When I search for a donor, I look for something of myself in her, but I’ve never understood why. What’s the point? Am I trying to fool myself?
I’ve been asking myself these questions for weeks, thinking that they were rhetorical, and then the other day I realized that they aren’t rhetorical. That the answer is Yes. I am trying to fool myself. I am actually searching for a donor who looks enough like me so that my babies might let me forget that we aren’t genetically related.
Never mind how this could possibly work. Why would I do this? It’s an awful lot of trouble to go through when the tricker and the trickee are the same person. I threw out a bunch of different possibilities, and when I started crying, I knew I’d discovered the reason:
It’s not the loss of my genes. It’s the death of my heritage.
I’m a first generation American and the product of a lineage whose survival was doubtful. My parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents have stories of hunger, discrimination, persecution, flight, and death. I’ve heard these tales over and over again, told to me in third world accents during turmeric-spiced dinners – descriptions of where my grandmother laid the beds in their 2 bedroom apartment to accommodate 10 children, and how my aunt’s fingers were broken when she was 8 because she tried to learn to write her name.
And the story of my father who had one set of clothes growing up: a pair of pajamas that he both slept and went to school in. When enough time had passed, and they were finally too small and torn in equal parts, my dad was so excited to be getting something new – not because of the updated wardrobe, but because then his mom would take his old pjs, wrap them up in twine, and give it to him so he’d have a ball to play with.
These stories of endurance are the stories of my blood, and my blood won’t be passed on to my kids. The loss of all this history is too profound for me to swallow right now, and I’m just not yet ready to bury my grandparents’ lineage. What this means is that I’m committed to selecting a donor who can help me pretend this isn’t happening. I’m going ahead with the charade, and I’m looking for an ally in my self-deception.
After several days of toggling between profiles of brown-skinned, black-haired women, a new donor came up. She’s from my family’s part of the world, and there’s something about her that reminds me of my father’s mother, of my mother’s sister, and of me. She could work.
If we conspire together, this woman’s genetic babies and I could nurse the sham for a little longer. I know that more time, more tears, and more therapy will help me accept that my children won’t have my past in them, but I can’t think about that right now. I’m too busy creating a future where early on Sunday mornings, when eyes like my grandmother’s look back at me, I might be able to snooze for 5 more minutes before waking up.