Louise – Born 1975

Name: Louise

Born: 1975

Where conceived: Margaret Jackson clinic, Exeter

I was told that I was Donor Conceived in March 2013, when I was 37 years old. The sister I was raised with collapsed and it turns out that she has a life threatening medical condition so my Mum fessed up to her that she is donor conceived. My Mum then told me that I was also donor conceived.

The phrase that sticks with me most from when my Mum told me is that when I asked her for more details she said “it’s nothing to do with you” and refused to answer further questions. Actually, it is EVERYTHING to do with me. It’s half of my DNA. Half of my genetics. Half of who created me. My parents had used different donors so I don’t have the life threatening medical condition that my half sister that I was raised with has.

It wasn’t as much of a shock as it could have been. I always knew that something wasn’t quite ‘right’ but I knew I wasn’t adopted as I had seen photos of my Mum when she was pregnant with me.

I remember when I was 14 that we were studying genetics at school and we were told that at least one parent had to be able to roll their R’s for a child to be able to roll their R’s. I asked my Mum if her or Dad could roll their R’s, without telling her why I was asking, and she told me that no she couldn’t and she didn’t think my Dad could either (he had died unexpectedly when I was 10 years old). I filed that one away.

There were other things too. She once showed me my ‘birth charts’ when I was about 11 years old. Sheets of squared paper with what I now know was the tracking of her temperature to show when she was most fertile.

I always felt like I never fitted in to my family. I always felt like I wasn’t meant to be there. The things that my Mum said and did and the way that my half sister that I was raised with behaved, was often very strange to me. The things they would say were things that I would never, ever say. I grew up seeing my extended maternal family about once a month. I never felt that I fitted in with them either.

The thing that I am most angry/upset/annoyed about being DC is the impact that it has had on my daughter, who is intergenerationally donor conceived. She has inherited a serious medical condition from what we now know is from my Biological Father’s side. It skipped me and went straight to her. This medical condition impacts my family on a daily basis and has taken quite a toll on my daughter since she was 4 years old. She’s now 13 years old. We only discovered two years ago, after I did a DNA test, that this medical condition comes from my paternal biological family’s side. If we had known this years ago we might have been able to stop my daughter from experiencing so much pain and trauma. We didn’t stand a chance.

Other people don’t want to take responsibility for the legacy left by past DC practises. There is a duty of care for the state, fertility industry, recipient parents and former donors to acknowledge at the very least the harm in not having a full medical history.  There is no such thing as a “blank sheet” for a child. Or for that child’s children. For the generation living with anonymous paternity/maternity there is a near exclusion of innate or inherited factors which can mean irreparable damage or poor health outcomes.

This is why I feel so passionately about making DCUK a success.


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