The other day, I saw B, one of my dearest friends, and I was telling her about finding my donor. And, in passing, she called him “the father” — and I realised that’s not what I’m calling him. And I could have just not said anything, but a) I’m not very good at that, and b) for some reason it felt important to tell her that I was calling him “the donor” not “the father.”
And I realised that this is just the start. That not only do I have to work all this out as I go along — the nomenclature of things — but that I also have to work out how I tell other people about it all. (Although let’s be honest, telling people what’s OK and what isn’t isn’t really going to be an issue, because I’ve never been backwards about coming forward.)
Because — within my group of friends anyway — this is different from the way other people do things and while I don’t have to worry about it right now (only a handful of friends know what I’m doing), if things go the way I’d like them to, I will have to. And not just my friends, anyone else who asks “Does s/he look like you or Daddy?” and all those other nosy-yet-somehow-legitimate questions people ask people with children.
I spoke to one solo mother (see, I don’t even know if that’s a term I’m OK with, conversely I know without a shadow of a doubt I’m totally NOT OK with “choice mom”) who told me that she’d been very private about doing IVF, but then when she was pregnant she never wanted her daughter to feel like a dirty little secret so she wanted to tell everyone. And that made perfect sense to me.
What doesn’t make perfect sense to me is what I’m OK with and what I’m not. For example, until I thought about it I couldn’t have told you why, instinctively, I decided I want to call him “the donor” rather than “the father.”
Part of it is undoubtedly to do with the fact that, as my donor pointed out in his profile, being a mother, or a father, or a parent, is about more than gametes, it’s about years of love and support. But I suppose if I’m honest it’s also because I hope my hypothetical child would one day have a father in that sense. And maybe it’s easier to separate those things by calling the donor a donor, rather than a “biological father” or something.
Anyway, this is all stuff I need to figure out. But maybe just not yet. One day at a time and all that…
5 thoughts on “A new vocabulary…”
I use the word donor. or donor lady. (for the egg donor) I am her mother/mummy/mama But at the same time I want to leave room for my daughter to (yes, to what?) feel a connection to a part of her that came from the donor. I know your and my situation are not the same. Gah, harder to put into words than I thought. I guess i do not want to be a parent who says that DNA is not important, just because it happens to come from a donor.
And I guess we simply do not yet have a word that indicates a genetic connection that is not the same as family. something like fa-nor / mo-nor? don-ther?
(and yes, inwardly I am prepping for the day where she tells me I am not her real mother. My only answer is she is my real daughter)
Totally agree with all you’re saying (although I have to say I bristle at made-up words like fa-nor — someone the other day was talking about do-sies aka donor siblings and it made my hackles rise!) – gametes do not a parent make!
I completely agree that donor is the appropriate word. The term father is earned. As a woman going through donor egg IVF, there’s no goddamn way the donor who gave me her eggs for $5,000 is in any way the mother! She is special to us because she donated her eggs but her eggs mixed with my husband’s sperm and they go into my body and if one of these Cycles ever works, I sure as hell am the mother 🙂
“The term father is earned” — so true — even among hetero families who have conceived naturally I think this is something that is often forgotten. Best of luck with your cycles x
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