As RSC’s Donor Program Administrative Liaison, I facilitate the egg donor screening and donor/recipient matching for our in-house Donor Program. I communicate with both donors and recipients and support recipient(s) in choosing their anonymous donor.
A few weeks ago I watched the MTV series called Generation Cryo and found it very informative about the experiences of donor-conceived individuals and their families. Generation Cryo follows 17 year old Breeanna as she travels across the U.S. meeting her half-siblings with the hope of learning more about her anonymous sperm donor.
MTV describes the show as an exploration of, “issues faced by a new generation of kids coming of age who were conceived via sperm donation and are redefining what it means to be a family.” Naturally, I was curious about the show because it brings up subjects that could impact the families RSC works with everyday. I watched the show so I would have more awareness about donor families and gain more insight on the needs and experiences of this community.
As MTV describes it and I experience, this show challenged the traditional notion of family. It explored many aspects of donor families’ experiences — the idea of donor half siblings and donor families meeting one another. It highlighted how each family has coped with using an anonymous sperm donor and the impact this has had.
We witnessed an “intense and emotional bonding of family” both amongst the different families and within each of the families themselves as they traveled through this journey together. The viewers were given an inside look into each family’s unique dynamic and the ways they adjusted to meeting one another as well as how they processed their feelings in regards to the sperm donor.
I appreciated seeing how the donor siblings found camaraderie with one another and how each of the families embraced their connections and challenges as collaboratively as possible. MTV gave these families’ the opportunity for their voices to be heard in a real and authentic way. The show did it’s best to reflect these families experiences in an authentic light and highlighted the love and respect everyone has for each other.
I learned that what makes a family is more than just a group of people who share a genetic tie. Families come in many different shapes and sizes. What defines them is the deep and loving connection that each member shares, regardless as to how fate brought them together. We can understand how strong this bond is by watching the families in Generation Cryo. Each family was unique in their own way and co-created what “family” means for them.
Preconceived ideas of family were transformed as we witnessed their strong cohesive bonds. For these families, the use of a donor was a realistic part in helping to create them, but by no means does it define them. What defines them is the bond they share and what it means to them. I am grateful for what I learned about the meaning of family and am leaving this experience excited to continue helping folks build their families with the assistance of a donor.
Please note the following from the ASRM Ethics Committee. RSC agrees and follows this, in addition to advocating a conversation with a psychologist before conception: It is the recipient parents’ choice whether to disclose the fact of donor conception to their offspring. Clinicians, mental health professionals, academics, and children themselves have in recent years called for more openness in donor conception in order to protect the interests of offspring.
Because of each person’s fundamental interest in knowing their genetic heritage and the importance of their ability to make informed health care decisions in the future, the Ethics Committee supports disclosure about the fact of donation to children. It also supports the gathering and storage of medical and genetic information that can be provided to offspring if they ask. It recognizes, however, that decisions about disclosure are highly personal and will vary in particular situations.