Sunday, December 28, 2008

Thanks, Dad

I want to thank my dad - the man who has raised me and loved me throughout my life - for his understanding and support. Without it, I would not feel free to search for my biological father and other paternal relatives. As my dad already knows, nobody could ever take his place. Likewise, it simply is not possible for another man to become a second dad to me. I am grateful that he realizes that I am in no way trying to reject or replace him, but instead I just hope to find answers to my questions. So, thanks, dad! Raising me as his own and giving me the freedom to find my relatives without guilt are both bigger gifts than he probably realizes.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Are You My Mother? - Children's book by P.D. Eastman

Oddly enough, this book, Are You My Mother?, was one of my all-time favorites as a preschooler. I had not thought about the story in years, but it crossed my mind during the long drive home from visiting my maternal family. After going through my own search for my biological father and wondering with each response whether I'd finally found him, I realized the uncanny similiarities between it and my own life. Below is the description.

A mother bird is sitting on her egg in her nest. Suddenly the egg jumps, and mother bird realizes that her baby is about to break out of its egg and will be hungry. Away she flies for food. While the mother bird is gone, the baby bird comes out of its shell. The first thing he says is, "Where is my mother?" He starts looking for her but doesn’t see her in the nest. The baby bird wants to find his mother, but forgets that he can’t fly. He falls down, way down out the nest. He starts to walk to find his mother. He doesn’t know what his mother looks like, so he walks right by her. He comes upon a kitten, a hen, a dog, and a cow. The baby bird asks all of them the same question, "Are you my mother?" They all reply no. Before he continues his search, he stops to wonder if he really does have a mother. He is positive he does, so he goes on. Next he comes upon other things, an old car, a boat, and a plane and asks if any of them could be his mother. He gets no reply, so on he goes. The last thing he meets up with, is a great big excavator. He is so sure this is his mother. Finally he has found her! He runs excitedly up to it, climbs on and says, "Mother Mother, here I am mother!" The excavator says to the baby bird, "SNORT". Quickly the baby bird realizes he has made a mistake. This is definitely not his mother. The excavator begins to move and the baby bird is in big trouble now. He cries out, "I want to go home, I want my mother!" The excavator puts the baby bird gently back in his nest and his mother comes home. She asks him if he knows who she is. After the baby bird tells his mother of all the adventures he had looking for her, he says, "You are bird, and you are my mother." This is a terrific book for little ones age 18 months and up.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Holidays

During this time of year, most people gather with family and closest friends. Therefore, I cannot help but think of my missing relatives and wonder where they are. I want to know what holidays they celebrate, what traditions they share, where they all gather, what activities they enjoy together, and what they look like. I would love to hear their family stories told throughout the generations. If I could, I would also give each one a holiday card. For now, though, I will just use this site to send them all warm thoughts and wishes of a wonderful future.

Happy Holidays to my friends, my known family, and everyone else, too!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Way Life Unfolds

Sometimes people have asked me if my search was worth it given that I have yet to find my paternal family. Without a doubt, the answer is yes. The kindness that I encountered still amazes me. The BCM grads who were initially just strangers in old yearbooks have become an important and meaningful part of my life. When I began my search, it certainly never crossed my mind that I would form close friendships with several of my biological father's former classmates.

However, I am grateful for their ongoing encouragement and compassion. Some have sent me cards, invited me to dinner, introduced me to their families, included me in their holiday celebrations, and even given me their old yearbooks to provide me with the clearest pictures possible to identify my sperm donor. Others send me medical advice, jokes, and funny videos.

Whether or not my biological father ever decides to come forward, I am so thankful for the incredible people I now know as a result of my quest. Just as they call me their "collective pseudo daughter," I truly feel as though I have expanded my nonbiological family through them. We may not always get the end result that we desired, but other outcomes are beautiful in their own way.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Parted-at-Birth Twins Married: Genetic Sexual Attraction

Parts of a BBC article, published earlier this year:

A pair of twins who were adopted by separate families as babies got married without knowing they were brother and sister. A court annulled the British couple's union after they discovered their true relationship.

A peer - who heard of the case from a judge who was involved - said the twins felt an "inevitable attraction." He said the case showed how important it was for children to be able to find out about their biological parents.

Details of the identities of the twins involved have been kept secret, but Lord Alton said the pair did not realise they were related until after their marriage. The crossbench peer, a former Liberal Democrat MP, raised the couple's case during a House of Lords debate on the Human Fertility and Embryology Bill in December.

"They were never told that they were twins," he told the Lords. "They met later in life and felt an inevitable attraction, and the judge had to deal with the consequences of the marriage that they entered into and all the issues of their separation."

Their story raises the wider issue of the importance of strengthening the rights of children to know the identities of their biological parents. We are naturally drawn to people who are quite similar to ourselves. "If you don't know you are biologically related to someone, you may become attracted to them and tragedies like this may occur."

Pam Hodgkins, chief executive officer of the charity Adults Affected by Adoption (NORCAP), said there had been previous cases of separated siblings being attracted to each other. "We have a resistance, a very strong incest taboo where we are aware that someone is a biological relative," she said. "But when we are unaware of that relationship, we are naturally drawn to people who are quite similar to ourselves. "And of course there is unlikely to be anyone more similar to any individual than their sibling."

Mo O'Reilly, director of child placement for the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, said the situation was traumatic for the people involved, but incredibly rare. "Thirty or 40 years ago it would have been more likely that twins be separated and, brought up without knowledge of each other," she said. "This sad case illustrates why, over the last 20-30 years, the shift to openness in adoption was so important," Ms O'Reilly added.
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First, my heart goes out to this couple. How traumatic to have lost not only their marriage, but a chance to enjoy their newly discovered relationship as twins. This is obviously in no way their fault, yet it must be very devastating.

Genetic sexual attraction is equally relevant to donor conception. In particular, it applies to my generation of donor-conceived offspring where sperm was delivered fresh to a clinic for insemination later that day and the couples going to that clinic lived in the same city. In addition, no limits were placed on the number of children created by any given donor. For example, former donors who went through DNA testing with me produced anywhere from one to hundreds of children.
Therefore, it is probable that many half-siblings born in the late 1970s and early 1980s were raised in the same area. Also, parents back then were advised to never tell the children about their conception. This means that many donor-conceived would be aware of the truth and therefore would not go through DNA testing before entering a serious relationship.

Luckily the chance of this occurring today has decreased. Sperm is now frozen and shipped throughout the world, but it still is another hazard of the industry and another reason why honesty within families is so important.