What is it like to be a donor-conceived child?

Marriage and family
Marriage and family

Yesterday, I wrote about children who are raised by same-sex parents. Today I want to link to an article written by two donor-conceived children.

The thing about donor-conceived children is this – the child’s natural father and/or mother’s absence has been bought and paid for by the adopting couple. One or both of the people who conceived the child is being paid by the adopter to go away.

From the article:

[M]y mother informed me of my true parentage when I was 14, and it was, as they say, irrevocable. My mother’s then-husband had waited until they divorced to permit her to tell me, and the revelation of his not being my biological father clarified an overwhelming amount of issues between us. For a multitude of reasons—his background, my personality and beliefs, our lack of biological connection—the cards were stacked against our having a conventional, loving father-daughter relationship. And we didn’t.

One of the greatest tragedies of donor conception is the loss of belonging: to family, to a culture. Essentially, one becomes malleable like an infant. I crave a home. I see myself as I travel in many directions—doing anything in order to find one.

Through the storytelling of other donor-conceived individuals, and scientific research pertaining to third-party reproduction and genetics, I have discovered that my situation is by no means unique, and I now understand the scientific explanations as to why my social father and I—up to a certain point—were unable to bond. It is natural for me to desire my father, for evolution has blessed those that secure such a bond with better survival rates.

The lack of my biological father’s presence is a devastating reality, a burden I will likely bare my entire existence. And now, knowing the truth of my conception, when I remember my past I remember everything that was absent from it.

The study she linked to in that paragraph says this:

It is on these grounds that we hypothesized, many years ago, that any and all sorts of abuse and exploitation would be seen to occur at higher rates in steprelationships than in genetic parent-child relationships, and that the differences would persist when possible confounds such as socio-economic status were controlled for… This hypothesis has since been abundantly supported in our own research and in that of many others. This differential (mis)treatment is what we refer to as the “Cinderella effect”.

[…][I]n several countries, stepparents beat very young children to death at per capita rates that are more than 100 times higher than the corresponding rates for genetic parents.

[…]The evidence for Cinderella effects in nonlethal abuse is much more extensive than that for homicides. Numerous studies from a diversity of countries indicate that stepparents perpetrate both nonlethal physical assaults and sexual abuse at much higher rates than genetic parents.

[…][S]teprelationships are difficult, and those who make it their business to help stepfamilies in distress are unanimous in cautioning that it is a mistake to expect that a stepparent-stepchild relationship is, or will with time become, psychologically equivalent to a birthparent-child relationship… Research tells the same story. Duberman (1975)… interviewed a select sample of well-established, “successful”, middle class, registered-marriage U.S. stepfamilies, and reported that only 53% of the stepfathers and 25% of the stepmothers felt able to say that they had any “parental feeling” (much less “love”) for their stepchildren.

It’s a well-known fact that mothers in particular have trouble treating their adopted children as well as their naturally-born children. This should be a caution to those women who want to put off marriage through their 20s and 30s, thinking that they can always adopt. Until you study the issues, it’s hard to know how to make a plan that takes into account the what children need in order to be happy, healthy and effective. Research should be consulted in order to make plans that will actually work.

More from the original article:

In the study “My Daddy’s Name Is Donor,” it was found that, “Regarding troubling outcomes, even with controls, the offspring of lesbian couples who used a sperm donor to conceive appear more than twice as likely as those raised by their biological parents to report struggling with substance abuse,” an alarming result displaying the reality of being raised without both genetic parents.

Some suggest that spending more money on making children means that they are more loved. Our children are definitively wanted, they say.

“The baby doesn’t care anything about the money,” says marriage and family therapist Nancy Verrier, regarding the issues surrounding surrogacy. “That’s not what hurts the baby. The baby is hurt by the separation, by the loss of that mother that it knows.” This ever-present realization of loss remains with both mother and child throughout their lives. Nature has ensured that mothers and children attach to one another, as it is a trait necessary to our survival; without motivation to love or instinctively care for her child, why would a mother protect her children from potential danger? She wouldn’t, and that would have heralded the end of our species. With this biological connection so immediate and meaningful, why doesn’t society view maintenance of that connection as more imperative?

The answer is that we are becoming more secular as a society as belief in God and therefore in objective morality declines. We are elevating the need to pursue happiness in this life over respect for objective morality. That’s why laws are changing to promote adult selfishness over the needs of children. Abortion, no-fault divorce, same-sex marriage… these are all elements of the secular worldview which wants to avoid the demands that children place on us. We want to have fun – not be saddled with moral obligations to others, that diminish our fun. We as a society have decided – whether we admit it or not – that the universe is an accident, that morality is an illusion, that responsibilities must be avoided, and that this life is all we have.

It’s amazing how widespread this attitude is, not just among atheists, but among Christians as well. Usually, the Christians just put a little spiritual spin on it though – “God told me to pursue my calling, so you can’t assess the feasibility and destructive impact of my choice”. That works to fool many “spiritual” people who put more faith in feelings than competence, but it doesn’t work to prevent the destructiveness of not thinking things through.

4 thoughts on “What is it like to be a donor-conceived child?”

  1. Excellent article, I found it to be quite enlightening.

    “The answer is that we are becoming more secular as a society as belief in God and therefore in objective morality declines”‘
    So very well said. Profound, indeed, and right in front of our faces.

    Like

    1. Yes. All I am saying is that those who can do better should try to. Obviously, I think adoption is a good thing, but it’s not the best thing. The best thing is for a mom and a dad to be married, have kids, and stay together for the children.

      Like

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