On learning the truth:
Now 30, I found out I was the product of artificial insemination in my early 20s. I remember the moment I found out with total clarity...right down to the sound the rain made on the car in which my mother and I sat. It sounds totally cliche but there was thunderstorm starting outside and we were parked in the front of the house ready to pull out. My mother was in the driver's seat, ready to back up and then she put the car in park, turned to me in the passenger seat and laid out the truth matter-of-factly. At first I thought she was joking. I knew she and my Dad did not always get along, but I thought, "this isn't funny, Ma.....really.....not funny." Yet, as I contemplated her statement it was as if some innate, unsolved puzzle rapidly came together. This this tiny bit of information, this single missing piece and it all made sense. One tiny weeny anonymous sperm, a energetic organism carrying a microscopic truth, was at the root of so many things that I had sensed were just a little bit off...a little bit not right.
Aside from kicking off a major identity crisis, it also inspired many questions and ideas I had not previously contemplated. In particular, the nature of my conception shook up my perspective on
science and technology in daily life.
I found myself thinking endlessly about the same questions. I wanted to understand which parts of me, of my face, of my personality, of my being were "known" and "unknown." I wondered what the sperm donor looked like, how he felt about the donation, and what we had in common. Sometimes, especially early on, the questions were so persistent I couldn't sleep. When awake, it felt like there was no one with whom I could talk.
On darker days I felt deeply burdened by a secret kept from most of my family. The secret was a looming dark figure always behind me, ready to consume me if I dare whisper the truth. I was saddened that this small but earth-shaking piece of truth, my truth, had become an incredibly insidious force. The secret crept between our family members and lingered in the shadows of our conversations.
I went to the Web for solace. In an ironic twist, anonymity, entangled in a major injustice in my life now provided a haven. At first I only read and was too afraid to go beyond journaling in private. I was struck that many women suffering from infertility described feelings of loss and mourning to which I deeply related. I felt like I had too had lost something. I yearned for a connection just as so many woman crave connection via motherhood. It troubled me that I found a great deal of warmth and sharing online for those dealing with infertility, yet when it came to the donor conceived dealing with a similar loss things were different. They were often labeled "ungrateful" and reminded that finding their father wouldn't "solve their problems."
I realized this perspective came from a mixture of misunderstanding and ignorance of the donor conceived experience. Misunderstanding flourishes in the environment of secrecy, shame and detachment surrounding donor conception. I started Connect It to do resolve this disconnection and pull together all the disparate issues in the world of loss and technology we call infertility and treatment.
Despite all the thinking, I haven't come to any major conclusion yet. I do however know the answers are out there. I believe, with every atom of my being, that the path to finding these answers is to share and write honestly, passionately and analytically.
There is a great deal to be questioned, debated and learned about the role technology plays in who were and how we see the world. I believe we can work together to have productive conversations and find tools to research our genetic histories more effectively.
Technology provided a way to conceal a part of our identities, so its only logical that it could also provide a resolution.
And why not laugh a little while we are it?
I am open to your comments, what else would you like to know?