Something different

Something different

Photo: Moira Callegari
It shook my sense of identity to learn that my life wasn’t as storybook perfect as I thought it was- that there was something a bit different about us.

I found out at age 12 that I was donor-conceived. My parents sat my brother and I down one evening and told us that my father was unable to conceive naturally, so they decided to use donor sperm. Finding out was pretty confronting. There had always been mum and dad, my brother and I and our pet dog. I felt we were a “perfect” little family and that gave me a degree of security. So it shook my sense of identity to learn that my life wasn’t as storybook perfectas I thought it was - that there was something a bit different about us. ‘It wasn’t till I was a little bit older that I started to think about the consequences of being donor-conceived, the idea that there was someone out there that shared half my DNA and that there were people that were my half siblings. ‘My feelings about being donor-conceived are always changing. One week I won’t even be thinking about it but other times I become teary about it, especially if it comes up in social media or in the news. I can get really emotionally involved and passionate and it does upset me quite a bit. Or something can trigger it. For example, a couple of months ago I saw girl at a music festival. She was a redhead like me, she had a similar body shape and even some of our facial features were similar. Part of me wanted to go up to her and ask and find out whether there was any chance that she was a half-sister. But I couldn’t do that, because what if she hadn’t been told?

I have kind of imagined that my heritage is like a family tree but with three different branches coming down, rather than just two. Even though my bloodline is connected to my mother and my donor, my existence relies just as much on my dad’s family history. In a way my birth was all the more incredible because it relied on the choices that three people and their families made. But at the same time, it can be incredibly unsettling to think that there’s big chunk of my family tree that I don’t know anything about. It’s not a comfortable feeling to know that a significant part of my personal and ancestral history is missing. However being able to picture and better understand how interesting my family tree is has helped me come to terms with the situation. ‘People don’t understand that by not telling kids about their donor conception, by putting all the priority on what the parents feel or even how the donor might have felt at the time of donation, they are almost saying: “Part of who you are is shameful because it makes us uncomfortable to talk about how you were conceived and who you are”.

- Hayley