I know I've been MIA for a few days. I've been busy delving into the news coverage surrounding the recent court challenge brought on by BC woman, Olivia Pratten, who is suing to find out the identity of the sperm donor used to conceive her. I'll likely be talking about this here and there as more coverage comes up...
To say that I have conflicted feelings about this case, as well as the rhetoric being used to discuss it, would be a serious understatement.
Let me start by saying that overall, I think that Canada needs to change its assisted reproduction laws. The United States already makes it possible for donors to choose whether or not they are willing to be contacted when children conceived using their sperm reach the age of consent. Like with adoption, some donors want this to be an option, and some do not. Donors do not have any financial obligations towards genetic offspring, nor could they sue for custody, as far as I am aware. In Canada, it is not legal for donors to be anything other than completely anonymous, which is my opinion, is just legislative laziness.
Should either of our kiddos feel a glaring hole in their lives because they can't meet their donor, I certainly would want for them to be able to do that, because what I want most in this world, more than anything else, is for our kiddos to be happy, fulfilled, secure in themselves.
HOWEVER (and this however is big, bold, underlined, and italicized because I mean it very, super, extra, incredibly, and emphatically) the rhetoric being used to discuss this case is very disturbing and unsettling to me. Like, causing me to lose sleep kind of unsettling.
One article, which I couldn't even bring myself to look at was titled: "Do you know who my Daddy is?" which makes me want to punch someone's lights out 1) because it invokes the voice of my children to make its point, which I resent the hell out of, and 2) because as I had previously expounded on, a donor is not a fucking daddy, people.
Another article, linked here, I really wish I hadn't read. The author, Margaret Somerville, compares both adoption and assisted reproduction to residential schools, invokes rape as a metaphor, and compares my sweet babies, who couldn't be conceived any other way, to the making of designer children made from the DNA of beautiful people, and then terms them "genetic orphans". You may get the sense, while reading this, that I think Margaret Somerville is a special, special kind of person. And you will be correct.
I cried while I read it. I cried after I read it. I'm close to crying right now while I'm typing.
Here's a few of the gems from Somerville's piece:
"Donor conception may be a completely avoidable human tragedy in the making, one for which we might be holding a truth and reconciliation commission at some future date, when offspring ask, as some are already doing, “How could you have done this to us? How could you have allowed this to happen?”
Is donor conception the 21st-century version of the wrongs we now recognize we did to some children in the 20th century? Are we repeating in a new context and in new ways the terrible errors and grave injustices that occurred with Australia’s “stolen generation” of aboriginal children, the United Kingdom’s “home children” sent to Canada and other British Commonwealth countries, and the “scoop” of native children from reserves into Canadian residential schools and white adoptive homes, all of which deliberately separated children from their biological families."
I'm not even sure I can adequately detail the levels on which this article is deeply, deeply offensive. So for starters, let's chat a second about her logic. In comparing donor conception to the aforementioned tragedies, she is missing the point that said tragedies involve children were stolen away from their families. Families who were busy raising them - who knew them, who loved them, who were emotionally tied to them - who had an existing relationship. One might surmise a child stolen away from their adoptive family or a donor-assisted family in such a circumstance would similarly suffer to a child taken away from their biological family. It is not the shared set of chromosomes that makes the severing of the above mentioned families a terrible ordeal - it is the loss of family itself, whatever its make-up or origins.
And a truth and reconciliation commission? For serious? Really? No, really?
My children, and my participation in creating them, are a completely avoidable tragedy? Wow. Um, okay.
You would think that Ms. Somerville couldn't possibly get more offensive. But then you'd be, you know, wrong. Later on in her article, she asks: "How will the child feel knowing that their genetic parent sold – and that their social parent bought – what is (as one donor-conceived woman put it) “the essence of [their] life for $25 to a total stranger, and then walked away without a second look back? What kind of a man sells himself and his child so cheaply and so easily?”
*and just when you think it could not possibly get any better*
"An argument that is used to support donor conception is that the child would not exist otherwise and, therefore, should not complain. One young donor-conceived woman, confronted with this argument, responded, “If I were the result of rape, I would still be glad to be alive, but that doesn’t mean I or any one else should approve of rape.”
Whew. So - I've bought the essence of my children's lives and I'm akin to a rapist. Super. Super. Super. I'm just gonna head out back and shoot myself now.
And then, there's the reference to the donor walking away from 'his child'. Not so, friends. Sperm does not equal parentage. I've said it once, I'll say it a million times. I love my donor, bless his heart, for spoofing in a cup for us and others like us. I don't know if his actions were selfless, and I don't know why he did it. (I do know, incidentally that it wasn't for 25$, because he's a well paid, well educated fellow). His actions allowed my partner and I to become parents to two of the most beautiful, funny, little characters I had ever known. His actions were and will always be a gift to us. To reduce those actions to child abandonment is really quite crap-tastic.
I haven't missed, nor should you, the fact that Somerville uses these salacious quotes from children conceived through donor sperm. I am not naive enough to believe that all children conceived through donor sperm are hunky-dory with it 100% of the time. However, the term "vocal minority" is a term for a reason. And kids who are a-okay with being conceived via donor insemination or other forms of assisted reproduction don't sell papers. You get my drift here?
Margaret Somerville masquerades as an ethicist at McGill University, but I think is more likely a poorly disguised poster child for right-wing christian theological dogma, (sperm is the essence of life? Sperm? hmmmm). To say that her logic is flawed would be another one of my understatements of the day. On top of this, she is a fear-monger. I wouldn't have been so affected by her words if it weren't for the fact I'm hyper aware that my kids- these beautiful, loved and incredibly wanted children - will have to face up to ignorant crap from bullies like her in their lives.
And I like to keep track of what we're up against...