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.


Mia said...

You know what Rel, I told my intermediary when she said she had found my bmom that I finally felt tethered to the Earth. I know that feeling you were talking about exactly!
We are connected for sure.

Rhonda said...

I've always described that feeling of disconnect in such a similar way - my feet never touching the ground.

whosedaughter said...

It still amazes me that the disconnection is so seldomly recognized or validated. Especially by those that so desperately want to love a child of their any cost. You'd think that it would be the very reason why they wouldn't ever create this situation for their child. Out of love. With all of the media lately (here in the US) about single women by choice and others who use anonymous sperm/eggs, the validity of disconnection for the person conceived is so briefly if it was of little importance. Why? I'm just so glad that I've found others who feel the same way as me :)

Rel said...

Mia, when i read this i clapped (silly i know) and smiled and felt elated. You have the same picture in your head! We are connected without a doubt :)

Rel said...

Rhonda, It's amazing that we feel that disconnection although our paths have been so different. Maybe one day we will all be able to land with our feet on solid ground, holding hands.

Rel said...

K, you are so right. There is too little thought or compassion directed our way. The "best interests of the child" should be replaced with "the best interests of those who want to obtain a child".

Glad to have found you too!

Marie said...

i'm so glad i'm finding blogs written by other adoptees i could just cry. your image of never feeling connected, and the chewed rope is stunning. i TOTALLY relate. i'm beginning to think that my only real connection is to other disconnected adoptees. i found my birthfamily through an intermediary two years ago, but my mother was long dead and no one even knew who my father was. also, i got the cold shoulder from them. i guess my mom was the black sheep. never any family photos of her. talk about a void within a void. i just started my new blog at if you're ever inclined to visit. i love the touching depth and truth of your words. -ecb.

Rel said...

ecb - it's so nice to hear from another adoptee :)

technically i am donor conceived, but i say sometimes that i feel half adopted.

"i'm beginning to think that my only real connection is to other disconnected adoptees." - this has been my experience for sure! the depth of understanding that i get from others in this situation is like no other, and so the connection is of course stronger. this is not to say that those who support me are not great people. some friends of mine say they wish they could help me or wish they could truly understand. but that would not be something i wish on anyone, really.

your story sounds heartwrenching. i have linked your blog. i will have to have a proper read of it tomorrow.

thank you :) xo