Wednesday, June 17, 2009

how and who

Until my friend Lois brought it up, I really hadn't thought about having been a sperm donor for some time. Perhaps it drifted into a conversation every couple of years, but it wasn't front and center in my conciousness. As I write that I realize that some-possibly many DC (donor conceived) -people might be hurt by that- the idea that their donor doesn't care about them or think about them. On one level that makes perfect sense- and i can understand how that might hurt someones feelings.

At the the same time there are several factors going on in this situation that have a huge impact on how I felt (or didn't feel) before become more aware a couple of years ago. At the time that I was donating, the donor's role was completely minimized by the lab, and by those around me. I was pretty open about the fact that I was a donor, yet i don't recall any questions about the consequences or the ethics- only the process. To the donor it was presented as a good deed for others. We were helping out desperate infertile couples, or helping to further research. I simply didn't have any sense that anyone would feel a connection to me. I was young and frankly somewhat naive. I'd never babysat or spent much time around young kids so I didn't understand that parents watch their children for signs of themselves. I didn't realize that my offspring might not only look like me but cough like me, squint like me, talk back to her parents like i did, or make us songs like my brother did. It never occurred to me that they might BE like me.

In addition, in the 20 odd years since i was a donor i have become a very different person. In many ways I feel only a vague connection to the person that I was then. My post earlier today connected me with an old friend who I used to work with at a restaurant around 20 years ago. He brought up someone we worked with together, and I can't remember that person at all. In fact I can barely remember anything about that place or what it was like to work there. Even looking through my old photos I have a hard time feeling connected to the place and time that they were taken- they often seem like clues to someone else's life.

This evening i went to a house warming at an old friend's house. He and I knew each other 20 years ago but only recently met up again. We are both profoundly different people than we were 20 years ago. We are connected by who we once were, but communicate in such a different way now because we are simply different people.

To continue on the earlier thought- until Lois brought it up - I hadn't thought about it in a serious way. However, as soon as she did, I immediately became concious of the fact that I had a responsibility to those kids that might be partly me. It wasn't Paul getting struck down on the way to Damascus but it was a profound realization.

I spend a lot of time with my kids, so i am in touch with the ways in which they are like me, or their mother, or their grandparents. I also know that much of that "themness" is simply who they were when they were born. I am curious about my possible older children who might now be in college. A woman wrote to me today helpfully wondering about how my wife and two daughters might react to having new family. I imagine that things would be pretty smooth. My daughters love to see their cousins and feel connected to them. I think they would appreciate having more family.

It's been a fairly intense day and i have heard from old friends as well as a good number of DSR folks. Some of the old friends who are adopted have expressed a desire to find a birth parent- and others have no interest. It's clear that not everyone has the same needs or desires.

It's been exciting for me to get so much feedback on all of these thoughts that have been pinging around for a couple of years. As i had hoped this process has jump started a huge creative wave. i have ideas for countless things to write about - and i'm going to do that-

again i apologize for bad grammer- and incomplete thoughts- i'm just trying to put the ideas together- and doing it in this quasi public manner - with helpful dialogue is great.



  1. Mike, thanks so much for this post. As an adult offspring (probably around the same age as your donor children), it comforts me to hear you say this. It reminds me that people do change their opinions, and that there are men out there, as yourself, who donated at one point in their life and now are coming to terms with those choices and stepping up to be the bigger person and take concern for these children you helped to create but did not raise.

    I hope that one day my biological father has as much courage and honesty as you do to reveal himself.

    And I wish for you to find your donor children, because they are lucky to have you have a biological father.

    Donor Conceived
    Age 24
    Cleveland, Ohio

  2. thanks for the kind words- i finally got time to look over your writing- very instructive.- things are going well with my process- it's been a pretty crazy couple of weeks and i am struggling to keep up with the ideas.