Carolyn Hax: Family feels entitled to know if couple used donor sperm

Comment

Adapted from an online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: My wife and I discovered by chance that my brother’s wife was impregnated through IVF. They chose not to mention that to us, at least.

It now occurs to us she may have used donor sperm. I can’t think of a good reason the family should not have a right to the truth, but I suspect you probably can.

I would like to add, I’m not impressed with a superior claim to privacy, because we’re talking about a permanent addition to our families, and this amounts to a blurring of our identity. Do close relatives have a right to know who the father is?

Family: You’re so right — I can think of a good reason. Because it’s absolutely none of your freaking business. Wow.

The identity of a family that judges people for living their own lives on their own terms is one begging to be blurred. If you are seriously making a purity-of-line argument with me, then I’m going with the donor as the gene-pool upgrade you all sorely needed. Then I’m taking a shower.

  • Good God. It’s really obvious why your brother and his wife didn’t disclose their use of IVF or whether they used his sperm for this process. You and your wife are judgmental glass bowls! It’s a baby — a future wonderful human being! Geez that letter ticked me off.
  • I don’t know if this will help you (probably not!) but you technically don’t know for sure where the sperm came from for any child you’ve ever met. You don’t ask non-IVF parents. (Right????)

Dear Carolyn: What if you just don’t have any people? I never felt like I belonged in my family of origin. I’m married, and feel like I sort of belong with spouse’s family. Even though I have interests and hobbies, I don’t have people.

An old colleague just passed. The amount of people who have come out of the woodwork for him is heartwarming, and yet I’m a little sad because I know if I passed, they wouldn’t for me. From any of my previous jobs, from my hobbies, etc. My family is not a connecting family — when family members have passed, their funerals were sad, poorly attended affairs. What happens if you just don’t have people?

A Little Sad: That’s kind of up to you. Do you want people? Enough to do the work?

Not everybody is a connecting type, it’s not just your family — it’s within the range of human variety. People can also feel either happy or unhappy with where they fall along that scale. Happy loners, unhappy connectors, etc.

So you’ve figured out you’re not as connected as your late colleague was. If that feels bad, then you need to decide whether you want to try to change that, which usually means a side-by-side comparison of discomforts: Which feels worse, not belonging — or whatever you would have to start doing to grow some people?

With interests and hobbies already in place, you might need only to put yourself out there a little more.

And look for other people without people. That’s a kindness anyway.

There also isn’t a direct correlation between low turnout and sadness of the affair marking a death. Connection is quality, not quantity, and you can be adored without drawing an out-of-woodwork turnout. And that’s perfectly okay, even preferable, if you’re okay with it. Not everyone wants or has the energy for a wide friend circle. Good crowds come in all shapes and sizes.

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