Saturday, November 04, 2006

Apparently he thinks about me too

On the speaking out trail again. I've been involved in 2 conferences and spoken at another 2 on my own in the last 2 months or so. It's been a ride. A weird one at that. Sometimes I can hear myself recounting my story, over and over, as though it's not really me. As though I'm watching myself speak these words, feel these heavy feelings, lips drying, heart beating, seeing the kitchen table we sat around as i recount my telling story... I am an example of the pain that is felt if told at a "later age", I can see it... I look up and see people pity me, feel sorry for me, think that I would have been less emotional if i was told at a younger age. I can't say for sure, but I don't think the pain of not knowing who my father is would be eased if i were told earlier. I still wouldn't be able to know him.

It was interesting to see a video of some other donor conceived people at one of the conferences. One young man in particular started off saying that he had no interest whatsoever in knowing his "donor" and that it didn't bother him at all. Mind you his mother was interviewing the group and in front of a large audience, including the other parents of the DC people. Yeah, going to get a really honest account of how they are feeling whilst trying to protect everyone else's feelings!!! Such a joke. Anyway, it was about a one hour video/interview... this young man went from saying he had no interest, to saying he would meet his "donor" if given the chance. He went from spouting the "i would only want to know for medical reasons", to "I would like to have a coffee with him, get to know him... what his personality is like". I smiled when I could see this turnaround, which was really quite quick and telling in my eyes. Of course he wants to know who his "donor" is.

There was discussion around control too. The idea that we want control over our information as DC people & understandably so. The young DC man stated that he had no hope of finding his "donor", no control over whether he found this man or not. I can see that for some of us DC people, where control over our search is limited, it is often VERY easy to say that we don't care, because frankly, there is almost no hope of ever knowing anything more. It's much easier to get by saying you don't care, it's a coping mechanism. There was another DC girl who had recently found out, who was asked if she was interested in finding out if she could trace her "donor". She had only found out within the last few months. She said something like "I don't want to know if I can find out or not, because I don't know what I would do if I couldn't" That pretty much says it all to me.

I differ here, because I have hope.... even though I know I may never meet my father, even though many people like to point out to me that there is basically no chance, I know that there is some hope. My mantra regarding this is "Hope for the best, expecting the worst". It's how I get by. I expect that T5 will never come forward, that he is proabably dead, but I hope that he is alive and interested in meeting his daughter... one of his daughters. (Gees)

Apparently at the last conference I was at someone stated that past donors do think about their possible children. They do wonder how we are. I wonder if T5 thinks about me? If he knows about me. If he has seen me on tv. Heard me on the radio. If he wants to know me, or is scared of me. This dreadheaded little hippy.. is she what he expected one of his daughters to be? Am I a disgrace to him, or do I make him proud? Can he see himself in me? Can he see me at all?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Multiply T5 13 times

In short I recently found out I definately have one extra sister, born in 1985. I am a big sister to two girls now :) I was able to also gain information that tells me all of my 9 half siblings dates of births and the fact that three 'outcomes' are unknown. This may mean that the women got pregnant and didn't notify of the birth or that they received treatment and didn't have babies. Who knows?? No one will ever know...

My siblings... 13 of us altogether now. Isn't that just crazy??

The four of us girls all born in 1982 were born one month apart. So the first in June, then July, then August, then me in September!! It's crazy... beyond crazy... unfair and amazing at the same time.

I have put all of this on the backburner in my mind trying to digest it all, trying to comprehend what this means, for me, for them, for so many others in my situation. It's messed up and I want to know them all and NOW!

I want to go out and party with them, get to know them like I would any stranger I meet for the first time, except these people are my family and always will be. Regardless if we have spent the last 20 odd years apart, they are my blood. And nothing anyone can say will ever change that.

Where are you brothers and sisters?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Reclaiming a part of my heritage

About 3 weeks ago now I had some news about T5. I received a call to inform me that my donor's name was now safe with the ITA. That in itself made me really happy. If legislation ever does become retrospective at least there is a name for me to search with, much more than other older DC people have. Some DC people's records have been destroyed, which is a downright crime against them!

Anyway, the conversation was a blur in my mind. I was sitting at a tram stop waiting to go home after my first day back at uni. I was scanning the counselor's words, waiting for the good bits. I knew this was a different conversation to others i had had in the past.

She knows how much i have wanted to know the nationality of my father and his family.... It's something I have fantisised about since i found out. I always imagined he was from the UK, that my paternal heritage was perhaps Scottish. Over time this idea has stuck with me, and I only realised it after i got this news.

Apparently his surname is distinctly Maltese. When she said this i burst into tears. I didn't care who was around or what they thought. I was in a trance like state, replaying the words over again and again, reminding myself that i was awake and that this directly impacted me, myself.. my identity.

My mother was born in Malta and travelled here when she was 16 years old. My dad's family is also from Malta. I am fortunate that I have been surrounded by Maltese people and culture since i was little, for now it means a lot more to me. Of course T5 having a Maltese surname does not mean that he is necessarily completely Maltese himself, however it is a definate part of who he is, who his father is, and who i am. Maybe there is still a UK connection on my paternal grandmother's side?

The news is still sinking in. Now and then i remember the weight of such information and have to really stop and process it again. It's really amazing how grounding this information has been for me. I feel a little closer to him, a little closer to knowing myself better. I don't feel complete in any way, but i do feel a sense of calm. A sense that this is right.

It also shatters my previous fantasies, as i mentioned earlier. It is so bizzaire how easy it is to conjur up a image of someone you have never met, never known. He is no longer a UK/Australian with a pot belly! Also, there is now certain fear that he has not told his family. Knowing my own Maltese family and the community in Melbourne at least, I don't think that he would have told his parents or anyone really. His parents would not understand.... He would face a lot of stereotypical cop-outs about this. It makes me think he is less likely to come forward, and that sucks. And perhaps more likely that he just did it for some extra cash. But who knows? I shouldn't generalise, but it's hard not to when i know it's most likely the case.

But this is another piece of information that I am certainly thrilled about. As a friend said I am getting closer!

In thinking about this whole process however i have thought that it might be compared to slow torture... this bit by bit revealing of information. I find out when i am 15, get a few non-identifying bits of information... wait a few more years find out a donor code... another year and i find out i have many more siblings than i had ever imagined... find out their years of birth and gender a few months later... now this. There is a voice inside of me screaming like an impatient child "I want it all and i want it NOW!" Patience is not one of my strong points generally speaking, but in reality i have no choice but to be patient with this.

I am happy that I know all of this information, don't get me wrong, but I don't want to sing the grateful child song. I deserve this information, it is mine, i know this. The universe has a funny way of working sometimes. I guess i just have to wait and see what happens next.

Well actually i did get some other news with relation to all of this, but i will save that for the next post. It's another whole can of worms!


Sinking into my skin... slowly moving down the rope to the Earth. I can see people through the clouds, but i can't make out their faces. Still disconnected, but somehow very changed.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

They're coming out of the woodwork!

More and more donor conceived people are coming forward with similar feelings as myself and others who are "Not Happy John" with their DC status.

This new blog looks just great!

Donated Generation

Keep on coming DC people, we know you are out there and wanting to speak up too! We can make a difference.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Mental imagery

I like to read the news online daily. Today I had a nice sleep in and so I just had the chance after work and some late dinner to meander over today's news. One story caught my eye in particular as it spoke of an armed hold up in the suburb where I live and this incident involved gun fire. Anything like this close to home always sets me on edge. You never think stuff like this actually happens til it affects you personally or is close to home. Anyway, I read the article with much intigue and concern and the article ends with a short physical description of the robber. I wondered if it would even be possible to detect someone with such little information about their physical appearance. It could be anyone really....... Which led me to thinking, wow... this is about as much information as I have about my father. That is insane!! And it's funny because when I tell people how tall he is and what physical descriptors I have, I often picture him standing in front of one of those walls with the measurements behind his head, as though he was a criminal. I have this shady image in my mind, that really could be anyone...

When the Courier article put his weight and height into kilograms and centimetres, the way in which I grew up measuring, I was a little thrown. I grilled my poor brother-in-law as to how tall he was and how much he weighed without even explaining myself haha... But yeh, now I realise he was at the time of donation only 2 inches taller than me... and much fatter haha. I see where I get my little and curvy build from now... it's kinda weird. It's kinda nothing too. But something. The saying clutching at straws comes to mind. I am so sick of clutching onto nothing. Sometimes I feel lucky though in that I know I do have much more than some others... but I hate feeling "lucky" even, because I certainly don't feel it.

I remember I had a dream once that T5 lived across the road from my family home and one day just casually walked up our driveway and introduced himself.

I wish we had year books here in Australia like they do over in the states, so that I could browse through some photos, just to even perhaps have an idea of what he might look like. Brown hair, brown eyes........... short....... plump........ hrmm.

T5 if you're out there, please sign up to the ITA voluntary registers. I need some confirmation that you exist.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Newspaper article

The article that appeared in Melbourne's Herald Sun was a watered down, shorter version of the much better and longer story that appeared in the Queensland Courier Mail on the same day. I just came across the Courier's story today, and so here it is.

Where did I come from?

Fran Metcalf
July 01, 2006

IT WAS a blow to Narelle Grech the day she discovered at the age of 15 that her dad wasn't her biological father.

Grech grew up with her older sister in the northern Melbourne suburb of Reservoir and never had any reason to question her bloodline or origins.

But then one day her parents broke the news. "I was conceived by the help of a sperm donor," says Grech, now 23.

"My sister was conceived naturally but then my parents had some fertility problems."

And just two years ago, after searching for more information about her genetic heritage, Grech discovered she had seven half siblings who were all conceived from the same biological father as her own.

"Mum's motivation in telling me was that she was worried I would meet or become involved with a half brother which is a well-founded fear," she says.

"I have three half brothers who are a year younger than me and four half sisters."

Grech's story could soon become far more familiar.

From today, laws come into effect that allow all donor-conceived children born on or after July 1, 1988, in Victoria to initiate contact with their biological parent once they turn 18 years old and become legal adults. Likewise, the donor father can apply for identifying information on any or all adult children conceived from his sperm.

They apply to the Melbourne-based Infertility Treatment Authority, created as a regulatory body and storage house, which has kept records on the 3315 assisted births from 1057 donors in Victoria since 1988.

Under the Infertility (Medical Procedures) Act 1984 (effective from 1988), both parties in an assisted conception have the right to refuse approaches for personal information about themselves but donor-assisted children born after 1995 will not need consent from their biological father to access his name, address and other identifying information once they too reach adulthood.

With 6000 children born each year in Australia through assisted conceptions, the Victorian laws have reignited debate about whether there's a need for uniform, national laws to enshrine every child's right to their genetic heritage.

"We know that most parents who have children born from assisted conception – it could be as many as 70 per cent – don't tell their children," says Queensland University of Technology bioethics legal expert Professor Derek Morgan.

So, the first that many of them learn of their birth origin could be a letter from the ITA saying their biological father is seeking contact or personal information.

Given normal population movements around the country, ITA manager of donor register services Helen Kane says it's likely that some of those letters could appear in the mailboxes of young adults now living in Queensland or other states.

"We're not actually expecting many applications from the young adults now turning 18," Kane says. "What we have already experienced is a steady stream of people wanting to know how to tell their children they were conceived by donor sperm or egg."

Kane says research reveals that people begin searching for the genetic heritage from their mid-20s onwards when they first enter serious relationships or begin thinking of starting their own family.

That was true for Grech.

"Early on, not long after my parents told me, we wrote a letter to the doctor and within a few weeks he sent back some non-identifying information," she says.

"I know he was a student, he was married, he had brown hair and brown eyes, he was 170cm tall and weighed about 82kg and had O-positive blood type. At the time, that was enough for me."

But Grech, who is studying social work at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, has wanted to know more as she's grown older.

"The thing that bugs me most is I want to know his nationality," she says.

"It might help with my physical features a bit because my mum and dad are Maltese with dark hair and skin but I'm very Australian looking.

"I also want to know what his interests are, what his occupation is, what he did for his life and what are his favourite foods – the little things you want to know about people."

Morgan says it's basic information about personal and family heritage that most people take for granted but to which this group deserves equal rights.

"These kinds of reproductive technologies have produced people who may not necessarily be able to find out who their genetic parents are and the more we begin to understand about the genetic basis for certain types of diseases, it's increasingly important to know about your make-up."

Morgan will deliver a keynote address at the Australian Bioethics Association Conference, hosted by QUT, next week in Brisbane and will talk about the issues surrounding technology, identity and modern medical law. He believes national laws are needed, based on Victoria's model, to create a sensitive, efficient and enforceable system that places the rights of donor-assisted children above all else.

"Western Australia and South Australia have similar laws to Victoria but Queensland and other states have no laws at all – there needs to be a national register," he says.

But Dr Keith Harrison, Queenslander Fertility Group scientific director and Fertility Society of Australia secretary, says industry codes of practice ensure the same rights to donor-conceived children as the Victorian laws enshrine.

Harrison says all anonymous sperm donations stopped two years ago.

All donors since then have been required to consent to their personal information being released to any child subsequently conceived.

"The National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines state every child must be able to trace its genetic heritage," Harrison says.

"That put an end to anonymous donor semen in Australia and in any one donor, there's a maximum of 10 families that can be created.

"Those guidelines are enshrined in a code of practice and every IVF clinic is accredited by the Reproductive Technology Accreditation Committee."

Harrison says identifying information can be accessed in Queensland in the same way as it is in Victoria, the only difference being that the relative parties apply to the clinic where the treatment took place rather than the ITA regulatory body.

"We, as clinics, also have obligations to regularly contact donors to keep track of them," Harrison says.

"The chance of being closed down for not complying with the regulations is pretty good incentive to comply."

The biggest difference with the Victorian law, says Harrison, is that it gives donors the right to trace their progeny once the children become legal adults and research shows only half – at best – of parents disclose the truth to their donor-assisted children.

Grech says the earlier parents tell their children, the better.

"There are cases of donor-assisted children discovering their birth origins in the middle of family arguments or when a family friend lets the information slip," she says.

"I think parents should tell their children – even at 18 years old – because it's better than when you're 40 or after the death of one of your parents.

"Young people can deal with things better than adults expect them to."

And she says parents need not feel threatened.

"Parents need to understand it's a personal thing – a quest for your own identity and personality traits," she says.

"It's not about replacing or changing relationships."

Unfortunately for Grech, she was born in 1982 and isn't therefore affected by the new laws in Victoria.

"I try not to think about it because I know it might not ever happen but I'd love to meet him (donor)," she says.

"It would mean the world to me and I'd love to meeting all my half siblings as well."


Tuesday, June 27, 2006


I have burnt out i think. Doing media interviews over the last little while and then back over the last 3 years has taken it's toll. Not to mention the emails, the debates, the letters, uni work (most of my essays are on this topic), books, etc... Don't get me wrong I'm in this for the long haul, but it's about time I reflect and be honest with myself. I can't seem to get fired up lately. I have been sick for the last few days and bed ridden and it was in this state that I realised how nice it is to not think about all of this for a bit. Not checking my emails was a delight. I watched movies and just spent time on my own. I have to do this more. For my own sanity and so that I have the strength to keep this up for others too.

I can now finally understand what others before me have felt in way of burning out. I never thought I would feel this way and thought those that burnt out were weak. Silly me! It's a natural part of it. With so much ignorance and stupidity thrown at you it's bound to happen. There are so many times someone can be asked if they are grateful to be alive before you feel as though you are about to snap!! Are you grateful to be alive? WELL ARE YOU? Stupid irrelevent question. What is it's purpose? It only shows how shallow humans can be. This whole industry is the most disgusting display of human greed and power at it's best. I feel kind of sad to be alive in this time of history......... "For Sale, one egg, ripe for the gestating, have yourself one of my eggs for the nice sum of $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$" It is sick.......... Human life now merely a sum of money... a trade off....... Human life is now for sale people. I am sad to see it happening. What price will you pay?

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I have a few weeks off uni now and I am so happy to have the time to think. I have been numb to all of this for a while. I think for self preservation reasons I need to do other things for a bit.

I don't know what I am getting at really. Sometimes I feel like I'm going crazy.... that to want to know my father is a huge ask. I wonder how people can so carelessy and easily manipulate people's families to benefit themselves..... How someone could deny another human being something so fundamental as their identity. I don't get it. Sometimes it's like being caught in a really bad dream. You can see the clarity of it and no one else can. When I meet people who understand I thank God. There are decent humans on Earth! Praise the LAWWWWWD!

Lately I have been trying not to get so worked up about all of this, and it's been working. But then there is like this constant buzzing in my soul that doesn't stop. No matter what I do it travels with me. I can ignore it now and then. Sometimes I have to forget my situation...... Sometimes I don't want to be donor conceived. I want to be a normal kid (sure, what's normal?) who doesn't have to think about any of this. I have been forced to grow up and I am feeling like an old woman. I want to feel 23. In some ways I do of course.... hrmmmm.

Ok, I will sign off now. Not sure where my head is at.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The American Adoption Congress Northwest Regional Conference

The American Adoption Congress Northwest Regional Conference
Co-Sponsored by:
* Washington Adoption Reunion Movement (WARM)
* Adoption Mosaic
* Concerned United Birthparents (CUB – Portland)

August 11-12, 2006. Portland, OR
Early registration by July 15: $40/AAC member, $50/non-member
Late Registration: $50/AAC member, $60/non-member
(includes Friday night reception, all sessions on Saturday with continental breakfast and box lunch, and a Saturday night discussion gathering)

Info: Sharon Pittenger, 503-349-2082,,

Keynote Speakers
* Measure 58: The Journey of One Father and Son
[Measure 58 was an initiative petition passed by Oregon voters in the 1998 General Election allowing adoptees to unseal their birth records so they can locate their birth parents]
- Thomas McDermott, the attorney who represented the lawsuit defending Ballot Measure 58.
- Adam, Thomas’s son, is an adoptee who has turned 21 and has his original birth certificate.
* The Journey Turns Inward: Finding Our True Selves in the Opportunities and Hazards of Reunion: Connie Dawson, PhD, adoptee

* Why Search? Beyond the Need for Medical Information
* Beginning the Search: A Panel Discussion
* Revitalizing the Search: Extending and Completing Your Search
* The Knock on the Door: Stories on Searching and Being Found
* Transracial Adoption Experiences
* Maintaining relationships with siblings, spouses, and extended families
* Managing the Emotions of Search and Reunion: Integrating the Past Self with the Present
* The Next Generation: How Adoption Affects my Parenting

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

New friend

Through the grapevine, found this lovely lass named Sarah. She speaks her mind and I love her for it. Please check her blog out if you get the chance.

Friday, June 02, 2006

'Making Babies' - SBS, Australia

Some of you might be interested to view an online video of a studio debate on donor conception issues which screened on Tuesday night on SBS Television nationally in Australia, which I took part in. A transcript of the show is also available on this website:

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Have you got a name for it?

Last year I was fortunate to go to a conference held by VANISH about adoption issues. Evelyn Robinson, a birth mother turned social worker and author, was one of the key speakers. I must say that this day, for me, was life changing.

Evelyn spoke about a concept that I have never heard of before; disenfranchised grief. I was to later learn that Kenneth Doka coined this term and wrote about it in his book called Disenfranchised Grief: Recognizing Hidden Sorrow. Doka states that this is
“Grief that persons experience when they incur a loss that is not or cannot be openly acknowledged, publicly mourned, or socially supported” (Doka, 1989, pg.4).

Evelyn spoke about how this type of hidden grief operates in adoption and I could instantly see the paralells it had with my situation and donor conceived people's grief. It explained so much of what I had been feeling for the last few years. I felt that I had lost half of my family and the relationships with my father and all of these people, yet I did not feel that I could express this until quite some time later. Even now I do not feel that I am completly understood in this regard. I hid my sorrow, because of many reasons. Firstly, being told that I was so "wanted" and "special" meant that I did not want to show my sadness. From what everyone around me was saying I should be happy that my parents went to so much trouble to have me! There was no way in my mind that I could ever see myself expressing my true feelings, let alone anyone acknowledging my loss and pain.

Even though I am able to speak about my feelings now, my loss is still not acknowledged, it is definately not something that is publically mourned or socially supported. The vast majority of the public are so blinded to the long term effects of this practice. What most see is that it is so wonderful, as it gives a couple just what they wanted, a child to love. That is the happy ending, right? That is what is most important! How could anyone dispute this practice as being anything but good? (note sarcasm)

What I have always wondered is how can anybody, especially those who take for granted knowing their identity and their history, look past the effects seperating someone from their family really has? I often wish I could have the same powers as that guy in the Green Mile. Hold someone's hand (I have often thought this would be great to do with some politicians or fertility doctors), and let them truly feel the pain, sadness and loss that I have over the last 8 years.. all in one hit. I think people would realise then, but mainly people's lack of compassion and unwillingness to put themselves in someone elses shoes means that this practice will continue to fool people. Just like that big fast food chain claims it's meals are "healthy" at any cost, the fertility industry will spout any old line to keep raking in the money. "Sure there are no long term consequences!", "All they need is love", "Everything will be just FINE!" (now give us your money!).

I have thought about this a lot, as you can probably imagine. Something that I think helps to perpetuate this fantasy that donor conception is a fantastic and revolutionary practice are the labels used to change and distort the relationships that truly exist. The word donor for instance is one of them. I find this term highly offensive. He may have donated his sperm to my mother, to my parents, but he did not donate his sperm to me, as I was not yet alive! He is my biological father, and calling him otherwise hides the true connection that we have. This is one reason, I believe, why my loss is not recognised. Everyone says "He is just the DNA", "He did not raise you, so he cannot be your father!", and so on. To that I say bull! No matter what way you look at it he IS my biological father. He is more than just DNA, he is a part of me, my identity and who I am today. I walk with his influence everyday. I carry his traits, his families traits with me everyday. And the other day I remembered that the sperm determines the sex of the resulting child. So he is the reason I am a woman!! He may not have raised me, but he will always be my father. There is no denying it. Call him whatever you want, but I can see that people are just trying to distort reality for their own satisfaction, for their own cause, for their own position.

The fact that T5 is not a part of my life is a major loss to me. Not being able to know him and my paternal family is... indescribably hard.

So this concept of disenfranchised grief gave me something to look to... a name for what I had experienced. I remember coming home and just being blown away by Evelyn's speech. I sat and cried, but this day I cried happy tears. "I am not going mad!!!!", I thought. "I have a name for it, my sadness makes sense! It is real. Thank God!!!"

Sometimes I wish I could have some sort of public ceremony to recognise my loss. But this wouldn't really work. I have thought about this a lot too. T5 may be alive or dead, but I do not know if he is either. And what if he were to appear in my life later on? How could I possibly mourn his absence, if there is the possibility that he might come into my life one day? I feel as though it is so important that my loss and other donor conceived people's losses are acknowledged. I am not sure exactly how. Perhaps a good start is that the public start listening to people like myself and not write us off as a disgruntled few.

I believe that there might only be a few people like myself speaking out even in years to come. It is so hard to do this. I have been to this posting page so many times over the last few weeks and felt physically ill at the thought of writing about this. It takes so much energy, that I don't blame other donor conceived people for sitting back and letting a handful of people speak on their behalf. This is what has happened in the adoption community, here in Victoria, Australia anyway. With time I am hoping however that more people come forward.

I'm reading a book at the moment about an adopted woman. She had a really hard life and chose to write about it so candidly. She reiterated my feelings about why some people (adopted and donor conceived) choose not to venture into finding out about their history: "It is my belief that even when an adoptee claims to be a non-searcher, they are at some level, conscious or not, curious about their origins" (Seitz, 2001, pg.100). People often think that I am prescribing my own experience onto those who say they do not wish to know anything about their true genetic origins when I say "Actually I think they really do want to know and just don't want to open Pandora's box...". However the more I read adoption material, the more I speak to donor conceived people, the more I can see that there is a lot of truth to my instincts about this. All I can think is this: Regardless of what kind of relationship a donor conceievd person might want with their biological parent/s, how can they deny that these people helped to create their identity? How could someone not want to learn more about themselves? People who say they do not wish to know, I believe are using a coping mechanism to survive. And once again, I don't completely think this is bad, each to their own, however I think that for them to even admit that they want to know more would be recognition that they do feel some loss. I believe that for some people it is just far too hard to acknowledge, even to themselves.

Ok. Well that is all I have to say right now. Oh and if you haven't guessed it yet, the answer to that question in the previous post,
("What about children whose parents have died and whom they have not yet met?"), the lecturer replied, "Disenfranchised Grief".

Monday, April 17, 2006

One step forward, two steps back


I just wanted to post for anyone who is reading out there. I am still alive and well.

I have been wanting to update here for a while now, with something meaningful and insightful, but at the moment I am lacking the (mental/emotional?) energy.

Almost every time I take a step in my journey with this I feel that I then have to pull back for a while, even when I write. I almost feel like I take one step forward and two back some times. It's frustrating, but I also think it's necessary for my well being. It's emotionally draining to write here at times, although at the same time I love it and appreciate communicating with people who I would normally have the chance.

So this is not a good bye by any means, just a 'hello' and 'be with you shortly' post.

I'm still reading, thinking, learning and growing.

And I will be back soon, when my heart and soul are ready for more.

Oh, and just something in the mean time that I can share for now; I told my dad about the whole half sibling thing the other night. After my last post I felt like i owed it to him to be honest. I feel much better now that he knows.

See you soon!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

A poem & what it means

I wrote this poem on 23rd August 2004.

today i had to draw up my family tree
for the first time instead of two parents i drew three

triangles representing unknowns...

one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight
what a mighty little fleet

my father, T5, we call him the next sperminator
spread his seed, a real ego inflator

a squiggly line between mum and he with no explanation
except for a lab and artificial insemination

the relationship between mum and he
it is non-existant, alive only through...


his name is [....], he is a professor
of seperating families and making a mess of
it all for the greater... apparently

then squiggly lines down to seven more women
seven more siblings i may never be seein

what a mess, what a tree
it all adds up
and equals me

In around June 2004, I found out that I have 7 half siblings, all the "result" of T5's donations too.

It took me around 6 months from the time of sending a letter inquiring to find that out, but that's a whole other story. The wait was worth it, but then what of the time I have missed with them?

Where are they? Who are they? What are they like? Do we go to uni together? More questions.

I was able to find out the there are 4 other girls and 3 boys.

I have always wanted a brother, and then suddenly upon knowing this information i had 3!!

I have always wanted to be a big sister so that i could spoil my little sibling like my sister spoilt me.

I wasn't aware at the time of initially sending my letter, that I was able to know their years of birth, as it is "non-identifying" information.

So a second letter went out with a much faster reply, thankfully. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time.

The letter told me that 3 of the girls were born the same year as me, all 3 boys were born the year after me and the last girl was born in 1985.

I am a big sister!!!!!!!!!! I walked around the house saying that for quite a while.

I can't tell you what went through my mind, my heart and soul all at once when i read this news. I was overwhelmed with this feeling of a harsh reality, as though they had been born, yet cruelly i realised they may as well be dead to me, for i can never know them. I have no right to................

This is how the legislation has situated me from my own family.

To this day I think about them and yearn to know them. None of us agreed to be kept from each other. I am certain most if not all of them don't even know the truth about their birth origins. What about my brothers? How do they fare if they do know? Does their dad look after them? Do they want to find their biological father too? Are they too scared to step forward? I wonder if their perceptions of fatherhood have changed... they must have?

I have no idea, and once again this is the hardest thing to come to terms with.

The not knowing is frustrating, heartbreaking, unfair.

On that day my search stretched out to include a definate 8 people, my 'other' siblings and T5. This is of course not including the rest of my paternal family, but these people I know are connected to me and I will search for them until i die.

You know when someone says to you "Hey you look just like this girl i know..." or, "You look so familiar!". Imagine what goes through my head when people say that!

My mum even saw some girl she thought was me...... friends tell me they saw someone they thought may have been one of my sisters. Am i passing them on the street? It's really mind boggling.

So much so that I haven't told my dad about this still. Maybe he will find this before i tell him? I'm not sure why i haven't told him.... I have planned to, but there's never been a right moment. In some ways i think i am protecting him.. He will be so confused by this. It's one thing to think it might be a possibility to knowing that it is so. And then what if he plays it down and doesn't understand how important it is for me to find them? Still, I should tell him. It's just hard.

When you are a child, or someone's daughter or son, i think you like to protect your parents more than they know.

I am doing a subject at uni as a part of my social work degree about loss and grief. Last week we looked at grief and children. It was mainly focussed on how children deal with the death of a parent or some one close to them. Someone in the class asked the lecturer "What about children whose parents have died and whom they have not yet met?" This made me think about the parallels to this situation and DC of course.

And the answer to that question.... well my friends you will have to stay tuned. As that is another entry's worth of ponderings and revelations.

Monday, March 27, 2006

'Missing Link'

I found out about a play today that is going to be run in Melbourne, Australia called 'Missing Link'. It's based on donor conception issues.

I'm really looking forward to seeing it!

Read more about it here!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Connecting with others who are disconnected

It wasn't until I was 18 years old that I went to see a counsellor about this. I remember vividly the bus ride there, trying to anticipate what it would be like to speak with this woman.

When I got there I found that she was a really lovely person and easy to speak to. She told me that she usually counselled couples considering "treatment" and that I was the first donor conceived person she had spoken to. I was a little surprised by this, and felt like in a way we were both in the same boat, session wise. She did the best she could given the situation. And now that I am studying social work and about to go on my first placement, I realise that she did extremely well given she had never come across a similar client. She had gathered some flyers and pages from books, that in hindsight helped so much. One was the details of a support group, with contact numbers on the back, another lot of papers was photocopied from a publication called "Let the Offsping Speak", a small collection of stories from other donor conceived people.

On the bus ride home I read through the stroies. There was one in particular that I related to SO much that it caused me to start crying on the bus ride home. I was crying because I was so happy that someone else felt like me, and because now I knew that what I had been keeping so private was something real... I wasn't going crazy!

Up until that point I felt as though I was the only donor conceived person in the world, and as though it would remain that way forever. To an extent I had tried to bury my feelings because of this fact.

I think it might have been a few months or even a year later when I decided to call someone on the back of the support group brochure. I noticed that the person's story with whom I related to on the bus ride home, shared the same name as someone on the back of the brochure. A long shot I thought, but perhaps this would be a good point to start.

Now can you imagine what was going through my head?! I had thought about it a lot. I paced the house, doing everything but sitting in front of the phone and dialing the number. What would I say? "Hello I am donor conceived, can we chat"??? I was freaking out!! I didn't know these people... calling a stranger for a deep and meaningful? It seemed so weird to me, but then I thought, "Well if they have their name on this thing as a point of contact they can't be too bad!"

I took the plunge and a lady answered. I can't remember what I said exactly, but once I told her I was donor conceived she was all ears and so lovley. She was the mother of the donor conceived person I wanted to speak to. We spoke for what seemed like a few minutes, but was in fact abour an hour. She told me her child was living interstate and gave me their number. And so I called this person a few nights later.

This conversation felt easier and it was such a relief to share stories and feelings that were so similar. I was estatic when I hung up the phone. I was not alone! I had spoken to a real live human being who knew what I was talking about.

The next opportunity I had, from my memory (a lot of these events seem hazy now), was a conference being held by an adoption support group here in Melbourne. I can't remember how I found out about it, but I went along not sure what to expect. It was a pretty heavy evening, to say the least, however I got the chance to meet some other donor conceived people, in the flesh! This was a real turning point for me.

Since then I have felt at most ease when with other donor conceived people or with adoptees, who have really supported me through the years. So many people think that adoption and donor conception are different, but really they are not. One is not intentional and the other is. The consequences of both for the resulting person, I have found, almost mirror eachother.

When I am with these people I feel like I truly belong somewhere. I feel most at home. I feel like I won't be questioned about something so important to me as my own family, my own identity. I can cry and not feel ashamed. We can laugh about it together, but no one else can. This is our inner circle... this is how I survive my pain and my loss.

Like I commented to Rhonda, I feel as though every time I meet another person in my position I am happy, although it is so bittersweet, because in order for us to have met we must have suffered a great loss. As Rhonda pointed out however, "It is definitely a club I wish I, and others like me, didn't belong to. Still, I'm glad for the company."

And I am too. Thank you to all those I have met so far who have helped me in my journey more than you can imagine, including those I have only met very recently through this very blogging site.

I should also mention at this point that although I do feel most "at home" with adoptees and DC people, I too have some amazing people around me without whom I would be lost. My sister is one of those people. A handful of friends and family who are really there for me, I would be lost without too. I think that without all of these people I would not be able to be as honest and active. I am very lucky in this regard.

It's so hard to explain how I feel otherwise, and on most days. Almost that I am half connected to this earth. If i could draw a picture for you, it would be of me floating above the earth, not too far above (I am not implying i am a heavenly creature :p) connected with a half chewn rope, on a cloud and watching others from this space. I don't feel completely connected and I don't think I really ever will unless I can find the answers I am looking for.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Australian Donor Conception Registry

I have just started a new Yahoo group for Australian donor conceived people, donors and their families who are searching for eachother. I invite people to join! So far I am the only member :)

Friday, March 10, 2006

Making sense through words

The mirror is a monster, it’s my worst enemy; I see questions instead of answers. I don’t see a whole person; I see a fragmented piece of art that is yet to be signed. I see a stranger who is strangely familiar.

I wrote this as a part of a piece for a non-fiction writing class I took last year. I really like it and I think it captures a part of what I feel about myself and my identity.

After I was told about my conception I became a different person. There was a line drawn in the sand; the me before I was told and the me after. On the outside and to others I am sure I seemed the same. I subconciously burried this information and chose not to deal with it until I was older, at least until I had finished school. I know this is something I did not verbalise or really think about doing, but looking back I know this is what I did, perhaps as a coping mechanism of sorts.

I would ask so many questions, usually when I was laying in my bed at night. Some of these questions still haunt me today.

What does he look like?
Why did he donate his sperm?
Is he still married?
Does he have other children?
Why did he give me away? And why couldn't I be the sperm that stayed with him?
What are his interests? Does he like music as much as I do? Does he sing like me?
Where does he live?
What has he done with his life?
What are his family like?
Would they accept me into their family? My family?
Does anyone else besides he and his wife know that he donated sperm?
Are my grandparents (his parents) still alive?
What nationality is he? Was he born here or overseas?
What did he study at university? Is he as passionate a person as I?
Is he still alive???
Does he still live in Victoria or Australia?
Does he think about me? Does he think about what might have happened as a result of his donations?
What does he do for a living?
Does he have a sarcastic sense of humour like me?
Is he scared that I want money from him?
Does he even care that I exist?
Has he seen me in the newspapers, in the magazine article, on the news or on tv at all???
Has anyone of his family recognised me and ignored the fact that I may be his?
Why doesn't he want to know me?!
Is he scared? I am scared too
Will I ever know him.....or myself?
I hope he knows that I love him, no matter what.

All of that going through my mind for years and to this day. Now the questions sit with me on a deeper level and I don't get as sad to think about this, however the relevance of these questions have not faded one bit. There are more questions, but if I were to list them all I fear I might just bore you all. And you get the jist anyway.

When I wasn't able to confront my feelings properly, throughout those few years I would connect with lyrics and songs and stories. They helped me to cope. One song in particular, called "Sinner" by Neil Finn has stuck with me since. If you havne't heard the song before, please do so, it is truly beautiful. (Inspired by "Whosedaughter"'s blog)

See it anyone got my eyes got my face
Sing it everyone got my nose got my blood
Conscience plays upon me now
Safe until my luck runs out
Cukoos call, pendulum swings
I thought you knew everything
Lift my hands make the cross

Sinner I have never learned
Beginner I cannot return
Forever I must walk this earth
Like some forgotten soldier

Those things I should keep to myself
But I feel somehow strangely compelled
Under moonlight I stood wild and naked
Felt no shame just my spirit awakened

Sinner got my eyes got my face

Fireball drop from the sky
All my dreams have come to pass
Where's my faith is it lost
Can't see it till you cast it off

Sinner there is no such thing
Beginner I have learned to sing
Forever I must walk this earth
Like some forgotten soldier

Today I am still disconnected
To the face that I saw in the clouds
And the closest I get to contentment
Is when all of the barriers come down

Friday, March 03, 2006

Happy Father's Day

My parents chose to tell my sister and I at the same time about my conception. My sister was conceived naturally and my parents turned to a donor to have me after some complications with my dad. They tried a few years earlier with no luck and then in 1982 were pregnant with me.

I will never forget the day that mum and dad told us. I remember we had just had a roast Sunday lunch. I was 15. I was wearing my Alanis Morrisette t-shirt, the one from her first tour. My sister had taken me and it was so much fun and inspirational to me as a singer. My sister is 7 and a half years older than me and we are as close as sisters can be.

Mum and dad said they had something to tell us. They had never ever said anything like this before or with that look on their face. They told us to sit down as we were clearing the table and I knew it had something to do with me and my place in the family.

They started by saying that they loved us both very much, I swear the room started spinning as they said that they had trouble trying to have me and so went to a doctor for IVF treatment. They used a donor, they said. My initial reaction was to laugh. I laughed and my sister cried. I didn't understand why she was crying, I thought it was "cool". Now I could say I was a "test tube baby". I remember saying "Oh, it's like that movie with Whoopi Goldberg... how cool!".

My parents must have been happy that I didn't start crying or seem too upset. Dad kept saying that he still loved me and that he was still my dad. I said of course and that it didn't matter. I said nothing had changed and that everything was ok. I hugged my sister and told her to stop being silly, afterall we were still sisters and I loved her more than anything.

After a little bit we continued about our Sunday rituals. Dad went back to the garage, mum went back to washing the clothes and my sister and I cleaned up the lunch time mess.

I can't remember much of the rest of that day, until later that night. I was in the bathroom looking into the mirror and I realised that I was not related to half of my family... my dad's side whom I had spent a lot of time growing up with. I still loved them but I thought "if they aren't my paternal family, then who is??? Where are they?" Immediately I realised it was not just about this man but in fact about half of my family history. I saw a black space fill in half of my mind.. that's the best way I can describe it and that is how I still see it today.

I cried for my loss the first time that night, but I didn't tell anyone I was upset, afterall, as mum and dad had said they went to a lot of trouble to have me.

I told my best friend at school the next day. She was almost as shocked as I was and kept repeating "So he's not your real dad...!?"

I asked mum if we could send a letter to the doctor that helped with the treatment (my conception) to see if I could know anything about my "donor". (I didn't dare call him my biological father when I was living at home). Dad thought I was trying to replace him and was pretty jealous for a while. It took a long time for him to kind of understand why I wanted to know. I still don't think he truly understands.

Mum and dad told me the news a few weeks before Father's Day. I didn't really think of it at the time, but as the weeks neared Father's Day I began to feel worse and worse. Our family celebrates all of those days and so this year it was also celebrated. I remember feeling sad on the day, thinking about my "donor", whether he was celebrating it with his own kids and family. I wrote in dad's card something like "I still love you and you're still my read dad" and I think I wrote that for the next few years to ease dad's mind, especially on that day of all days.

Just after Father's Day I received a letter back from the doctor saying:

"Thank you for your letter. I have identified who the donor was involved with your conception back in 1981. There were three people with a similar name in the telephone book and I have written them each a private and confidential letter asking them to contact me. I will keep you updated if there are any developments.

In the meantime I thought you would like to have the non-identifying information that we had on file.

As the donor who donated for you was recruited a long time ago, we don't have a great deal of information but here goes.

He was a student at the time of donating and was 5 foot 7 inches tall. He had dark brown hair, brown eyes and weighed 10 stone 3 pounds. He was married, had not family history of any disease and his blood group was 0 positive. Unfortunately we don't have any further biological data on him, but at least this will give you a little bit of a picture."

I wrote down the information on a little piece of notebook paper right away. I still to this day carry it in my wallet as a momento of who this man is, even though he might be a lot different now. He might not even be alive, in reality, I know this and some people think it's something they should point out to me (as though I haven't thought of all the possiblities, including that he was abducted by aliens!), but I never give up hope. It's all I have to keep me on this journey.

Monday, February 20, 2006

"Funny thing, sperm..."

When I was about 11 my older sister took me and my cousin to the movies in the city. We all wanted to see "Made In America", a new movie starring Whoopi Goldberg and Ted Danson. We laughed throughout the movie, afterall it was a comedy. It was about a young girl who finds out her "sperm donor"/father, is actually a white man and not an African American, as her mother had requested. The movie has been run on tv networks here in Australia ever since and it was always a movie I would make time to watch if I was home. How could you not like the movie? It was funny, it had two hillarious actors in it, not to mention Will Smith and it had a really happy ending, in which the girl's mother and her "sperm donor" fall in love. Everyone say "Awwwwwww!".

Never would I have dreamt that such a movie would become the only resource I had for the position I was to see myself in some 4 years later. Unlike the movie, there was no easy way of ever knowing more than a few little pieces of non-identifying information I had about my "sperm donor" and my mum didn't seem as funny as Whoopi did when she and dad told me the truth.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Baby factory

This is a photo i found recently of the hospital where my mum was artificially inseminated with T5's sperm. T5 is the code my 'donor', or biological father, as i prefer to call him was given way back then. The picture is the wrong way around, but gees, that's a big place! i always had images in my mind of it being this tiny clinic for some reason. It's strangely comforting to now know what the place looked like. It has since been demolished. i guess this is where my story began. This photo helps me to connect the few dots i have to paint a picture of who my father is... and inturn to try to establish my true identity.

A friend wrote "Rel was made here!!!" on it.. which i think is funny, in a sad kind of way.