March 02, 2007

Playing Tricks on Ourselves

There is a truly golden 1998 article on the Donor Conception Network by Walter Merricks. It is called "Is It Ethical?" The subtitle is: "Is it ethical deliberately to bring into the world a child who will be unable to know half of his or her genetic provenance?"

Merricks acknowledges that biological origins are probably "at least as" important as a good upbringing. He admits that DI children may experience "future despair and 'genetic bewilderment'" and "conflicting feelings of loss and sadness," and that these consequences of donor conception "will perpetuate themselves through the next and the next and the next generation." He also realizes that children may "blame, argue, resent or revolt" against their social parents.

Yet despite all of these realizations, Merricks unexpectedly concludes that it is in fact ethically okay to put children through this mysery. He says that social parents are still practicing "responsible parenthood" as long as they inform their children that they are donor conceived and as long as they "offer them some strength and confidence; and try to prepare them for life as best we can" "in the context of a loving relationship."

What a classic display of twisting the truth to fit our wants and needs. Merricks' conclusion simply does not follow in any way from his admissions about the effects this has on children.

This willfull self-blindness is evindent in other articles on the DCN site. Talk about a fascinating social study in human behavior.

For example, read "The Things Children Say - The text of Alison Cobb’s talk to the Bristol National meeting." There, Alison discusses her two DI children, who were told from birth that they were donor conceived. Her son has been fairly mute about it all. However, Allison discusses the trauma that her daughter has gone through as a result:
"Octavia was a different kettle of fish entirely and started being quite troubled by the whole thing. She was very moody and would come out with comments such as "sometimes I think you are not my real Mummy" ...She also became very close to Daddy and was inclined to slightly push me aside....One of the concepts that she found very difficult to handle was the realisation that she wouldn't look like me. This was not something we had mentioned to her but she had obviously worked this one out for herself."
Her daughter felt "not belonging, different, not like her friends etc, etc." Finally, her social parents decided to send her to professionals, and she's seen various people to talk about her problems.

Alison's daughter has obviously had a very tough time dealing with her origins. She is still in school, so only time will tell how this issue will continue to effect her.

And yet, Alison seems completely unrepentant and appears to still support DI despite her child's problems. She ends on a chirpy note: "I am aware that there will be major issues to deal with in the future but right now we feel we have climbed the first hurdle and still have two very happy and secure and affectionate children."

Really, your children are happy and secure? I guess that's why your daughter is seeing doctors and counselors to get over her grief and confusion.


biodad said...

Nice critique of these DCN people.
You have brought a whole new fresh and incisive perspective to these issues.
Problem is idiots like Montuschi and Merricks are enormously influential in the pro-DC camp.
Like you, though, I fail to see why.

Veronica Thomas said...

Thanks, biodad! Nice to hear encouraging words once in a while.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I agree with biodad. Excellent analysis Veronica.

-- Tom