Every book has a conception story. Mine
begins with the shameless binge-watching of an MTV reality series called “Generation
Cryo.” Over the course of six episodes, the show follows 17-year-old Breeanna, daughter
of a lesbian couple who was conceived via sperm donation, on a search for her
genetic half-siblings. Thanks to the Donor Sibling Registry, Bree connects with
Jonah and Hilit and Jayme and Jesse and Paige and Molly and Will, and
ultimately brings everyone together to track down their biological father.
Prior to watching the show, I had only
a cursory understanding of sperm donation and its effects on families. I
understood the science, but I knew nothing of the emotional fallout—of how
angry and hurt and confused some donor-conceived children could grow up to be,
or how fraught the relationships with the non-biological parents who were
raising them could become. I was fascinated by the idea of a new “insta-family.”
Unlike children conceived via sperm donation prior to the 1990’s, today’s
generation of donor-conceived kids have access to Internet search engines,
registry websites, social media, and video chat technology, all of which allow
them to connect with their genetic half-siblings, and even with their sperm
donor, in a mind-blowingly short amount of time.
As a 21st century mom, psychology
major, and YA author, how could I not write a book about this?
The most important
thing I can do as an author of children’s books is offer stories that open
communication between child and parent. In my Kissing Hand series, it is Mrs.
Raccoon who helps Chester through his many issues and difficulties beginning
with separation anxiety. Other books in the series deal with new siblings,
moving, bullying, dying, fear of speaking in front of others and wanting to
return home during a sleep over. These are issues all children face, but with
the help of books and characters like Chester Raccoon, and the caretakers and
teachers who bring them to life, children can face issues armed with
understanding and a sense of self.
When writing, I
often think about the brilliant diversity of color and sound, shape and size,
and speed and agility that is present in the animal kingdom. Most people
embrace these amazing differences with open minds and without prejudice. It is
because we all too often close our minds to the beautiful diversity in people
that I stay within the animal kingdom when writing my children’s books.