Fourth Australian International Conference on Motherhood The Mother: Images, Issues and Practices Helen J. Riley PhD Candidate Queensland University of Technology, School of Humanities & Human Services, Applied Ethics Intrinsic trust and mothering: the ethical implications of the late discovery of knowledge of genetic origins A tree with branches but no roots stands on shaky ground
“ Deceit and violence – these are the two forms of deliberate assault on human beings”. Bok, S. (1989). Lying: moral choice in public and private life . New York: Vintage Books.
“ I felt absolute disbelief, let down, lied to, and that I had been mistrusted by not being told the truth and had spent my life living a lie”. All these emotions and reactions seem[ed] to join together.
Tina, mother, now 49
- 33 at time of late discovery
“ I…became severely anxious going on to develop manic depression. My marriage split up and my 2 children were traumatized”.
“… .absolutely devastated ….it’s hard to explain because even though I always had a feeling….I was sad, confused, angry, relieved, emotional, bitter, afraid, and an immense feeling of loneliness and rejection and feeling not important and perhaps a feeling of insignificance”
Louise, a mother, 40 at time of late discovery
“ [this] information [was] given to me by my husband as he left…after 12 years of marriage, during which time he carried the secret of my adoption”.
“… . betrayal, abandonment and [the] distress of learning that everyone in my life had known of my adoption and chosen to keep it secret from me”.
“ still to this day I have not dealt with the situation and I think I never will fully because even as I type these words it is like I am referring to a third party it is surreal to think that it is me I am referring to……….”
I get lot’s of bad days…….I feel angry at my parents for not preparing me and looking out for me…….my relationship with my mother is definitely strained”.
“ Trust is accepted vulnerability to another person’s power over something that one cares about, where (a) the truster forgoes searching (at the time) for ways to reduce such vulnerability, and (2) the truster maintains normative expectations of the one-trusted that they not use that power to harm what is entrusted”.
“ dissonance between, on the one hand, intellectual judgments of risk and, on the other hand, emotional responses to risk and willingness to enter into….trust relations despite risk?
“ A traumatic event is one in which a person feels utterly helpless in the face of a force that is perceived to be life-threatening ” (p.13). When the trauma is of human origin and is intentionally inflicted… it not only shatters one’s fundamental assumptions about the world and one’s safety in it but also severs the sustaining connection between the self and the rest of humanity ” (p.14).
Causes “cognitive and emotional paralysis” (p17)…..” one’s memories of an earlier life [is] lost, along with the ability to envision a future……. one’s basic cognitive and emotional capacities are gone, or radically altered……this [leaves the survivor] with no bearings by which to navigate (p21)”.
Overall - 1/3 or less of all parents tell their child/ren of their means of conception.
prediction…many thousands of donor conceived offspring in the future will find out about their status as adults
Beth, 27, lesbian and considering motherhood using donor sperm at time of discovery “ It’s weird to have a thing about you that should matter, but doesn’t, except it might, but you never know. How much of who I am comes from a man I’ve never met?”