March 02, 2007

Why It's Not Enough to "Know"

A new fashion is here among the parents and providers of donor conception. It is now a good thing to tell your children that they were donor conceived, and even to be proud of it. It is "coming-out-of-the-closet" time! By saying these things openly to our children and everyone else, we will MAKE everything okay!

An article on the Donor Conception Network by Olivia Montuschi, the mother of a DI daughter, is typical of this trend.

One reason why this new movement has come about is because past generations of DI parents have found that they can't fully enjoy and develop their relationships with their children when they are in fact living a lie, when they are hiding an enormous and fundamental secret that their children have a right to know, and when they spend their lives in trying to conceal the truth and in fear of when their child could accidentally find out. (Montuchi even describes one DI mom who believed that her recurrent cancer had been due to the strain of keeping the "Secret", but she still believed it was all worth it).

Another reason for the change in approach by DI parents is the negative experiences of many parents whose children have indeed accidentally found out the truth at an older age. Montuschi goes through these effects, and even discusses how big the risk is that a child could accidentally find out.

So, forced into a corner because the quality of their parent-child relationship is at stake, DI parents are finally waking up to the fact that "parents' rights to secrecy would not be considered as weighty as the rights of a child".

That's all great, and a step in the right directon. Telling the truth is certainly liberating for the parents who live with their dark secret, and it probably releases some of their guilt.

However, it's not nearly enough. These DI parents and providers seem to think that just by telling their children "oh, by the way, we intentionally robbed you of your real mommy or daddy, because we wanted a baby of our own", their children will smile and say "that's okay, I love you and I consider you my real mommy and daddy."

Of course, children need a lot more than that. What they really need is to know and be raised by their real mommy or daddy. It's not enough just to tell them that their real parent exists somewhere out there, and that they were purposefully separated from him or her because a stranger really wanted to love them.


Frabjous Days said...

Hear, hear. I'm currently being attacked on my own blog for saying exactly this. Parents of DC children, or would-be parents, don't want to hear this.

Veronica Thomas said...

Yes, they don't want to hear this. Because to hear it would throw a monkey wrench into all of their plans to take away the real mommy or daddy (or both) from "their" child.

Morality sometimes requires great sacrifice. This is hard to do in our consumerist "I-want-it-NOW" society. The sacrifice of remaining ethical at the cost of not having children is apparently too high a price for many people.

To be fair, many of these parents probably have little idea that using repro tech really is wrong. There is a little voice inside many of them (conscience) that probably does raise some objections, but they just don't want to hear it - and they have a lot of support from doctors, infertility groups, and others. "Society says it's okay, so why look any deeper? It MUST be okay!"

The things you and I are saying may be very new to them, as this perspective is not heard much. It is no wonder they wrestle with it. It may take a lot of time to digest.

Admitting the ethical truth about repro tech is a colossally painful project for someone who is infertile and this is their only hope of having biologically related children (or at least children made to order).