Presentation Symposium: Children’s Rights in the Age of Biotechnology @ Brocher Foundation

I had the chance to do a presentation at the Symposium Children’s Rights in the Age of Biotechnology at the Brocher Foundation. For those who want to know what I talked about: you can find my presentation down below.

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My name is Stephanie, I am a donor conceived from Belgium. I am also the president of an organization for DC in my country and one of the founding members of the Donor Detectives.

I am what the industry calls an old school product: I was fabricated with the sperm of an unknown man in de private practice of the first Belgian fertility doctor who discovered that a lot of money can be made from the despair of adults longing for a child who is at least half of their own. In my country donor conception and surrogacy are being practiced. As you know surrogacy is often combined with the use of donor gametes.

My parents got one of the first package deals of the fertility industry: they paid a fixed price (1250 euro’s if you really want to know) for the continuous effort to get my mother pregnant. She did and gave birth to a set of triplets.

At the age of 25 we discovered that we were donor conceived. I went from the false identity that my parents had given me to half of an identity. Because for decades I had wrongfully reflected myself to a ‘father’ and a family I did not descend from. Instant I was curious to know who my actual biological father was. It is very strange to realize that there is someone out there with whom I share half of my being, someone who exists because I exist, someone I truly miss having in my life and I am not allowed to know him.

Do you know I always screen the room in search for relatives? Don’t panic, I don’t think there are any present here today. But maybe there will be on my flight home. Because as a donor conceived you never know if the person you are sitting next to you could be related.

Apart from my own search I am, with the DD, also helping others to find answers to fundamental questions about themselves. For over 7 years and this on a daily basis I am also dealing with the mess these kinds of practices are leaving behind. I help donor conceived, but also parents and donors who begin to realize that the picture that was painted isn’t as simple as once presented or mentioned on the brochure. Families are complex, add a huge unknow factor to the equation, take the possible implications and consequences into account, you are then potentially dealing with a recipe for disaster.

The youngest donor conceived we helped so far was a six-year-old girl. Her mother contacted us because her daughter struggled from an early age with the gap in her identity and family. Her emotional and psychological suffering was so tremendous that we decided to help her because not doing anything would even harm her more. Through DNA testing with international DNA databanks we were able to trace her biological father and now we are hoping that he is willing to open his arms and heart for her.

It’s difficult to explain to others what it does to someone to know that you are the result of a transaction, and not only a transaction you are also the result of human mass production, where money is paid, true lineage and culture are cut out of the picture, you are not granted access to important medical information and you deliberately deprived from meaningful relationships like for example with your siblings.

I think is fundamentally wrong to discriminate children before they are even born. There are a lot of adults pushed by an industry who assume that having a baby is like cherry picking. They are even willing to dismiss parts of the convention on the right of the child so they can claim a child of their own at all cost.

Nevertheless, I think we owe all children access to parts and persons that matter to them. I hope that when time continues, and more voices of donor conceived, and children born out of surrogacy are heard that we as society begin to realize we should put their interests first.

Steph
stephke.r@telenet.be

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