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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Conversation with Diane Ehrensaft October 10, 2010

I've been talking with Diane Ehrensaft (author of "Mommies, Daddies, Donors, Suggogates") about Birth Others, Genetic Others, ages and stages of disclosure (see post from our NYC Gathering Womens Dinner in January with Diane where we discussed ages and stages of disclosure).

Diane coined the term "birth other"--which includes both donors and surrogates/gestational carriers (who are not genetically related) . My term for egg donors is "genetic others" since they didnt do the birthing.

The "young scientists" are the young school age kids who are interested in how things work rather than the complicated psychological implications. That comes later.

Diane strongly recommends having someone talk to classrooms and train teachers so that the children from assisted reproductive families do not feel like outliers (MY BIGGEST ISSUE AROUND THIS) and the issues apply to all children and the different ways of building families.
All parenthood involves loss-loss of nonparenthood life, loss of sleep, loss of fantasies as they are are replaced by the real child.  

For those parents who have dealt with fertility problems, there may be the loss of having a genetically related child. For those parents missing a parent to have a baby with, there may be a feeling of a missing parent, who a donor cannot be. As long as people know it comes with the territory, they don't have to sweep the feelings under the rug.

What Diane wants parents to know is

1) that they will creatively draw their own family map and then navigate within it; there is no one boiler plate; 2) dishonesty never pays; 3) authenticity does; 4) at the same time, there can be tiers of disclosure and layers of privacy; 5) children are incredibly adaptable organisms, and all children have something to deal with; a birth history that involved assisted reproductive technology is one of those things to deal with, and can be done with pride and good feeling, as long as parents leave room for the full gamut of their children's feelings (and their own); 6) at the time, parents should carve out separate space to work through their own raw feelings, if they surface, so that what reaches the child are metabolized and empathic responses, rather than torn or conflicted ones.

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