Phillip Chesnut was asked this question by his wife, “If you were sterile and not able to conceive a child, but I could, would you want to utilize a sperm donor or just adopt?” Why was it so difficult for him to answer?
My wife and I have a guilty pleasure of watching MTV shows. We are devoted fans of Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant. I think we are infatuated with the drama of the situations and how they make the drama in our life seem pale in comparison. Trying to make up for the lack of teen mom shows this time of year, we began watching “Generation Cryo”. This is a show in which 17 year old Breeanna, a child conceived via anonymous sperm donation, logs into the Donor Sibling Registry and sets out on a journey to find her 15 half-siblings and, ultimately, her donor father.
My wife and I love drama shows, reality or fictional, and we usually end the episode with a lengthy philosophical discussion about the issues contained in the episode. In the latest episode, one of the half-sibling fathers discusses his feelings about the possibility of the donor father turning up. The dad breaks down into tears and explains that he has such strong feelings of sadness because his wife gave birth to the children and, therefore, shares something that only the anonymous sperm donor and her share with his children, DNA.
The question my wife asked after this moment was one of the most difficult questions I have ever had to answer: “If you were sterile and not able to conceive a child, but I could, would you want to utilize a sperm donor or just adopt?” Stating that she would want to be pregnant and have children naturally, her answer was easy, sperm donor. My answer was much, much more complicated to produce.
I must add that I was adopted as an infant by my wonderful loving family. DNA is something that we will never share but the love that they showed me formed a connection that is stronger than anything a few cells can produce. My wife and I are also currently completing an international adoption, so adoption is something that is constant in our minds and conversations. I have always accepted that adoption is a very loving and strong way to build a family and that love can create a wonderful connection between a parent and child whether DNA is involved or not. Yet, when I pictured a scenario where my wife would share a genetic and emotional connection to our children and I would only share the emotional connection, I was completely saddened and emotionally destroyed by the thought. I couldn’t understand why. If I am so completely comfortable with the fact that neither my wife nor I will share DNA with our adopted daughter, why am I so saddened and emotional if it were only me?
Then I remember the connections that were made between me, my wife and my two boys in the delivery rooms at the hospital. The intense love and awe that I felt for my wife as she gave birth to our children and the love that I felt for my sons that moment I looked at them and held them for the first time. I realize that those connections are made by love, not DNA. Being a loving dad doesn’t require DNA, it only requires a big heart. I think I could be a good donor for that.