Review: Inconceivable Truth

Review: Inconceivable Truth

I am going to start off by talking about trigger warnings.

I truly believe a lot of people don’t know what triggers are. It's not just an explosion and a visceral reaction. It could be a days long experience full of emotional muck. Think of if you’ve ever walked away from a piece of media more irritable, with drastic mood swings or a period of just low mood, it may not just be because the piece was powerful. It could have been triggering. 

The fact is the podcast today taught me that I have some triggers around extended family relationships. I’m not upset about this, my situation was particularly specific so I don’t always realize what I’m walking into might be a trigger.

That is to say, if you have difficult relationships with family members, if you are perhaps adopted, or even if you don’t know much of what to make of mysterious family histories: this could be a really great or really bad podcast for you. I would suggest taking it easy. Maybe don’t marathon this one. Give it space to breathe with you. It’s a great piece of journalism, it’s honestly just an unexpected level of heavy.  

Off to the review…

Inconceivable Truth is a spectacular eight part podcast that dives into the impact of infertility treatment in the 70s. Journalist Matt Katz has a particularly interesting story. He spent much of his youth yearning and fighting for a relationship with his father. An in and out deadbeat, his biological father left him with more questions than answers. Questionable behavior, lies to extended family members, and more kept Katz and his biological father at arm’s length for most of his childhood. While he loves his stepfather, who he calls “Dad” more than he can say, Matt was always searching for the paternal something in his biological father. 

More questions came when Katz decided to take a DNA test. You know, 23andme, Ancestrydotcom. The winter holidays roll around and suddenly the perfect gift is available at a low, low price. Your genetic profile courtesy of some spit in a tube. Our host took one, and discovered a vastly different story than the one he knew. One that would take him across the United States, across the ocean, and through time itself as he tries to unwind the mystery of biological paternity. 

This podcast on its surface tackles questions of medical ethics. What is informed consent, and how are people living now with questionable practices that created them? Infertility treatments in the 70s were shrouded in confusion and mystery on purpose. Paternity was meant to be questioned, even if donor sperm was a possibility. Patients were lied to about potential donors and the realities of basic biology, creating tension in families shrouded in mystery and confusion. This was done completely on purpose, to protect the parents of the wanted child and the donor. 

No one thought about the children.  

These donor-conceived children might grow up looking significantly different from their families. Children who have biological ethnicities that don't match up with the familial line can experience microaggressions they don’t understand. Families and tensions can be strained around the question of what happened, what was, and what is. Furthermore, with 30-40 years of advancement, anonymity in paternity is no longer assured. This podcast doesn’t entirely go into every practical detail of being unknowingly donor-conceived, but the movement is growing. 

Katz gained family and is lucky enough to have stability in his life, and serenity in his story. On the other side, I can’t help but think of some of the people interviewed being just a scratch on the surface of issues related to being donor-conceived. 

This podcast is wrapped up in mystery and emotion. It is about the feeling of the journey, the mystery of it all, and the wonder of discovery. Every episode is masterfully crafted, with a hook at the end to get you sucked right into the next one. The whole podcast will take you about eight hours, one hour for each episode. It feels good until it doesn’t, and then it feels good again. 

There’s so much heart and beauty in Inconceivable Truth that it’s hard for me to say that my only qualm with the show is that it doesn’t seem to have more episodes to talk more about the issues of being donor-conceived. Yes, it’s touched upon, but I find that Katz’s beautiful story wraps up almost too nicely for the subject matter at hand. Not everyone needs to be an activist, and there might be more episodes in the future. I would caution people who might be looking for comfort in this series that they may not find it. This series is more for people curious about the subject, who are looking for a good mystery. Not necessarily people looking for commiseration, education, or advocacy. I look forward to seeing these in this feed, if Katz is up for even a different podcast episode being dropped in the feed every once in a while. 

Inconceivable Truth is a podcast produced by Wavland Media and Rococo Punch.

Listen Below.

Inconceivable Truth
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