Thursday, October 09, 2008

My letter in the Age newspaper, Melbourne

My right to know

AS A 26-year-old donor-conceived person I am very concerned about the hurried passing of the Assisted Reproductive Technologies Bill (2008) without proper insight into the consequences. The bill will not amend birth certificates to reflect the truth about a donor-conceived person's genetic origins, as is done for every other Victorian.

The bill also does not address issues for donor-conceived people such as myself, who were born prior to legislation, whose rightful information about their heritage remains locked up and only accessible to a privileged few.

I have no problem with gay and lesbian people raising children. My problem is that the Victorian Law Reform Commission was only concerned with the wants and so-called rights of adults to have children. Nowhere in the terms of reference was there mention of improving the already flawed legislation to make all donor-conceived people equal.

This is not good enough and if this legislation is passed as it is, we will be failing children born through donor conception.


I was privelaged to speak at Parliament House here in Victoria on Tuesday about my experience and the proposed ART Bill (2008). It is seriously flawed in that it does not address already existant issues for donor conceived people like myself and leaves open the potential for thousands of others born via DC to experience the same obstacles as those born decades ago.

I really hope that the Victorian Government takes a closer look at this Bill before passing it. Amendments need to be made so that it goes some way in making law equal for ALL donor conceived people and children.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Unpublished Letter to the Age

As an adult donor conceived person, I find it absolutely absurd that the study undertaken in Cambridge by the Centre for Family Research at Britain's Cambridge University (Parenting 06/07/2008 claims to have proven that people born through assisted reprodcutive technologies do as well psychologically as children conceived by “natural” means. The majority of studies undertaken on donor conceived people are done with children, who as far as I am concerned, are unable to comprehend the weight of what their different conception will actually mean to them as they grow up and become adults. This study for instance focussed on 7 year olds, most of whom had not even been told about their assisted conception.

The effects of donor conception on the donor conceived can not be truly measured yet. Until the truth about ones true conception is recorded on birth certificates the number of people conceived via donor can only be estimated; the number who are told will also remain unknown whilst there is no onus on parents to tell, and the long term psychological effects of this mutli million dollar practice will remain under wraps for the sake of the scientists and doctors who are making squillions from willingly and wrongfully deceiving people of their true identity.

I can not know who my bioligical donor father is due to the era of secrecy into which I was born. The fact that this information is filed and kept under lock and key and out of my reach is like psychological torture. It's cruel, dehumanising and wrong in every way. The fact that the current review of legislation by the Victorian Law Reform Commission failed to address the issue of TRUE birth certificates means that many other donor conceived people will feel the way that I do in years to come. It’s a shame that we can not learn from past mistakes for the benefit of future generations.

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Letter From my Father, by Me.

Over the past weekend I went on a camp with some kids who are in care through my work.  It was a great experience and on Saturday night we did an interesting activity.  We had to write letters from people who we have lost in our lives.  We may have lost them through death, through parting ways or by choice.  We had to write the letters as though we were them, writing letters to us.  I thought about many people whom I could have written about, but thought it might be interesting to write a letter from my father/T5 to me.  Although I have never met him, I miss him a lot.  It's really hard for most people to understand this I think.  I've been met with many questions as to how this can be.  "How can you miss someone you have never met?".  I think it's partly that I miss him and my paternal family and partly that I miss a part of myself.  There are things that I can't understand, things that would assist me in knowing myself better.  So I wrote this letter and it was as though I was channelling a greater force, or perhaps I was just writing what I'd hope that he would write to me if he felt that he could not come forward.  Something for me to go on...

"Dear Narelle,

I've never met you or known you, but I am a part of you and you are a part of me.  When I donated all those years ago at Prince Henry's I was young and wasn't thinking too far into the future.  I thought that some extra money would help me and my new wife.  No one told me that one day you might want and need to know me.

I'm sorry for the pain that I've caused you by my actions and absence.  I should've known that any children created from my donations might be curious and want answers.  

I've missed so many years and can imagine that you've grown into a lovely young woman.  

I've been too scared to approach the ITA and come forward because I don't want to disturb the life you have with your family, and your dad.  And I don't know how it would effect my wife and children...

I think about you and I wish only happiness for you.  One day we will meet, if not on earth, then after life in spirit.  I realise you're hurting and missing me even though we've never met.

I am sorry and I love you.

We will always be connected."

It seems so silly to type out, but this exercise was really therapeutic. 

Monday, May 12, 2008

Happy Birthday Sister!

Yesterday it was one of my little (half, donor conceived) sister's birthday.  I was very fortunate in getting my 9 half DC sibling's dates of births and genders.  This is how I know and it's nice to have at least that information.  I want to make en effort this year to try to think of my siblings this year and celebrate their birthdays, even if in a small way.  I couldn't really though yesterday as it was mother's day and I didn't want to upset mum.  I think she would have been ok with it, but still, I know that she harbours some guilt around my situation and it just wouldn't have been appropriate.  Anyway, my little sister, born 11th May 1985 would have turned 22.  I hope that wherever she is that she is happy.  Maybe one day I can meet her, who knows?  I need to do more to try and find my siblings... it's just all so emotionally exhausting.  But one day soon I must get back into searching.

I guess lately I have become more accepting of my situation, that's not to say that I'm not still wanting answers, or curious.  I'll always be curious to know more, always be searching, I'm just not angry anymore, I'm active.  Lobbying and public speaking is meaning making for me, pulling a positive out of all of this for my own sanity and also to help other DC people.  It's rewarding and helps me to feel as though my conception, DC status can mean something greater.

I've now been working as a foster care worker for 5 months and loving it.  I love the children and trying to make a difference for them.  Working in foster care has been a real eye opener and I guess the stark differences for children in foster care vs DC people is very apparent.  The courts usually work towards reunification of children and their birth families... And where reunification is not possible links with birth family are encouraged, i.e. access visits.  It is seen as a vital element of foster care that workers and carers allow for this contact.  Yet in DC we are told our birth families are not important and those of us who do want to know our birth families are often met with questions as to why, opposition and some times, like in my situation, flat out refusal.  I should be content with what I have, is what they say, get on with things.... For the most part I do, however I just think that all children should have the opportunity to know their family of origin, it should be there choice and not a right that is fought for.