Language – It’s all about the Lingo…
I was talking to a close friend of mine one day last week and the subject of my child’s egg donor came up. This subject comes up from time to time and I am totally okay with it. While we were talking, we were laughing about how tall my son is. (He’s 5’4 at 9 years old). It’s also amazing how much he looks like both his father and me. In fact, he acts more like me than his father personality wise. The characteristics that he has are split pretty much right down the middle, actually, it’s rather fascinating.
Anyhow, my friends said, “Does your son get his amazing hair from the donor mother?”
My head snapped and my friend I think realized what she said and immediately said “Oh Marna, I didn’t mean that the way it sounded, I am so sorry.” In my head, I was thinking “What the hell?” at the same time my body tensed and I felt my arms instinctively cross themselves across my chest.
So I took a deep breath and smiled and I hugged her telling her it was okay that this was uncharted territory for lots of people.
Both of us are writers (she’s much better of a writer than I am), and so, we both deal with words, language, and lingo every day. We are hip deep in it if you will, and are continually amazed how powerful all those little letters put together can be.
My friend said, “Of course you are the mom, but what do I call her?” I laughed and said “Anything you want” and I meant that. My son and I have make up names for her all the time. For a while, she was known as the “Angel Lady.” Then for a while, she was “Eddie” (E.D. sounded out.) And later still she actually had a name I named her “Julie” as that’s my favorite girl name of all time (Actually Giulianna), and my son I think referred to her as “Sasha.” More often than not, when my son refers to her he will say “the donor.”
He and I have talked about the fact that he shares her genetics not mine. He will be the first one to tell you she is clearly not his mother I am. In fact, he was so sweet, he said to me not long ago “Mom you know this whole egg donor thing is just a formality.” I cocked my head and said “ A wha?” “You know Mom, a formality, or a technicality. Technically, I am my egg donors genetic off spring. “Ooooh” I replied and nodded, wondering where this conversation was going. Knowing my child is science minded I was bracing for the whole mother conversation as we have talked about the parentage of for instance plants. However, that never came what came next was extraordinary.
My son wanted me to be very clear that while he was grateful to our egg donor as he loved his life he couldn’t imagine anyone else other than me to be his mother, and in no way did he consider the egg donor to have any role as a mother in his life. I hugged him fiercely and said something along the lines of “Gosh I would hope not, who else is going to pick up your dirty underwear?” We both laughed, for the millionth time we connected, and bonded on a level that is so pure, sweet, and real.
I am asked all the time – “What should I refer to the egg donor as?” My answer to that is whatever you want. Some recipients know their egg donors or at least her first name and can refer to her by her name. Others have family members who are their egg donors and so that egg donor might very well be “Aunt” – and for those of us who used an anonymous egg donor referring to their egg donor as “the ED” is normal and natural for us.
Where does that leave the conversation with me and my friend? It left me thinking that we don’t have the same kind of language and verbiage that the adoption community has and clearly, it’s something we need. We know what ASRM thinks we should refer our egg donors as, and we know that there is a community that feels we should refer to our egg donors as the genetic parents as our children have their DNA.
I honestly don’t know how I feel about it. 10 years ago, the term “genetic mother” or “donor mother” would have horribly threatened me. Now? I could give a rip. Why? Because I am so invested and ensconced in the relationship with my son that I know hands down who Mom is – me.
What do you think?