June 20, 2005

Kids Wanting To Meet Their Sperm Donating-'Dads'

And not just the Nobel-prize winning ones, either. The Chicago Tribune reports that as the first generations of anonymous sperm-donor babies reach adulthood, they're expressing unexpected interest in identifying--and contacting--their 'genetic dads.'

The phenomenon has brought some changes to the spermbanking business; some of the largest sperm banks now offer donors the option to agree to a post-18yo contact from any offspring. But the trend is also proving an emotional and legal minefield. For the donors, anonymity was as much a draw as the fifty bucks and the 1987 issue of Oui magazine.
As for the kids and their desire to know something, anything, about this giant void in their identity, well, it seems no one was really thinking of the children when the whole spermbank thing started. Gee, you mean an industry that's almost entirely dependent on college students masturbating for beer money doesn't think much about the future consequences? There's a surprise.

Sperm donors' offspring reach out into past [chi trib, via robotwisdom]

1 Comment

Other countries seem to have thought it through a little more carefully, making it illegal to donate anonymously. As someone going through all this right now, I think that the industry here in the US really is trying to figure out what to do - only 1/3 of American sperm donors are willing to enter into Identity Release agreements, so if they passed such a law here we would have a real problem finding enough donors to meet the need.

Personally, my biggest complaint about the industry currently is what I perceive as the world's most annoying mark-up. One vial, which is about a tenth of one ejaculate, costs anywhere from $250-$455. And they're charging more for the Identity Release people. I know they have overhead and some REALLY important scientific storage issues, but PLEASE! Not to mention the extras - some charge as much as $50 just to read the long profile to see if you are even interested in choosing the donor in the first place!

Finally, as someone in this situation, I have to heartily object to the Tribune's use of the word "donor dad" and all their other cutesy plays on "fatherhood" as the concept here - while one of the girls in the story met her donor and considers him a father, many children conceived by donor insemination have a father who loves them standing right there beside the woman who carried them - the man who got the $50 and the awkward masturbatory experience is the DONOR and nothing more. We have all learned how to use terminology properly for adoption - I hope we can learn to use terms that don't hurt some of us when discussing Donor Insemination, as well.

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