- Kathleen R. LaBounty - firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, May 3, 2012
A few days before my conception, the nurse from the St. Luke's clinic, Mary Ann, called to confirm my mother's insemination appointment. With my mom's green eyes and my dad's blue, my mom had asked for a donor with blue eyes to ensure that I would blend in with my parents genetically. Mary Ann forgot this request, and, when reminded during the confirmation call, told my mother that she would need to "borrow" a donor as none with blue eyes were available. As a young child, I joked about having a "loaner donor." Sort of funny and catchy... Fast forward a decade and a half. Before beginning my search, my mom and I contacted the physician who performed the insemination. He told us that there was a 99% chance my donor had been a Baylor College of Medicine student at the time of my conception. The remainder consisted of University of Texas medical students, Rice University students, or residents. With this information in mind, I focused my energy on the 99% by writing all of the male BCM students. (Well, all heard from me except the handful I could not locate and over a dozen who were sadly already deceased.) Was this my mistake? Maybe my "loaner donor" is actually in the 1%. That kind of makes sense, right, since the nurse stated she would have to borrow one? For all I know, perhaps my donor was not even from any of those schools. My initial - and ongoing - reasons for searching were to give my paternal family the option of coming forward instead of being forced into anonymity as was the practice and for me to not live with regrets later. I wanted to say I tried. I have never feared rejection from any of my paternal relatives and simply valued truth. I was conceived in 1981, at a time when anonymity was enforced by the clinic regardless of the preference of the donor and the procedure was only available to heterosexual couples. Recipients were told go home, make love, and assume conception occurred through this encounter. Donors were encouraged to forget their donations, and some even signed contracts promising to never search for their donor-conceived children. Sperm was sometimes mixed prior to insemination to ensure anonymity while medical records were scarce, possibly nonexistant by the time I began asking questions. By searching for my family, I felt that I was finally putting that decision back in my donor's hands (ok, bad word choice there) instead of the clinic's. Now the question has become when is it time to say the search is over and when to continue. There will always be more avenues to explore. With my new discovery of my Ashkenazi Jew heritage, I could write the men with Jewish sounding last names from Baylor. That system has several flaws. Given that I have heard from a few Rice donors but not any from UT, I considered - for half a minute, if that - xeroxing Rice University yearbooks to contact only the Jewish men. But if my donor isn't in this pool, all of my efforts in the world will not get me anywhere. Maybe this is the meaning of the loaner donor crack I used to make.