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.


Rhonda said...

I have tears spilling down my cheeks for you. While I very well know what it is like to suddenly discover you have siblings who know nothing about you, that your story has a whole other layer of separation is just, well, heartbreaking.

The only word that comes to me concerning what you are going through is "cruel."

I'm just so sorry.

AndiAndi said...

Hi Rel,
Thanks for sharing your blog with me - I feel like it is a very special thing.
Remember - "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28


PS - I have a blog too!

Mia said...

You know Rel I was watching some morning show about a month ago and they had this group of women on there who all used the same donor.

They found one another on a website designed for just this purpose. They got together with all 14 children, siblings, reunited.

Have you looked into this?

It happens, keep the faith!!!

Rel said...

Rhonda - thank you so much!

Andi - you are welcome :) i will have to have a look at your blog. i like that quote too.

Mia - Yeh by the sounds of it that would be the Donor Sibling Registry, which is pretty heavily U.S based. Which is why i started the Australian Donor Conception Registry, as mentioned in a previous post.

I think i have a lot less luck because i am older which means my siblings probably don't even know they are donor conceived.

I hope it happens to me. thank you :)

Polly said...

Hi Rel,

I've been reading your blog for a few weeks now and wanted to tell you how touched I've been by your very poignant writing. You see, I am the single mother of an 8 year old child that I conceived using an unknown donor. I've only recently come to realize some of the burdens this may place on my child as she grows older and perhaps more curious about herself and her origins. I've done what I can to prepare for the day that she my want to know more about her biological father. I've saved the donor's long profile which lists some information about his family, the things he likes, even his neck and hat sizes. We know what he was studying and how many years of grad school he had taken so we can deduce his approximate age. Through the Donor Sibling Registry, I've located 4 siblings including one who lives just minutes from us. We have even visited one of her half siblings and they just adore each other.

Recently, the sperm bank that I used contacted the donor on our behalf and requested additional non identifying information including an updated medical history, audio tape, childhood pictures, anything that he might be willing to provide. For this, he was offered a not inconsiderable amount of money for his time and effort. Unfortunately, he turned this down. I am hopeful that he will someday change his mind now that he knows that there are children out there and will find a way to contact us.

This brings me to why I have decided to write to you. Right now, my daughter is not at an age where she has much interest in her biological father even though I mention him often enough in random comments about how tall she is getting, etc., that she knows it is not a taboo subject. I've learned from you and other young adults like yourself that I may have another six to eight years or so before these questions work their way to the fore, if they ever do.

I am wondering if you have any words of experience for me and other parents of children like you so that we can ease their pain or confusion or sense of loss or whatever it is that they individually come to feel. Is there something that you wish your parents had said or done when you were first told of your origins? I don't want to apologize for making the choices that I've made because, had I done anything differently then I wouldn't have her in my life. I might have another child but it wouldn't be this one and we are so perfectly suited for each other that I can't imagine life without her. I am sorry, however, that these choices (and the resulting consequences) were necessary in order to bring her into my life.

When I read your poetry and your feelings about your disconnectedness and the sense of loss of the family you may never know, I can't help but feel like I am looking into what may be my daughter's future thoughts, thoughts that she may not want to share with me because she might hurt my feelings. I want to do whatever I can to ease her journey to self acceptance. I know it is a journey she must choose for herself. And although she must travel much of it alone, I want her always to know that she is not far from a safe and welcoming port. Thanks to the pioneers such as yourself, she will know that she is not alone in her quest.

Thank you Rel, for being so open with your emotions. You are helping so many people to better understand this brave new world.


Rel said...

Hi Polly,

I'm glad that you're reading!

That's great that you are doing all that you can and have realised the path to come. As long as you are ready, that's the best you can do. Your daughter is also lucky to have found some siblings.

I'm sorry to hear that your donor has turned down the offer :( I hope that one day he realises just how important such information is to his children.

It's great that you have been open and honest with your daughter from a young age. That is a definate plus.

I have no doubt that your daughter will become more curious, it's human nature to be curious about such things. That's not to say she will have as much urgency to know. It really is different for everyone, however i do think that at the end of the day this boils down to having a clear picture of your identity, however we were born, it's something we all want to know.

"so that we can ease their pain or confusion or sense of loss or whatever it is that they individually come to feel. Is there something that you wish your parents had said or done when you were first told of your origins?"

I think it is too optimistic to want to ease their pain or sense of loss, for we all need to grieve losses in our own way. If your daughter is upset about this, simply let her be! If she is ok with this and just wants to talk about it, then do. All i can really suggest is that you go along the same path as you are on now. You sound like you have the right attitude. As long as she knows that you are there for her and that you support her in whatever she feels and decides to do, then that will be the best thing for her.

My mum and dad have been supportive of me, in all of my quests in life, but to have support with all of this has made it much easier for me to speak pubically and follow my path into social work.

As for you feeling you shouldn't have to apologise for your decisions and in turn your daughter's life, can i just say this; for myself and my mum we both now realise that yes, things could have been done better and we acknowledge that the position i am in is unfair, but that is not to say we are both ungrateful for my life (a very common and usually offhand remark). I think it is OK to say that we are sorry for the loss that has been caused, even though it may have been unintentional. Do you see what i mean?

Another thing about this is that the idea that we donor conceived people, much like adoptees, should be "grateful" for our lives as "we were really wanted", is damaging. I say this because i was told this and it in turn made me feel as though i could not express my sadness about my loss. Of course we know that we were wanted! And to be made to feel so grateful has the effect of making us feel like selfish people for expressing any feelings but positive ones.

"And although she must travel much of it alone, I want her always to know that she is not far from a safe and welcoming port."

So this is exactly what you say to her! I think as long as she knows this, then you are doing well. There is only so much you can humanly do to try to ease any pain, but at the end of the day if it is to happen, then let it. Bottling things up never helps anyone! So just ride the waves of life with your girl and be there for her like you are talking about and help her with anything she might need. I am sure you will anyway :)

Thank you for your comment. It really makes me feel like i am doing all of this (social work & advocacy) for a reason. I really want other donor conceived people to have it better than i do and to educate people about the realities of this practice.

All the very best!