I wish I could say that only sticks and stones may hurt me, and not words. But words can.
The unparalleled excitement of my published article in The New York Times’ Motherlode was soon dampened by a toxic barrage of verbal sticks and stones. I had expected it, but I still wasn’t ready for it. It’s a little easier to read anonymous insults hurled at anonymous people, than it is to read the insults hurled at my family and me.
Two days post-publication, Donor Sibling Registry founder Wendy Kramer gave me some sound advice: do not ever read comments on a media piece. I knew beforehand that reading the comments wasn’t the wisest move, but my fragile ego got the better of me. What can I say? It was my first published article, and it was the New York Times. But I’m glad I wrote the piece, and I’ll grow a thicker skin. My friends and family have been my backbone of support, and the Dibling moms have carried me.
After the initial shock wore off, I realized the negative comments are an apt affirmation of why I feel the need to write about issues related to donor conception. If you live in a relatively progressive bubble, you can selectively duck the sticks and stones. And if you don’t live in a progressive bubble, then what you face is of course so much harder. Believe me, I understand why you would duck. But, I don’t feel like ducking will help make this a better world for our children – a world where families like ours aren’t maligned for our very existence. There are too many parents of donor-conceived children who read cruel, misinformed words, and those words only serve to reinforce their fear and silence.
The words are harsh, and they do hurt. But I’d rather flush them out than say nothing. And I’d rather show parents of donor-conceived children that they can speak up. Otherwise, the bigots control the dialogue. That’s not the world I want to leave to our children.