While I’m on line I wanted to add a quick not about a thoughtful essay by Tamsin Eva over on the NYT Motherlode blog. Eva is raising two donor-conceived children and used Donor Sibling Registry to locate other people who had used the same sperm provider she did. Eva’s got her own blog and you’ll find a follow-up there that recounts something about the reaction to the blog post.
I think the essay pretty well speaks for itself but I wanted to offer two notes/reactions. First, I’m reminded of how much individual responses and individual choices vary. As Eva notes, she is heading into uncharted territory. This isn’t easy, but it seems clear to me that she is trying to figure out how to do and then do the right things.
I think this is a common aspect of modern family life. Not only are there countless family configurations, we don’t all respond to them in the same way. “Dibling” is a useful word because donor siblings aren’t just siblings–they’re something different. And what does it mean? We do not know–and it won’t mean the same thing to everyone anyway.
The second point really is an extension of the first one. People like Eva really are feeling their way and trying to do the right thing. It seems to me we ought to support them rather than hamper them. Apparently (judging from her blog post) not everyone thinks this is so.
And this is precisely where I worry about those who insist that DNA is the defining feature of parenthood. If you take that view seriously can you be supportive of Eva and her crew? Can you applaud her efforts to try and give her children a sense of shared lineage with their diblings? Or is it all just wrong because these children won’t know their biological father?
I suppose what bothers me is that DNA-based parenthood makes things seem simple and clean and I don’t think that life is really like that. I don’t know any more than Eva does where her family’s journey will take them, but I wish them luck and, given her willingness to be open and flexible, I think there’s an excellent chance that they’ve got a fine future ahead of them.