Triticum Turgidum

Lying Dormant and Waiting to Bloom Since 2005

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Location: The Prairie, Illinois, United States

I am a beauty-loving ambidextrous higher-order primate who learned transcendental meditation at 7, statistical analysis at 23, tap dancing at 30, and piano at 35. I tolerate gluten, lactose, and differences of opinion, but not abuse. Or beets.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Modern Problems

My oldest brother (T), who is gay, told me recently that the sperm he donated to a bank was picked up (eww) by a lesbian couple, who are now pregnant with a son. This means that my daughter will have a first cousin.

T claims that both he and the couple have agreed that they can contact him, when and if they wish. But the donor can't make first contact, for obvious reasons. Ordinarily this is the sort of thing I'd hear about and, true to my liberal/libertarian soul, proclaim, "Right on, great system, power to the people, yay to same-sex parenting, and of course they should have the right to maintain their privacy even if it is my brother's seed," blah blah blah. But now that I have a child, there's a side of me that wonders if my daughter has a right to contact her cousin, when and if she should choose to do so. It's another one of those ethical issues whose appropriate resolution seems crystal clear only to those who've never gazed at life on the other side of the fence.

I have no intention of trying to contact people who don't want to be contacted, but I did beg my brother to tell the couple that their son-to-be has a cousin whom they are welcome, no, urged, to contact at any time, and to give them my address, phone, and email. He said he would, hiccuped, and hung up. T, you see, has a long history of alcohol abuse and compulsive lying. He has a heart of gold and I really love him, but at the same time I can't always trust what he says. I'm not 100% certain that he even donated sperm, or that a lesbian couple used it and got pregnant. This cousin-to-be could be entirely fictitious--which makes it all the more difficult for me to know how to proceed. My daughter could have a first cousin, or not. And I'm powerless to do the detective work necessary to find out.

So for now I have to sit back, and wait, and hope that someday, I get that phone call.

Cool resource: ever wanted to know the difference between 1st, 2nd, 3rd cousins once, twice, 3 times removed, etc? This site helps you figure it out.


Blogger Parisjasmal said...

Hi K--

I hope you enjoyed your travels.

I totally know what you mean about giving Flea the option to know her cousin. As an only child I hold my cousins dear (well some of them). This is an interesting situation.

Thank you so much for such kind words you left on my blog!
You are a jewel!


6:06 PM, June 05, 2007  
Blogger katiedid said...

That's a terrible conundrum to ponder just as someone who only thinks about the issue in abstract terms, so I can't imagine what must be racing through your mind right now. I think it's likely similar to the one faced by families of those who've had a member give up a baby for adoption in a closed adoption? A friend of mine in high school chose a closed adoption (open adoptions were an option even then, not particularly prevalent, but she decided it would not work for her) and her family gave her so much grief about it despite being woefully unsupportive to her during a very trying period in her life. I always wondered about what it must be like for family members who actually care about the importance of their family and the value those relationships can have in life, not just those who are possive of "their" DNA. Interesting to read the inner conflict that can go on when your concerns are much deeper than that - it must have been tricky for you to try to frame those feelings into words.

I guess what I'm trying to say is... gah, I am so glad I have not had to deal with any of these issues personally!

7:31 PM, June 05, 2007  
Blogger cjblue said...

I passed a billboard recently with my mom and the billboard was advertising for egg donors. I said to my mom "Too bad I'm too old; I'd donate an egg."

My mother was horrified. She couldn't begin to understand why I would (theoretically) do such a thing. I tried explaining to her that it helps people who are unable to concieve, etc (plus it pays, although I understand it's a fairly painful procedure, not exactly easy cash). She said "But then you'd have your genes running around in the world! They'd look you up years later and be angry with you (blah blah blah)" I said just because it's my genes doesn't make it my baby, being a mother is a little more involved than egg donation. I said I wouldn't have an "open" donation process, wouldn't want to be contacted in the future by some half-mine child. I'd donate for somebody who needs or wants it.

She didn't get it.

11:50 AM, June 06, 2007  
Blogger WinterWheat said...

J, K, & R,

Thanks for your intelligent insight, as always.

It is truly a weird situation, to be prohibited from contacting someone related to you -- like getting a restraining order when you haven't done anything wrong. and you know what, it's not even me, it's Flea. I just keep wondering why the decisions of the adults have to keep the kids from getting in touch, should they ever want to. R -- I totally get where you're coming from (your words represent my official stance on the matter), but I also get where your mom is coming from. Life is complicated, isn't it?

Hugs to you all...

9:56 PM, June 06, 2007  
Blogger PFG said...

Speaking from some experience (once removed, my mother was adopted), when there's an imposed disconnect between genetic family members, you have the problem of an incomplete medical history. My mother's having found her birth mother means I can give a complete history, which quite relevantly includes a maternal grandmother with mixed connective tissue disease.

This is about as compelling a reason I can think of for some degree of contact. A medical history at the time of donation or adoption is only going to be so good. You can take a full history and send it along with the egg or the sperm or even with the child in an adoption scenario (although I think in the latter that doesn't happen, at least didn't in my mom's case). However, some health issues will not manifest until later in life. Tracing back to the previous generation, which would be necessary for a sense of later onset diseases and illnesses in the family history, runs into the problem of less sophisticated diagnostic abilities as you go further back in time. So, using my family's example, even if my mother had come with a history, not being in touch with her family to learn of the onset of her mother's illness (which happened many years after she gave birth to my mom) would very likely have meant not knowing that her mother's side carried this disposition.

Sorry if this is overly clinical. I do understand about the family issue. My mom used to be very much disturbed by the notion of not knowing who her birth family was, whether or not she had biological siblings floating around, etc. I do understand that aspect of it too.

1:19 AM, June 09, 2007  

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