Thursday, 3 September 2009

Trying to be complete

I learnt some sad news yesterday from UKDonor Link. My mother and I had supplied our DNA at the beginning of June this year in the hope of finding some information as to my origins. The news I received was that so far no matches have been found. I am not sure how large the database is but it is very disappointing.

Unfortunately, not knowing about my conception so late in life means I am playing catch-up all the time. Many more people my age will never learn particularly as their parents could well be dead by now. Others will have passed through life often wondering why they couldn’t relate to half of their family, or in particular to their fathers. Some like me will have developed illnesses which require genetic knowledge which either they won’t have or they will end up suspecting their mothers of having affairs.

Even if, like me, they find out late in life their mothers if alive will not have good memories of events so many years ago. The fact that sperm was not frozen in the UK until 1949 led more than one or two potential mothers to question who actually were the donors. The criteria varied from clinic to clinic, often medical students (in London) but sometimes married men aged 30 to 45. Whether the donors were sometimes the practitioners themselves could result from convenience (the right sperm wasn’t immediately available when the recipient ovulated) or from vanity. I understand that at least 85% of donor conceived adults from the 1940s are completely unaware of their origins because like me they thought this practice was rare. At my age I don’t need a father, even if he were still alive, but I do need a past to discover who I am in terms of genetics, personality and abilities. Everyone has that human right and that has been denied to a particular section of the population for very dubious reasons.

On a personal level, I would love to meet some half siblings. I have noticed how most donor conceived adults write very apologetically about going on so long or having a rant. They have had to do this because mostly other people do not understand, but so many of them seem warm, friendly people and I hope one day to find a half sibling to make myself more complete again. This year I lost my father and half of my family; the gap is enormous.

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