Friday, April 2, 2010

Finding Cassidy by Laura Langston

Finding Cassidy deals with the unusual issue of donor children. Cassidy MacLaughlin is a typical 16 year old, concerned with her boyfriend,friends and school. Then one day her dad has a fall and tests at the hospital confirm he has Huntington's Chorea, an inherited, genetic brain disorder. This fact causes Cassidy a great deal of stress because she now worries that she may have inherited this disease from her father. She wants to get tested - immediately. When Cassidy presses for testing she learns that she doesn't have to worry because in fact, her father is not her biological father. She was conceived by artificial insemination with donor sperm. Cassidy is hurt and devastated by this disclosure by her parents.

It was all done in a laboratory. His sperm know...inserted inside...when I was fertile." She waved her hands in the air to cover her discomfort. "It was all very clean and scientific. Business-like. There was nothing nasty about it."
Clean and scientific. Business-like.
Cassidy struggles to understand. She feels betrayed and unmoored. Cassidy also feels that she can no longer trust her parents who have lied to her all these years. Her parents however, believe that her manner of conception isn't important. Only the result, the baby that is Cassidy, is important.

The threat of Huntington's seemed almost bearable compared to this...this strange black hole of not having Dad be my dad.

"A business arrangement. I started life because of a business arrangement. Right then, my bones felt so hollow I half expected to float up from the table and fly away without even trying."

We also learn that the idea to conceive a child came from Cassidy's mother's father, something that her father (who was the parent with the infertility problem) expressed with bitterness.

Cassidy continues to pressure her parents to provide her with information regarding her biological father. At first her parents are reluctant to do so but it is her father who eventually encourages Cassidy to fight for the information that she feels she has a right to know.

I felt that Laura Langston portrayed Cassidy's struggles in a realistic and sympathetic manner. At first Cassidy does not cope well. She starts calling her father by his first name, Frank. And she impulsively decides to sleep with her boyfriend, Jason, who doesn't understand her internal conflicts. She also becomes obsessed with who her father might be, even wondering if total strangers might be her father. But eventually, through her friend Quinn and her father, she begins to organize herself to fight for the information she wants. In the end, she also acknowledges that Frank IS her dad but that somewhere she has a biological father too.

It was interesting to explore the various issues of trust, betrayal, the donor child's right to full disclosure - that is, to know their genetic and biological history and the right to develop some kind of connection with their biological parent. Langston also presents the shortsightedness of medical doctors who did AI years ago without thinking through the ethical dilemmas parents and donor children might experience in the future and planning for these problems.

Well written and thoughtful.

Book Details:
Finding Cassidy by Laura Langston
HarperTrophy Canada 2006
237 pp.

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