Saturday, July 06, 2013

Genetic Genealogy Trumps Anonymity

Here is the abstract to a paper I just wrote and published on this subject. The link below will take you to the full article, just click on the full text pdf link on the Australian Journal of Adoption website (it is open access (free)).
Building a Family Tree: Donor-Conveived People, DNA Tracing and Donor 'Anonymity'
Damian Adams, Sonia Allan
Genealogical tracing of ancestors has existed across cultures and throughout history for thousands of years. Today it is a popular pastime for many, with motivations ranging from a desire to place themselves and their family within a larger historical picture, to preserving the past for future generations, to having a sense of self-satisfaction in accurate storytelling. It may also serve to assist people in framing their identify and building a picture of themselves. It may create a sense of connectedness and kinship. This is so for donor-conceived people, as it is with many others that search for information about their family history and heritage.

This paper considers the obstacles to searching that donor-conceived people face. In particular, the secrecy that has surrounded donor conception has meant that many do not have access to the records that would identify their donor(s) or siblings. It examines the use of DNA testing, to assist. It is shown that, while proving a useful tool for some, such testing may not be enough for others. That donor-conceived people are denied access to records that would provide them with the information they seek is questioned. The authors therefore support laws that would provide access to records. Options of enabling contact vetoes or contact preferences are explored, as a way to ensure that people are comfortable that privacy and confidentiality will be protected.


marilynn said...

Damian since I've had no luck finding senators or congressmen that care about changing the laws you know I became interested in people asking to have their own birth records corrected to whatever extent is possible. Hopefully actually pushing for the State to seek out and obtain the information from whatever sources they need to in order to make your birth records accurate for medical purposes in terms of parentage. You don't need to see your donor records, you just need and have a right to have your bio parents named on your birth record no different than anyone else.

On geneology trumping privacy - pretty much. Everyone alive does have a legal right to identifying info on their relatives by requesting copies of their vital records. By rights when people don't break the rules or get special exemptions from parental responsibility you should be able to get the birth record of all your parent's other children as well as birth mariage and death records for all your parent's immediate family = without their permission even if they are minors. That's right we don't have the right to conceal our vital records from our relatives because our existence does in part define their kinship roll and identity as our sibling or grandparent and thus impacts people other than ourselves. So parental exemption offered to theraputic donors undermines the legal rights of everyone in the donors family including him or herself and if someone is falsely named parent on their child's birth record, it results in every member of that person's family having their rights to accurate information interfered with as well because now records would show them to be someone's full first cousin by blood when in fact they were step relatives. This kind of thing is important to people who want to make incestuous contact a conscious choice if they are gonna do it they want to be in the driver's seat with their eyes open.
In any event I don't hear people talk about the real right to know their relatives much. People often muse about how there is no such right, but their is. People interfere with that right all the time by lying and falsifying records in black market adoptions and black market step parent adoptions which is what most donor offspring are actually just black market adopted. Not even adopted people are so specifically exempted from legal rights as donor offspring. Adopted people's bio parents do have to follow the rules and be named and relinquish ethically, with donor offspring its set up to exempt the bio parent from ethical accountability for their offspring specifically to short cut the legal adoptive process and the result is a very efficient off the record, under the table black market adoption that has mass social acceptance world wide.

Anonymous said...

Even when you do track down your biological parents like I did, you're still not considered REALLY a part of them. You're still watching from the outside even if you have some names; they aren't really YOURS because you are a stranger to them. All I've met are my bio parents, no other family. Still a secret forty years later. Yet people still think of it as a no-brainer ideal solution.