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.