Although I primarily address (former) donors, parents of donor conceived (DC) children and DC adults (who might not even know they are DC), the core message is meant for everyone. It is only when an entire society thinks carefully about a policy, that change is possible. In this case it is anonymous donor conception (in Belgium and other countries who still believe that it’s a good idea). Did you know that anonymity in the Netherlands has been abolished since 2004? These days anonymity is an illusion anyhow. The fact that it is still guaranteed to parents and donors is laughably naive. It’s about time for a few critical questions…
Do you personally know someone that was or still is a donor? Perhaps you were one yourself? Have you ever asked your partner if he/she has been a donor? Are you aware of the fact that someone is DC, but you know the DC himself/herself isn’t aware? Have you used an anonymous donor to fulfill your wish? How do you feel about it when you put everything into account?
If you have ever lived with lies, you can certainly empathize. Sometimes you can feel it in your bones that something is not quite right, but you cannot name it. When you’re living a lie, you have to think ten times before saying something because you’re constantly worried that “the secret” will come out. Can you be sure that you or someone else will not make a slip?
“Secrets are like landmines, you know. They can go off at any time, but until they go off you’re sort of treading around them.” (Barry Stevens in Anonymous Father’s Day)
Would you do that forever? Living a lie, knowing that you are holding back the key to someone else’s complete or half being? I can personally tell you that the impact of an explosion is quite enormous. Maybe it’s better to defuse the situation together?
You don’t have to be afraid of what I ask, it’s not that much. I’m asking just a little (or yes, a lot) openness. Talk to the people you love, dare to ask questions. The taboo that has emerged in recent decades about donor conception is really not of this time anymore. Have no secrets, support each other in what was and will be. Take each other by the hand and open the discussion on this topic now and in the future. Show willingness to search together, because everyone has the right to the truth.
So let’s be brave and start a conversation that matters. Dare to tell your child (no matter the age) that it is DC. Dare to ask your parents exactly how you got into this world. Dare to tell your wife and children that you have been a sperm donor. Your children may have half-brothers or –sisters walking around. Such a conversation can make the difference for you and for others.
On behalf of many, thanks for reading and spreading this letter.