Monday, November 09, 2015

Where's the Beef?

It has come to my attention that there are some people who are under the assumption through some of the things I have written that I am against parents. Assumptions rarely provide good outcomes for intellectual discourse. Now I will assume that the people that wrote those comments didn’t actually mean I was against all parents otherwise I would of course be against myself (example of how an assumption can be absurd), so I will have to presume that they are referring to recipient parents of donor conception as that is the topic of debate that I have engaged in.
So let’s see, we have my parents; my biological mother and my non-biological father (my dad). Both amazing people that I love dearly. They were pioneers and told me of my origins in the 70s when all parents were being informed by the clinics to keep it a secret. No problem with them. In fact I have great admiration for them in not only raising me but also for the truthful and loving stance they took.
I know numerous other recipient parents. Some of which are very dear friends of mine. Additionally some of these people have been instrumental in creating not only public awareness of donor conception but have contributed enormously to creating meaningful change, not only here in Australia but also internationally. My hat goes off to these amazing people. No problem here either.
But maybe I have a problem with donors. I know lots of them too. Some of which are also phenomenal people that I am privileged to call friend. If these guys happened to be my father I would be honoured. No problem there either.
So without a clear problem with parents per se, then perhaps I need to set the record straight. There are good and bad parents whether it is through natural conceptions or through donor conceptions. Just because a child was wanted and the parents went through immense emotional trauma and financial hardship to have these children does not mean that it will always be a good outcome. This has been an assumption that far too many hold as dogma. I have heard far too many stories from other donor conceived who grew up in abusive households or who had narcissistic or troubled parents to know that this is not the case. But yes there are good outcomes too.
Indeed infertility can be a truly terrible thing to deal with, something that can be incredibly unfair, and one which we should all empathise with. However, we need to move away from the notion that having children is a right. There is no legislation or international convention that specifies adults have a right to a child. Rather it is what is termed a “freedom”. The freedom to procreate. This freedom has been removed cruelly from some people by Mother Nature.
My beef is with the system and also those that think anonymity is a good thing. Yes that can include some parents. It is against the thought that deception is a healthy foundation to raise a family. It is against the concept that children and gametes can be reduced to commodities that are available for those that can afford it. It is against the hypocrisy that one genetic link is valuable but the other disposable. It is against those that remove the child’s ability to know their next of kin, their heritage, and their family health history.
A quote from the famous ethicist Immanuel Kant that is from his categorical imperative, applies to donor conception
“Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end.”
In this context the donor conceived should not be treated as a means to an end. The end being the creation of a child for the family. Rather that they will grow up to be adults too with the same needs and emotions as others including yourself. If it is important for you to have a child that is genetically related to either you or the other person in the couple, then the other genetic relation (with the “donor” and other related kin) can be equally important to the donor conceived person if they see it that way.