The controversy over the word DIBLING


Before I delve into my journey into the once entirely uncharted territory of donor related families, I have to address a terminology issue.  Since March 2017, I’ve been following a particular post on Wendy Kramer’s (BIG FAN!) Donor Sibling Registry’s Facebook page. It’s a thread that won’t seem to go away; even today, the comments keep rolling in.  The post is regarding the coined term “DIBLING” (as in, Donor Related Sibling).  Apparently many donor conceived people find the word dibling offensive.  According to Wendy Kramer (co-founder of the Donor Sibling Registry), “using a word like dibling only calls for explanation, and labels the person as something “different.”” The issue was raised after a donor conceived person left the group as she found the term so offensive.


I don’t know about the rest of the world, but I personally like to have an opportunity to right a wrong… or in this case, at least express my point of view.  I was really disturbed to hear that someone had walked away from the group without as much as a nod.  I wish the conversation had been raised and a discussion started before it became a “hey guys, you screwed up.”  I walk through life with what I consider pretty darn good intentions, yet there are times I still f%@k things up.  I have no doubt my daughter will have a plethora of issues to be angry with me about (just as I had with my mother). I think what really upsets me is that there seems to be an us vs them (donor conceived vs parents of donor conceived) elephant in what was created as a safe place to express all views regarding donor conception.  My feeling is that regardless of what side of the story you come from-we all ended up on Wendy Kramer’s FB group because donor conception has impacted our lives in one form or another.  I imagine no matter how ill advised one might be, people seek out such groups because they have something to teach &/or something to learn.  Likely, they have both.


Back when I used donor sperm to conceive my daughter, I thought I was pretty savvy on the subject.  That is, I tried to be.  I entered into the process feeling like the weight of the world and the future of my unborn child’s happiness rested on every choice I made.  I tried to be knowledgable and mindful. I chose a willing-to-be-known donor and began an open dialogue about donor conception with my daughter before we even left the hospital.  I joined the DSR the moment I learned of it and one by one made contact with each new donor match.  Today, my daughter’s half siblings (along with their mothers) are extended members of our family.


I was not the product of donor conception.  While I like to think of myself as an advocate for the donor conceived & for those yet to be conceived-I will never know what it feels like to live in a world with unknown origins.  I will never know what it’s like to be adopted.  My point is that I’ve come to learn that I can not predict what others will feel. I’m going to be brutally honest here… I spent so much of my child’s infancy worried about how she might feel as an adult that I failed to give her what she really needed most of all… a happy, confident mother.  I hate the argument that not every adoptee is going to want to meet their birth parents almost as much as I hate when people say “you don’t know if she’ll want to meet her donor.”  I hate those statements because they’re obvious comments used to deflect one’s responsibility.  I hope that Wendy & Ryan Kramer’s work has not been in vain; I hope the majority of us have come to understand the need for industry reform.  I pray that every mother and every father with donor conceived children will be confident enough in their parenting to raise children without secrets and shame.  These days I pray for a lot of things.


I happen to like the word dibling. I like it because without it my donor conceived only child might not have had the opportunity to grow up knowing her half siblings.  The world is full of disappointments, sensitivities and hatred.  I used to cringe every time I heard someone refer to a sperm donor as dad.  These days I take a deep breath & give my daughter (now 11) the opportunity to decide for herself whether or not to address it.  Once upon a time I thought the use of such terms was a sign of ignorance. Today I realize that sometimes they’re just words and that not everyone speaking them is an idiot or out to hurt my child.


I wish I had known that the word dibling was experienced by some as so offensive that people were leaving donor conceived groups because of it.  To those who find the word dibling hurtful…. I wish I had an opportunity to speak with you.  You see, in my corner of the world the use of the word dibling became a necessary term to be mindful of everyone’s feelings.  The word dibling provided all the mothers of my daughter’s extended family with an age appropriate way of saying you have siblings you live with and siblings you don’t.  My mother always reminds me that the world is not black or white and that there are frequently different ways of looking at the same thing.  Personally, I’m thrilled to know a word like dibling needed to be coined because it means that donor siblings are meeting as young children.


Within our extended family we use the word dibling to describe something very, very special…. it pays homage to what connects us…. and there’s nothing half about it.



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