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Today, I want to talk about the significance of family resemblance and connection when you are a non-genetic parent. This realization can be a game-changer as you consider your donor-conceived children or your future donor-conceived children.

What is a Non-Genetic Parent? 

In situations where people use a donor egg or donor sperm, the parent who did not supply the gamete (aka sperm or egg) to conceive the child is considered the non-genetic parent. 

If you’ve been following my journey, you know that my husband, Michael, and I used donor eggs to conceive our beautiful girls. Although I carried the pregnancies, the girls were conceived using donor eggs. This means, for our family, I am the non-genetic parent. Initially, this path filled me with fear and uncertainty.

The Fear of the Unknown

At first, I didn’t want to know much about our donor. I was scared she might take my place. I wanted to pretend she didn’t exist and hoped our children would seamlessly integrate into our family. These feelings stemmed from fear, insecurity, and the grief of not having children genetically connected to me.

Healing and New Perspectives

Through therapy, coaching, and self-reflection, I healed those parts of me that felt ashamed and sad. This journey allowed me to open up to new perspectives. Hearing from donor-conceived adults about their experiences and desires significantly shifted my thoughts. I realized that my role as my girls’ mom is incredibly important and nothing will change the bonds I have with them. Being open and honest with them about their origins, being proud of who they are and how we had an egg donor help us create them shows them how proud I am of who they are and how they came to be.

The Importance of Knowing Where You Come From

I am not donor-conceived. I grew up around family members who share my genetics. Hearing from donor-conceived individuals highlighted the importance of genetic connections. Meeting people who look like you or share your mannerisms can be deeply comforting.

A Personal Revelation

I recently experienced something that gave me insight into what this might be like for my girls and other donor-conceived individuals. In 2017, my dad passed away suddenly. This traumatic event left a deep void in my life. A few months ago, a family member on my dad’s side passed away, and attending the funeral brought me face-to-face with my dad’s cousins. Their physical resemblance and mannerisms to my dad were striking and comforting.

The Impact of Genetic Connections

This experience helped me connect that genetic piece of me to them and it made me realize the potential impact of knowing one’s donor and their family. Michael and I used an anonymous donor and are currently searching for her. This journey has shown me the importance of giving our children the opportunity to connect with their donor’s family if they wish.

Encouraging Connection

If you’re considering using a donor, think about your own experiences and what they might mean for your donor-conceived child. Acknowledge the differences in your lived experiences and theirs. Taking steps to facilitate and encourage these connections can be a profound gift.

Final Thoughts

Using a donor is complex and involves continuous learning. However, focusing on what’s best for our children helps us make decisions that strengthen our family bonds.

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