Page 1769 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 7 June 2022

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Assisted reproductive technology—children’s rights

DR PATERSON (Murrumbidgee) (4.57): This week, in anticipation of the government’s response, in the next sitting, to the motion I moved on assisted reproductive technology and the potential for a donor registry, I am reading the stories of three donor-conceived people to bring attention to their experiences and highlight the need to consider their perspective in the review of current regulatory arrangements. These are Kirrily’s words:

My name is Kirrily and I am a 33-year-old born and raised Canberran. My story starts in the late 80s when my incredibly strong and independent mother decided that she wanted a sibling for my older brother. Being a single mother, from a failed relationship in the late 80s, it was a tricky time to be considered a suitable candidate for sperm donation. After many attempts at a clinic, she finally fell pregnant with me.

I am forever grateful to my mother because she has always been honest and open with me about how I came to be. My family are extremely loving and supportive, and my childhood was a happy one.

I didn’t know any different and life to me seemed very normal until I was about 8 years old when I started having friends sleep over at my house. Friends would always ask about the absence of my Dad and I didn’t know what to tell them.

Although Mum was very honest and open about everything about me, we came from a very strict Catholic community, and I was forbidden from talking about ‘our secret’ with anyone. As an 8-year-old girl, it was very difficult to hide the truth from my friends and family and to be secretive about who I truly was. I started to feel alone and different, and deeply sad that I was unable to share this part of my life openly. Being donor conceived started to feel more like a burden than a blessing.

Growing up as a teenager in Canberra, I was very conscious of dating or having an intimate relationship with others for fear that I could potentially have a consanguineous relationship without knowing. I also had poor mental health during my teenage years, and I believe that this is due not to being able to discuss being donor conceived or receive any support for being donor conceived. There were not any available programs or support services … It wasn’t until I started university that I was comfortable engaging in the dating scene because people came from other states and cities.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I became very passionate about finding out more information about my donor and medical history, if not for me – for them. I decided to write a letter to the fertility doctor … and requested a meeting to find out any possible information … I paid a $250 consult fee to meet with this doctor.

Unfortunately, he was not willing or able to tell me anything about my medical history or donor records. When I asked about the possibility of having any half siblings, he assured me that it would be extremely unlikely and that once there had been a successful pregnancy with a sperm donor, they would not use that donor again. I remember walking out of his office feeling even more confused, frustrated, and disregarded as a human being.

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