Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Who's your daddy?

Elizabeth and I finally got a chance to tell my younger brother he's going to be an uncle over the weekend. It was nearly impossible to keep the rest of my family quiet for an entire week, but I really wanted to tell him in person. We had plans to meet for dinner, so we used the same format we used for our parents- order food, then break the news. His reaction was quite funny and sweet. First he completely froze, with only his eyes moving from me to Elizabeth and then back again. He was waiting for one of us to crack and admit we were joking. After what seemed like an eternity, he said "really?" and I nodded. Immediately, he motioned for the waiter and ordered two glassed of champagne. I showed him the ultrasound pictures, and he got a little quiet. He pretended to be looking at something in the distance out the window, but Elizabeth and I could both see he was tearing up. We pretended not to notice.

Like everyone else we're told, the first thing my brother asked was about who the father was. We explained that it was an anonymous donor from a sperm bank who our children would be allowed to meet when they turned 18. He asked question after question about the donor- how did we chose, what do we know about him, what is he like. To be honest I wasn't expecting everyone to have so many questions about the donor right away, and I'm not sure how to go about answering them.

I've always been very private about our donor choice on the blog. I've seen multiple instances where a blogger with a particularly cute child will have random bloggers ask for her donor number! That's just creepy if you ask me. I think that giving out too much info about your donor on a blog just opens a door and asks all of the crazies to come in.

But what about my family and friends? I'm finding myself hesitant to give them too much information on the donor too. Maybe it's just a residual hesitation, from all those months of keeping quiet on the blog. Maybe there's something more at play. I think that some of my hesitation comes from the fact that I know so little about the donor myself. Sure I have a baby picture and essay and medical history, but that's really not much. If I start printing out the donor profile for my friends, they'll know as much about the guy as I do. I have to admit, I think I'd feel a little strange if a random friend knew as much about the donor as our own child did. I've been feeling a need to protect that information, so it will belong to my children before it belongs to anyone else.

Is this unusual? How has everyone else handled questions about their donor?

P.S. on a completely unrelated note, has anyone else had problems with the Lilypie tickers in Blogger? I finally felt confident enough to make a ticker, but it keeps getting stuck.


Strawberry said...

I have not had people ask me more about the donor than what he look(ed) like, how tall, and what kind of info did we get about him (like a medical history, etc). I have no problem telling them what he looks like (hair, eyes, build) and his height. If they asked me specifics beyond that, I would probably say that I didn't remember but we have the booklet at home. It's really none of their business and you should only share what you're comfortable with sharing.

Anonymous said...

In my recent experience, not at all unusual.

Yesterday I had one person ask question after question. Do you know what their job is, what colour eyes do they have, how tall are they. It was half asking the actual particulars, and half curious about how it works.

Then I had another person ask if we used a sperm bank, say 'cool' and move on to "you must be so excited".

I tend to feel uncomfortable, and feign memory loss on the details (although some people do know basic look type things). I did start by telling a few people that that information was probably better coming from the person made from them. Which actually worked well. I do understand why people are curious, but I do wish more people didn't act like curiosity always has to be satisfied.

anofferingoflove said...

what a sweet reaction from your brother! (the teary part, i mean).

we've had a lot of nosy questions about the donor too. like strawberry, i dont mind answering some general questions about hair or eye color or height, but i start to get uncomfortable with much more than that. i dont even like telling people we saw a picture of the donor.

my general thought is that it is my daughter's infomration to share (or not) as she chooses when she is older - i dont think its really fair to her to broadcast the info all over the place.

Anonymous said...

Your brother's reaction was very sweet. It is nice that your family was able to keep the very exciting news under wraps until you all were able to tell him.

I think your wanting to keep the donor information to yourselves is completely normal. I am with you and would not divulge donor info on my blog. We do not discuss donor information besides the basic info, with the exception of my mom and sister because we are close and they know all about us TTC, so it seemed natural to talk to them about it.

Malea said...

I think what you tell immediate family would be different than what you tell your extended family and friends. That's to say that immediate family wouldn't use that info against you later.

I definitely agree that it's the kid(s) info from ADI to share if they want it broadcast beyond that.

J and DZ said...

Your brothers reaction was priceless. So sweet!
I am guilty of posting our donor picture on our blog but I've never mentioned the donor #. I figure if you've spent the money for access to the sperm bank and you really want to search him out then you can! HOWEVER I would be really put off if anyone asked for the # for the purpose of using him because of our daughter. Do people REALLY do THAT? OMG.
IRL We have had very few questions regarding our donor and I've actually wondered why people are not more curious. I feel like he should be celebrated for the gift he has given us and I want Sadie to feel pride in the fact that she has a donor. Talking openly about him is OK in my books. I don't want him to be something to be whispered about like he needs to be a secret.
Everyone has their own opinion on this and it looks like I'm in the minority on this one!

Rainbow Family (B and J) said...

First up, a big congratulations! I have been a little AWOL lately and I don't think I posted to cheer and shout about your good news.

I have also been surprised with the questions about the donor. It's funny though, people who know J and I really well haven't asked a lot of questions. It's actually been people who I hardly know e.g. work associates who want to know everything.

I'm pretty vague in my responses tp them. I have told our immediate family a fair bot of information and have been really open with them about the process.

I guess to each their own. Everyone will have different circumstances and beliefs about how and when the donor should be spoken about and you should just be doing what is right for your family.

Anonymous said...

Your brother is too cute! I can't believe your family was able to keep it a secret!

We got the questions right away too, but they have slowed a bit as my big belly now consumes conversation. We have shared next to nothing with anyone who asks. Not even which bank we used. We just give a standard line of "dark curly hair like my wife and, yes, we got the full medical profile." I have a very emotional (not in the teary way) reaction when people ask. Shouldn't the fact that it will be my wife's and my child be enough? I am forever grateful to our donor, but we definitely chose to go anonymous for a reason.

Pomegranate said...

Your family sounds adorable. As for who you talk to, I guess that really depends on your relationship with folks. My friends and co-workers are so much more a part of our TTC process than anyone in my family. I won't tell my parents because I refuse to have their negative energy weighting down something that means so much to us.

Lisa said...

My MIL asked if she could read our donor's profile. I said no. I gave her some basic information and that was it. I'm quite private and just felt like it is something we will be completely open with with our son but with everyone else, it seems pointless. When people ask how we selected our donor I tell them that we tried to match someone simliar to Danielle and leave it at that. People are curious and without meaning to can be very intrusive. I don't mind educating and talking in general terms but I'm not comfy with specific details because the questions just spiral out of control. I know my own mother is dying to ask. My parents don't even know that our baby will be biracial. lmao!!! Maybe that's bad but honestly, our donor is just part of the equation.

Anonymous said...

Our situation is a little different because we're using a known donor, whom we found through a free sperm donor website. NO WAY am I going to tell people (except for you guys, ha) that I used a "free sperm donor" website. If people ask I say it's a friend of mine who lives out of town an is mailing the goods to us. That satisfies most people. Not sure what I'll tell my family, who will no doubt want to know who this "friend" is. Will burn that bridge when I come to it...

Pufferfish said...

Well, I am in the minority on this one. I don't have any problem telling people all about our donor--his ethnicity, that of his parents, his profession, etc. I have his baby photo on my desktop and I'll show it to anyone who asks. My mom has read the profile and listened to the audio. I figure, he IS 50 percent of the genetic makeup of my children and people know we had to get sperm somewhere.
For me, it is educating people on the process. Most everyone who asks is just curious which is fine by me. Maybe because I'm just as curious and would ask the same questions?!
They think it's great we were able to genetically engineer our children and we didn't have to settle for who we fell in love with. Many of my straight girlfriends have wished they could do that!
And they all think it's awesome that WE can do it. That such a service exists so that we can become parents.
The boys will always know they have a donor, no secrets here.
Then again, I'm just not a private person.

Anonymous said...

We have found that most of the questions are about how it works vs specifics about our donor (ie what kind of information do you have about the donor? vs please tell me information about your donor.) We tell people that we got a medical profile, essay and picture (process) but only share the details of his ethnicity (which matches my wife's) and the fact that he seemed like a genuinely nice person from his essay. I am very happy to educate people about the process but we do feel like the specific information about the donor is our son's to know first and to share as he feels comfortable. I've also been pleasantly surprised how uninterested people really are in the donor - they all seem perfectly distracted by the actual human in front of him and the reality of the two parents he has raising him.

Shannon said...

With our first, everyone wanted to know everything about the donor. But when we got pregnant with our second (same donor) no one asked at all. I think by then they were used to us being a two-mom family and forgot there was a donor at all.

We've talked about our donor and answered our family's questions, but we've never shown them his pictures or his profile. Like you, we think it's up to our kids to show people those things. (I think we're guilty of showing a few very close friends the baby picture, though.)

jessie said...

I think it's completely up to you. I start to feel a little uncomfortable when people ask too many questions and I've found that I've gotten more questions now that Holland is here (rather than when I was pregnant). People ask about our donor's eyes, height, etc. now that they can see Holland.

My teenage cousin asked if our donor was cute, haha!

Anonymous said...

it rubs me the wrong way too, people asking. I think it has to do with being sensitive about my partner's feelings. I would like to have Pufferfish's attitude and I think I could if I put my mind to it. But she definetely could not, I dont think -- I havent asked! Also, people are asking because they are curious, not because they think my wife is unimportant.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the heads up on the questions. We've got added problem that we're going with a known donor and close friend of ours. Only our parents and futurekids will know who he is.
I can imagine that for those who don't know (read: my nosey extended family) every man who ever comes near us from that day on will be under suspicion, and I suspect may be interrogated by them. Our donor has already been warned of this. It could be why he's in Europe at the moment while the goods are on ice.

rachelbk said...

I had a lot of questions from my family too, because they were confused why I would have to use a sperm bank when I am straight. I told them that all the men around here have drunk-ass sperm that would never find the egg because they'd be passed out puking somewhere in a corner of my uterus while the egg floated on by, lol.
I just told them I picked a donor with similar traits as the men in my family, and who was well educated and healthy. That's all they need to know!

JenB4 said...

We used the same donor for our 2 kids, an anonymous, identity-release donor from a sperm bank. We get lots of questions about our donor. The only things we don't share is the bank, the donor number, and his matriculating university. Otherwise we are happy to talk about him.

Mostly people are curious to know HOW we chose the donor. It's a new idea for many folks - choosing a bio-parent. They have no idea what the process is at a sperm bank and the idea of choosing is intrinsically interesting to almost everyone. My family was more interested because they wanted to know about traits that might show up in the kids - I don't think the info we have is enough to even guess at this, and I told them so.

I have made an album for each of our kids with photos before and during pregnancy, photos of the tank and vial, the donor's baby photo, and photocopies of his long interview, birth and hospital photos and pictures of everyone who loves them holding them as infants. We look at these books a lot with them, and as they get older (they are 1 and 4) they can share them with whoever they want to.

AdventuresInBabyMaking said...

I found that I got oddly private about our donor, too. I didn't have any problem showing the baby pic/ information to our parents, but I don't really like telling strangers. I am not entirely sure why.

I have seen this blog where people post their names, their pictures, their donor numbers, etc, and I just had no desire to add our information to that. Way TMI for me.

Anonymous said...

I don't think you are unusual at all. I think most people choose to keep that information semi private or completely secret, especially on the net. And how creepy are you if you ask someone for a donor #!?! We haven't had a lot of questions really, just general questions about how donors are chosen and screened by the clinic or how the program works. We have been asked how we made the decision to go with our donor and we have been honest about what we were looking for. I have to say that I think you are well within your rights to tell people you choose not to share that info with them and ask them for their understanding. Tell them how you made your choice or why you thought he was right for you maybe but feel free to tell nothing at all if you don't want to.

We have told my mom a lot about the donor but she didn't really ask a lot of specific questions. We more felt like we wanted her to know who he was. She had a lot of concerns about his health and we had to explaine that most of those guys have a better health and genetic history than most men we know, that they aren't junkies looking for extra cash to get their next fix, that many of them had far better educations that Cat or I.

I think it is a real curiosity for people simply because it is so novel and unfamiliar to them.

mama bea, bao in the oven said...

It was so, so fabulous to read about your brother's reaction. It made me tear up, too! My little sister burst into tears when I called and told her, and I would have loved to be able to do it in person. What a wonderful memory of this you'll have.

I also find it difficult to decide how much to tell about the donor and our process. I've found that people are much more interested in the HOW rather than the WHO, but that may be because my coworkers and acquaintances are all either straight or older or both. They are fascinated with how it happened and they ask questions like "did you get to pick the donor?" which is so funny to me. But I think they either hold themselves back from asking what we know about him per se. It is interesting to read that you're having a different experience. I think you're well within your rights to hold back, for sure.

sandra said...

I feel the need to protect the information about the donor. I feel like it is up to my kids what information is shared, etc. and since they are young (one not even born yet) and don't know yet that they have a donor that we have a ways to go before people will know stuff about the donor.

vee said...

From what I recall, these were common questions during pregnancy and the early days, but hardly anyone shows and interest in asking about the donor now, even those people we meet for the first time. I think it's curiosity about conception, and then that whole "who does the baby look like" thing, but it seemed to wear off.

I think you're right to want to keep the little information you do have close.