By Kristen Sabelis
Last November, I attended the RESOLVE New England (RNE) annual conference as a parent panel member. At the conference, Kate Weldon LeBlanc, RNE Executive Director, talked about the importance of finding your people. Whoever those people are, it is important to build a sense of community with others whom you identify with. The 3 words, “find your people” were very meaningful to me. You see at the very moment she spoke those words I was trying to do just that.
More than 10 years ago, I was told that my only real options to build my family were thought to be adoption or egg donation (ED). I attended several RNE seminars, support groups and annual conferences along the way. I also cried a lot, swore a lot and got angry a lot. It was comforting to know others who were doing the same.
It was at an annual RNE conference that we decided to pursue using an egg donor to build our family. With our plan in place, we continued along the path to parenthood. Along the way, I met several people within the donor egg (DE) community. Some professionals like Ellen Glazer, LICSW and some were other women also either considering or pursuing ED to build their families.
Today I am a proud and happy mom to two wonderful girls. My girls have very different creation stories, but I believe both started with a miracle. My eldest, who is 6, was conceived with the help of a wonderful egg donor and an equally wonderful medical team at my fertility clinic–my miracle of science. My youngest, who is almost 5, was conceived without intervention–my miracle of nature.
Several years ago, Ellen Glazer asked me to be on her parent panel at the RNE Annual Conference. At that conference I was reunited with Carrie, who was also on the Donor Egg/Adoption parent panel. Years prior, she and I had met at a RNE sponsored support group run by Ellen. Both of us had kept in touch with Ellen but not with each other. We were now parenting our families, both built via ED.
After the conference Carrie and I spoke of our support group and the other women who attended. Had we kept in touch with anyone? How was everyone? Who had kids? Did we socialize or keep in touch with others who were parenting via ED? We both had the desire to connect with others who had built their families through donor conception (DC). We both knew there were lots of services and support for those going through treatment, and lots of online support for those parenting after treatment. However, there was little or no support for parents and families who wanted live, in-person relationships with other local families created via DC. We wanted to find our people.
So we, along with Ellen, started the Donor Conception Family Connection of New England (DCFC of NE). Our goal is to provide opportunities for New England families created through donor conception and those currently going through or seriously considering DC, to make real, off-line connections with other local families who have had a similar experience. We intend to organize social events for DC parents and families to connect and build friendships. By doing so, we hope to promote mentoring and support, to share experiences and to provide social events for our children so that they will know other kids who were created in the same truly special way.
Our mission is to celebrate our choice to create our families using donor conception and talk about real issues for us and for our children as we venture on as parents. Our mission is also to create a supportive environment for those going through or just about to start treatment.
We use the social networking programs of Big Tent and a secret Facebook group to connect our community. Since the creation of the group we’ve had many moms’ gatherings, moms’ and kids’ gatherings and a family picnic. Our summer 2016 family picnic will be hosted by one of our members at her home in Billerica, on Sunday August 14th starting at 1pm. In addition to our own gatherings, we also advertise and promote for other groups and events that benefit or would be of interest to our community such as peer and professionally led support groups for those parenting and trying to conceive via DC.
Now back to that day in November 2015 at the RNE annual conference. When Kate spoke those words “find your people” I was walking around the conference speaking with the professional attendees telling them about our group and mission and asking that they help us unite our community.
So if you are a local family created through donor conception or a local family going through or seriously considering DC treatment, please join our group and help connect our community! Please feel free contact me if you are interested in joining our group, want to learn more about it or if you want to join us at our Family Picnic on Sunday. Help us “FIND OUR PEOPLE”.