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…