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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Donor Conception – Reconstruction Phase Theory

The following is a blatant rip-off of the Adoption Reconstruction Phase Theory as put forth by J Penny, LD Borders and F Portnoy in their article “Reconstruction of adoption issues: delineation of five phasesamong adult adoptees” which appeared in the Journal of Counselling and Development, 2007. I happened across this theory due to my good friend at the Declassified Adoptee who had posted the list. There was a lot that resonated in there for me if I simply substituted some words like adoptee for those that are relevant to the donor conception community. I don’t think that everyone would fit with all components in each stage (I certainly didn't), however, I think that the underlying theme would certainly be prevalent.

1. No Awareness/Denying Awareness (Ignorance Is Bliss): The donor conceived has a sense of obligation and gratitude toward the raising parents. There is no overt acknowledgment of donor conception issues. Donor conception is considered a positive influence on the donor conceived's life.

2. Emerging Awareness (Curiosity Killed the Cat): The donor conceived views donor conception as a positive influence on his or her life and also recognizes some donor conception issues (e.g., has curiosity about genetic family, yearns for closeness, experiences a void, has a sense of not belonging) but is hesitant to explore these issues.

3. Drowning in Awareness (Mad as Hell): The donor conceived has feelings of anger, resentment, and sadness about the conception. The donor conceived is focused on losses in donor conception, as well as anger toward the raising parents, donor, and/or the fertility treatment system.

4. Reemerging From Awareness (Rising From the Ashes): The donor conceived recognizes the losses in donor conception and problems with the fertility treatment system but also recognizes the gains from donor conception. The donor conceived is attempting to bring acceptance and integration to donor conception issues.

5. Finding Peace (Let It Be): The donor conceived has worked through donor conception issues and feels at peace about donor conception or is moving toward peace.

I am not sure exactly what is meant in stage 5 by the authors – I’ll have to go and read their paper to find out, but I don’t know that it necessarily means that a person is completely ok with adoption or donor conception just that they have moved on and stopped allowing it to negatively impact on themselves as occurs in some of the earlier stages. So if it was me I would probably reword the last stage a little more than just substituting words as I have done.

But here is the question: If you work through all of these stages and you can acknowledge the losses that occur, should you just let it be as is suggested in stage 5? Or should you try and do something about it through advocacy or education or whatever, not necessarily for yourself but to help other adoptees or donor conceived people so that they don’t have to suffer as great a loss as you did? For me personally that would give me greater peace than just ‘letting it be’.


Anonymous said...

Excellent excellent question. I am of the persuasion (from lived experience and deep thought) that the losses involved require a strong challenge to the practice as a whole.

Anonymous said...

The sugar-coating continues. Finding peace? Like Zen or something? I think coming to terms with it would be more true.