Men from different ethnic cultures and backgrounds are rare in the donor community especially in Australia, large part due to their cultural background differences, donating would be frowned upon by their family members and many of these men wouldn’t risk bringing shame to their family name and the one’s that do often want tob be very discreet about the process.
As an administrator who screens all my donors, before acceptance into the group, a warm smile arises on my face when we receive requests from men from different cultural origins. I love diversity, I love it when people from non-traditional cultural donor backgrounds get on board to help people create a choice of diversity for their own family.
We have had several Indian, Asian and a handful of African men donate within our group and dozens of babies born through the help of these great men. These men have very good temperaments and kind hearts, makes it a pleasure for recipients to deal with and often makes it an easy choice during their picking a donor phase in their parenting hood journey. I must say I’ve had the pleasure from very proud parents sharing their baby photos with me or within the group and I got to say they’re are adorable and very cute and I am sure all parties would agree especially their mothers. As a donor I have had the pleasure in helping a lady from other origin and her daughter has a nicer dark skin colour tone and it’s interesting to see how your own genes mix with other ethnicities, as a Caucasian donor I would have no worries helping women from different racial backgrounds if both parties were happy with terms and conditions.
I have spoken to many Caucasian women regarding their desire for a mixed baby and have had many different types of responses. Lots of these women are strong minded individuals/couples, they don’t care what those around them think and if someone was to speak negative, have no issue in ending a friendship if it comes down to it. They don’t believe in racism therefore little time for it, they see the donors for what they’re ultimately human and as equals within society. Then they’re ladies who self-proclaim to be pasty white with light or red hair, they like the idea of having a child that doesn’t have to grow up with what they had to face throughout their childhood being traumatized by the sun. Always being burnt and the ginger hair jokes can take their toll that they wish for the child not share their past-experiences in life and by picking a mixed-race donor this will free them from this curse as one lady referred it to me as being. There are also families after a truly rainbow experience one I spoke to have a half-Asian baby, were looking for African donor and wanted each child to be of different origin, off memory I think they wanted at least 3 children. I could never fully understand if this was a novelty view or if there was more structural meaning behind it. Then lastly there is the party that’s preference was for a Caucasian donor, but due to being either being rural or not being able to find a Caucasian donor in their surrounding area they broaden their horizons and quite happily accept a donor from different background, some of these ladies have self-confessed that they just want to be parents so genetic makeup isn’t a major issue for them they just want a little baby to love regardless.
Having been around in these forums for 5 years now, some of the women I have come across and spoken to within my time have a child that aged anywhere between 4+ and few months old. I recently messaged a few of these ladies to see how everything is going and to get a view on how their lives are affected if at all in modern Australia. Currently their experience has been overwhelmingly positive some did mention the odd inappropriate comment of a friend saying could never use a foreign donor or along those lines. Some of the women particularly the same-sex couples get commonly asked “how long have you had them for” with the view that child was adopted. Some mothers have also been presumed to be the nanny of the child.
While the parents of young babies and toddlers are experiencing positive outcomes, I wanted to explore what women of older children had to say. I wanted to see if society’s views and acceptance was changing I came across a lady by the name of Katherine from NSW via social media, she had used a couple of donors due to circumstance her eldest child a Caucasian boy aged 10 her daughter who is now 8 they used and Indian donor. Katherine has particularly noticed from that around the age of 5 her child was experiencing identity issues she quite often was upset that she isn’t pale and blonde which I found interesting considering both mother and brother were strong brunettes.
While the issue remains present for the mother and her child, Katherine is very much aware that her daughter has darker skin than herself and her brother. She combats the issue by looking for diverse role models to help inspire her daughter into accepting herself and her qualities. She also has bought dolls, books and movies that feature people with skin like hers. Katherine believes these types of parental tactics are starting to pay off and is helping her daughter develop resilience and a sense of pride.
Katherine used her donor via a clinic in NSW which has a 10-family limit she wanted an anonymous donor as she was worried about the donor wanting rights to the child. So, she didn’t want to try and reach out to the donor. She sought an alternative thought it would be positive for her child to be able to have contact and being able to play and socialize with other half siblings. Upon registering with the donor sibling registry, she found out more about her donor and discovered that he also donated on classifieds and had over 50 children. Which came as quite a shock initially her daughter has since met at least 20 of the siblings and they’re friends with several more via Facebook that they haven’t yet met. Although she never thought she would encounter so many other siblings she has said it turned out to be a good experience for her child, she has made some wonderful new friends that she insists are more like cousins that have helped her with identity issues. While Katherine enjoys the ability to discuss and monitor health issues and compare features noticeable in the children, she describes it ultimately as a win for everyone. She has come across some of the other parents which she describes rob their children of such a wonderful experience especially for biracial children because they just want their families to be theirs all alone without considering what would be best for the children.
I also had the pleasure to speaking to Janet from VIC to hear her views. She used an Asian donor and her child well she is now an adult having recently turned 18. Janet describes her child’s upbringing as very hard and she was exposed to racism throughout to modern day. She noticed the unwelcoming nature towards her and her daughter from an early age and she feels that they couldn’t have entered a supermarket without the unwanted attention and often faced questions of scrutiny such as questioning of her being the biological mother, and that her husband must be Asian. As her daughter has gotten older she receives remarks such as “Go back to where you have come from” even though she was born in Australia, yet these types of remarks have been very challenging giving her the sense of not belonging and that because she has Asian features she couldn’t possibly be Australian which further questions her identity.
Janet had to move her from her first high school due to constant racism made by students and even staff on occasions, she then shifted her to a high school that was very multicultural accepting and racism had never been an issue from then onwards for the rest of her high school years.
Like Katherine with her Indian daughter, Janet had similar thought process that her daughter needed Asian role models/mentors that could teach her how to deal with racism and help her develop a healthy ethnic identity. At the time of conceiving and between giving birth Katherine thought it would be appropriate to name her daughter with names that reflected her origin. Recently since turning 18 her daughter took it upon herself to legally change her name to remove her Asian names and replace them an Anglo name. Her reasons behind the change is she truly believes it will affect her employment chances, she at least wants to make it to the interview stage.
Janet recalls speaking to a mother in a similar situation as to her own who had used an African donor. The mother thought it would be a great idea for her child of African heritage to attend African language classes every weekend. However, she was shocked when her child told her he loved it because it was the only place he felt that he fitted in. Janet also mentioned, as her own child was growing up she endured being the only white lady in community event gatherings of Asian families she didn’t understand the language they were speaking or knowing much about their culture, she just wanted her child to be an environment where she blended in and didn’t stand out.
Janet has become overly concerned of late with other same-sex couples electing to want a biracial child for what she describes as novelty with little thought of their impacts on their lives. She said many of these cultures don’t embrace same-sex relationships for starters so it’s hard to find acceptance from within these cultural pockets in the community. She said although there are many Indian, Asian and African children they have strong support from their own families and grow up with their own culture values within their community they fit in and don’t have those questions of not fitting in that a donor child raised by a Caucasian parent(s) have and the lack of cultural support network around them.
Janet sends a strong message to those who are considering a donor of different ethnicity to raise within Australia. “Do your research and prepare yourselves well and immerse yourselves in anti-racism training and build a community around you of people with the same skin as your child. Your child’s future wellbeing depends on it.”
Analysing Janet’s and Katherine’s stories I think when considering a donor of a different cultural background perhaps is to see and understand the donor’s views. Is he willing to organise with the parties he has donated to the ability to contact each other should their children require a support network considering the difficulties these children could potentially face? Would the donor be happy to answer ancestral questions as they arise along the way throughout the child’s development? It’s important to have these types of discussions with your donor and a long-term view thought of. I would like to think Australia is rapidly improving in acceptance of diversity. Janet’s child is now 18, I would truly hope that the children of the next generation their views and opinions are more accepting and that we have made racism history. While I am optimistic and hopeful of a more peaceful future we must go forward with caution to protect our children and cover all bases.
The final issue I want to touch on is looking at this subject from a medical point of view. Mixed race children within the world are disadvantaged in the sense of being able to find people suitable for bone marrow and other stem cell type transplants. The children have a less than 1 in 3 chance of family members being compatible as it is. The thing about these types of transplants is they require certain unique genetic code matches known as Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) system.
There are almost 30 million donors registered from all around the world and yet there are still many instances where people can’t find a suitable match, this demonstrates how many different genetic HLA codes there are. Many people have gone to social media trying to find people with similar heritage background to their own or their child’s sadly many have died in their search before a match could be found.
The more children you have with the same donor will give the siblings a greater chance of being a match for each other, of course we pray that your child would never have to be in this situation, however it is handy information to know prior.