Triple Helix - Lauren Burns - Keeping  Up With The Penguins
Get Triple Helix here.
(affiliate link)

You surely know or have heard about “miracle babies”, donor-conceived and born through “assisted fertility treatment”. It seems to be the happy ending to a sad story, but for these babies the story is just beginning. What becomes of them when they grow up?

Lauren Burns is one such “miracle baby” – a donor-conceived person – and Triple Helix is the story of her search for her biological father (originally depicted on the ABC program Australian Story, an episode that went on to win a Walkley Award). The wonderful team at UQP Books were kind enough to send me a copy for review.

The first half of the memoir is dedicated to Burns’s personal search – from the “ordinary day” that her mother told her the truth of her conception, to the day she pulled into the driveway of her biological father’s home for the first time. The second half follows Burns’s activism, and the fight for legislative change to allow donor-conceived people the right to access information about their genetic origins.

I picked up Triple Helix because I was hoping to understand why Burns and other donor-conceived people so desperately sought the identity of their biological fathers, and why that desire – in Burns’s view – should overpower the donor’s rights to privacy and anonymity at the time of donation. Unfortunately, Burns didn’t articulate this aspect of her journey clearly, beyond calling it “complex”, the need to be part of a historical continuum, one that others couldn’t possibly understand.

I respect Burns’s position, and I’m exceedingly glad for her that she found the answers she felt she needed… but I came away from Triple Helix with more questions than answers myself. The legal rights of donor-conceived people, and the ethical ramifications of assisted reproduction, are fascinating topics, but the view of them that Burns presents is one-sided and deeply personal.

If you’re looking for a subjective account of a donor-conceived person’s experience, Triple Helix is the perfect choice, but if you’re looking for a more comprehensive understanding, you may need to look further afield.