Eight hours later, after several recitations of “Hail Mary” and “Our Father”, followed by numbing-out on countless episodes of a mindless (yet appropriately named) show called “Second Chances” (hey, no judging, I couldn’t handle anything more serious at the time!) I received a message from Meredith.
It was everything.
My prayers had finally been answered, and it was a miracle.
Of course I could give them time to process, and I definitely understand that they’ll want to have some words with Jefferson Hospital. Instinctively I knew that this must mean that he never voluntarily donated, but I had to ask.
Of course he thought it was just a scam when he first heard about me from Kristy. If he had never donated, there was no reason to believe that I could be real.
In finally verifying that he never intentionally donated, there were so many conflicting feelings in my heart. I can’t say that I wasn’t slightly assuaged in a way, because it meant that I was never actually sold and signed away forever by my biological father. He never had any intention of erasing me permanently from his life. I wasn’t meaningless to him before I was even born. I know that not every anonymous donor feels this way anyway, but certainly some of them do, and I was relieved to find that I wasn’t begotten from one of them.
When he created those samples, he meant to have us.
Yet, there was the flip side. I knew that he was now faced with knowing that the children he tried to create with those samples, with that part of himself, were taken away from him without his knowledge or consent. At best, the doctors had been irresponsible with labeling his samples. At worst, they intentionally stole from him for their own profit. Either way, they took away his ability to know his own biological children, and sold us to another couple. If it hadn’t been for the DNA test that I randomly took, the repercussions of those actions could have been for life.
And, of course, there is the devastation that this brings to my parents who raised me. They played no part in that deception. They only sought to create and raise their own family. To find out that THEIR family was created in part through a deception that they never asked for…to have to face that what they thought was freely given was a gift that had been stolen, and to have to feel for even a second that their greatest happiness might not be fully their own…it is an absolute travesty. How dare a doctor, who swore an oath to do no harm, cause any of us to question if our life was borrowed? My parents didn’t deserve this. None of us did. And yet this horrible deception or mistake is also responsible for my life. And, importantly, it also gave me the parent-child relationship of a lifetime with the most meaningful man in my life. There is no world in which that could ever be viewed as a mistake. We are not of him, but we are and always will be his as much as we are hers.
And still, we are also connected to another.
Back and forth, back and forth my mind races between the implications for all sides.
For Keith to have read my letter, and seen pictures and anecdotes of us growing up, the children he never knew were out there, and to watch our childhoods slip away between those photographs…it must have been devastating. Beautiful, yet devastating. 31 years of separation that he had no knowledge of, although joyously spent with another family. These images were of strangers, yet close family by blood. Just 35 miles apart. Our smiles were reflections of our parents, via both nature and nurture, but also of him.
Although it will never be a traditional parent-child relationship, since we have already been raised and are now adults, we inarguably have a third branch to our tree. It stretches back in time, connecting me with the other half of ancestors of my birth-line. Most have already passed, yet rest in peace as they live on in my veins. The closest of this chain of forebearers is Keith, and his story, like those of the rest of this shared succession, is one I’d like to get to know.
And what must discovering this shared connection be like for my siblings? I could understand if they had complex feelings as well.
Danielle texted me later that night to say that they had each read my letter and were processing. Who knows how you’re even supposed to process something like this. It’s been weeks now, and I still am.
While it was a horrible thing for my parents’ fertility doctor to have done…it’s why I’m here today. It’s how I exist. It’s a heavy thing to weigh.
And, again, it’s also the miracle that brought my Dad into my life. Another innocent party, and one of the best things in my entire life. How could the thing that has brought both me and my biological father/family so much anger and pain also be responsible for giving me my parents, my greatest loves, and my life? How could something so awful be something so miraculously wonderful at the same time?
At the end of the day, though, we’re here. It has been tremendously hard on my core family, and I can only imagine how hard it must be for Keith’s. My parents never intended for our lives to merge, and everyone is understandably on edge.
I just hope that we can find a way to forgive each other for these wrongs that none of us even committed. Keith, and his wife, and my parents are all innocent parties, as are we. I hope that they can see each other in that light, and trust in the strength of our pre-existing family relationships while having compassion for the new ones. We are here now, and we ARE connected, even without substituting or canceling anyone out.
We are the addition, and we are greater than the sum of our parts.