Skip to 0 minutes and 0 secondsSo I lived 21 years in the assumption that my social father was also my biological father. And then at that age I found out that the story was a little different and that my social father was not my genetic father and that I was conceived through donor-conception. The reason I found out was that because I, at that age I struggled a lot with the relationship with my social father, my parents divorced many years before when I was, I think I was 8 years old. And throughout the years the connection with me and my-, between me and my father kind of dissolved.

Skip to 0 minutes and 46 secondsAnd actually I felt very guilty and responsible for that, because I also didn’t really invest in that relationship but I also didn’t feel a lot coming from him and it was something that was really, bothering me at that time. I had nightmares about it and I often spoke about it with my mum. And I remember it was a morning at my mums house and I had another nightmare about this and I told her, “oh, why is this so difficult? And why is it this way? Why am I feeling so estranged from him?” Because that was what was really going on. I felt really estranged from my father.

Skip to 1 minute and 31 secondsIt is actually funny, it is not funny it is actually painful but when I talked about my father with other people I often said I have nothing in common with my dad except a blood tie. That is how I framed it. So because I felt very estranged but I never doubted that he was my real biological father. So, I spoke about it again with my mum. And then she told me, “Lyn, I need to tell you something and I wish I told you so much earlier but it was too hard and I’m very sorry but” and I was, “like oh, what is going on?” And then she told me, “yes your father is not your biological father.”

Skip to 2 minutes and 16 secondsAnd I remembered I was like “huh? So what happened?” And then she told me about the sperm donor and I remember that being a very emotional moment. Especially in retrospective I am very, very, very glad that my mum told me deliberately and intentionally and in a, safe environment without conflict or anger or anything because, today I know many other stories where donor offspring have found out by accident or in a conflict or a fight. So I am very happy that my mum told me in a very calm way. So, that was when I was 21. And since then I kind of yes, going on a journey trying to make sense of all this.

Skip to 3 minutes and 11 secondsI remember in the beginning that it was very hard and I really, really struggled with this. I remember the first days that I was very emotional and I cried a lot and I looked in the mirror and saw a stranger and it felt all very, very weird. But of course, years pass by and you kind of fit this new thing into your identity and it works. But still there is a giant frustration for me that I, there is some man who delivered half of my genes and I have no rights to any knowledge about him and that feels very unjust to me. So, a few years ago I started, non-profit organization together with two others, two other donor offspring.

Skip to 4 minutes and 1 secondIn an attempt to make sort of platform for donor-conceived people and to of course speak out and, and have our voice heard by politicians for example. So we try to lobby on a political level for more recognition of our rights and we believe it is our right to know our full genetic history. And we also try to yes, bring people together and, and we organize meetings where donor offspring can, yes meet each other and relate to each other and share stories that are very difficult to share with people who have no idea what it is to be cut off from a part of your genetic history. So, that is also I think very, very helpful.

Skip to 5 minutes and 1 secondI am a very curious person, that is just who I am. And I am also very curious about this and it is not curious as in, oh, that would be nice to know. I have really a deep routed need to know more and what I actually want is to have this person in front of me and see him move and hear him talk and that would be, that would be my ideal scenario but I think that will never happen because I have no access to any files. I even think that my file don’t exist anymore. So that would probably never happen.

Skip to 5 minutes and 37 secondsI think that some non identifying information would bring maybe some peace of mind but I really have this yes, I cannot explain why but I want, I want to see a person. I think it is important to add that if I, if there would be a possibility to get in touch with my donor and he would tell me “I really don’t want to meet you,” then that would be much easier for me to accept than some system now decides that for me because I think that my donor who donated 31 years ago probably was a very naive student who didn’t really get what he was doing. He was probably thinking I am doing something good for this couple.

Skip to 6 minutes and 27 secondsAnd didn’t really think about the long term implications for the resulting child. And I know of some donors who have changed their minds over time. For example when they got kids of their own. It triggers some new thoughts about the donor, about their donations. They realize like, “okay, actually I have some other children walking around on this planet who are genetically as related to me as my own children.” Of course it is a completely different story but it triggers some new thoughts and feelings and I think there is a real chance that my donor also might have some interest in me and would not mind meeting me once for a coffee.

Skip to 7 minutes and 13 secondsAnd there is just no means or no way to get in touch with each other because someone or some people or, I don’t know who prevents us from that and I think that is very frustrating.

Lyn's story

We meet Lyn, a young woman from Belgium, who tells her story of uncovering - at the age of twenty - that she was donor-conceived.

Lyn also shares her views on the rights of donor-conceived children to know their genetic heritage, and some of the implications for her of not having that information.

For discussion: Which parts of Lyn’s story and perspective resonate with you? What would you do if you were in her shoes (or in her parents’ shoes)?

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

Making Babies in the 21st Century

UCL (University College London)