Last night I attended my first RESOLVE meeting in many years. (actually, technically, I have never been to a RESOLVE meeting as the support group I attended previously was an 'offshoot' of RESOLVE, but I digress...) Anyhow, this one was specifically for adoption. They had emphasized in a previous email that those considering treatment with donor gametes were also welcome, hence why I showed up, though I have to admit it was apprehensively. Even with the stated open door policy, I really don't feel like I fit in many places in the IF world, at least not with regard to support groups. The general group doesn't feel quite right with the alternative methods of family building I'm exploring, but we're not pursuing adoption, either (at least at this time). And as far as I know, there is no Secondary Infertility group and probably not a lot of people jumping to attend. Square peg, meet round hole. So, despite my self-proclaimed ease with all things IF and an (albeit odd) enjoyment of these types of groups, it was a leap of faith to show up.
What I found, though, was that despite my differences, (being the only person still considering treatment and not adopting and also, having a bio kid) the group did not make me feel like a freak. They were so warm and open that it made me question whether I've ever met an infertile person I don't like (OK, I have, but only once!). Seriously, what is it about IFers? Does the struggle strip them of BS? Does it humanize them to such a degree that your exchanges can from then on be nothing but authentic? Certainly the very topic you're there for makes you get down to brass tax right away and get past the formalities. I know there is no way to label any group with an adjective, but if you could, IFers always seem to be generally likeable and welcoming. Or maybe I've just been really, really lucky. I truly enjoy discussing adoption issues at an intellectual level (and possibly personal, should it ever be back on the table for us), and for that I loved it, but I still didn't quite 'fit'. However, I feel certain I fit better there than a general group. Anyhow, the topic of why Mr. S was hoping to maintain that genetic link came up and the ladies there were interested in why that is. I mean, most of us, at some level, do desire that genetic link for reasons that can't be fully explained, but it seems that it can be described for men in particular.
I think loss of the genetic link is sometimes harder for men, especially when the female partner is actually carrying the child. Recipient mothers going through egg or embryo donation still have the biological (though not genetic) connection through pregnancy/childbirth. And I think most people would agree that maternal instincts come naturally to many women and do not require giving birth, but for men, those instincts may be harder to come by. While I know many men who are just as maternal as any woman I've met, in general I don't think that's the rule. Even genetic fathers, whose physical role in reproduction ends at conception, can often have a normal insecurity about bonding. But with embryo donation, even that physical role is removed and yet, maintained by the mother. I can see how it can feel unbalanced. So, when Mr. S determined that he wanted to keep that genetic link, I wasn't surprised. It's his part and his choice.
We have to be honest with ourselves here-everyone does, especially when you're exploring third party reproduction. Once upon a time, a celebrity had said (I'm loosely paraphrasing here) something along the lines of people who seek out genetic kids are being vain. And then, said celebrity went on many years after that quote to have two bio kids of their own. Personally (and very unlike the empty-headed commenters on articles), I feel that if having a bio kid is that important to you and you are able to do so, then have at it. Don't deny what's important to you. But leave room for changing your mind, too, because you never know how the tides may turn later on.