Taking the Father: Sperm Donor Children and Family Constellations
life is what happens
when you are busy
Making other plans.
The meeting of a sperm and an egg results in a baby, regardless of whether it is a body-to-body encounter, IVF, surrogate mothers or sperm donor fathers. Families now come in all shapes and sizes. A child, however, still needs a biological father plus a biological mother to be created.
In most cases we can tell the child that he was conceived with love (even in a test tube), but this is not the case with sperm donor parents. At some point in his life, the child will ask about his biological father; in the movie “The Kids Are Alright,” fifteen-year-old Laser asks her eighteen-year-old sister, Joni, to contact her sperm donor father; she wants to meet him but is not old enough to initiate contact himself.
Joni and Laser, and their mothers Jules and Nic are a very close loving family. The kids are fine; adults are going through some problems of their own at this point in their lives. Enter “sperm donor”, Marc. Initially surprised by the request, he agrees to meet his biological children and they slowly begin to bond and create a relationship much to the mother’s distress.
From the point of view of Family Constellations, each individual has a unique energy field that changes and fluctuates depending on their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. This field is deeply connected to the family in the first instance. And the family was made up of ALL its members, including the biological parents/sperm donors. When a family member is excluded, like the donor parent here, the family’s energy field has a vacuum. A child is both parents – in this case we will add an extra mom to the picture – when asked to exclude one of them implicitly (without ever mentioning it) or explicitly, the child’s soul suffers and tries to remedy this situation throughout its life in very creative ways. All the information of the excluded parents is included in their energy field, it is encoded in their DNA at the level of genetic memory, and it does not matter at all if they have never met the biological father.
By “Taking” the Father in the Family Constellations we mean taking him as he is, without ties. For example, when we breathe we take in all the air; we cannot be selective about not inhaling pollution or microbes. We may try to be selective in not breathing, but as a consequence we may cease to exist. So “Taking the Father” would be equivalent to taking a deep breath and taking in all the air around me. It may not be the best air quality, and the pollution it contains may be harmful; but breathing is certainly better than not breathing. If I stop breathing, I’ll die, and if I breathe shallowly, I’ll get sick.
So, when a father, even a sperm donor, gives his genes, he also gives everything that he is, and we cannot say “I take the sperm and leave the rest”. Taking the Father means, then, taking all that life gives you when life comes to you through that specific person, honoring the gift and the giver. Granted, when the man donates his sperm, he is not looking to meet his offspring at a later date. We are talking here from the point of view of the energy field.
Here are some tips for including the sperm donor father in the family system:
Prepare for this moment. Every time you look at your baby, child, youth, adolescent, adult, visualize the sperm donor father behind him. A good phrase to repeat internally would be: “With your help I was able to bring this child to life. It was a great gift, I see you and I honor you as the biological father of my son.
- To the child: “I chose him as your biological father. I kindly ask you to meet him if that is your wish. In you I honor him.”
The father can say:
- To child: “I am happy to meet you. You have a place in my heart as my son. You can take me as your father. In you I honor your mother and am grateful for all she has done to keep you alive and well.”
- To the mom (or moms in the movie): “I’m grateful you chose me as your biological father and I honor all you’ve done to keep this child alive with the life I helped conceive. See me amicable if we now meet.”
The child can say:
- To the father: “I take what you have given me with love.”
- To mom/moms: “Dear mom, look nice if I take my father. You chose him for me. I will always be your son.”
In the film, Laser looks longingly at his friend living in difficult conditions with his father. Later, when he is with Marc (the semen donor); she develops the inner strength to break up with an abusive friend, something her mother wanted her to do. The movie doesn’t have a happy ending, and I can’t elaborate on all the issues here.
Would Joni and Laser’s “Taking the Father” solve their problems? Probably not; they have met him and now they can decide where they want to go from here with this relationship, thus putting their family system in order. “Taking” the father does not necessarily mean that they cultivate a relationship with him; children can be satisfied with knowing who he is.
“The children are fine”, a film by Lisa Cholodenko, 2010.