Early in 2013 we attended the annual rainbow families picnic, and ran in to Jacqui. I’d followed Jacqui’s blog for some time, and she often wrote things about her and Sarah’s children that reminded me so much of ours, like: “Why can’t they put their socks on!” or the battle over wearing shoes. Often the things that she wrote reminded me a lot of the things that happened in our house, one suburb away. Jacqui had mentioned on the blog that they had met their donor, and I was curious about that. I took the opportunity to chat to her on the day, and discovered that our donors sounded similar (both living overseas and both travelling to donate).
At the time, my daughter Maisie had been asking about her donor, because kids at school were asking her things like: “Who’s your dad?’” And she’d say: “I don’t have a dad, I have a donor,” and they’d ask who her donor was and she’d say: “I don’t know”. She found it difficult because she didn’t know – but wanted to know - how to answer these questions. She then made the leap: “If Dougal and I have a donor and he donated to other people, then there would be other kids who are related to us”. So I didn’t have to put the idea into her head that she might have donor siblings.
The rainbow family picnic was at a great playground. Maisie and Corin (Jacqui and Sarah’s eldest) were on the flying fox platform talking about ‘Minecraft’. They were standing there together, with their nine or ten year old bravado, and they had eerily similar facial expressions and body language. I thought: “Wow, that’s weird…” but didn’t think much of it until a couple of days later, when I emailed Jacqui about it (thinking it was just my imagination.) - but it turned out that the kids do share a donor.
Now that they know, it has become their information. It’s up to them whom they tell. I heard at parent/teacher interview that Dougal had told the class all about Corin, Scout and Cully and donor Dave. Dougal had acted all cool when I first told him and I thought maybe it didn’t matter to him but clearly it did matter, just not to discuss with me. It matters to his identity and how he’s seen at school.
I think for Maisie and Dougal, particularly after my partner Helen died, it has given them a different dimension of family. It extends their concept of family and whilst there’s a part of their family that is now missing, there are other parts that give them a different sort of family platform.