For many people using donor conception to have a child, but particularly for those who have struggled with infertility, using donor conception to build a family can feel upsetting in many ways. Two of the main issues faced by many people are #1, the emotional difficulty of not being genetically linked to one’s child and #2, the sadness of being childless.
When you use donor conception to have a child, # 1 often disappears. You go from being a patient to a parent. It’s an incredible transformation and one that has the ability to give people a new life, filled with unlimited joys (and of course, stressors).
Yet, the second stressor can remain, and the difficulty of not having a genetically linked child can be experienced in many ways. Does that difficulty fade? Typically, it does. The nighttime feedings, diaper changes and day to day of caring for your newborn (and sometimes a pregnancy or delivery) creates an opportunity to fall in love with a little person who will be the object of your fascination, efforts and dedication for the rest of your life. You will also soon join a community of others who have assumed the same responsibilities with their new child. Friends and family will rejoice for you, and soon the pain of infertility will be behind you. You may never forget how difficult it was, but the pain will subside, and you will finally be living the life you wanted.
That may be the end of your story, or maybe not. The extent to which having a genetic link with your child is important to you varies from person to person. The degree to which it is important will typically correlate with the degree to which issue #2 will take longer to fade. One day it will likely fade entirely, but it is likely to be a slow process and one that is rarely linear or constant.
There may be many moments when you feel “just like everyone else”, and you are adoring your child and rejoicing in every smile and milestone. I will never forget how much my husband and I loved watching our daughter chew Cheerios for the first time. It was simply amazing to us.
And then, someone in the supermarket says, “your daughter looks just like you” and you get a pang in your heart and think, “ooh that hurts a bit, I forgot”. The hurt may subside quickly or last for some time.
What’s important to remember is that it is likely that over time, you will care less. When these moments happen, you may feel that you wish they didn’t happen at all and that you will somehow become “just like everyone else”. You won’t be just like everyone else, but you will become a new version of yourself. One that cares about the genetic tie less. Because parenting this person, who wholly depends on you and made you a parent, begins to overshadow the lack of a genetic connection. Once that desire for a genetic tie has evaporated, all that is left is an emotional tie and then although there no genetic tie, you care less and do begin to feel more like everyone else.