Thursday, September 8, 2016


I can't even begin to describe the past few days as far as articulating the whiplash I am experiencing on my current dilemma.

My therapist found it unsurprising that I would latch on to a new idea - bring a baby into my life by forgoing genetics - in her view, "I am a fighter, and tenacious, and this is just me being me." Well, TenaciousC I am then, because I feel like I have been trying to jam a square peg into a round hole for the last five days.

I'll step back:  I am still researching our donor egg options.  Firm in my resolve that a completely anonymous donor is not a choice I could stand by without great qualms, and trust me when I say that giving up your own genetics is already an enormous qualm in this journey. 

Let me be clear, I don't necessarily want to have coffee with a potential donor.  I don't even necessarily want to know what they look like as an adult (many sites only offer their baby pictures).  But should the baby I bear and raise want to know where they come from, I want a donor who says it's okay to be contacted by this curious adult genetic offspring.

I was thinking more deeply about this the other day because I finally got Viking his belated birthday present and for laughs, I purchased one for myself too. It's....wait for it... an ancestry DNA kit.  That's right, a little saliva to unlock our genetic heritages.  Now, here's an interesting fun-fact about my in-laws:  We actually know a GREAT DEAL about Viking's ancestry, particularly on the maternal side.  For starters, he is as Swedish looking as a guy can be.  There are likely thousands of dudes walking around Stockholm with his face and build.  I would say 75% of his mother's family bears this look as well.  But beyond just that, his family happens to be obsessed - and I don't use that word lightly - with their family tree.  There is a 300 page book in my house of his family's tree in fact.  On his mother's side, they came to America when we were but a colony.  His father's side can't reach back as far, but my father-in-law is currently hammering away at his own family tree, attempting to reach back to the Magyars of course.

Contrast this with my family: I want to do a saliva test because quite honestly, my knowledge of my family - on either side - goes back exactly two generations.  My parents are both immigrants and I am a first-generation American.  I am not being hyperbolic when I say that the holocaust decimated us.  There are no records, on either side, though Dad's had more survivors, so I have a little more to work with.  On my mother's side, there is my grandmother, who had some distinctly Asian features, and one fuzzy picture of my great-aunt Mindy, who never made it out of Eastern Europe.  And yet crazily enough, despite being born in Bergen-Belsen (that's a former Nazi concentration camp, DP camp when she was born there), my mom has  a completely English (meaning UK) sounding maiden name.  I know for sure that we are Polish Jews, via Warsaw, on both my maternal and paternal sides.  And that my Dad, who was born in Paris, has got a bunch of French blood in him too.  But how they got to either Warsaw or Paris, I have no idea.  And surely they have a back story to getting there because.... wait for it.... I hate camping.  No, hear me out - I can't stand sleeping in the woods!  I feel a distinct negative genetic memory of this experience.  Like, a gut feeling at the cellular level that my ancestors did a lot of that while fleeing Pogroms and angry anti-Semites with pitchforks.  But I digress...

All of this is to say, that at a visceral level, I would love to know where my family has fled from.

I happen have the features of a European mutt - everyone thinks Imma little bit something - French, German, Polish, Italian, you name it.  Backpacking through Europe when I was in college was a hoot because little old ladies always assumed I could speak their language, regardless of what country I was in.  Tracing any of this would be a fun mystery to unlock, and would give me some answers to questions I have asked for my entire lifetime.  Just where DO I come from in the vast tree of our human race?

I am born of a mother and father who love me unconditionally.  Just as Niblet is a composite of the Viking and myself, I happen to greatly resemble both of my parents (particularly Mom), and yet I STILL ask this fundamental question about my identity.  Not because I feel incomplete.  Not because I lack critical medical information (though when I think about it, I sorta do, but that's another post post another day).  But because honestly, I am really fucking curious.

So in my own way, I can actually muster a great deal of empathy for the kid in my mind's eye who may have these questions.  I absolutely believe that the love that is given to a child should be enough to sustain them.  I know from my readers and my close friends, that not every adopted child feels that missing biology is a problematic missing link.  I have no doubt that there will be children born of ART  - whether donor sperm or donor eggs or both - who will look at the parents who raised them and loved them and feel deeply in their bones that this is enough and that these kids never have any real questions or concerns with the gaps in their genetic puzzle.

But the nagging fear doesn't go away:  What if MY child was different?  What if the issue of identity - the puzzle of their genetics - nagged at them, or even plagued them?  What if they had a button nose and just had to see where the hell it came from?  Or on a more serious note, what if they developed a medical condition and had to know where the hell it came from?

Going way back to the image of pounding of a square peg into a round hole, my search for a clinic to meet the needs I have to feel comfortable embarking on this path is turning up zippo.  Nothing out there that we can work with so far.  Because it's not just an clinic that uses open-identity donors that I need to find...I'll elaborate on that soon.

Mindy looks older and far more serious than I do.  She's a lot larger than me too.  But those eyes, man, those eyes tell the tale of my DNA.


  1. This has made me think a lot. Currently experiencing an episode of possibly hereditary chronic illness that has made me wonder that if I have a bio child (although it's looking unlikely), what responsibility do I have to provide all the family medical history I can? And who's to say my child would not have questions about their heritage even though I did not? My papers say that I am "assumedly full blood Korean" and that's good enough for me, but what if my child would have questions? I had a date once with a guy that was obviously not Caucasian but was adopted and had no idea what he was...that must have been endlessly frustrating.

    I really apologize for my last comment, in retrospect it was insensitive and ill informed.

    1. Noooo, don't apologize at all, your comment was neither!

      I think we all have to work with what we've been given to work with and do the best we can. Your adoptive parents did what they could do, with what they were given.

      For me, it's this question: Knowing what I know, and feeling what I feel, can I make a definitive choice that would deny my child the opportunity to have future questions answered about their genetics? Some mothers will be able to make that choice, and I don't judge them. Honestly, I don't. I have come across a number of women in the DE world who wanted a baby, and felt that they had to forego that choice in order to have the baby.... because frankly, the DE world isn't set up to fully accommodate the desire for an open-identity donor so easily.

      SO many questions have emerged in looking into this... Do I want a baby more than I want a baby who is genetically linked to me? Do I want a baby more than I want the ability to navigate difficult conversations with them the older they get? EVERY donor egg mom will have to navigate these conversations, just as moms who chose adoption. But the world has edged towards open adoptions for a reason, and I feel like the world will edge towards open donors for similar reasons.

    2. Lots of soul-searching...I'm looking into adoption with similar questions, but from the perspective of an adoptee. Every time I've argued with my adoptive mother, she wonders if I resent her for not being my "real" mother. I've been saying to her since I was a child that one mother is more than enough for me to be expected to handle. But there is the issue with my sister--if her biological family had agreed to have their marrow typed and possibly donate, she may very well still be with us today. She had siblings, which are the best possibility for a match. I mean, there has been huge advances in medical treatment these days, but still.

      Hope you find answers.