The Shock for DC Adults

March 26, 2018

"Why are you so messed up over this? There are lots of adopted people who are doing fine."  

 

Because of the pervasive culture of secrecy in the earlier years of third party reproduction, most donor conceived adults find out the truth of their origins in their adult years, whether through a commercial DNA test, through a relative, or through some personal medical discovery. What many people who are unfamiliar with the donor conceived experience don't realize is that, knowing that you came from a different biological parent than the parent that raised you has one type of emotional impact, but finding out the truth in adulthood, after a lifetime of deception, carries its own set of intense emotions. 

 

That leaves the newly enlightened donor conceived adult with multiple new realities with which to cope, including (and everyone may have a different combination of issues):

 

1) I didn't come from one of my parents but from a stranger.

2) I've been lied to and misled by my parents my whole life.

3) Now, I have to integrate this new reality and rearrange my identity, which may involve searching for my biological parent and other relatives related to them. (Will they reject me?) This is difficult for many adults because they've already done some identity work earlier in life (albeit potentially incomplete), which now must be overwritten.

4) Potential stress arising from lack of accurate medical history, especially with the onset of a chronic ailment which may originate from the sperm or egg donor (biological parent).

5) I may have many half-siblings out there that may not know they're donor conceived. If I find them on a genetic test, how do I communicate with them? What if I date one (or already have)?

6) Feeling like a commodity, science experiment, or pet human, despite being loved.

 

Having to deal with these matters all at once is especially difficult for many of us and may leave us an emotional mess. We may be manifesting anxiety, depression, anger, confusion, grief, and even trauma. We're not purposely "playing the victim." We need a lot of social support and understanding, which is unfortunately elusive in a larger cultural context. I've noticed that donor conceived people in this state of crisis are often told that we're ungrateful toward the parents that raised us when we show our struggle openly. But this issue has nothing to do with gratitude, being a different area of life from general upbringing. We can simultaneously be very grateful toward our parents for giving us the life that we had while still struggling to cope with the deception and loss of identity. And these struggles take time to overcome. We could use some more empathy from the general public, as well as from those close to us. But people often won't give it to us because they can't relate (not necessarily because they aren't caring people). They might also react negatively when they have insecurities about parenting their own children. That's why the issues at hand need to be further elucidated to the public by any means possible - research, articles, TV segments, documentaries, movies, TV series, counseling, coaching, etc.

 

I've noticed that those who judge donor conceived people for speaking out about their wish that things had been handled differently tend not to have had a great parenting situation growing up, but they did have knowledge of their genetic origins. The grass is always greener, and acceptance is key. But everybody would ideally have had both a positive parenting experience AND knowledge of their origins for proper identity formation (not to mention an honest relationship between parents and child). That's why I support parenting education, psychotherapy, AND banning donor anonymity. All healthy processes of maturation should be respected and acknowledged, and they especially deserve attention when they're being disrupted. It's not a competition of whose childhood was worse. And speaking out against third party reproduction practices doesn't necessarily mean blaming our parents in a bitter manner, who likely just followed doctor's orders and didn't know any better in that day and age. Aside from seeking out legitimately needed social support, the point is spreading knowledge so that future generations don't have to suffer in the same ways.

 

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