Well, just when I thought I couldn’t see a more hurtful attitude, it was in an article that I learned about today. It had been shared by an individual who didn’t seem to agree with it and who was trying to encourage conversation about adoption and donor insemination.
I’m all for that. Openly discussing a topic is a wonderful thing.
What I didn’t agree with was the piece’s attitude towards those who are adopted or conceived through donor insemination. The author implied that the adoptees or those who came about due to an anonymous donor should be grateful that they merely exist and have no real right to want to know about their biological origins. How dare they want to invade the life of their biological mother or father?
Even worse, is the idea that if men or women think their future progeny may try and find them at some later date, they may not want to get involved in the process. While I can see that would be a very unsettling prospect, especially for the company that may stand to lose financially,
It’s as if they should just sit there and shut up. I take great offense to that attitude.
Why are we seen as different?
Many people have a desire to know their biological origins, whether they are adopted or not. Just look at the popularity of DNA testing and genealogical sites. I do believe this is part of human nature. A desire to understand ourselves and our place in the universe.
Lots of people brag about a famous relative or a relation who has done something special. That’s really normal and gives people a sense of who they are. As an adoptee, I don’t really get the chance. While I am very proud of my adoptive fmaily, I’d still like to know and understand my roots.
That’s so normal, but why, as an adoptee, do some feel I should be made to feel ashamed for wanting to know what most others take as a given? Is it really that bad? Is it wrong to wonder why I’m autistic, why I like to write more than speak or even why my hair is so damned curly that I look like Art Garfunkel every time the humidity gets high? Is it wrong to wonder where one of my kids who had her first book published at 12 got her talent for writing fiction? Why shouldn’t I know why I have a disease that is slowly taking away parts of me and may well lead to the end of my life?
Why shoudl I feel ashamed for asking what is seen as almost a basic human right for everyone else? Why am I made to feel like a beggar, hoping to be tossed a few scraps of information?
The right for privacy
All of this being said, I can also understand a person’s right to privacy. For some biological mothers and fathers, that is paramount for a variety of reasons. For some, giving up their child was such a difficult time that they don’t wish to be reminded of it. They were told they would soon forget their child and go on to live the rest of their life. They took that to heart and pushed it down so they wouldn’t have to deal with it.
One woman I spoke with told me that she had given up her son and gone on to finish school, get married and start a family. Her husband didn’t know about her first son, and she was able to bury his memory really deeply, but it did come out. She told me how, after her first child was born she couldn’t stop crying. Her husband wrote it off as “happy tears”, but the reality? She was mourning for the baby she never even got to see, let alone hold, tell him she loved him and say “good bye”.
For her, the only was she could cope was to pretend it had all either never happened or at least that it was so long ago it didn’t matter. She also said she would like to know how he’s doing, but a relationship with him would be too painful.
For others, the conception of their child was really traumatic, and seeing them may well bring it all back. I think that’s the boat my biological mother is in. If she sees my face, she’ll also see her abuser. I’ve seen a photo of her on a site for her local newspaper, and I look just like her. I don’t know what my biological father looked like, but I do look a lot like her brothers ( as would be expected if one of them is my father).
In the case where a spouse gets pregnant from an affair, there could also be a desire to keep the child under wraps as they are walking, talking proof that they slept with someone else.
Underneath all of this, there is an undercurrent of shame, at least for people my age and older. Many people forget how there was so much stigma about being an unmarried pregnant teen or woman. You were a “fallen woman”, and many ended up go to a maternity home to have their baby, give them up and then go home as if nothing had happened. They would tell friends they were going to visit a relative or make some other excuse, and then return a few months later.
It’s not like that so much today. Bering single mother isn’t seen as being terrible. It’s not ideal, but it’s nothing to be ashamed of either. Up until not that long ago, it wasn’t like that.
Some NPE who were conceived using donor sperm or eggs feel they are in the same boat as an adoptee. They may know a few facts, but they still want to know more. I can understand that, and to be frank, shouldn’t they have the same right to know where they came from as anyone else?
One of my kids is in law school, and in one of her classes, they briefly touched on the future of DNA testing, privacy issues and the laws as they currently stand today in my country. The laws that exist to directly address this are scant to non-existent ( although it may fall under general privacy and adoption laws in some ways). This is an area that may very well see some signification changes as the laws catch up to the technology.
As an adoptee, biological parent, adoptive family, NPE or a member of the public, you have been tasked with a great responsibility. You have the power to help drive laws and public policies and positive create change. I issue you the follow challenge:
Inform yourself. Do lots of research and look at the issue of adoption and privacy from all sides. Put yourself in the shoes of each of the stakeholders and try and look at the situation from their point of view. Share and discuss your opinions and if you feel really passionate, contact you politicians and lawmakers. This time, maybe society can get ahead of technology.
Many times, laws are drafted to be black and white, free of emotions. In this case, the emotions of all parties should actually be the driving force.
Adoptees, NPE and other in a similar situation didn’t ask for the hand they were dealt. We just want answers to one of the most basic of human questions… “where did I come from?“. Surely, there is a way ahead that benefits all parties involved.