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Monday, May 23, 2011

The Canadian Ruling on Sperm Donation and DNA Kits Before Breakfast

Published by me a few minutes earlier, first, on Technorati:

Most people start the morning with coffee and eggs or cereal...I on the other hand started with a DNA kit.

"Welcome to the exciting world of genealogy by genetics!" proclaimed the Family Finder DNA kit.
I found it hard to get into the spirit of things in my washed-out pink robe and minor hangover from wine the night before. Was the exclamation point really necessary? I pictured some super dorky genetic scientist all excited typing the note in.....where do I have to mail this stupid thing again.....oh yeah, Texas. 
Well yippee-kay-yi-FREAKIN-yay....I get to search for my family via 3 huge Qtips and an envelope.  Joyful. 

My annoyance hadn't been instant because in my early morning stupor, it took a few minutes to read the line eyes still trying to adjust to the light. Prior to pulling out the note I had stumbled a bit trying to pull that half-paper, mega industrial-plastic envelop open. It suddenly ripped open, causing the three swabs to fly into the air and the three collection tubes to hit the ground with a 'tink' 'tink'..................'tink' The delay of the third tink was the result of one of the tubes with a bit more trajectory flying across the kitchen. God, my head hurt, what a stupid idea that third glass of merlot was...but I was celebrating.

The day prior I had gone out with friends after receiving news that a landmark Canadian Supreme Court ruling had overturned the laws that denied the children of anonymous sperm donors the same rights as adoptees. The ruling, in British Columbia, meant that "donor offspring" like me would not be denied the legal right to know the identity of their genetic parents - effectively banning anonymous sperm donation in the province.  We toasted to the progress but while change was approaching, it wasn't in the US yet.

I was left to try to use a genealogy site, designed as more of a high-cost novelty for those with spare time to chart their family trees, as means to locate my sperm donor. According to a post by a peer on her blog, in addition to learning whether I was really half Polish or not, I would receive a list of cousins and relatives already on the site. Relatives who could perhaps help me identify a medical intern that had donated his sperm in NYC about 30 years ago.

Here I was, in the early morning, with what was essentially my identity tool kit strewn all over my kitchen floor. I collected the pieces closest to me, put them on the counter and tried to find the third renegade tube. "Jesus Christ" was all I could think as scanned the tiled floor, "why is this my life?"....."why I am looking for a goddamn DNA tube at 7am in the morning?" On my hands and knees, with my butt in the air I looked around and realized the little sucker had rolled under the stove. My cheek to the floor, one eye open, I saw him about halfway under there looking a bit dusty and deserted. I guessed that might count as contaminated but this kit was $300 dollars so whatever....I got a spoon and got him out of there. 

This is the reality of being the product of artificial insemination (AI) via anonymous donor...serious topics like identifying 50 percent of my genetic heritage confronted in awkward moments. It's the karmic environment of anonymous AI in general. I remember my mom telling me about how awkward the insemination was. 

About 30 years prior, on a rainy day in Spring, she went to the doctor's office on Park Avenue to wait for the donation from an intern at a hospital around the corner. She recalled how weird it was when she saw the sample come out of a paper bag....yes that is right...a paper bag. "But we are on Park Avenue for Christ's sake....are you serious?" she thought. Before she could offer the type of frank commentary we share as mother and daughter, the sample was set up and she was directed to assume the correct position. She looked up at the bright fluorescent lights and and could hear the swish, swish of cars running over the wet streets outside.  In a matter of minutes, she was inseminated and that was it. It wasn't how she had imagined she would conceive her first child, she told me  She had felt alone and a little disappointed in that awkward moment 30 years prior.

Although there was no fluorescent lighting in my kitchen I felt a little disappointed too. Staring down at the DNA kit I realized this was going to be an all-day affair. I had to take three samples from my cheek every three hours.  I had to work, so this was going to be fun.  I imagined my self muting the phone during a conference call to rub my cheek for 60 seconds while my colleagues droned on about revenue numbers. At least the call wouldn't be as boring as they usually are.

I took the first sample, using the the toothbrush like stick to rub the inside of my check while I looked out the window. In the yard behind the apartment I could see a clothes line with a pair of men's jeans and two little pairs of pink pants. The pink pants were flapping more in the wind then the heavy men's pants like two little girls jumping around while their Dad stood watch. I imagined who they belonged to, a dad and his daughter? Alright enough with this metaphoric cheek hurt from the scraping and I had to go to work, I finished and put the sample in the tube. One down two to go.

To Be Continued....

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