“Without the right to the truth about our genetic origins, donor-conceived people will remain products of industry, not human beings.” (Sydney Morning Herald, 16th august 2014). Sarah Single, a 27 year old Sydney-sider of mixed parentage, was shocked to discover that she was conceived using a donor sperm. Her mother had resorted to artificial insemination as a result of paternal infertility. The revelation of her conception triggered her instinctive urge to trace her “real” roots. Ethics surrounding artificial insemination demands that donors are kept anonymous. Her quest for her genetic origins is in vain. It only deepens her frustration now that she knows that she may have several “siblings” from the same sperm donor.
Why does a person’s genetic roots evoke so much passion? Does it matter where we came from? The majority of people in similar predicament confessed that they are happy with the parents that they grew up with. Sarah was adamant that she could not be happier with her parents, saying “Let me be clear: I don’t need another parent. I couldn’t have asked for a better father than the man who brought me up.” Nonetheless, the moment it was revealed that her father is not her biological parent, she was struck by a hunger surge to know her biological parent. It triggers “an awakening” of her soul. It would seem that the biological parent has little relevance but that is not the case. It is not a matter of a “right to know” legalism. Neither is it curiosity. Within every man and woman, is an uncanny desire to know who we are. The busy-ness of life has a tendency to mask this instinct. It becomes more apparent only in such cases as IVF treatment and also in adoption and situations of separated twins.
“A recurring theme heard from adopted children is that they wish to know more about their biological parents. This understandable desire to know one’s origins has been balanced by the courts and State statutes with the right of parents giving their children up for adoption to maintain anonymity if they wish.” (Stimmel & Smith). Laws pertaining to adoption favour anonymity protection to the person offering a child for adoption. People gave up their precious kids for adoption for various reasons. In the West, teenage promiscuity leading to unwanted children is a common cause. In poorer countries, mere poverty forces mothers to give away the children for a better life. This is especially so for female kids as it will be harder for them to face the hardship of harsh environment such as in rural farmlands. China’s one-child policy leaves many female children unwanted or murdered. Adoption typically has a root push factor – an unwanted child. Consequently, adopted children are more prone to be traumatised by knowledge of the biological parents compared with IVF conceived children.
How society or the individual sees parenthood is subjective. It is a complex issue, complicated further by religious norms. Without the complication of science interfering with the natural process of child-bearing, the parent-child relationship is simple to grasp – man and woman gets married, and begats a child. Now, with genetic engineering, IVF, surrogate parenthood (Sydney Morning Herald, 13th August 2014), vehement support for LGBT to form a same sex “family unit”, transgender – the basic and simple parent-child relationship is sinking into uncharted waters. What becomes of a child in these abnormal environments remains to be seen. But it is unlikely to be good for mankind. The future of kids born of unnatural ways will have great difficulty understanding the meaning of mother or father. In mitigation, could he be simply classified a “bastard”?
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.