“Did she get her curls from the Mum?” Ouch. This is one comment I’ve had in relation to donor conception that really hit a nerve. It’s actually been said twice, once to Matt from someone I’ve never met, & once to myself from someone close. I know it was simply a curious, innocent ‘slip of the tongue’, mistakenly using different terminology to us. In both cases they were quick to stop themselves & apologise. On the surface I just calmly said “Oh, you mean did she get her curls from the donor?” whilst inside I felt I’d been kicked in the stomach.
I know what they said wasn’t necessarily untrue, the donor is the genetic parent – something we don’t deny & will always be open about. We just don’t refer to her as ‘Mum’. To us, she very kindly provided us with genetics to give us the opportunity to be parents – something we’ll be forever grateful for – but the role of Mum has always been me. Inadvertently they had touched on one of my biggest fears – that I wouldn’t feel like or be seen as the legitimate Mother. At the time I wasn’t consciously aware of this fear, which is probably why it felt so raw, but now I’m more prepared & aware to handle questions such as this (still with a slight sting, but without the stomach-wrenching emotional reaction). I know I felt shame for feeling this way & so hid these emotions – I want you to share for you to know that you’re not alone.
It’s easy to forget on a day to day basis as you’re busy being ‘Mum’ that there was a third person involved in making your child. It’s why recognising these feelings is so important to avoid being floored by an unexpected question or remark. I’m much more comfortable with this nowadays, being more accepting of our reality & able to face these types of comments. I think it’s so important for me not to just ‘bury’ experiences like this. Instead I intend to use them as learning, to better equip me to face future questions, from not just family & friends, but also the girls themselves.
Love, Becky x