Contacting My Sperm Donor – I Am A Kid who is All Right!

23 Aug 2010 8:34 AM | Anonymous


By -Emily McGranachan;  (Posted as Guest of Melanie Nathan)- August 22, 2010 -

The media is buzzing about the new film “The Kids Are All Right”, which premiered earlier this month.  Its release was exciting for me because for the first time I saw characters who closely reflected my family’s makeup, though the rest of the story, not really.  I too have two mothers and a sperm donor who I contacted when I turned eighteen.  The outcome was different and far less drama surrounded my family when I was finally able to contact and meet my donor, though there were still plenty of surreal moments.  The reaction to the film has been extremely varied, from people thrilled to see representation of a lesbian-headed household, to those who see the events depicted in the film as reinforcement of the notion that children need to know and live with their biological mother and father.

Growing up in Massachusetts through the marriage equality debate in 2004 and all subsequent movements, I have long been combating false beliefs that LGBTQ people should not get married or raise children.  I have lesbian mothers and I have a sperm donor.  This in no way has made me less of a person, daughter, woman, or friend.  To me, what makes a good parent is dedication to raising and loving a child.  The number, gender, or sexuality of the parents does not determine the ability to help a child grow into a compassionate and kind person.  To tell the truth, I feel lucky to have grown up with the knowledge that my mother put a great deal of time, money, and thought into having me.  I have never doubted that I am loved because I know how much my mother wanted to have a child and did everything she could to have me.

While I understand that some people believe that the married, heterosexual, biological family is the only valid familial model, I refuse to let this stereotype go unchallenged.  I have two mothers, only one of whom is biological, and no father.  Rather than somehow leaving a negative affect, my family has helped me become a more open, loving, passionate, and socially aware individual.  Growing up I was surrounded by many wonderful adult role models, some of whom were male.  Of course I thought about my sperm donor, who he was, why he donated, what it would be like to meet him.  The reason for me was never about searching for a parent I had lost or a piece of me that was missing, it was about meeting and thanking the person who enabled Cathy and Nancy, my mothers, to become parents.

I had never met another person with a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or even queer parent until I was thirteen.  That summer my family went to Provincetown, Massachusetts for Family Week where I participated in workshops provided by COLAGE.  COLAGE is the only national youth-driven network of children, youth, and adults with LGBTQ parents.  I would not be writing this if I had never come to know COLAGE and the others with LGBTQ parents I met through COLAGE.  That summer I found my center and my political voice.  Through the years COLAGE has helped me become a better advocate for myself and my family.  This summer I am an intern at COLAGE and I am assisting in the distribution of the Donor Insemination (DI) Guide.  The DI Guide is part testimonials and part advice focusing on the questions and concerns of donor-conceived children and their families.  I have been able to watch the DI Guide go from an idea to a tool for families.

It has been almost three years since I began the process of contacting my sperm donor.  Four months after I turned eighteen I had the name and address of my donor and within the year I learned I had two half-sisters who shared the same donor.  I think the most incredible part of meeting my donor and half-siblings was putting an end to the mystery.  After years of playing around with different scenarios in my head, or coming up with the reasons that Harvey Fierstein was my donor, I lost mystique but gained very real new friends and family.  Now family gatherings include my two sisters, two of their siblings, our collective six lesbian mothers, and our donor and his wife.  Certainly we are still getting to know each other, but there is an undeniably authentic connection between all of us.

Along with identical chins, my half-sisters and I have followed very similar paths.  One sister, who is four months older than me, was a sophomore at Smith College as I began my first year at Mount Holyoke College.  The schools are both women’s liberal arts colleges and twenty minutes apart. Together we met our other donor sister in March 2009.  It turned out that this new sister is from a town ten minutes from my own, that we have mutual acquaintances, and I had heard about her a year before I met her.  At a drama festival at her high school I met a guy who had taken the girl in town with lesbian mothers to her senior prom the previous year.  In my favorite “small world” story, my sister and I took the same guy to our senior proms.  I do not look like anyone in my family, but I do look a lot like her.  The photos, both of us wearing blue dresses, are just incredible.  Thankfully, we did not both date “our” prom date.

Meeting my donor and my new extended family did not alter my relationship with my parents.  They were completely supportive of my desire to contact my donor and they were with me when I met him.  I did not begin this adventure to seek a father and, though my donor is a wonderful person and a part of my life now, he is not my father.  I have two parents and that is enough for me, but I am thrilled to have him as part of my growing family.  For some people, family is a rigid concept.  For me, family is not limited by genetics or living in the same home.  My family is filled with moms, grandparents, half-siblings, friends, cousins, and a sperm donor.  It may seem unfamiliar to some, but this is my family and together we are more than all right.

-Emily McGranachan

Emily McGranachan ’12  – Love Makes a Family

Emily McGranachan ’12

Hometown: Georgetown, Massachusetts

Emily McGranachan found her voice at the age of 13 while attending the COLAGE (Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere) Family Week in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Its “life-changing lessons” gave her “a sense of empowerment.”

As a resident of Massachusetts, McGranachan often heard people debate what rights her family should have. Now a guest speaker with the Freedom to Marry Tour, she has shared her story and “introduced people to a child of a same-sex household” on several radio stations nationwide.

McGranachan has also worked to encourage tolerance and activism on a local level, serving as president of her high school Civil Rights Team and as a volunteer at a family homeless shelter through Horizons for Homeless Children. “These children inspire me,” she said. “In return I do my best to teach them kindness and compassion by being a positive role model.”

COLAGE is an organization, created in 1989 by the children of severallesbians and gay men who felt a need for support. Though its membership is not necessarily LGBT-identified, COLAGE’s focus on the issues of LGBT parents’ families makes it a de facto part of the LGBT community. There are 52 COLAGE chapters in the United States of America, 2 chapters in Canada, and oneEuropean chapter.  COLAGE is run and operated by children (of all ages) who have a lesbiangaybisexualand/or transgender (LGBTparent or parents. Older Colagers mentor younger members. They prepare them for any challenges that a child may have, having same sex parents. Members are open with each other and any topic can and is discussed. COLAGE teams each summer with Family Pride and holds its annual Family Week in Provincetown on Cape Cod. There, hundreds of gay families come to enjoy the summer and the kids attend COLAGE meetings and workshops.

COLAGE is based out of San Francisco, California and has small number of paid staff. Its executive director is Beth Teper who has a lesbian mom and today is an advocate for children who have same sex parents.

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