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Saturday, April 9, 2011


Have I given up?

Well,  I haven't written in a really long time and I can't say there is a particular reason for my absence other than a general sense of disappointment. After really going at it and not getting anywhere in terms of identifying a donor, I lost some of my steam. I know it could be considered selfish that I only came online to fill in the blanks of my own genetic lineage with nothing more altruistic in mind. This isn't quite the truth as I do care about helping other's in my position, but it would be dishonest to say that the donor sibling community is not based and driven on this very personal goal for us all.

So often the donor offspring "voice" is the sound of someone lost... shouting into the darkness of cyberspace.  The only thing heard in response are other voices of the lost shouting back, "I hear you, I'm lost too, can you help?" Sometimes it's soothing to hear the other voices and know you aren't alone, but sometimes it  can be depressing when you step back, stop your own shouting and listen to the cacophony of  loss.

You realize that some of the strongest voices out there, those of us blogging our hearts out, posting on list-serves likes its our job, and starting DNA warehouses, have not found our donor. It may be a presumptuous assertion, but it's likely we are all filling the void with our efforts. In that darkness, when you know the lights will never be turned on to reveal a biological parent standing before you, you make the best of it. You put that energy, that powerful instinctual hunger for a biological connection into something else.

There is something to be said about that "powerful instinctual urge"...

I'm reading the book,  How the Mind Works by Steve Pinker which despite the psychologic slant the title predicts, is actually very much about genetic heritage. Pinker talks a lot about the source of the basic programming of the mind and brain. Though highly complex, all our functioning eventually comes down to this powerful instinctual urge for our genes to make a create another of itself. He goes on to explain how all of what we think and feel has links to the codes written in our DNA. Even things like personality and laugh, which so many of us imagine to be the result of divine inspiration can be traced back to DNA.

I can't help but think about implications of his arguments in considering artificial insemination and the experience of the donor offspring.  For us, literally half of who we are is a mystery. I can't begin to describe to you the deep-seeded desire I have to learn about the parts of me that are other. Why, for example, am I such a loner, when the rest of my family is so universally social? Why am I so analytical, nearly to a fault when others seem more comfortable with decisions?

It only makes the loss feel greater. We can't say as my mother does "it's just genes." It's not just genes, its the essence of who we are.

I could go on and on but I keep thinking of the those famous lines from John Donne
"All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated...As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness....No man is an island, entire of itself...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."
As donor offspring, we seek simply to know which chapter is ours in "the book" of mankind and read and comprehend it before it is torn out. Yet being unable to know completely who we are, half the pages are blank and so, our chapter cannot be "translated." We can't be connected.

So I guess what it all comes down to is that while Donne thinks, "No man is an island," I feel like I am an island sometimes.  The only heartening thought is that I'm on that island with many, many others, and we are going to work together to assure the world is aware of the isolation this causes and how they must work to prevent it in the future.

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