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Vasaris, the Fuzzy Dragon
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March 2014
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Vasaris, the Fuzzy Dragon [userpic]

Today I'm involved in a discussion about sperm donation (yes, I know, how does this kind of thing even come up? Answer cf_abby_tribute) and one of the things that has come up is the quest of some adoptees and kids of genetic donors to find out more about their genetic donors/families/what-have-you.

It's interesting for a variety of reasons, but the thing that keeps getting me is this idea that a person has the right to know about their genetic relatives and I find myself both sympathetic and baffled by this.

In the case of both genetic donation and blind adoption, the person(s) who gave their genetic material to produce a child have specified that they don't want contact. They give up all rights and responsibilites to the child.

I find it hard to accept the idea that the wishes of the child trump the privacy demanded by the genetic donors. Inasmuch as I can sympathise with the desire for knowledge (after all, I know almost nothing about my father or his family beyond knowing I have much older half siblings and there's mabye some Native American blood in me from my paternal bloodline as well as my maternal... I'd like to know a bit more both about my ancestry and about the people in it) I cannot find it in myself to say the desire of a person to know information they don't need trumps another person's right to privacy.

There's a few reasons for this:
1. There are a lot of reasons to give a child up for adoption. A lot of them are very unpleasant and to no benefit for the child to know. More than that, they are often to no benefit for the person(s) giving the child up to dwell on.

2. Depending on what the person seeking their genetic relatives defines as 'knowing', it's something as small as disruptive to as big as excruciatingly painful for everyone involved. Despite all the 'happily reunited' stories, it's not uncommon for a seeking child to be rejected outright, or to find that they don't like/cannot stand the parent they've sought for. They can be a source of tension that literally destroys the life of the parent they've looked for if the parent either hasn't spoken of their donation/adoption because of reasons in (1).

3. If the right to know trumps the right to privacy, then why should people give children up for adoption or give genetic donations? Thinking through the results of that, I get some nasty answers, when you take it to the extremes: suicide, infanticide, murder. Higher rates of abortion (which, no, I don't count as murder.) More children kept by people who don't want them, and the attendant rise in child abuse and spousal/partner abuse. People (admittedly with money) denied the opportunity to have children because they're not being given up for adoption and because no-one is jacking off in cups. Black Market Babies for the Lose!

I don't know. I mean, I'm not all knowing, all wise, or all seeing, but it seems to me that demanding the identity, the 'knowledge' of genetic donors is just... wrong. I can agree that it's not wholly fair to the children adopted out or so conceived, but life's not fair. Even when you 'know' your genetic family, you're not guaranteed full knowledge of your family history, and I know any number of people who would've been better off if they'd never known their parents.

Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: Mad World, Tears for Fears (OMG THE ORIGINAL!)
Full disclosure: yes, I'm adopted.

Via what I believe you're calling "blind adoption"--my mother lived in Tacoma, or found it convenient to say so.

That's literally all I know--that, and the name of the agency (the one that won't return my phone calls).

I look pretty damned Caucasian, but there could be any genetic background at all a couple generations back.

I disagree, considering the number of "happy endings" meetings.

Mind you, I want facts, not emotions--my real mother is right where she's always been, biology is not the same thing. The number of time I've read about bio-parents changing their mind, or at least wondering, years later is enough for me to say everyone should get ONE meeting.

One. Beyond that, don't push it. Don't stalk or harass or nag or whine at biological relatives: biology confers no emotional duties whatsoever.

The one thing I think it could be argued that the child has a right to is family medical history. I know that in the case of sperm/egg donors this is checked out to make sure there aren't any genetic diseases lingering, but you never really know for sure. Of course, adopted children don't even have that assurance. If something is going on medically with the child (or even the child of that grown child) it can be very helpful to have that history for reference.

This makes me wonder what adoptive parents do when they are filling out medical forms for children who don't know they are adopted. Do they fill out all the medical history, and then tell the doctor in private that none of it really applies?

Of course medical history could easily be given to the child with all names and references to places removed. It's difficult to trace someone based only on heart attacks and cancer, unless perhaps there is a very rare condition involved. Perhaps adoption agencies and so forth could set up a system in which such information is recorded and shared with the adoptive family. A child might not have the right to know his biological family, but he has the right to know what might be going on in his own body.