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Infertility (Sort of) Abounds

So I read a bunch of posts in a row which were worth a mention but not worth a whole post.  This is the part where I vomit them all out at you.

Who Gets the Say?

Yahoo News had a story about the change in donor anonymity in Australia in 1998.  Gamete donations made after 1998 are not anonymous — donor-conceived children can know information on their donor if they choose.  Gamete donations made before 1998 were potentially anonymous.  Donor-conceived children born before 1998 wanted information on their origins.  Before the government changed the rules and made information from before 1998 donations known to donor-conceived children, they asked a group of donors their opinion.  Half were okay giving the information to the kids.  The other half asked for continued anonymity.

The question then becames whose rights superseded the other’s rights?  Is it more important for donors to get to keep their anonymity if they donated believing they would always remain anonymous?  Or is it more important for children to get information and understand their origins?

While I feel for the donors and don’t think it’s fair to change the rules down the road — when they donated, they donated with the understanding that they would remain anonymous — I have to side with the children in this case: the only people who had no say over their creation.  Donors had the choice to donate (or not donate) their gametes.  Parents had the choice to use (or not use) donor gametes.  But those donor-conceived children who want their information never made a choice about the way they were conceived.  I think they have a right to information that affects them if they want it.

At the same time, I feel the donor’s frustration.  Parents are under no obligation to reveal to their offspring that they were donor-conceived, yet donors — the people who provided their gametes — are under a different set rules?  And as they say, this violates a contract.  How damaging will this be for the donor world in the future if contracts are changed without all parties’ consent?  As a side note, half of the donors who were against losing their anonymity were for personally giving their information to those donor-conceived.  They didn’t mind that contact or trading of information insomuch as they didn’t want a blanket rule thrown retroactively backwards.

And that’s what Australia ultimately did in the end: they placed the rights in the hands of those anonymous donors.  They can choose whether or not to reveal themselves or pass along information.

Your thoughts?

Cowardly Confessions

The Stir had a post that I was certain was going to be IF-related and then turned out to not be… sort of.  The title: “I Secretly Hate When My Friends Get Pregnant.”

Oh, I thought, this must be about how they also wish they were pregnant, and how they need to be happy for their friend while still feeling sad for themselves.  But no, it’s just an anonymous rant about how friendships change when one person gets pregnant and the other has older children.  And then it becomes a mom-petition: the author claims you’re bumped down in your friend’s informal ranking system because your friend will connect with other people in a similar situation.

At the very end, the author acknowledges that she totally gets where childfree people “are coming from when they can’t muster a whole lot of happiness over a friend’s pregnancy.”  Except… for the most part… this isn’t why we’re upset.  It isn’t about worrying about being ousted from our friendship status by other women with similarly-aged babies.  It’s about being confronted on a daily basis with salt when we have a very large, painful wound called infertility, and that salt is being inadvertently shaken (emphasis on the word inadvertently) by someone we love.  As much as I love babies, it is sometimes hard to be around babies; seeing that tangible reminder of what I can’t have.  But if I want to see my friends, I have to also see that baby.  So I deal.

Friendships change as life changes.  The lasting ones weather those obstacles and even use them to ultimately climb closer to one another.  But not every friendship is worth that sort of effort.  Some friendships have a shorter lifespan; which is not a comment on their worth.  Both those people who remain with you through the years as well as the ones that are intensely in your life for a short period of time all have a place in the friend continuum.

So I really wasn’t sure what to make of this post.

Your thoughts?

Social Media: a Feeling-Hurting Space

Amy Poehler had a quote on People.com on how her feelings are always hurt inadvertently (there’s that word again) by social media.  We say things, and we don’t think about how they’re being taken by those who read our words in the same way that we self-censor and think through what we say (for the most part) when we’re speaking to a single person, face-to-face.  This is not to say that we don’t put our foot in it during private conversations, but there’s a lot more room for those inadvertent hurts when it comes to directing comments to a large group of people simultaneously via social media.

Poehler is talking more about seeing herself discussed online, but it did make me think about the inadvertent hurts of Facebook.  And if it’s inadvertent, how deeply do we let it cut us?

What do you think of those sound bites?

9 comments

1 Eric Schwartzman { 12.22.13 at 8:07 am }

Mel – Your post is a timely one as I was going to address the AUS study later today at the same time as my comments regarding the Vince Vaughn Delivery Man movie where 166 of fictional 533 donor conceived kids his sperm helped create file a class action suit to learn his name. The balancing of rights in these instances is not wholly possible but like you if the question can be put to the donors themselves for these older years when there was no option to step forward on their own that is optimal. Regulation and new laws are needed in the US. I won’t disclose the fictional court case decision as it impacts the movie’s ending but at one the current US laws must be updated to address the rights if this growing (pun intended) class of people.

2 nicoleandmaggie { 12.22.13 at 10:07 am }

The whole “I become lesssss immmmpoooooortant” thing shows up all the time on the internet (and IRL!) when people’s friends get boyfriends, husbands, and kids. My thought is always, “Thank God I’m not friends with such narcissistic needy people.” My friends tend to be chill and we don’t take it personally (or even really mind) if someone disappears for a while (so long as it isn’t under mysterious or negative circumstances). We tend to reconnect where we left off. I have never had the emotional energy for the other kind of person, which is fine with me. And, to be honest, I’ve probably never been important or fun enough to anyone (other than my spouse) for them to care if I disappear.

3 Northern Star { 12.22.13 at 10:30 am }

Who gets the say? – I have no idea Mel, really I don’t. I see merit to both sides of the coin, like you … in our situation, we have an unknown bio dad in our adoption. I know that if my daughter were to search him out or press for details when she is older, I would certainly support her, choosing her needs over those of her birth mom’s privacy. So maybe that answers the question then … child’s needs first.

Cowardly Confessions – I LOVE this part of your post: “Some friendships have a shorter lifespan; which is not a comment on their worth. Both those people who remain with you through the years as well as the ones that are intensely in your life for a short period of time all have a place in the friend continuum.”

Yes! I’ve struggled for so long about this concept and man, you just put it so well! Thank you!

Social Media: A Feeling Hurting Place – I personally have tried not to let others’ comments get me down in social media land … pregnancy and new baby announcements were tough to take, but I did my best to minimize the pain.

After our adoption, I became very aware of how social media played a part in hurting others’ feelings … as we were connected to our daughter’s birth mom on facebook, I knew that my joyful posts and pictures were bound to cause hurt feelings and jealousy. So I just shut down my account. Extreme, yes, but I feel so much better knowing that I will not be inadvertently hurting anyone’s feelings … and I choose to share my joys and pictures with friends and family using other mediums now.

***

As always, so insightful Mel!

4 chickenpig { 12.22.13 at 11:34 am }

I applaud you for being the ‘Internet Digest’ for social media concerns, especially regarding infertility. If not for you I would remain ignorant. I don’t have time to provide a thoughtful response to these articles, but Thanks for keeping me up to speed. 🙂

5 Always { 12.22.13 at 8:59 pm }

Just wanted to point out that this is just *one* state in Australia. The laws regarding donor conception vary from state to state, though there is, overall, a trend away from anonymity. A good thing, I think, as a mother of donor-conceived children.

6 PNG { 12.23.13 at 2:32 pm }

As Norther Star, I just love your idea of friendships having different life spans. I tend to feel a little sad, as if something failed, when I lose contact with people I have been friends with. Sometimes I also get bad conscience if I don’t really “fight” for keeping the friendship alive. You opened my eyes for a different way of thinking and feeling about it, thanks!

7 Pepper { 12.24.13 at 7:07 am }

These are all issues I think about as well. It’s interesting, the friendship thing. My closest friend pre-daughter was one of the most supportive and excited when I got pregnant and loves my daughter to this day. But our friendship is not what it once was. She has 7 year olds and a 5 year old. I have a toddler. She is making other mom friends at her kids’ school and I am bonding with the playgroup moms going through the same things as us. It’s a little sad to me, but I also feel like it’s life.

The donor question is really, really tough. During our IVF cycle we knew there was the possibility of additional, “unused” embryos. What to do with those embryos? My heart really wanted to donate them to a family who could then transfer them and hopefully have a healthy pregnancy. To give them what we had. But the idea of a child out there that I didn’t know was hard. And the idea of a child out there that I DID know was even harder. Would I want that child to know about me? To know me/us? Would I want to be anonymous? This was not a decision we were ever in a position to make but I do feel for both the donors and the kids in your article.

Social media – argh. So good and so bad all at once. It’s hard not to get wrapped up in what other people are doing or saying. Also interesting to me this week because I recently shared an update about something I was taking my daughter out to do and received more than one “you’re such a great mom” comment. While I admit this bolsters my ego, I did feel the need to respond, “Thanks, but you know I only post the best stuff. ;)” This may be my inability to accept a compliment but I also feel like it’s only fair – don’t feel bad, other mom out there, this morning I was sitting on the floor crying because of something my toddler did. It’s not all roses and sunshine. Oh, social media, it’s so hard to know where the lines are and how much we owe to each other as far as honesty and truth.

8 Battynurse { 12.24.13 at 7:15 pm }

I tend to get hurt easily from social media. I’ve been working on not taking it so personally and to quit thinking I can change people’s minds about things that are important to me etc. it’s still sometimes hard and sometimes I have to take a break from the drama.
As far as the donor stuff I know when I was trying I always tried to choose a donor who was open to contact at a later date. I know for myself being adopted I wish I had more information than I currently have and wanted to give my child that option.

9 Mash { 12.27.13 at 8:59 am }

I wish I could meet an egg donor like I could meet a birthmother, that would change my direction completely. I want my possible future children to have access to genetic family and that is why I prefer adoption right now.

I actually agree with the article you’re quoting, it’s happened to me many times over the years. I left an entire group of friends in my twenties because I was the only one without children and I could no longer relate to their conversation (at that point I felt I was too young for children and had no idea I was already without hope of ever having them). And it has happened to me again, I organise girl’s nights, and they might as well be talking about space rockets for all I care. Since I am considering putting fertility treatment and the never ending adoption wait behind me permanently, it is in fact impacting the way I look at my friendships. I just simply don’t have that much in common with my friends who are parents. I desperately long for conversation about something else for once, and it understandably isn’t going to come from people who have small children. It’s a complete game changer. And it really is sad to look at a friendship that has been a lifeline to you and watch it drift away. But it really is life, and I try to bless those friendships and be thankful for what they were. It’s not that I don’t care about them, or they don’t care about me, it’s just that the glue that held us together changed.

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