Thursday, August 16, 2012

What Do “I” Want From My Father?


Usually I try and talk about the experiences of offspring from a collective perspective and as a bloke I don’t usually like talking about my own feelings. Perhaps these things make us vulnerable which is something we don’t like. However, today, not sure whether it is the mood I am in, but I thought I’d discuss this issue from my perspective because it is a question that many people wrangle with when discussing access to identifying information on our fathers.
So what do I want from him?
No I do NOT want his money. This is a concern many donors and people have in the community. I am an adult now, I don’t need child support payments and I really couldn’t care less about any claims to his estate. If my father was worried about that I would be happy to sign a document preventing any such claim. My search has never ever been about money and I have never heard another offspring talk about money either. Any talks about money are incongruous and spurious, and just plain scaremongering. Additionally he is protected by law here in South Australia anyway.
What I do want is acknowledgement that I exist. That I am a person. That I am his son by blood, just as any other children he has had are equally his due to the same biological fact.
I want to know who he is so that I can know who I am. The identity questions. What he looks like? What is my heritage, where does my family come from? Who is the rest of my family, my siblings, my grandparents etc? I want to know the rest of my family. I want to know what are his likes and dislikes, what are his vocation and education. I have so many traits that do not fit in with the family I currently have knowledge of, at times I feel like I don’t belong and this is something that has bothered me my entire life – this lack of a concrete foundation.
I want to know what my familial medical history is. What is potentially in store for me, what do I need to look out for. I am concerned also for my own children.
I want him to know that his decision to sell off a plastic specimen cup for a few bucks almost 40 years ago has caused me immense emotional pain and that as a father myself I see that as akin to abandoning a child. It is something I could never do. That his decision to sell me has prevented me from being a part in my sibling’s life and theirs in mine, and that this hole that has been created can never be filled. I want him to know that the fact that I cannot give him and his side of my family and everything associated with it to my own children, that his decision does not affect only his son but his grandchildren too. The fact that my children are innocent collateral damage troubles me no end.
Do I want a relationship with him? That is a difficult question. You cannot force a relationship on anyone. He might not want one. We might not even like each other. In an ideal world it would be nice to see and speak to each other and then he could even see his grandchildren grow up. But I am under no delusions about such situations.
My father should have no reason to fear me. I do not seek to turn his life upside down. I do not seek anything from him that should be too burdensome for him. The main thing I want from him is compassion. The rest would follow.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hello,

Stumbled across your blog & just wanted to say as an adoptee I hear you. I think I deserve the same from my natural mother and father. I found out later in life I had a sibling who searched for me their entire life. People should think twice about the lives that are created with the purpose of being separated from their roots. Hope someday you find the answers you seek. take care & keep writing.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful Writing, as a DI Adult myself. I am a follower of your blog now. Your writing has great resonance. I hope you write more and get more widely published. Take solace that at least as a man you may potentially have access to your donor's Y-DNA.

Anonymous said...

Has it ever occured to you that your bio father does not consider you his son. I totally get where you are coming from and acknowledge your pain but odds are he saw this as a way to supplement his income. And it is more likely he did this more than one time and who knows you probably have more siblings out there. I suspect he does not have the same deep feelings as you do and once he got paid he went out with his buddies for beer night. So what is the point of you lamenting all the angst that you will most likely never be able to solve. Why torture yourself like this. Assuming he has other children those are all he is going to claim as they are the only ones he knows and have bonded with.

And don't you think if he wanted to find out if any of his donations resulted in a child, wouldn't he have contacted the clinic and left his information so he could be found. I was friends with a girl in college who was as beautiful and striking as they come. She spoke 4 languages and was as intelligent and vivacious as they come. She saw an ad in our school paper and signed up to become an egg donor. Well she was so sought after because of her pedigree she was able to command top dollar and the amount was staggering to say the least. When she did the first round and got the check she immediately purchased a sports car and paid off that year's tuition. Then the following year the couple was so pleased with their resulting daughter they specifically asked for her again so the siblings could have a genetic link. She did not hesitate and asked for more than twice the money which they happily paid as they were very wealthy.

Fast forward to today, ten years later. We are still friends and that money has enabled her to start a very successful business, pay off all her student loans and get a fabulous home by the beach. One day I asked her if she thinks about her kids and she was very quick to correct me, they are not her kids all she did was supply an egg. She has no curiousity at all and was very specific to the clinic that she does not want any kind of contact now or in the future. In her mind when she has her real and true family she wants to start off on a fresh slate. So perhaps this is how your bio-dad sees it, just a simple transaction and that's all there is to it. Of course we all know it is not just that simple and the longing to know is simply overwhelming for you. So my question is this, what is going to happen if you never find out one iota about your dad or his family, is it going to stop you from having a full and rewarding life or will you be adrift in that perpetual abyss forever wondering what does my father look like.


damianhadams said...

Anonymous,
Yes he may not consider me his son, but I am his son whether he likes it or not. That is a biological fact. If he had a one night stand with my mother with no intention of procreation then society would deem him to be my father. Yet in this instance where he masturbated into a cup with the express knowledge that a child would be created but now he is not deemed to be my father is hypocritical. By the pure definition of those words yes he is my father and I am his son.
I certainly suspect that he did it for the money and that makes it all the worse. That is the commodification of human life. Children are not objects to be bought and sold, nor are they something to be owned. I find the fact that some people like your friend who used their reproductive capabilities to get ahead in life by paying off their tuition, buying cars, houses, business to be reprehensible and dehumanising.
The question about what I will do if I don’t find my progenitors, my father, my family (remember there is a bigger picture here) is just like any loss or suffering that people go through in life. You have to mourn for your losses as part of the healing process and that is what society typically does not allow us to do as it does not recognise our loss. This is called disenfranchised grief and it is well documented in the adoption field. And just like any other loss you have to make the most of things and work through them. But here is the crux of the issue. If I just accept what is happened to me and others and just let things be, then I let the same thing happen to other children and then we have not made any social progress. And this is what this is all about, EDUCATION, so that others can understand and that we as a society can improve the practice of donor conception so that others will be less inclined to suffer the losses that myself and many of my DC friends have.

Anonymous said...

"sell off a plastic specimen cup for a few bucks" Your Poem also linked the cup with the golden handshake. Do you really think anyone would donate for a fee that does not even cover the taxi fare to the clinic. You are offended that donors are scared you're after their money? How much more offended are we to think our gift has been construed as a sex act for money.

CS

damianhadams said...

CS,
some donors do do it altruistically but research shows that some do it for the money, and others a combination of both. For example the following paper shows that for sperm donors from the Western Sperm Bank that the number of donors doing it purely financially was almost equal to those doing it purely altruistically, while those doing it for both reasons outnumbered those doing it purely altruistically. So it is clear that while some may not do it for the money which you claim was your reason, you cannot deny that the evidence shows that for SOME men money is the only reason. Please back up your arguments with data rather than rhetoric.
Almeling, R. (2006). ‘Why do you want to be a donor?’: gender and the production of altruism in egg and sperm donation. New Genetics and Society, 25(2), 143-157.

damianhadams said...

Additionally the biggest systematic review of sperm donors motivations also shows that financial compensation is a large component of the motivation for many donors.
Van den Broeck U, Vandermeeren M, Vanderschueren D, Enzlin P, Demyttenaere K, D'Hooghe T. A systematic review of sperm donors: demographic characteristics, attitudes, motives and experiences of the process of sperm donation. Hum Reprod Update. 2013 Jan-Feb;19(1):37-51.

Anonymous said...

The data is this. For ten visits each requiring a two trips across town and a few hours away from work paid a combined total of less than half a day's pay. On a per-donation basis you could not have covered the taxi fare there let alone the return trip. There are much easier ways to make money. If you start with a blank sheet you would never construe this as a financial exercise. If you start with the assumption the donor is evil then it becomes easy to attribute such motives.

CS

damianhadams said...

Whether or not financially it was a motivating factor for you does nothing to counter the fact that numerous peer reviewed research shows that it was a motivating factor for many donors. Just as altruism is a major motivating factor for many too. These researchers did not have the position of all donors being evil before starting and were just assessing motives. So your postulation that they started out to prove an assumption is laughable.
If you are referring to me then you are wrong again. I know numerous donors who are absolutely fabulous people and the majority of those did it altruistically. Did they still receive money (reimbursement), yes. That still makes it a financial transaction whether they could have made more money elsewhere or didn't even get enough to cover expenses. Money still changed hands.
While you may not have made enough to make it a factor for you it obviously is for others. Not all clinics will "reimburse" the same amounts, so to also make an assumption based on your singular experience of not receiving enough to cover your expenses and then to apply that to the many is a poor extrapolation.