I was watching an episode of Anderson Cooper's talk show (what? He's awesome), and he had a teenage girl on who was looking for her biological father, since she found out at the age of 12 that she was the product of a sperm donation. Her parents had been married, couldn't conceive, so they used a sperm bank. Her parents later divorced, and the girl says she does not have a good relationship with her mother's ex-husband, the man she thought was her father.
And the show was all about how she's been looking for her biological father, and she found a half-sibling through a website. And she was talking about being angry when her mom told her, and feeling like there was something missing in her life.
But the thing is, this is my story, almost exactly. The guy I think of as my father, my mom's first husband, is still in my life. We're not terribly close, and we have our issues, but I didn't think of him as being less of my dad after I found out. I have a step-father too, who I'm also not close to, but he's not a bad person, really. And somewhere out there, I have a biological father as well. I've vaguely thought about finding him. Some times I still think it'd be worth at least looking into, since my understanding is that some people can be found, if the child wants to.
But on the whole, I believe in the families you make, not the ones made of blood. Even if my step-father and I aren't close, I love my step-siblings. I only refer to Alex and Sarah as my step-brother and step-sister when I need to clarify my family situation. The rest of the time, they're just my brother and sister. We may not be as close as some siblings, but I can't imagine trying to replace them with a half-sibling I'm related to by blood alone. I've got two dads already, and I'm grown up enough now to recognize that the flaws in our relationships are a two way street. Maybe my biological dad is an awesome person. I don't know. What I do know, and this is the part I can't stress enough, is that both of my mom's husbands chose me
. My mom didn't have a kid behind my dad's back. He wanted me too, and he wanted me even after my mom and he split up. My step-dad didn't have to pick a woman who already had a kid, and he didn't have to teach me to fly a kite, or to cook, or to parallel park. But he did all of those things. My biological dad didn't want to raise a kid. Or at least he didn't want to raise me. I don't know why he did it. Maybe he wanted some cash. Maybe he just wanted to spread his genes around. Maybe he wanted to help out some gay or infertile couples. But he didn't choose to raise me, and two other men, plus a woman - who wanted me more than anything in the world - did. That's my family. Not some guy who gave me frankly weak ass genes, considering how much I resemble my mom's side of the family.
And I come at this from another angle too, which is the gay rights group I used to work for. And you know, it wasn't even about the workplace, it was about one of my co-workers. She and her partner had a child using a known doner, and he got attached once their little girl was born. At first, he just sent a baby gift, but then he wanted to get to know her. And in my coworker's eyes, this man was a sperm doner. He wasn't her dad. She has two moms, grandparents, a whole family of her own. Her moms didn't want a third parent in their marriage. And in their minds - and I completely agree - if he wanted a kid, he should have a kid of his own. Sperm donation is for couples who can't conceive in the traditional way, for whatever reason.
I'm honestly not sure what their stance would be if their daughter decided, when she was older, that she wanted to know this guy. That's up to my coworker, her partner, and their daughter to decide. But it's not the guy's decision. He's not her father. He's her sperm doner. And I feel pretty strongly about that.
I read a ton of fantasy novels, and I always have. So I can't count how many times kids end up being important because of whose blood is running in their veins, not who raised them. And I just resent that.
I mean, sure. There's always something heartwarming about a kid finding their long lost parents. But in real life, all kids who don't know their birth parent(s) are not brought up in poverty, or abused, either emotionally or physically, by their adopted parents. But so often, our stories stress that we're missing something out of our lives if we're missing a biological parent. So while finding out about my own family situation wasn't that big of a deal for me, I understand why it is for some people. I just think it shouldn't be.
So, basically, everyone should watch The Kids Are Alright
. I think the situation is always a little different for gay couples, because kids aren't dumb and gay people aren't delusional, so there's always the understanding, from a very young age, that the child was not conceived by their two gay parents. Whereas with straight couples, they sometimes never tell the kid, and even if they do, it's often at an age where the kid is old enough to have their world rocked. But in both cases, as well as with adoption, I just think that kids should be happy with the families they have.
And if their families aren't great? I have to give a hearty, "So what?" Plenty of people don't like their biological families anyway. It's not about DNA. It's about love. You might love the family you're born to, or raised by, or you might not, but it's not because of your genes. Sometimes families - of all kinds - can be hurtful. Sometimes we have to make our own families from people we find later. But I think you're always better off looking first to the people who chose to have you, or at least chose to raise you, than you are looking to a stranger who got paid to jack off into a cup.