It’s been a while since I checked in on the plethora of Facebook groups I belong to related to donor-conception. And I’m not exactly sure why that is—though I have a hunch that it might have something to do with the fact that this is the first summer in years that my daughter will not be seeing any of her donor-related siblings. Plans just didn’t seem to work out this summer. Come to think of it, plans of seeing more of them after relocating down south (their neck of the woods) didn’t seem to work out either. And the texts, calls and check-ins seem fewer and further between.
And that’s got me thinking. Single mothers by choice and lesbian moms seemed to be the driving force behind the new(ish) trend of donor-linking families (ie, connecting with families whose children were conceived through the use of a common sperm donor). Pictures of family reunions—gatherings of half siblings who resemble each other much more than you’d expect—flood Facebook groups like the Donor Sibling Registry, Donor Conceived People and DNA for the Donor Conceived. Pictures of these happy occasions seem to pop up daily—especially this time of year.
But upon closer examination, I’ve begun to notice that the kids in the pictures all seem really young (like single-digits young)—or older—as in, young adult reunions without Mom (or Mom & Mom) present. Perhaps it’s just my perception, but there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of tweens and teens at these gatherings.
So now I’m wondering why.
When my daughter’s “tribe” first got together, it was such a surreal experience that the next get-together was already inked on the calendar before the visit even ended. And it was like that for the first few years. We had decided as a group (four moms, four households) that getting the children together was important. We were proud of what we were doing. We felt it was our obligation to introduce and foster these relationships among half siblings. We wanted to create childhood memories for them. What they chose to do with these relationships later would be up to them—but so long as they were children, we’d provide opportunities for them to be together.
As mom to the lone only child of the group, this was especially important to me.
So I’m curious: When do the visits become less important? I’m interested in knowing if there’s a certain age in which time together becomes less relevant… or is there a certain time in which the novelty of hanging out with donor-related extended family wears off for the mothers? Or the kids? Reality is, considering most donor-linked families are spread out throughout the country, planning these visits takes effort, time and money. It takes a real commitment.
It’s not the end of the world, and I have no doubt there will be other visits—but this summer, I will miss seeing the four dogs, three moms and eight kids whose smiles cause their eyes to crinkle into the same almond shape as that of my daughter. I’ll miss the laughter, chaos and even the occasional drama the reunions always produce. I’ll miss the noise.
I won’t miss mealtime (which seems to happen every five minutes).
And I’ll hope this is not the end of an era, but rather just a sibling-less summer.