Earlier this year I’ve been on a two-week trip to Indonesia with my 3 siblings and mother. This was not a beach holiday and we’ve only managed half an afternoon sitting at the swimming pool soaking up what was likely to be our last sun of the year.
This tour was about connecting with our roots. Both my parents are born and bred in Indonesia; my father from Dutch parents though but my mother’s parents were mainly Indonesian. Surprising as it may seem with my Nordic tall looks, my mother is a darker skinned shorty with distinct Indonesian Asian features.
Her heritage, their upbringing, has been an integral part of our childhood. Not only because the main staple of our diet was rice and not the typical Dutch potato, but our personalities have been shaped by the much more chilled ways of the Indonesians. In all fairness, that actually applies more to my sister and one of my brother’s; I have my father more restless, Dutch?, side.
As we were visiting the birth place of my mother, the war grave of my great grandfather of my mother and sat on the wall where my father sat on in 1947, the importance of the occasions didn’t escape me.
This was about knowing where you come from. This was also about being able to place yourself as my much smaller mother often looked up to her ‘4 giants’ (my brothers are 6”3 and my sister and I are 5”11). “I can’t believe that I’ve created these tall Dutchies” “Well yes Mum, that happens if you marry a tall blue eyed blond man; that’s genetics.”
When I became involved in donation as an egg donor, I had no idea of the wider world with it. I wanted to help and didn’t think things through. Later on I became involved in the debate about removal of anonymity but my view was a pragmatic one; if anonymity was removed we would recruit donors accordingly. I was neutral on the issue itself.
Years of working with donor-conceived and parents and actually thinking and talking it through, has shaped my view. I am no longer neutral. I genuinely believe that in most cases it’s best that people know they’re donor-conceived and have the opportunity to seek out information about their donor.
The popularity of genealogy sites and television programs clearly demonstrate how most people are interested or at least mildly curious about their roots. I now realise that knowing these can make you complacent as you can’t ‘unknow’ and therefore realise how important they can be.
My roots are important to me and I realise that more than ever. My genetic roots, my cultural roots, my social roots. Although I don’t think I’m in a position to fight the issue – mainly because I believe it’s counterproductive – I’ll always support those donor-conceived who want to find out who their donor is, what their roots are. I am very lucky to know mine and we all deserve that luck.