Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My Story

I want it known from the beginning that I love both of my parents. And both of them love me. The Lord gave me the parents that He wanted me to have, and I am thankful to Him for them. I'm so glad that I grew up in their home.
I'd always wondered why my nose didn't look like my parent's noses. I have dark hair like my dad and when I was a kid and actually played outside, I had a dark complection like my dad. But my dad has a rather large nose and while mine isn't small, it definitely isn't his. Nor is it my mom's nose. My sister's baby pictures looked just like my mom's baby pictures. I just sort of came out of nowhere with my look. But I'd heard stories about Mom's pregnancy with me and there are even some pictures of us at the hospital, so I knew I wasn't adopted. I never imagined what the truth was!

My mom told me one time that they would jokingly tell people that I was my dad's child from his first marriage, and my sister was my mom's from her first marriage. Of course, they were never married to anyone else - they just said it because I was dark like Dad and my sister is fair like Mom.

My parents married when Mom was 17. She had me, the oldest of the two of us girls, when she was 31. That's a long time to be married with no children. I had always known that it took them a long time to get pregnant with me, but somewhere along the way, I remember being told that Dad had some kind of surgery to fix something and yada, yada, yada, Mom was pregnant soon afterward. That was rather vague, but honestly, I didn't care to know too many details of that topic! When you are a teenager, you don't really want to know too much about your parents and their, um, life together. So I never remember asking many probing questions.

Over the last few years, my dad has developed some health issues that have affected him both mentally and physically. Since they moved away from us, it seems as though he got worse each time I saw him. It was difficult to see him become less and less like himself.

Each time I would see him, I would wonder, "Will this be me in 30 years? Will Keith be caring for me the way Mom cares for Dad? Will I forget who people are?" Those thoughts have been swirling around in my mind for the last few years. Instead of googling what he has and checking out for myself to see if they are genetic, I just put it out of my mind. There are some things about your future that you just don't want to know.

This past May, my second son graduated from Kindergarten. My mom and her sister were able to come be here for it. On the way to the graduation, with only babies in the van with us, I asked Mom if anything Dad has is genetic. She said something like this: "I never told you all the details about your conception. We tried for several years to get pregnant and we decided to go to a fertility doctor. I only had a cycle a few times a year and Dad had a low sperm count. He put me on fertility drugs and got my cycle regular and he suggested we use a sperm donor. But your dad and I kept trying while I was on the fertility drugs. We never told anyone."

My first reaction was something like, "Are you telling me that Dad isn't my real father?" As soon as she said it, though, it all made since where my nose came from. It came from my biological father!

Keep in mind that I was driving! It was a crazy conversation that just sort of happened. There was no plan to it, and I'm sure Mom didn't wake up that morning knowing that she was going to spill the beans on a 33 year old secret. Also, because Dad really did get Mom pregnant with my sister when I was 4, I think that Mom was convinced that because they kept trying while she was on the fertility drugs that he really did get her pregnant with me. I think the use of artificial insemination may have just become a non-issue in her mind. I can't speak for her, but this is what I'm guessing.

So this conversation only lasted about 15 minutes before we got out of the van to go watch my son graduate. Then we all went out to eat. I'm not sure how I went through the evening looking relatively normal.

Once we got home that night, I asked Keith to google the possibility of green and blue eyed parents having a very brown-eyed daughter. What he found was that it was virtually impossible. I cried. Really hard. Keith just held me. But I didn't really need the eye color to confirm what I already knew. When Mom said they used a sperm donor, everything just made sense.

I've read what some other people have said about their "social fathers" and how they never felt close to him or something to that effect. That was not me and my dad. I was a Daddy's girl. I probably had my dad twisted around every finger I had when I was younger. There was no divide or disconnect or anything between us. He loved me and I loved him. Let me correct that - he loves me and I love him.

Keith and I spent a good deal of time talking with Mom about the whole situation that night after everyone went to bed. When they left the next day, I immediately sat down at my computer and started my search.

My mother remembered the name of the doctor that she saw, but she couldn't remember what kind of doctor he was and she also didn't remember where she saw him. The first thing I did was call an OB friend who told me that Mom would have seen a reproductive endocrinologist. A what? I had a hard time saying that. What job title in the world has 10 syllables? A reproductive endocrinologist does.

Google was my best friend when it came to research. Since I was completely clueless about how to even search for this doctor, I spent the first day or two trying to figure out how to look. Once I got a handle on that, I found her doctor easily.  I found a brief "resume" online that told me where he was in 1976. Finally, I had something substantial.

When I first talked with my OB friend, she told me that all records would have been destroyed after several years. I was hoping that she was wrong. After a couple of weeks of talking with the records department and sending in paperwork to release Mom's records, they let me know that the records had indeed been destroyed 10 years after Mom was a patient. That was a let down, even though I tried not to get my hopes up that they were still intact and just waiting for me with the name of my father written in neat penmanship.

I spent every night for a couple of weeks searching on google for anything I could find that might be of use to me. I found several blogs and emailed a couple of people. I discovered that in the 70's, med students were mainly used, especially at medical schools. There were no sperm banks at the time, so everything seemed to be kept "in house" and sperm was not frozen at that time, so I knew that my father was still a student in the late summer of 1976, and not some random student who could have been long gone before my parents ever saw the doctor.

Since the good doctor told my parents that he would pick a donor who looked like my father, I *know* that he was tall, dark complected, and I suspect that he wore glasses. My Dad wears glasses and my eyesight is horrible. That's about all I'm able to discern about him.

My next hope was to find a year book from 1976. I was saddened again to discover that there were NO yearbooks published in the years of '76 - '80 (if he had been in his first year in '76, he could have graduated in 1980) BUT the university did put together a book about the history of the school that included class pictures and names of the graduates. I am currently hoping to be able to purchase this book as soon as possible.

It may be naive, but I'm hoping that since I don't look like my mother, I look like my father. If that is the case, I hope that his face will be easily discernable. I'm pretty sure that I'll be able to cross out blondes, Asians, and African-American men, though I'm not sure how many of the last two categories there would be at this school in the 70's. But it's something to work with.

I am also listed on the Donor Sibling Registry and I hope that someone will contact me...