August 02, 2007

Another "Rotten Apple": An ungrateful donor-conceived adult explains how he feels, and why

One year ago, a young man wrote an article for The Independent in the United Kingdom. He was 23 years old, and his name was Tom Ellis. Two years earlier, he had found out that his he and his younger brother were both conceived using the sperm of two different donors. The following are excerpts from his personal reflection on his conception story:

I had been taught by my parents, and at school, that any family is OK so long as somebody loves you. It's not. I wish it were. I now have a deep need to find out who my father is. I want to know what he looks like, where he is, what he enjoys, which parts of my character I share with him. I need to know who it is that makes me who I am. You can't put a child or an adult into a situation like this and tell them that all you need is love and care, because it's not true. You need the genetic links, too.

My brother was shocked at first, but now he doesn't think about it. It's not something he wants to think about. We're not close. Now my mum and her husband are divorced my brother still sees him, but I don't.

I don't call him Dad any more. He just doesn't fulfil that role for me at all. Looking back, I realise that he never did. If I had known, I wouldn't have put up with some of the things I did. He was not a father figure. He just had these children who were living with him.

The relationship with my mum has been very difficult too, since I found out. We are able to talk about it to a certain extent, but she deliberately put me in a situation where I have little hope of ever knowing my father. It is a terrible and cruel thing to do to somebody, to create somebody, and bring them into existence, with that intention. I think now that she didn't understand what she was doing, and wasn't very well informed, but it was still a selfish act.

She said that at the time she had counselling, but I get the impression that it was minimal. It seems to have been intended to get them both to be OK with the actual procedure, but not to think about the consequences to the person created through it. But it's not just the clinic's responsibility: it is society's in general. This is something that causes a great deal of pain - and that shouldn't be allowed.

It is difficult to say this in a way that doesn't shock people or make me sound psychologically damaged, but I don't think I should have been born. I can't compare living under these conditions and not living at all, but nobody should ever be created under these circumstances.

I expect that I probably have quite a lot of siblings, too, because when my parents wanted to conceive my brother there was no sperm left from my father, so they had to use a different donor. I'd like to find them, but it is not as important as trying to find my father.

I know that not everyone who was donor-conceived feels the way that I do. But I'd be surprised if deep down - however happy their family lives are - they don't all have some desire to know who their father - or even mother - is. Something is missing, and I think they are probably in denial, and they actually do want to know where they came from. Essentially, what people are doing when they donate sperm or eggs is giving away their own children, and if society thinks that's OK, I'd be surprised.

I have done a Master's degree at Cambridge and am reasonably successful, but it doesn't make me feel any better about not knowing who I am.

There is a saying that there are two lasting bequests we can give our children: one is roots and the other is wings. I think donor-conception denies a child both of these. I feel like a tree that has half of its roots missing. And without them, I can hardly stand up.


Anonymous said...

Hello, hello! One ungrateful brat reporting for duty, sir!

Was that only one year ago today? How things change:

Parliament is waking up to our rights.

-- Tom

Anonymous said...

Oh it was 9th June, so not quite to the day, but it's amazing how much ground we've covered since then.

But to everybody in the UK: listen up! We have a lot of work to do!

-- Tom

Veronica Thomas said...

Hi Tom,

Congrats on the progress. I hope the same happens in Canada!