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For those with pictures of their donors

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Today my dad starting asking again if he could see pictures of our son's 'dad'. I absolutely hate when he refers to the donor as dad. I also hate when he starts saying things like the '"dad" would be so proud of "his son"' and other things that make it seem like the anonymous, but willing to be known, donor is actually a vital part of our son's life right now.

I am a very nonconfrontational person, and I know I need to put a stop to my dad's interest in the donor or at least redirect his interest to something that is more acceptable to me. I do not see the donor as the dad. I see him as a donor that allowed me and my partner to have a family. I am very grateful to him for what he has given us, and if my son wants more information in the future I will allow him to seek it out. But I'm not really expecting that he's going to have some awesome relationship with the guy, and will kind of discourage that. Heck, donors can change their ideas about being ID release if they want, so I'm not even anticipating them corresponding with each other necessarily. If by some chance they do establish a relationship, well that's something I'll have to deal with. I mean, we did choose ID release knowing that was a potential thing down the road.

But anyway, so I was thinking, since my dad already knows I have pictures of the donor, that I would email him the pictures with a disclaimer note on it about not calling the donor 'dad' and other such things. I know that's a sucktastic way of dealing with things, but I have had several opportunities to correct him and haven't up to this point. The thing I don't get is that my niece is adopted by my brother, she never knew her bio father, and my dad never refers to the biological father as dad, or asks anything about him at all. I know it's a little different, but not really, and still it's something that irks me.

Has anyone else shown pictures of the donors to their family members? If so, how did it go over?
post #2 of 11
Congrats on your second pregnancy, quasar! I used to lurk when you were trying for your first

My situation is a bit different but thought I'd share anyway. Bit of context...we have a known donor who is not going to parent our DD in any way. We chose a known donor because we did want the option of our DD knowing her other bio parent if that's what she wanted. We are not in the same direct social circle as our KD but do see him from time to time (he is an old friend).

My sister in law has, on several occasions, mentioned DD's "dad" and "the father" when pointing out physical characteristics...things like "I guess her lips look like her father's" and stuff like that. It drives me crazy but I usually just ignore it and change the subject and she figures it out fairly quickly that I don't like talking about it. It's not that it's a big secret that we used a donor and that yes, there is a male out there that our DD does look like, but we've decided that the only one who really needs to know anything about our KD is our DD. And until she knows, we are not sharing any info about KD. I feel strongly that it is completely up to her who she shares this information with. So, I guess in your situation I would probably tell my dad that we refer to our donor as "the donor" and I definitely wouldn't share photos of him until I had shared them with my child (if they choose to see them).
post #3 of 11
My partner and I used a willing to be known donor and have a picture. However, we tell anyone who asks that the information we have on the donor is our son's to know first and his to share if he wishes to at a later date. When people refer to the donor as "father" or "dad" (which does happen, in part, I believe, because people don't know the language to use) I correct them and say "We don't use the term "dad" or "father", we use the term donor." Or if it is comfortable I might say '"dad" or "father" refers to a social relationship with the child that doesn't exist. While the donor in the strictest sense is the "biological father", his relationship to our child is donor."

Also I read on this board or on a blog somewhere that there is a difference between process questions and content questions and that really helped me clarify. Well meaning people who want to know how it worked (process) I will tell how it worked in regard to picking a donor, but I won't share content. (ie "We looked at profiles at various banks and the profiles contain medical information, some personal information, an essay, a picture, etc... and we chose based on certain characteristics that mattered to us and the feeling that he was a really nice human being - at least as far as we could tell from the information we had." But we don't share specifics about how tall, how he describes himself, etc. )

In my opinion, if you want your father to see the donor's role as you see the donor's role DO NOT SHOW HIM A PICTURE. That will only increase his focus on the donor and may lead to comments about his looks and projections about him as a person. I would send a very nice email that explains that he is considered the donor and that as a family you've decided not to share info or pictures until your children are old enough to understand and participate in the discussion about what will be shared and how. And it would be fine to reference an adopted family member b/c that might help him realize how to conceptualize it - some people want to be supportive but really just don't understand how it works and need help with the concept and the language and then are fine.

I know several people who are fine sharing pictures and info about their donor with everyone - that is absolutely fine, too, if that is what you are comfortable with and that is the approach you choose to take but if you are at all uncomfortable it is better to share less while you figure it out b/c you can't UNSHARE later... Also at the very least if you do share a photo, I would share it in person only so that other people don't have it to refer back to. A picture seen once and "owned" by you will be different than a picture that someone has in their own email and can refer to throughout the child's life at their own discretion. (And share with others...)

good luck!!
post #4 of 11
I wonder if part of the reason your dad is insistent on referring to your child's father and not in the case of your niece is that he sees your niece as having an adoptive father, so he sees that father as dad, and doesn't think any further about it, whereas he sees your child as having a "missing" dad.

I agree, I wouldn't show him the pictures. And I definitely wouldn't e-mail them to him for fear that he might send them to other people.

My dad hasn't asked much about my KD - he did refer to him as "the surrogate father" which I thought was kind of funny, so I told him that KD is a donor, and beyond that, he's happy to accept that this is my kid and not worry too much about it. Since my situation is very different from yours, I can imagine that what's happening for you wouldn't bother me at all, but I definitely see how it bothers you, and it would bug me if I had an unknown donor.

I think telling your dad that you don't consider the donor part of your life and you don't feel that he is a dad isn't confrontational, it's being clear and direct.

Does he say the same things about you and your partner? Like, oh your parents must be proud of you? If he didn't, that would REALLY bug me.
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your ideas, guys. I haven't written the note yet, but you've given me some great things to think about. I really am fine with people seeing the donor, but I never really considered phrasing it in such a way that I'd like our son to see the donor first and I just don't like being pushed into something that I'm not ready for.

One thing I did fail to mention... my mom and some of my siblings have already seen 2 of the 7 pictures we have. We showed them when we were thinking of using him to see what their opinion was. I think if I do show my dad the pictures, I will show him at least those two that the others have seen and just say we're reserving the others for DS first. My partner has already said that I could blame her if I wanted a cop-out for not showing him. I think part of my issue with showing him is that I really don't want him comparing looks and finding features that resemble the donor. Most people say DS looks just like me, and others have commented that he looks just like smartycat. The best thing to do would be to show him the pictures like you suggested, but not email them so he has a constant reference. Thanks for making me realize this.

My dad's weird. He is fine with DS having two moms and always includes my partner as a parent to him. When I was angry about the way the nurse treated us the first time at the OB's office and they weren't going to allow smartycat back to the room with me, he was angry too and was glad she spoke up about it. He also was upset when smartycat's parents were jerks when they first found out I was pregnant. So he knows that she's there with me through all of it, and sometimes he even says things like DS looks like her. In the next breath though, he's saying things about how he was going to set me up with some guy, but then realize he was about 15 years younger than me. Um, yeah, already got things covered in the relationship department, thanks so much. But then he knows about me and my partner because he was going to take us out for our anniversary. Who knows?
post #6 of 11
this is a very diffcult area of discussion for all of us same-sex couples or same-sex spbc. the world around us wants to rationalize us having kids by labelling everything in terms that makes sense to them, and that includes our immediate familes.

we chose a donor that did not have any photos after hearing our friends say they had some and planned to show their daughter them when she was older (as it turned out she wasn't even 3) and referred to him as "her dad". each to their own but that just wasn't for us.

i would not show them or email them to your dad UNLESS he agrees to stop calling him "the dad" and only "the donor".

our plan is to tell our sons that there is no daddy in our family, just a mommy, a mum and them. our oldest son is almost 3, goes to a daycare where every other child has a mommy and a daddy and has never asked where his daddy is. we figure he will ask some day but for now he seems perfectly happy that he has a mommy and a mum.

so, for us, we tell everyone that we have a donor and there is no "dad", "daddy" or "father". we correct everyone who gets it wrong because little pitchers have big ears.

post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
He did see pictures of a potential donor that we tried once with. He thought the guy looked nice and like someone I would date. He said I should go down to the bank and see if he is available and wants to go out with me. I think this is also a HUGE part of me not wanting him to see pictures- mainly because sometimes he's so ignorant about it. I feel bad that my coworkers have seen pictures of the donor (smartycat showed them) and he hasn't, but I don't get any of this nonsense from them. They would never suggest I date the donor. And even if they saw similarities, they wouldn't harp on them or think of the donor is the dad. To me when he says these things it cheapens the relationship that smartycat has with our son.

I think he just really has no idea how to handle things. It just irritates me though that other people 'get it' and he seems so freaking clueless about it. The more I think about it, the more annoyed and angry I get and the less I want to show him anything.
post #8 of 11
yikes quasar!! i would be freaking out that once your kids get old enough to understand they'll hear your dad mention their "daddy" and have them asking all kinds of unnecessary questions. i don't know what your plans are for explaining your family dynamics but you might want to get prepared sooner rather than later. when ds1 hit 2 his vocabulary and understanding of words increased exponentially and now we find ourselves having to spell words so he doesn't figure out what we are saying.

post #9 of 11
We have a kd and have the same approach as indigoscot with our kids, and it's worked well so far (they are 7 and almost 1 1/2). No dad language tolerated--I just become pedantic, and really, people don't want to hear a patient-yet-insistent spiel everytime they bring it up, so I've found that they do stop once they realize a lecture is coming *every single time.* But really, I wouldn't let any of that (dating, dad, etc.) stuff go without comment--pleasant but firm. There's a lot of education that needs to happen, and as we see here that there are major differences in approach even among queer families, how would someone know how to verbalize the unfamiliar-to-them topic without being told? And perhaps reminded (and perhaps repeatedly..)

My response to the picture request would also be indigoscot's below, though perhaps a bit more subtle--I'd definitely not show pics until your dad did stop using father/dad language and got a clue. Basically I'd put him off "oh, I don't want to email them, we can look at them together sometime" (would not email them anyway), and then keep making excuses about why and how that wasn't happening until the language he used improved. And if I was called on that, I'd be pretty straightforward: "well, honestly, I'm worried that you'll make more of this relationship than we do, and we're really invested in defining and modeling the relationship appropriately for our kid--which is that AD helped us make our family (or whatever catchphrase you plan to use with the kid)"

FWIW, we quite delight in picking out resemblances of all types (physical/behavioral/bio/nonbio, etc.) with both of us moms, our kd and his partner, all the extended family of our kids (many aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, whether bio-related or not--we both have blended families, so sometimes have to think a bit to remember the bio connections!), so that's not as much of an issue for us--but if it was, I'd just say something to that effect as well "we're really not comfortable emphasizing physical similarities because..."

I was invested in working all of this out fairly quickly just because kids are so perceptive, and it's really easier to do this work when they are not yet verbal, I think. And the more matter-of-fact, the better.

Originally Posted by indigoscot View Post

i would not show them or email them to your dad UNLESS he agrees to stop calling him "the dad" and only "the donor".

our plan is to tell our sons that there is no daddy in our family, just a mommy, a mum and them. our oldest son is almost 3, goes to a daycare where every other child has a mommy and a daddy and has never asked where his daddy is. we figure he will ask some day but for now he seems perfectly happy that he has a mommy and a mum.

so, for us, we tell everyone that we have a donor and there is no "dad", "daddy" or "father". we correct everyone who gets it wrong because little pitchers have big ears.

post #10 of 11
I have no qualms about correcting people, instantly, when they wrongly refer to my kids' dad (usually strangers, usually in reference to my kid's red hair, wondering if he "got it from his dad"). I say, cheerfully and non-bothered, "we're a two-mom family; he doesn't have a dad." I may or may not share more information, depending on the situation. I also don't hesitate to share details about the donor, if people ask ("actually, z's donor has blond hair.") I am constantly trying to model ways in which my kids themselves can respond when they get asked questions. I think if i were to be secretive about it, it would be much harder for them to know what to say or to feel comfortable in responding to their peers. We've also avoided ever having to do a big reveal about the donor with our kids since the information we know about him has always been talked about casually.

We only have a baby picture of our donor, but we share it freely. I think I would feel just as fine about sharing adult photos if we had any.

post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks again for the advice everyone. I ended up talking to my mom a few days ago (she's so much more approachable than my dad). I told her my concerns about showing the pictures to my dad, and I think she actually might have talked to him.

Last night I took over our newest ultrasound pictures for DS2 and I ended up showing him the two pictures we were initially given with our long profile. He seemed happy to see them, and didn't make any stupid comments and referred to him as the donor. The only thing he said was that he pictured him looking a little different and he could see a little resemblance between DS1 and him, but didn't go beyond that. I told him that we do have other pictures, but we haven't shown them to anyone else (which we haven't) and that I was going to reserve bringing those out until a little later when our kids can see them and they can decide if they want to share them.

It went better than I thought and I'm glad it's out of the way. Right now DS1 is young enough that any resemblance can change significantly as he grows. I don't mind if he looks a little like the donor, I mean, that's bound to happen, and really anyone else saying anything I would be ok with. It's just my dad for some reason I have an issue with. Maybe because I guess I just feel he doesn't completely 'get' it.
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