Thursday, 20 August 2009

Finding out about the secret past

Coming to terms with the fact that the father I lost to a road accident when I was 17 was not my biological father at all made me feel a bereavement all over again. I tried to make sense of my family relationships. It was obvious that my mother had never intended telling me at all and yet probably I would have guessed something was amiss as I grew up. It is difficult for normally honest people to maintain a fiction.

First of all I knew I had a very real affinity with my mother’s family in terms of looks, temperament and mannerisms. I loved my paternal aunts and uncles very much but as an adult found it much easier to maintain links with my mother’s family. So who was my father?

As a donor conceived adult I was entering a new world. Most people either were told as children or found out as teenagers or adults. Very few people of my age were ever told. Apparently 85% remain in ignorance. Whereas young people accept donor conception as just another fertility treatment, middle-aged people and the elderly avoid any discussions of this and I knew no one in the same circumstances. The few people I did tell could not understand my complete loss of identity and seemed amazed that I would be upset after all my parents were very loving and I loved them.

I cannot and would not deny this. I totally admire their resourcefulness but the more I read other DI adults views, the more I realised that - yes I should be grateful to be here but I was not born just to fulfil other people’s wishes, I have my right to a genetic identity. As an adult I was not seeking a father figure in my life, I’m a very happy wife and mother, but I did want information not only about my biological father but possible half-siblings.

Of course, back in the 1940s no one knew just how important genetics would be in the future or my own particular medical circumstances but the difference between the rights of adopted children to know of their birth parentage, and the rights of DI offspring couldn’t be more different. Records of private clinics such as 52 Harley Street were kept secret and actually destroyed when physicians such as Dr. Reynold Boyd died. Only DI offspring born since the 1990s can access their records. Back in March of this year I was truly in despair but I knew I had find out about my parentage somehow.

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