Now here is a contentious one for you…
I write this entry with as much care and sensitivity as I can muster, having already experienced a taste of the polarising and colourful reactions to this ‘land mine’ of a discussion.
I stumbled into this issue for the first time about fourteen years ago, completely by accident. Master Z was around the age of one, only just toddling around the place. My partner T and I were completely and utterly smitten with him. We still knew very few others in our situation – two women in a same sex relationship with a child – but we were slowly hearing about some others like us who had ventured down this same path. We had our wonderful day care provider, Karen, who I had become good friends with, and I was embarking on my own family day care business while studying too. Life was bounding along quite nicely and we felt somewhat ‘protected’ in our circle.
Initially there were two slightly older little boys with Master Z at Karen’s family day care each day. One was from a single mum household, the other from a split family heterosexual household.
The ‘diversity box’ was well and truly ticked here.
It was a wonderful arrangement and we felt we belonged. Our foray into same sex parenting was starting out better than we might have imagined.
A few months later, Karen was thrilled to share that some friends of hers – another same sex female couple – had enrolled their little girl into her care. This little girl was about six months younger than Master Z and was absolutely adorable.
We couldn’t believe our luck.
It was the ‘Holy Grail’ of Minority Group Parenting…
Master Z was going to have the opportunity to grow up with another child of a same sex couple around him.
We met this couple and instantly hit it off, attending social BBQs with them at times both at Karen’s place, and theirs. New friends with such similar life experiences were hard to come by, and we felt delighted at the prospect of having some.
A random, unintentional discovery changed all of this.
Mid conversation one day, we learned we had used the same anonymous sperm donor.
Master Z and this little girl were biologically half ‘siblings’.
After the initial shock wore off, I was excited. I thought it would be lovely for the kids to grow up knowing one another and having someone to talk to about issues they might face in the future.
The ‘initial’ shock for the other couple took a few weeks to subside. Once it did, it appeared to be replaced with fear and apprehension. They seemed to feel this discovery somehow undermined the relationships they were building within their own family unit.
Before too long they removed their daughter from Karen’s care, cutting all contact with us. I felt gutted, frustrated and completely out of control. No amount of reassurance from us could make this situation better; they wouldn’t even speak to us.
It was the end of the road with our new friends, and the end of the road with our kids being in contact.
I didn’t understand the issue. I still don’t.
It was then that I first realised what an unexpectedly divisive topic this was. It came completely out of left field and sent us reeling.
I often wonder whether that lovely little girl from family day care will ever know about Master Z, and my other kids.
I guess only time will tell.
6 thoughts on “Donor ‘Siblings’”
Too much heartache! I love your approach completely, but I can understand the other couple’s fear and worries… maybe a sense of losing their parenthood in a way? Such a shame though… And as for how to navigate the notion of any or all potential siblings for your lovelies??? oh me oh my…. as ever when faced with an impossible situation, I send love.
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I am in contact with one of my daughter’s donor siblings and his mother and it has been nothing but positive. We similarly discovered we had the same donor by accident. We weren’t already friends though and it was through an innocent discussion that the knowledge was discovered and we then became friends as a result. I’m so sorry to hear you had such a negative response. I wonder if either of you have have contact with the donor and if this potentially raised an extra issue? The reason I ask is because during my TTC journey I found a donor I signed a contract with but never ended up using because of his behaviour and reaction in a particular situation. I felt relieved I had not tried with him before the realisation he was not suitable. Fast forward a few years and my daughter and I started to become friends with a couple who had used him as a donor and were still in contact with him. It made me feel really uncomfortable once I learnt who their kids donor was and I distanced myself as a result. I imagine I could have responded similar to that little girls family if we had all used the same donor. but not because of anything to do with the parents or kids, more just because of the connection to that donor and the negative experience we’d had with him.
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Hi Lori. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. No we definitely don’t have any contact with our donor. He was an anonymous donor we accessed through a clinic. I’m so glad for your sake that you didn’t go ahead with a donor you didn’t feel comfortable with. In that instance I don’t blame you for your reaction at all, it’s understandable. I honestly think they just didn’t want to ‘share’ their little girl. Which is strange in a way as we had our own child and were just looking for friendship for the kids as they grew up. I’m glad it’s working out well for you. We have actually just had our first meeting with another donor sibling, after taking a while to gather our courage, and it went beautifully. Onwards and upwards! Xxx
Thanks very much Benedicte 🙂
We also accidentally met a donor sibling. It initially made me feel odd, like the other mother felt she had some claim or ownership of our child. I got over that and our kids actually spent quite a bit of time together over the years (they’re all grown up now.) The other couple split up and we leaned towards the non bio mother. The thing is, you’re not guaranteed to like or have anything in common with people who have simply used the same gametes as you. We belong to the Donor Sibling Register and have also been contacted by a Qld het woman with donor sibs. The offspring themselves are all quite uninterested in being friends and ours who are very urban know that they are very different from the rural siblings. It’s a tricky area. By the way, I also once used a donor unsuccessfully and later met lesbians who had kids from that donor and was very glad we didn’t have that bio connection to contend with.
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Thanks for your reply. Yes it is a tricky area, and I agree that there is no guarantee that families who have used the same donor gametes will necessarily have much in common, other than 50% of their genetic make up. It is a very divisive issue. Just out of interest, when you say that you met lesbians and were ‘glad you didn’t have that bio connection to contend with…’ Do you mean because you didn’t particularly like this couple personally? Or didn’t like the idea that lesbians shared your donor? Bit confusing.