48. It was
The first was a morning hug on January twenty-one. Her little cheek against mine, her warm hand on my heart. The next day it was Bach’s Air that moved me to tears. Today it were the raisins in my Sunday bun which catapulted me twenty-five years back in time with a huge taste explosion.
It was so long ago that my senses brought me to a feeling in that way. Even though I felt it for just a few seconds before ‘it’ disappeared in the fog once again, it was there. It was and therefore will be again. (Jan 29th, 2017)
Blog posts 6-47 still await translation
For remaining silent would not be OK. By remaining silent, I would condone the current policy, which I don’t. I don’t mean to hurt anyone by any means, but I do want to bring my story, and I hope it will make others think.
Sometimes you hear people (including fertility doctors) say “it’s merely a tiny little cell”. Such a statement simply neglects the importance of genetics. That single tiny little cell contributes 50% of the genetic material, and your genes partly determine who you are. Not everything can be explained by nurture alone. Inevitably, you wonder(*) where some of the (character) traits that you don’t see in any of your parents come from. Parents can conclude for themselves that it’s “merely” a cell or an (anonymous) donor and that it doesn’t mean anything. The fact of the matter is however that it’s not about what the parents think and what’s their position on things – it’s about what the children will grow up to think about it and how to deal with it all…
There are an estimated 50,000 Belgian donor conceived children. No-one knows the exact number because in Belgium, there is no central registry. As anonymity of the donor is still valued higher than a child’s identity in Belgium (as opposed to the Netherlands), it’s also perfectly possible that more children are conceived from a single donor than is legally allowed. There is no control whatsoever. Moreover, it’s not even clear how many donor conceived children are actually aware of the fact that they are donor conceived…
In the Netherlands, ever more malpractices come to light, no longer allowing you to deny that it would be possible, for instance, to fall in love with a half sibling without knowing it. We’re not going to be as naïve as to think things are different here in Belgium?
A simple egg at the grocery’s is simpler to trace back to its origins than a child born out of donor conception at a fertility clinic. Isn’t that absurd? As a donor conceived child from the ‘70s or ‘80s, it’s next to impossible to gather any information. Files were incinerated, e-mails and phone calls go unanswered… You feel like a beggar for the pieces of your own jigsaw. Somewhere in Brussels, maybe there’s a file with information that could be relevant to me, but I’m not entitled to it, to even ask for it. Exactly that is incredibly frustrating.
The documentary Anonymous Father’s Day gives a voice to other donor conceived adults. Barry Stevens (° 1952), one of the first donor conceived children, is quoted as saying:
“I don’t think that a government or a clinic or a doctor has a right to withhold significant information from a person about that person. It seems to me the stuff of the KGB or a totalitarian state”.
For me, that’s nailing it. (Nov 1th 2016)
Admittedly, I had some reservations when I published my blog on Facebook this morning… A year ago, I would have never imagined I could tell my story today without some diffidence. It was a long road that lead me up to this point and I’ve had a lot of support and time to let it all ripe at my own pace.
In April, I heard an interview (*) on the Radio 2 show “De Madammen” (“The Ladies”) with Steph, president of Donorkinderen België (“Donor conceived children Belgium”, NPO). Back then, I had no idea what kind of great world would open up to me by sending her an e-mail. We decided to meet, she introduced me to other donor conceived with whom I started to exchange e-mails in turn, I attended a get together of donor conceived, … The ball started rolling.
A lot started to move over the past six months, so I witnessed. Donor conceived adults and even donors are speaking up. Donor conceived people actively start to look for their donor and “halfies” (half-siblings), and open up the discussion about the current policy and the way in which they were brought into this world. I myself am convinced that this is required to bring about some change. And change is needed, because we live in a 21st century where “the right to have children” prevails over the rights of children themselves (as opposed to Article 7 of the European Convention on the Exercise of Children’s Rights). In an opinion article in the newspaper “De Standaard” on May 22nd, 2015, Prof. Dr. Frederik Swennen (Professor of Family Law at University of Antwerp) even stated: “By allowing anonymous donor conception, Belgium is in violation of the convention on children’s rights”.
After joining several closed Facebook groups over the past summer, one thing immediately struck me: the warmth with which I was welcomed and supported is huge. Every donor conceived person knows how much effort it takes to tell his/her story, to break the silence that used to be encouraged (or should I say imposed) by fertility doctors. In these groups, there is so much respect and recognition, and what is of major importance to me: the revelation that you’re not alone with your questions and feelings. All the people I met in these groups support me, and I can hardly describe what that support means to me. First and foremost, it’s through them that I found the strength to bring out my story. Together with you, they are the twinkling lights I need to find my own way.
This one’s for you, all my twinkling lights! (Oct 30th, 2016)
3. Family Finder
The padded envelope from Family Tree DNA was ogling me from atop the shoe closet in the hallway for a few days already. I kept on procrastinating, was too busy with the kids every morning, and actually I didn’t feel up to it just yet. Until this morning…
It was over in 2 minutes. Swabbing the right cheek, swabbing the left cheek, in the vials and done. I then returned the envelope immediately to the US and now it’s just a matter of waiting a couple of weeks for the results of Family Finder, the cheapest DNA test offered by Family Tree DNA.
I don’t know what to expect really, but I do notice that DNA services are on the rise. Even if I’m not matched right away, it may lead to something in the future.
Regardless, I’m very curious to see the result of myOrigins: you get a map showing detailed ethnical and geographical information on your ancestors’ origins.
Donor conceived or not – wouldn’t you be interested to see a map of your roots? (Oct 29th, 2016)
It’s so easy to create the illusion that all is well while inside a storm is raging. You become so good at it that in the end you begin to believe it yourself. The feeling that you’ve lost something, remains though … You do not know where or when you’ve last seen “it”, but you live on and on until you suddenly realize that what you’ve lost is yourself and you’re only living as a shadow.
As a child of an anonymous donor you’ll live your whole life with a “shadowman” in your head. Do I look like him? Does he have the same eyes? The same interests? And so on, and so on …
For these two very different reasons (that do not necessarily have anything to do with each other) I give a lot about the K’s Choice song “Shadowman”. (Oct 28th, 2016)
I’m An. All my life I had the feeling that a few pieces of the puzzle were missing, that something was wrong. I found it difficult to recognize myself in the mirror (still do actually). Only six years ago I discovered where that feeling came from. I am donor conceived.
With this blog, I started my search for answers, because unfortunately I’ve lost myself somewhere along the way too. I’m on a quest for life, more life, my life.
I’d like to imagine that I’m starting this quest in good company. Maybe you hold a piece of the puzzle? (Oct 28th, 2016)