day you were born he (whoever he is whether you ever learn his name or not) he became your great grandfather because you became his great grandson and that is your relationship with him. Your father does not need to raise you to be your father. He does not need to know you for you to have a parent child relationshp with him that is uniquely your own. You and your father currently do not know one another. If you meet you'll be a father and son getting to know one another and that will be a parent child relationship. Some parents are irresponsible never grow up and its like the child is the parent. That is their parent child relationship. When families are separated the way yours it its often because of the actions of a young and irresponsible parent who ends up being estranged for 30+ years so no they are not going to win the parent of the year award. Someone else had to fullfill their obligations for them and in the process usurped their parental title and garnered the loyalties of their kid. They trained the kid to think of them as a parent. Its that relationship that is "like" a parent child relationship or like it should be. That is the relationship that is doing the emulating and I think your kind of on to that its just so politically incorrect to say it.
On Julie's blog the current post is about the durability of motherhood where a woman sent to prison went in when her baby was barely a year old. Her mother and father raised her baby and they never sought the title of mother and father as they should not in my opinion. They taught the child who her mother was and encouraged visits and letter writing and phone calls and today that child in her 30's is strongly bonded to her mother and looks to her for guidance and is also strongly bonded to her grandparents. Allowing the child to refer to her mother as her mother even though she could not do the job of raising her was the respectful and wise thing to do. They did not covet the title of parent even though they did the job and today that child does not feel guilty calling her mother mom and she has a relationship with her grandparents more like a parent child relationship that is deeply bonded she knows who raised her. Adoption should be like that but had she gone into foster care she would have been adopted by people who were adopting to become parents - they would have trained the child to call them mother and father and the mother birth mother or bio lady. They would not have encouraged contact either. It goes to show that its not raising the child that makes you a parent and so
is it better to be friends than develop a parent child relationship? The parent child relationship could end up dysfunctional as hell or real Opie and Andy Griffith there is no telling. I'm just saying.

damianhadams said...

Hi Marilyn,
thanks for commenting.
I do not believe that I am avoiding anything. If you read an earlier post about ill-conceived lexicon you will see that I believe that my biological father should just be called my father because that is the original meaning of the word.
All I was doing in this post is observing what is starting to happen in these reunions and that because of the lack of growing up together it is difficult to form the traditional father-child relationship even though that is technically what it is if taken literally. So it is but it isn't a father-child relationship if you get what I mean. It has created a dichotomy.

marilynn said...

If you are studying the reunion relationship and you'd like to speak to some people who have formed a definate father child bond I'd be happy to hook you up.
It depends upon where the person is at in their life in terms of a tight relationship with their social father. My friend loved her step father very much - she did not find out he was her step dad until she was an adult - she carries his name as most of you do your step fathers and he made the choice willingly. That is good that he was not tricked but he played a part in tricking her. He provided for her she thinks of him and his family as her family but after 10 years of being with her father she says there is no comparison. Her father is her father. He took her in drug addicted with a new baby moved her to oregon accepted her at face value changed his will dropped all his prejudices because he now had a black grandson that was the second light of his life. Gave her a truck got her a job at his wife's bank got her on her feet she moved home and today she manages a bank here in the bay area. He loves her was sad to see her move. Comes down and takes them all to disneyland. He is in every way shape and form her father and they are a family complete with arguments and forgiveness. She's even tighter with her mother now. No it does not always turn out like that but the child has to be open to letting their father step up and be a man take care of his baby even if they are 37 years old and the father has to be ready to have the door slammed a bunch in his face testing to see if he'll give up and go away or if he cares enough to stay. Its absolutely beautiful to see people go home like that and get folded into their own families and because I am so very close with many of these people I get to see the decades pass and watch as they just become family and forget they were ever not together. It looses its thunder after a while because they settle in to the way things were suppose to be.

There are no guarantees. But she maintains a good relationship with her step dad and his family but she knows the difference now. He took care of her despite no blood bond that is valuable to her. She belongs to her daddy though. He saved her life.