Friday, December 30, 2005

18 Months Old

This week my younger child, my little girl, turned 18 months old. I still can’t believe it and that in 6 more months she’ll turn 2. This is a magical age for a little kid. They are really walking and babbling up a storm. They understand you pretty much fully and they prove they are real little people

Today my wife brought both my little girl and her brother to my office for a brief visit so my co-workers could see how big she has gotten before we all went to the holiday train exhibit at the Citigroup Center here in Manhattan. As soon as they entered the office I heard, from across the floor, both of them saying “Where’s Daddy?” The sound of your own kids asking for you and saying “Daddy” for the most part makes your heart melt. I will admit though that after any three day weekend home, hearing “Daddy” twelve million times, that I’ll be waiting to get back to work. It doesn’t mean though that you ever want to stop hearing those words.

Every morning, my daughter wakes up at 5:30am give or take a ½ hour. I usually don’t even need the alarm on my phone to wake me up. As soon as she is awake it starts…“Da..dee” …“Da..dee”. It doesn’t stop until she sees me open her door and walk in and then I get that million dollar smile and a hug that I treasure every day.

My office-mate actually asked if my daughter knows any other words. She does, but none so sweet on the ears. Happy New Year !

Thursday, December 29, 2005

A Dad Someday

I discovered this past week one of the very few infertility blogs I have found written from the man’s point of view. The blog is fairly new as it was only started in early to mid December and the blogger has only posted 11 entries. So if you are interested in following one man’s (and his wife’s) journey from the “start” you can catch up pretty quickly. So far the blogger has kept his posts directly on topic which is something I have not always done.

While reading of the posts I am quickly reminded of all the issues we went through and I wonder how I would have put my own thoughts down in a blog had I started one at that time. I got a kick out his discussions regarding “producing” for a semen analysis and what goes through your mind. Looking back it was worth the effort to try to produce my own genetic material for our IVF cycles but I would not trade the kids I got for any amount of “what ifs” or cash. Although we could sorely use the cash.

I have provided a link to this blog as well as a couple of other infertility blogs written by men in the sidebar Infertility links section. As there are so few male focused blogs out there on this topic it is important to recognize each of these men for putting their thoughts out there.

I wish them each luck and offer a prayer that they and their spouses reach their goal of parenthood within the coming year.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Holidays, Family, Friends, Life Events and Infertility

Tomorrow morning I will be attending the Brit Milah (the Bris) of an infant boy born 8 days ago to friends from our synagogue. Until my wife became pregnant 4.5 years ago I could not imagine attending such a ceremony without the emotional pain of our infertility. That same pain colored each and every holiday season and how we reacted to invitations from family and friends to parties and life events.

It is so easy to put that pain out of mind when you are changing the diapers and chasing your kid through a social hall to keep him from tripping or spilling something on somebody's favorite suit or dress. The truth of the matter is that there are so many other couples going through that same pain now during this Chanukkah and Christmas season and through everyday events. To those folks I echo the words of a friend's blog "Wishing for a Baby" that this holiday season is almost done and perhaps you can look at the new year as a new beginning and a fresh start in your travels down these roads and that hopefully within this new year you can also lose yourself in the next phase of your lives and put the pain behind you.

Half Sibling Terminology

As I have stated in earlier posts my kids have so far one half sibling found via the DSR. A current topic on the main DSR yahoo discussion group is that of sibling related terminology. This is a topic we have been dealing with again recently as we have traded a number of e-mails and phone call with the half sibling’s mom on this exact topic.

At this moment my older child (at 3years 8 months old) fully knows that he has a mommy and a daddy and a donor. He knows the donor helped him and his sister be born into this world. Their half sibling (still not yet 3 years old) is not fully at that stage of understanding regarding the donor's role or that why she does not have a daddy. At this point neither family is using the terms brother/sisters as the kids have no relationship to each other and at this point don't even know they each exist.

Our issues at this point include (1) what do we each feel comfortable telling the kids in light of their own understandings of how their families are structured / comprised and (2) what each child's maturity level is to understanding the concept of half siblings via common donor. As I have stated in earlier posts my wife would rather just tell our son that he is meeting a half sibling after ensuring he understands what that means but that may be unfair to the half sibling who has yet to fully comprehend even why her family is anything other than just a mommy and me family. The last thing I would want is to create any confusion for this child. Nor would I want to create any conflict between the kids where they might argue “what a family is” knowing what they have as opposed to each other’s family structure. Note that 3 year olds (plus and minus) do not exactly have arguments or discussions but rather statements of fact as they see the world and then they leave with what they think the other side said which more often than not is a misunderstanding of what the other kid intended.

It’s so hard to discuss this stuff by e-mail and we should discuss it more via phone but when there are competing lives and issues finding time is a trick. At the same time where I can write about this stuff with relative ease I forget that not everyone is as comfortable at the keyboard and e-mail time delayed conversations are never great. Neither family I believe wants our only discussions to be on this topic but it’ so easy to get stuck.

Much of what I wrote above captures the point that we are at. I am not looking for feedback as I am just taken by the fact the online DSR discussion is somewhat current with our own.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Judaism’s Priestly Classes and Classifying Children of DI

While trolling the web for donor conception related sites I happened upon the blog of a woman named Mel from Houston who with her husband have been dealing with infertility. What struck me was the title of her most recent blog post “Infertility in the Torah: A Jewish Perspective on Assisted Reproduction Techniques (ART)”. I also learned from her blog post that my children probably should not be considered Levi’im (as I am through my father) as I have no idea of our donor’s priestly classification. I partially addressed this topic in my earlier post regarding the Conservative Jewish position on ART.

Mel’s blog post recounts her D'var Torah at this past week’s Shabbat service where generally the speaker discusses the content of that week’s specific Torah reading. Mel decided however to address in general the fact that each of the Jewish Matriarchs, Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel all had a difficult time fulfilling the commandment "Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it". [Exodus / Bereshit 1:28]. In short Mel discussed their battles with infertility. Each Rosh Hashonah the Torah reading recounts Hannah’s infertility and her eventual gift from g-d of her son Samuel (who became one of Israel’s greatest prophets.) During our own infertility battles this reading always brought my wife to tears during the service.

In Judaism no matter what movement a Jew belongs to (Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform) all Jews are classified as Kohanim (priests), Leviim (teachers, spiritual leaders), or Israel. The classification is mostly seen each Shabbat when only Kohain can say the first blessings during the Torah readings. The Leviim go second and then Israel. The classification or status passes through the Father as opposed to the Mother (i.e., if your mom is a Jew so are you). As I am not the biological father to my kids this issue has interest to me. According to the Conservative Movement’s position that technically the donor is the father and I am only the agent for the father ... therefore I should have realized that my kid’s priestly status would actually follow that of our unknown donor. So far as his agent I have treated the kids as following my own Leviim status which is not correct but what I have done. As my kid's have not been called to read from the Torah yet no sin has been comitted as far as I know. Prior to their Bar and Bat Mitzvah's they will be told that they must treat themselves as Israel for fear of committing a sin unless I can determine the donor's status.

Getting back to Mel’s blog post I recommend it as great little summary of infertility in the bible and primarily one Jewish movement’s perspective on treating infertility.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

NYC Transit Strike - Day 2

Again I got lucky and got a cab to work. I again walked home with no issues. My intelligent son at one point today apparently dropped his pants and made an impression with his butt in play dough. I'd like to say this was his way of potesting against the strike but he also told my wife he is bored [supposedly from being home from school already.]

One of the more telling events today that showed the impact of the strike was that one of the city's leading high end department stores, Bloomingdales, closed it's doors at 6:00pm due to lack of customers, who were more concerned with getting home than shopping, 4 days before Christmas and Chanukah. Granted their own staff needed to figure out their commutes home as well. The lost revenue at this most important time for NYC retailers will be amazing.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

NYC Transit Strike - Day One

Not directly DI related but part of our life. My commute was not too bad as I caught a cab about 10 blocks from our apartment (we live and I work all in Manhattan.) About 60% of my office made it into work. I had to walk home which took about 45 minutes. The East side was close to gridlocked. People on the streets were in good spirits but the drivers stuck in traffic were not too thrilled. The weather while cooler at night was not too bad and I must admit my Lands End down coat (tailored as a rain coat and not the Michelin Man) kept me quite toasty. I wore probably one too many layers but I'll know better tomorrow.

While the NYC schools opened two hours late all morning pre-K programs were out right cancelled. So the kids and some school friends convened at our apartment along with their caregivers or moms. I missed this but heard it was a hoot.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Emotional Blackmail - # 3 - They Received It...

I received back from the cryobank confirmation that they received our request for a lifetime photo package from our now inactive donor. I figure it will be at least a few months from now before we hear anything to give them time to "look" for the donor. My wife figures that if they have the donor's social security number (from when he was compensated for his stuff) they can easily locate him. I am not so sure it is that easy. Anyhow it's now out of our control and we just have to wait.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Family History & Safe Deposit Boxes: Preserving Our Donor’s Known Info

Well today our donor officially joined our family history via my putting the following documents in our safe deposit box: his bios (hard copy and on CD), toddler picture, and voice recording (CD). I finally made copies of the voice recording the other day and finally got to the bank. While there I cleaned up and better organized our files in our box. We actually have a larger box at about 18” depth by 10” width by 6” height.

I originally got the box as I have a number of family history documents that I did not feel comfortable keeping at home (I survived an apartment fire years ago – it wasn’t as dramatic as it sounds but it’s something I still worry about). The larger box was needed as some of these documents could not be folded. I also keep back up copies of all our family pictures on CD rom in the box.

For a while now I have been meaning to get the donor stuff into the box to theoretically ensure its safekeeping. I say theoretically as my office mate used to have her box in a bank branch that was on the concourse level of the World Trade Center, enough said on that. Anyhow I now have duplicate copies of everything and the original picture (the copy we were sent) and the voice recording interview are in the box.

While organizing the box better I had intended to put the donor stuff into it’s own folder but I ran out after assigning one each to the kids and one jointly to my wife and I. So I figured I’d just combine the family history stuff and the donor stuff into one folder. Jointly these documents make up my kid’s history as we know it so it made sense.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Emotional Blackmail - Part Two - I Mailed It !!!

I finally mailed, via certified receipt, the inactive donor request form to the cryobank. It had been two weeks since I got the form notarized but I kept not getting to the post office to mail it. Maybe that means something. My wife said it just means I did not want the cryobank to have any more of our money. It's a long shot if they find the donor and if he then agrees to the lifetime photo series thing but we had to try. The whole thing could take months I suppose and I believe the entire charge will be sitting on my credit card until then. Amusing. Again if it turns out to be a bust we only lose the $300. Not a huge amount but still this time of year every penny helps.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Donor Audio CD - I Began to Listen.....

Late last night I finally dug out the audio CD recording of the Donor answering questions posed by the cryobank. I played the CD to check it was still good towards my goal of making copies and to get the original into the safe deposit box. From the 4-5 minutes I heard of the total 24 minutes noted he sounded normal and quite intelligent. My wife was also in our living room while the CD played and she asked if I felt threatened to which I answered no but then again I am exhausted so I am not totally sure. As I said he sounded like a regular guy and I'll probably listen to the rest later this week perhaps on the bus to work although that sounds strange to me now. It's late and I need sleep.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

“I Want a Brother” & Trying to Explain Half Siblings

Yesterday and again today my son stated he wanted a brother. He knows he is the big brother to his sister but he wanted a [little] brother. When I asked him why, he stated that since he is the big brother there should also be a [little] brother. He also stated that he wanted a brother to hold and love and that his sister is now too big. Part of this may have resulted from our family visit to my sister's house and her two daughters, who are cousins to my kids (not in blood but by family) and his seeing their large doll collection (including American Girl and Bitty Baby).

I took this as another opportunity to review that he and his sister are here due to the help of a donor. I also reminded him of the photos we saw in the NY Times (Nov 20th) of the children and teenagers that were related through their common donor. I thought that if I then drew out our family on paper and then showed him graphically (stick figures) that the donor may have helped other families I would be better able to show him that there may actually be other children who are here due to the help of this same donor. I tried explaining again what a half sibling is but this time he did not seem either to get it or be interested.

He was having more fun naming the fictional children on our pad. So at the current time my kids have 5 mythical half siblings with the following names: From Family # 1 (a heterosexual couple with four kids) boys Fred and Fud and girls Ted and Tud. Yes, we read a lot of Dr. Seuss. From Family #2 (a choice mom with one child) a girl named either Did or Didi, I wasn’t sure what he said. At this point he was giggling so much that the issue was no longer the point but the silly names were. We had a ball laughing which was a lot of fun despite the lost opportunity

He still wants a brother. I had no intention as part of this exercise to tell him that he and his sister already have one known half sibling, a little girl. Maybe someday he’ll find out he has a half sibling that is a boy but for now he only knows to ask us if we’ll have another baby to get him a brother.

[As an aside financially we could not even think about another child and we don’t really want to go down the road of having three where one is always the middle child etc].

Saturday, December 10, 2005

(1) Another Why Post (2) Found Other Male Written Fertility Blogs

Over the last two nights I found by accident a donor egg (DE) blog and discovered the world of female written infertility blogs. There are a lot of them out there and most of them list all of the other DE blogs they visit or know about. Sort of a sisterhood of shared pain which I can relate to from our years of infertility treatments. Anyhow mixed in with these listings I found a few links to male written blogs. None of them appear to be from men who have successfully used DI but it proved that other men are out there willing to discuss their infertility issues of their own or that of their marriage. I will try to add the links to all these blogs tomorrow as my kids are waking up after falling asleep in the car after our drive home from the burbs. It could be long night.

Oh, I almost forgot the "why" part. My wife asked again why am I so obsessed with the topics of DI/DC and infertility especially since we have two great smart gorgeous healthy kids. My short answer (as I need to shut this down) is and keeps coming back to my meeting the few adult donor conceived individuals in Toronto and my fear that my kids could someday have that pain. It is why I blog, why I am involved in trying to start a national US donor conception support organization and my recent decision to be part of an effort to draft model rules of ethics / operation for the sperm banks. We just knew so little when we started down the DI/DC path. Now that my kids are real and luckily for them so far healthy etc I have no right to sit on my laurels just because they are healthy happy etc as they just as easily could not be. I am beginning to rant so it's time to shut down.

No Meeting of Half Siblings This Weekend.

Unsure of what was going to happen this weekend I rented a car for two days. Today, Saturday, we had a birthday party for one of my nieces out in the suburbs. If the kids were going to meet it was to be tomorrow somewhere in NJ where they were to be staying or somewhere in between. This afternoon we found a voice mail message that was apparently left last night on our Verizon voice mail while I was on-line. [Another reason to get DSL or a second line]. For reasons unconnected to our "what to tell issues" they are not coming North for their unrelated event.

We were disappointed but figure / hope to meet perhaps now in the Spring when all the kids are older and maybe this issue of how to introduce the kids will be easier to resolve as the half sibling will be older as well. It was just as well as today's driving left me exhausted and I am unsure how I would have handled two days of driving and car packing for two kids.

Friday, December 09, 2005

More Info on (3) Contact at Point of Purchase with the Sperm Banks re Donor Information

Some of this was addressed in my earliest posts back in August 2005. The following is the third part of an email interview I participated in with a journalist friend Mikki Morrissette (note I have removed the actual names of the sperm banks):

3. What kinds of conversations did the clinic or bank have with you (if any) about issues beyond simply the process of conceiving....such as donor identity/anonymity, openness about origins with the child, half-siblings in geographic area, reporting successful pregnancy so a donor can be retired at a particular limit?

Simply put we had no conversations with the clinic or the bank regarding issues beyond the process of conception. We were seeing a psychotherapist regarding the effects of the whole process and my own infertility upon our marriage. The therapist recommended a few DI related book titles but to be honest I don’t recall our discussing the issues in detail regarding post birth. We touched on the disclosure / openness issues but to be honest the sessions were focused first on our pain. Also I think we were even at that point pretty sure we planned to tell the children as the books were clear that issues would fester if we did not tell.

Added for this post re Donor Medical Information:

An issue recurring on the DSR_Discussion group right now involves holding the sperm banks accountable regarding known or unknown medical issues of the donor. I will not go into great detail here but the gist involves what responsibilities do or should the sperm banks have to test the donors during their pre-screening processes. And if the sperm bank claims the donor has been screened and tested negative for a potential hereditary disease that could be passed along to the conceived child what recourse is available if the child does eventually test positive for that disease.

In our own donor's case based on the medical profile we purchased the donor was tested for the following diseases as part of the screening process and found not to be a carrier of any of them: Cystic Fibrosis, Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Disorder, BRCA -1( breast and ovarian cancer), Tay Sachs, Gaucher, Canavan, and Thalassemia.

I will admit here that we did not question at that time how these tests were administered or the assays involved in their determination that the donor was not a carrier of any of them. We did take comfort and assurance of this info as the medical profile / questionairre was supposedly completed by the donor and his statements were that he was tested during the screening process and found to not be a carrier of any of those diseases listed here. Our assurance was further bolstered by the fact the donor himself had medical training.

Looking back our not asking how these tests were administered etc. was naive and I encourage all individuals to ask for more information. Thinking back on the process I don't even recall what form of documentation existed (i.e. contract etc.) that would have had language addressing legal recourse for any related issues (granted since it would have been the sperm bank's document it would have protected them).

Thursday, December 08, 2005

We May Meet Their Half Sibling This Weekend?

We have been trading e-mails with the mom of my kid’s half sibling as she may be coming into the NYC area this weekend. This resulted in both families getting back into our unfinished discussion of how we would introduce the kids to each other.

My wife right now wants to be direct and upfront with our son as to who this little girl is. Her mom wants to hold back at the moment and just introduce them as special friends who share a special connection. We are at an awkward point as both families want to protect their kids and not take away from how special this occasion will be and mean in their lives. We (my wife and I) have suggested that we delay the meeting until we are all on the same page as to what to say to them. Again this is awkward and your emotions run high. [More so as I know she reads this blog but these thoughts and comments need to be part of this blog’s story.]

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

More Info on How We (2) Chose the Donor

Again Some of this was addressed in my earliest posts back in August 2005. The following is part of an email interview I participated in with a journalist friend Mikki Morrissette (note I have removed the actual names of the sperm banks):

2. How did you decide on the particular donor you used? DI dads tend to be interested not at all in the donor profile information. [According to the sperm banks] most of the interest in that detail comes from single women in particular (and to some extent wives) and that husbands tend to not want to think of the donor as a real person. I'd like to get your view as well on what you considered in making donor selection...did it feel threatening? Did you pore over the details, or tend to dismiss them? Was the ultimate goal simply to find someone who looked like you?

I will admit I actually was quite involved in the initial rounds of weeding through many of the details. After I narrowed down the available Jewish donors by blood type, heritage, and educational background we ordered the available detailed health and social bios as well as the voice recorded CDs where available.

At that point because there was no child I had no problem thinking of him as a real person. As a pretty active amateur genealogist I think I probably looked at the details much as I do when I find data on missing individuals in family trees. Without that background my reactions may have been different. I think as the donor would be 1/2 of what makes my kids I also took it extremely seriously.

The details actually fascinated both me and my spouse but I can see the sperm bank director's point. I will admit there were also a few wild conversations. One donor whose physical and heritage backgrounds came close to mine worked as a parking lot attendant and my wife kiboshed that possibility as this was not some part time job for that guy. Education was a big deal for us and we even selected a donor from Sperm bank DEF's premier education group which added to cost.

Our goal was not simply to find someone who looked like me. Although I believe the sperm bank now offers the service of comparing the social dad-to-be’s photo to the donor. Our main points as discussed above were religion, blood type, and education. We had intended to improve on my family’s medical history but the donor we chose has a family medical history no better than my own in the end.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

More Info on How We Chose: (1) The Sperm Bank

Some of this was addressed in my earliest posts back in August 2005. The following is part of an email interview I participated in with a journalist friend Mikki Morrissette (note I have removed the actual names of the sperm banks):

1. How did you decide on the sperm bank that you used? (And DI Dad, remind me, how many years ago was this? Two?)

We first started with ABC back in 1999 and at that point the donor sperm was to be a backup to a testicular biopsy I was to undergo in support of an IVF-ICSI cycle we were attempting here in NYC. We chose ABC due to the variety they had and to be honest the IVF clinic we were using suggested them, DEF and maybe a few others. Being dumb and not given any real support we went to the banks the clinic suggested rather than doing a lot of research on our own.

We actually started with one ABC donor and then switched to a second donor but when his samples were no longer available we restarted our whole selection process. One of our most important concerns was to ensure we could secure enough vials to create over time two full siblings from the same donors and that was no longer a sure thing with the donors we found at ABC. Their selection of Jewish donors was quite small and we were not thrilled with the ones we saw.

When these initial IVF cycles failed (using my own scant few sperm) we started looking at DEF (around late 2000) and again as it was one of the sperm banks the “experts” suggested and again we figured they knew best.

Our selection process was our own and mostly focused on matching the donor’s blood type, heritage, and somewhat his physical characteristics to my own. We had no help from anybody at the IVF clinic or from the sperm banks.

Again at DEF our most important concerns were the donor’s characteristics (physical and education) and religious background and most importantly the number of vials available.

[Subsequent posts related to this email interview will include: (1) What the Sperm Bank told you re Post Conception Disclosure Issues and (2) How We Decided on a Specific Donor]

Friday, December 02, 2005

Too Painful to Listen to the Donor’s Voice….Not Yet Anyway….

A Choice Mom friend who is also a journalist working on an article sent me various questions to answer regarding how my wife and I chose our donor. As part of that selection process 4+ years ago my wife listened to a CD voice recording of the donor (and other potential donors) before we selected the donor we used.

My wife remarked last night that I still have not listened to that CD and she wondered if I am threatened by it. I was not sure how to answer. I don't believe I am but right now I guess I'd rather leave "him" as a theoretical being rather than have his voice in my head making him real.

Granted I have seen a photo of him but in it he is only a toddler. He was too cute to be threatening. As discussed in my post titled “Emotional Blackmail” we are currently attempting to purchase a set of “lifetime photos” of the currently inactive donor which if successful would include photos from childhood to adulthood. Am I ready to see these? Like the voice recording probably not yet.

Again the question is: Am I threatened by this individual? Possibly but the real reason I think is once he becomes real it just drudges up the pain of my not being able to biologically be part of the creation of my children (and that he was) and pushes my connection to them one step back.. I know these thoughts are silly but they are my feelings.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Concerns re Donor’s Desire for Contact

My parents watched last Sunday’s live interview on CNN with Wendy and Ryan Kramer regarding the DSR. Besides my parent's views that finding half siblings will only complicate our lives they were concerned with the possibility that the donor would want to make contact with my kids and how that would affect my relationship (emotional and legal) to the kids.

Where the DSR does have about 200 plus donors registered as being interested in making contact with offspring it’s still quite rare and I expect our donor is not interested. That is not say that he has not checked out the Registry to see if he has helped bring any kids into the world. Heck, I’d be curious if I was him. But I don’t expect to learn that a match was made on the DSR between our donor and us. I admit I am hoping this never occurs.

How would I react if this did occur? Shock I guess at first. Would I feel a measure of being threatened? I’d be less than truthful if I said absolutely not. But I know my kids are my kids and I am their daddy so any fears would be softened by that knowledge.

It would certainly bring up the issues sooner to determine what the three year old truly understands. At this point due to the ages of my kids I certainly would allow no contact with my kids but I would inquire as to what if anything the donor is interested in pursuing and I would ask for more detail as to why he did become a donor.

She's Nature....I'm Nuture......

Being a Dad to DI Kids gives additional meaning to comments like:

"they're your kids....."
"he didn't get that from me..."

Sometimes these innocent comments just mean so much more as compared to when they are said by regular parents. Not saying plus or minus but just added meaning. But if I did something wrong saying either of the above to my wife certainly does not get me off whatever hook husbands end up on. As comments go they are fun to say around company who do not know the whole meaning.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Told another friend yesterday….

I think I surprised him a bit. I had called him for legal advice and as a tangent mentioned the DSR article from last Sunday’s NY Times. I guess I thought I had told him about how my kids were conceived. All of my friends are aware that we went through multiple IVF cycles and most assume that is how the kids were conceived. Granted we did nothing to dissuade them of that belief.

Anyhow we started to discuss how the whole process works and the anonymity of the donors etc. I explained how via the DSR works and how we found my children’s half sibling. He could not imagine the whole thing. I have been living with the concept / reality of DI since my son was conceived that sometimes I forget how it sounds when you first hear of it. Pretty wild.

Pink Eye, Conjunctivitis (post # 51)

Today it became official my whole family now has pink eye. This has been the month from hell due to one play date with a kid whose family doctor thought this was not contagious after 24 hours with the antibiotics. I‘d like to slug that doctor.

Too many hours at the eye clinic, washing bedding daily, and trying to get a three year old to stand still for eye drops. And now the kicker the doctors at the clinic prescribed an ointment we are supposed to put on my 17 month old’s lower eye lid twice a day. That will be an experience.

So if you hear the father of a kid who is at your house for a play date say that his kid had pink eye but it’s not contagious, but he is stil taking drops, announce the play date is over, ask them to leave immediately and reschedule by phone.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Questions to All Readers of this DI Dad Blog :

I have a few questions for the readers of my blog if you can answer them it would be interesting to see the responses:

(1) Are you considering DI or have used DI to help create your family?
(2) Are you a DI Dad, DI Mom, Birth Mom?
(3) Are you part of (1) a married hetero couple (2) Choice mom (3) LBGT family?
(4) What part of the country are you from?
(5) How did you find my blog?
(6) Have you read the NYTimes article published 11/20 linked to below? What are your thoughts?
(7) Do you think we need a national US based Donor Conception support organization here in the United States?


(8) What questions do you have for me as an open Dad to DI Kids?



Sibling Matches at 1098 at the Donor Sibling Registry

The activity at Wendy and Ryan Kramer's Donor Sibling Registry these last two days since Amy Harmon's front page Sunday New York Times Article has been staggering. As of this evening the total number of matches is now at 1098. That's 88 matches since early Saturday evening when links to the on-line version of the article started being diseminated across the Internet. The activity is amazing when you realize that the site has been active for more than 3 years and this increase is over just the last two days.

Based on e-mails to and posts by Wendy on the DSR Yahoo discussion groups she has been at her PC non-stop (when she isn't at her "real" job) and Wendy deserves our applause and our committment. If you can this holiday season please stop by the main DSR site (linked through the title to this post) and make any donation you can no mater how small. The DSR is purely funded by individuals and truthfully mostly by Wendy through her determination, labor and love.

Again our gratitude and thanks to Wendy and Ryan !

Monday, November 21, 2005

Links to FULL texts of last five Posts of "Life as Dad to Donor Insemination (DI) Kids"

As a workaround to my technical issue here are the links to my last five substantive posts. Note that on these linked pages you will have access to earlier posts as well....

Hopefully this problem will be fixed soon....

Blog Experiencing Unknown Technical Difficulties

I am not sure what happened to my blog this evening. Even after republishing a few times I cannot seem to get the sidebar back which includes my profile, links, archive links, as well as my links to various blog direcories etc. To say I am crushed and confused is an understatement. The only good news is that through Blogger I copied the text of all my postings onto my home computer and will burn to CD later tonight. If I have to replublish under a new URL so be it that would be a problem.

Somehow I must think something happened to my source code but I posted entries two night ago without any issues so I am confused what happened. More later.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Moderating Comments to Blog Posts....

Up until this evening I had not wanted to get involved in moderating comments to this blog. At times a number of Marty's comments had been bordering on harrassment but in the past this had all been directed to me. I usually let it go, despite my feelings of being attached personally, as mixed into his barbs were some, I thought, provoking questions worth exploring.

But tonight the barbs were not directed at me but readers of this blog who felt compelled to comment on my posts. And after reading those comments I felt the barbs crossed a line as I invited these readers into my thoughts and I felt I was responsible. Now granted I was not and the individuals being bombarded handled themselves quite well. But I am now considering moderating the comments posted which is a shame. Despite the fact this is a personal web log and not a public public discussion group I have enjoyed the interaction.

Individuals need to learn that their points can be made without harrassment even if they vehemently disagree with the positions being espoused.

NYTimes: 2005Nov20: Hello, I'm Your Sister. Our Father Is Donor 150

Tomorrow's NY Times cover page features an article regarding half siblings finding each other and meeting at various ages. Most if not all of the families referred to and quoted from in the article found each other through the Donor Sibling Registry which this week hit the milestone mark of matching up 1001 half siblings.

It 's a great article for several reasons including the donor conceived individuals desire to connect in whatever form to their biological origins beyond that of the mother. The article never preaches regarding the disconnect that is created via the utilization of DI nor was its intent to do that. The article addresses the connections made via the personal side of the meetings. Most of the meetings discussed involve toddlers through teenagers.

The fact that the NY Times placed this article on the front page is a telling point in my mind that the issue is becomming to be less stigmatized and more open to discussion. Granted the discussions are sometimes quite heated (see the comments to my immediate prior post "Emotional Blackmail....").

I am only hoping that the author, Ms. Harmon, continues this series and at one point address the DI Dads. Her earlier piece published on October 13, 2005 was titled "First Comes the Baby Carriage" and focused on women who chose single motherhood.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Emotional Blackmail....but I'll Pay.....

Within the last week or so, there were several posts to the DSR yahoo group where I learned that the cryobank we used is offering photo packages of the donors including infant photos up to grown up photos (the term adult photos caused email problems for some DSR members - what a world!). These photo packages are being offered for a modest amount (not cheap but when compared to what we paid over time for IVF etc....) when the photos are available for active donors. The costs jump if your donor is currently inactive. The amounts being asked come close to emotional blackmail or extortion but as we live in a consumer nation the amounts are asked for and they'll get it from others and most probably from me.

Now before I discuss the costs or my reasons that I''ll probably pay what they ask I wanted to say that I am confused why the donors would provide these photos. Don't get me wrong I am thrilled that they are doing so but my thoughts were if the donor wanted to chance some kid searching and locating him and then making contact why would you give out your picture to help in that search. And if you are so willing to provide the photo which could lead to you why donate to a cryobank that does not engage in a program that offers the opportunity to disclose hte donor's name when the kids turm 18. Very strange. Maybe they are offering this info now. I'll have to check.

OK, back to the amount being charged. It's a three part fee system. First there is a NON-REFUNABLE charge of $300 so even if they locate the inactive donor and he is not interested in providing lifetime photos the cryobank gets to keep the $300. The cost of the photo package itself for about 5 to 7 photos, near as I can tell, is another $500. On top of that is a $150 processing fee. Now before they'll try to locate the inactive donor they want the money up front. No checks just credit cards or actual currency (money orders, bank checks etc). Now granted if the donor is not interested they'll refund the $650 but you still paid $300 for the chance.

Lastly why I will ending up paying these fees. My wife put it this way. If we were our kids and they knew we had the chance to secure these photos would they be upset if we did not try. We both agreed they would. For al we know the kids will not even want to know any info about the donor but we think if they ask we should have whatever info we have. And for us that is why we'll end up paying despite the fact that it's emotional blackmail.

My wife figures next year we'll hear that the donor's address will be offered for $10Gs. My reaction to that was a pillow thrown at her.

Infertility Affected My Marriage....

Tonight on the Yahoo DI Dads site I posted a message somewhat personal. I thought to copy and paste it here to the blog but decided against it. All I will say is that right from the start of my marriage the infertility infected me and I pulled away from my wife causing her great pain as well as to myself. I could not control that pain.

Tonight my post to the DI Dads asked men like myself if their relationships were / are similarly affected by the infertility. Over the years my wife and I discussed my pain and when we attended therapy as a couple it certanly was discussed but somehow being in the discusion group with men who are going through what I went through brought it all back and I wanted to know, needed to know, if my reactions years ago were normal as defined by men who shared that same pain.

I am assuming the answers I get back will be yes, although I am not sure. Just the asking was somewhat carthartic whatever the replies.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

American Donor Conception - New Organization

I have been discussing the idea of starting a new US based donor conception support organization with several individuals since I have returned from the Toronto Symposium. Many agreed that we need a US based group. I have shared some of my own thoughts about the need in previous posts. Since that point I have reserved the domain name and created a parking page at the site address linked to above.

My goals at this point are not to duplicate the efforts of individuals like Diane Allen of the Infertilty Network by any means but to create a US based portal from which the Donor Conception Community here in the USA can perhaps unite if not in methods or goals but as a community of respect. I would hope that over time we can provide support to the level of the UK based DC Netwok or the Australian Donor Conception Support Group but this is for the future to see.

My first project will be to contact as many of the US based organizations that deal with facets of DC to gauge their interest and to solicit their participation for perhaps authorized intro articles or blurbs that can be posted to the new ADC website.

What are your thoughts on this idea and what would you want to see from such a US based organization? Please let me know either here or via

Update: Why Do I Blog re Being a Dad via Donor Insemination?

My wife asked me this evening why am I fascinated by this topic? Her second question was do I still hurt by it?

I answere the second question first. I told her that for the most part any pain is gone but some small part of me wishes our kids were mine biologically as well. I certainly don't want different kids. If biologically I was able to have kids these two kids would not be here and that would be a loss as they are perfect to me (granted the three year old pushes his luck sometimes).

My purpose at this point I told her is that I wish there was no stigma and that the issue was as open as adoption. I hate the secrets. The term disclosure itself sucks and that is why the term openess is preferred. I want others to feel OK about their decisions and to focus more on raising the kids while at the same time be cognizant of the consequences of these actions. Everyone should be aware that DI creates individuals not just babies and the responsibilities for that individual are more involved than simply creating a baby. I have discussed this in earlier blogs.

At the same time I want to let other dads (and families) see what one man and his family are thinking about so if they are considering DI or are already there they can see my thoughts and then say that was my concern too and it was not such a silly or minor thought after all.

On the flip side I don't expect this blog to solve anyone's issues but if it can be catalyst in any form that's great. But realistically in the end the blog is just a personal web log for me to rant and rave to myself and get my thoughts off my chest.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Why would they change our favorite diapers?

Why is it after you come to rely on a product they decide to "improve" it and then they end up screwing it all up? We've been using Seventh Generation disposable diapers for our kids these last couple of years and became quite dependent on the brand. But then they went and "improved" it and now it just doesn't absorb as much as the brand used to.

If we get two hours out of a single diaper with my daughter we are now thrilled. Granted our goal was not to leave her in a dirty diaper for hours at a time but now every morning her PJs / fleece sleep clothes are soaked through.

I just don't get it.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Misdirected Anger ?

My “occasional” misbehaving three year old has a magical ability to bring out my bad temper. I never really thought I could lose my patience so fast but I can as he has proven to me. Sometimes when our son is misbehaving I tend to punish him too much (i.e., the naughty corner) and other times I have grabbed him too hard startling him. These occasions generally result when he is not responding to me when he continues to act in a defiant manner or is just not listening to me when I have told him to stop doing something (like running away from us in a store or at home when he continues to take toys from his sister) or he has not listened to his mother after her asking several times. The occasions that really get my goat involve his sister and he is being annoying just he wants what she is playing with.

I realize he is just being a normal, at times difficult three year old, and I don’t mean to lose my temper or overreact but I sometimes do. I feel terrible when I have scared him by yelling too loud or perhaps squeezed his arm a bit too much when trying to get his attention. I have wondered how much of this is just me (needing to get a handle on myself) or something else. I love these children with all my heart and I never want to do anything to cause them harm but occasionally I just get angry. Am I the only parent to lose it? Most likely not.

I recall the anger I felt when I learned about being infertile. I don’t doubt that some measure of that anger still exists in me. I don’t think any of this anger is coming out when I am dealing with my son but I wonder. DI as a method of dealing with male factor infertility is certainly nothing new but I wonder how many dads underwent any psychotherapy before deciding on DI and addressing the anger that comes along with being told you can not biologically have kids and not have kids at all without help. This topic was addressed within a few posts to the Yahoo DI Dads site but with only a few members joining the discussion it is hard to generalize.

[On a related but separate issue I am beginning to think that prospective DI parents should go through some sort of required home study, similar to potential adoptive parents, before being allowed to commence DI – but that is for another posting.]

Before we were successful we did see a therapist regarding our issues generally dealing with infertility and I know we addressed the anger issue but I don’t recall now how that concluded. My wife has us signed up for some sort of class that focuses on parents and anger and managing our kids without them driving us crazy and our not yelling at them too much. It sounds like a good idea to me.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Told My Sister re Half Sibling

Yesterday we were at a family bat mitzvah for the daughter of one of my first cousins. For some reason while there I asked my sister if I had told her about the fact that my kids have a half sibling. Her reply was something like “what?” I guess the answer was no.

Anyhow I described how we found the half sibling via the DSR and then my sister asked how is it possible [that there even are half siblings?] She apparently thought when we used this donor that no one else was allowed or could use him. She probably thought that there were some type of restrictions but I did not pursue that line of thought. I explained further that we did not buy out all his vials and that as long as the supply was available others could purchase the remaining vials.

I then indicated that I knew the half siblings given name and had been in touch with her family even exchanging e-mails and pictures of the kids. She asked if our son had seen the picture to which I said not yet. I don’t think she was totally shocked but I think it was certainly a learning experience.

While this conversation was going on my son, the older of my two, and his cousin of about the same age were having a ball with each other running around the dance floor and chasing after my “toddler” as she crawled around the dance floor herself .

Thursday, November 03, 2005

It’s Standard Time – An Hour More Sleep? Yeah Right.

Whoever said that when the clocks return to Standard Time from Daylight Saving’s Time we get an hour more sleep obviously did not have very young children. Children that used to get up at 6:30 am everyday now wake up at 5:30 am everyday.

If one more person says the children will adjust and you’ll get back into a normal sleep / wake schedule I’ll hit them. My hope is at least they will go to bed earlier to make life easier for my wife but then again it will be harder for me to get home to see them off to bed. Either way it does not work easily.

If your kids are young you know what I am talking about here. If you don't, enjoy your sleep.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Normal Life 99%; DI 1% and Growing....

On the side of the 99%......Potty Training Update

My son has been potty trained now since about the first week of his pre-K classes. During those first weeks he had a few accidents at night and we did a lot of extra loads of laundry. We then decided that for us he would not be taking steps backward if we had him wear pull ups at night which has worked out well. Each day that his pull up shows he had no accidents at night we make a big deal of it and he is quite proud of himself.

During each of the last two nights he has woken up in the middle of the night and crawled into bed with us. He never co-slept with us when he was younger and his sleeping in our bed was always discouraged. Last night he apparently soaked his pull up and PJ bottoms and after discarding them in the bathroom he then crawled into our bed waking me up. After realizing what had happened I got him new bottoms and a pull up and got him back to his bed. The time change did not help but we’ll see what happens tonight.

On the 1% side…...

As noted by my two most recent posts I find myself becoming and wanting to become more involved in the DI / DC community. My genealogical work regarding my ancestral village seems les important to me now as I want to learn more about what the state of personal rights are for DI conceived individuals here in the US all planning to be able to answer whatever questions and concerns my kids may have as they get older and come to terms with all of this. I feel more and more that I have a duty to do this as their dad. I never want to be in a position that I cannot say I didn’t try. I never would want to think about this as their issue not mine and I know that would never be. I am approaching the point that I am not just thinking about my kids but all the others out there here in the US.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Support Group Envy

Prior to going to Toronto I was already aware of the British support group Donor Conception Network as well as the Donor Conception Support Group, based in Australia. Each website makes it clear that the primary purpose of the group is to support DC families, including both parents and the DC conceived offspring, child to adult. Each also maintains links and access to the donors themselves who are looking for support or information. I meander through these sites with envy and wonder why the equivalent does not exist here in the United States. The answers to my question are probably not simple.

The short answer is that here in the United States we are too consumed at looking at the issue from the parent’s perspective of creating the children and not at the support needed once the children are conceived. We all figure that once we are pregnant we are all just like normally conceived families and tend to rely on standard support structures such as families and friends. The truth of the matter is that while we are like other families 99% of the time that remaining 1% can control our lives. The major issues we already know are who do we tell, when do we tell them, how to tell the kids, etc. etc.

The existing support in this country is bound up within major organizations like Resolve, and the American Fertility Association, who are pulled in multiple directions but obviously most concerned with counseling and support towards the creation of children not the after. More and more I am becoming convinced we need a central organization devoted to supporting our needs here in America that also looks at the system we have helped to create with an eye towards support, advocacy, and reform but the focus always being on the children conceived who will grow into adults.

How does the name the American Donor Conception Association grab you? A dream yes but perhaps a goal we need and must work towards.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Infertile Parents & Donor Conceived Offspring: A Shared Legacy of Pain

I attended the Donor Conception Symposium in Toronto this past weekend and I learned a great deal. The biggest eye opener for me as a father via DI was the pain and grief that a number of adult donor offspring are bearing. I was aware prior to this Symposium of the anger and pain that most adult offspring (of a generation older) felt but in those cases the individuals were adults when they learned of their true origins and the truth was kept secret from them. The offspring I was not aware of are those that were of the group that were told of their origins since they were very young. I can’t say this pain is shared by all adult offspring of the approximate age range 21 to 35 but it was apparent and raw in those attending in numbers at this Symposium.

The title of his post may be a bit misleading as truthfully the pain of the offspring is as they informed me a direct result of the removal of the pain felt by the infertile parents upon the birth of the children.

I met a lot of good people at this Symposium and while I cannot say I support their position that Donor Conception should be abolished I promised that I would make their position known and that I can empathize with the arguments behind their position. I should also point out that not all the donor offspring are in the camp of total abolishment of DC. Bill Cordray of Utah, an adult conceived by DI, stated he was not in favor of abolishment but was and had been working for years to reform the system in the USA and was a proponent of telling children the truth as early as possible. I expect to be writing more about this topic and its consequences shortly and more frequently.

The facts I do want to be brought out at this point are that the donor offspring are fighting not just for the right to know who their donors are but more succinctly for the right to know who they are by reclaiming their lost genetic, social, ethnic, and medical histories that are theirs via the donors who helped create them. Yes, I better understand the pain and loss due to the fracturing of the genetic father from that of the social father.

The main distinction I see and hope that would ease the pain or lessen the severity of it regarding my own children is that for most of these angry, despondent, grief stricken adult offspring (who knew early of the circumstances of their conceptions) they have little or no information regarding their donors. The concept of anonymous donors, in countries such as the Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand, was just that totally anonymous (the laws in most of these countries are changing or have recently changed - again to be left for another future post on this topic). The medical establishment chose the donors used and the keeping of what little records existed if at all.

For my own children (due to the consumerism of the USA) we were able to secure bios that include detailed descriptions of physical characteristics, personal likes / dislikes , medical histories of the donor, and his complete family (parents, siblings, grandparents) as well as educational and professional histories (again of the donor and his family). In addition we have a toddler photo as well as a CD Rom of the donor’s voice answering many of the questions detailed within the personal bios. When I informed the donor offspring I met of the level of this detail they were amazed. To be honest I felt guilty for having so much when they had nothing. Again as I state above I hope this level of detail will alleviate some of the pain that they might experience when thinking of their lost connections through the donor.

As I stated I met many wonderful individuals at this Symposium not only from the adult offspring community but others that I will speak about in subsequent posts.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Thoughts of a Half Sibling and Watching Kids Bouncing on Couches

This past weekend we visited my sister's as her older daughter was celebrating a birthday and a cousin of ours was visiting from out of town with his wife and son. At one point I asked my wife if we could tell my sister about the half sibling but she felt it was not the right time as the day was a celebration for the 6 year old and to bring up this topic would pull away conversations from that event. She was right.

As I watched my kids play with their cousins I could not help but imagine their half sibling also bouncing off the couch and the cushions laughing and giggling.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

The post title came to mind when I began to wonder if Dads like me really think about these issues (i.e., being a DI Dad) every day? Probably not is the answer. I know I did not until I started this blog. Then the question is have dads asked themselves the tough questions, received their answers, and then have simply moved on?

Certainly books like Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus among others have proven that most men and most women think and very often act differently. The majority of individuals on discussion groups like Donor Sibling Registry are full of women addressing sibling and personal issues regarding DI. It is to early to see how many men join the new DI Dads Yahoo Discussion Group. The presence of men on these sites is rare if not non-existent. So again why is this? I pose the answer that for the most part men address the issue differently and then for the most part move on. Sure there are expected events that will cause the issue to be re-examined (i.e. telling the child about the DI if that is the decision reached) but for the most part I think men just move onto the actual act of living life currently and being the dad to their kids.

I am not saying at all that women think of this issue all day either. I am just positing a reason why we do not see more men out there adddressing this issue on line. I am also not addressing (nor discounting) the psychological view that some men see the act of not being able to sire a child as a comment on their manhood. I am also not qualified to address this issue beyond my occasional comments.

Furthermore I am not saying there aren’t moments when these dads ponder what would have been different (the electric sheep analogy) had they been able to biologically sire a child. But I just think once the medical bills are done for many, not all, the issue has been addressed (aside from the fact that men are for the most part lousy about discussing their feelings publicly anyhow) and that is why we don’t see more dads out there. Do you agree?

Friday, September 30, 2005

Reactions to "He looks just like you!" and other statements.

This one statement has illicited varied emotions over the years. In the beginning it was a source of pain now it's more a source of amusement. People see what they want to see and generally this statement is made as people know parents love this kind of statement - true or not.

Tonight my wife and I were talking and as she occasionally does she referred to the donor as "the other guy". She never says this in front of the kids and then would only say the Donor if we were discussing a topic where "he" comes into the discussion. Generally the term results in no additional reaction. But occasionally, somehow, this term "the other guy" seems to bug me as if it makes the donor more real.

I told my wife that when she says this it makes me feel like she knew him. The emotion it occasionally raises in me is not so much a feeling that she had an affair with "the other man" but it does elevate the donor above what his sole role was (that his genetic material was needed to create our children and that alone).

Our discussion tonight actually involved her discussing who she thought the kids looked like. Our son looks more like her than the picture we have of the donor as a toddler and our daughter we think bears some resemblance to the donor.

So tomorrow in the playground when someone says that one of my kids looks like me, I'll just smile, be amused, and say thank you as I always do.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Telling MY Parents About the Half Sibling

Just before returning a call to parents I told my wife I intended to tell my parents about our children's half sibling. I think my wife was a bit surprised at the timing and why I was doing this over the phone. Her response was a muted OK.

My parent's reactions were interesting. One parent's response was essentially why would you complicate your life? I had just explained that contact had been made, that eventually the kids would be told, and further that the kids would also someday meet. I understand this parent's point as now in addition to addressing the concept of donor conception the child will have to process and eventually reconcile that they have half sibling that is not part of their base nuclear family. I think this parent was addressing more my life than the children but the reaction actually applies to both levels.

The other parent's reaction was how did I find this half-sibling, what level of contact was made, and where are they from. As a point of reference we are in NYC and the half sibling is several states away. The donor contributed to a cryobank located in a third state. I provide this info as this parent did not realize that the donor was from outside NYS or how these cryobanks operate. I actually stated that I know this cryobank has relationships with others here in the USA as well as Canada so its quite posible there are others half-siblings out there that did not receive the donor's sperm directly from their base facility. The discusson with the second parent then went to discuss the DSR and how we heard of the DSR from an episode of Oprah.

My wife's reaction to all this was that now she guesses we need to tell her parents. She also asked me why again did we join the DSR and seek out his half sibling. My reaction was that we had agreed when we started DI that there would be no secrets and that any all info available we would provide to the kids (at the apropriate age levels - still researching that one) and that they had a right to know of half siblings if the half sibling is looking as well. Granted contact was made between the parental units from our side and the half sibling's not the kids themselves.

In summary MY parents now know and I am happy about telling them. Not sure what their reaction is when they discuss it without my being there.

Friday, September 23, 2005

New Yahoo Discussion Group: DI_Dads

First off let me state I did not start this new group. It's stated description is as follows:

"This group is for dads whose children were conceived by donor insemination. It is not intended for the donors, but rather for the men who are actually raising or have raised children conceived by DI."

Sounds like a good place for Dads like me to gather and discuss our lives. I don't think I will be packing up my bags yet or shutting down this blog as I kind of like what I have begun. Hopefully others have as well. I think someone must have taken notice as I see this blog is one of the first links posted on the new group's links page. [Thank you for that!].

I wholeheartedly welcome any vehicle that will bring more Dads out in the open and take another step to bring Donor Insemination and Donor Conception out of the closet of the infertility field.

As an aside I hope folks looking at the Yahoo group's name "DI_Dads" don't become confused. For my own part I did rename this blog to try to cut down on misinterpretations of this blog's purpose.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Birth Certificate as (1) Social Contract to DI Kids or (2) Falsifying Records

Lately I seem to be trolling the Internet to see if there are any other blogs dealing with DI or related issues. Generally I find sites where mothers are blogging and no fathers. What I found late last week was a post regarding SSM which as part of the writer's argument referred to listing the non biological parent on a child's birth certificate as illegal. The site I found this on was Family It itself referenced the original blog Left2Right where the writer posted his views. My own view is that by listing my name as the father I am affirmatively stating my agreement to raise and care for the child. In effect entering into a contract with my spouse and the State. The position of the writer, a NYU professor, is that this violates the rights of the child. His position references a proposed UN resolution, that I must admit I have not yet read. The writer it should be noted was himself conceived via donor conception. I encourage all readers to view the exhange of views on the linked FamilyScholars page.

My own experience thus far has been that the majority of the adult community conceived via DI have had a negative experience as most grew up at a time when the stigma was much stroner and the info was withheld from the child and was usually only told when the child was older and the info taken as a surprise leading to shock and resentment.

Marty, a frequent commenter to this site, as part of the discussion posits that by listing the non-bio parent as the father we are cutting off the child's true history:

But what exactly have we formalized here? In addition to the expected responsibilities of fatherhood, you have formalized that your son’s biological father will remain unknown and anonymous, that your son has no particular right or expectation to know his biological origins, that his biological father can sign away any and all responsibility for his anonymously created offspring, and that adults can contract for hire to enjoy legal parenthood without the bonds of biological kinship. That’s a heck of a legacy for a child to have to grow into.

Again as I stated on the continuing within the continuing FamilyScholars discusion that many DI families created today plan to inform the children of their true conception and share what bio info they know of the donor. It is possible that the donor will always remain unknown? It is quite likely but if the story is told early enough and continuously it is my understanding that it is but one facet of the child's life and he or she will not believe their rights were violated. I believe many DI homes are just as loving if not more so that naturally created family structures. I don't have the facts but this is what I see from the posts I see on the DSR yahoo groups.

So in summary my position is that I am the Dad to these kids and the donor Father is not so my listing on the Birth Cert is evidence of that love and committment and if it is believed to replace the donor as father so be it.

Monday, September 19, 2005


An international symposium for patients, parents, offspring & professionals featuring speakers from the USA, the United Kingdom, Japan, New Zealand & Australia, as well as Canada.
Oct 22-23, 2005. 9:00am-4:00pm (Registration 8:30am) Michener Institute, 222 Saint Patrick St. (University/Dundas) in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Click here or the post title above for the complete program pdf.

$75/person, $125/couple (Visa & Mastercard accepted) (A full refund, minus an administration fee of $25.00, will be made for registrations cancelled by Oct. 14/05. No refunds after that date.)

Due to a chronic lack of funds, the Infertility Network website is sadly out of date & cannot handle on-line registrations. Please register by:
* phone: 416-691-3611
* fax: 416-690-8015
* email: (send your credit card number & expiry date in separate emails if you prefer)
*download the registration form (pdf) here.

If your computer does not already have Adobe Acrobat Reader it can be downloaded for free via the below website:

This blog is not associated with the Infertility Network and is not responsible for the content of either the program or the brochure. This blog does however fully support the Infertility Network in all its endeavors and purpose. This post is provided as a public service announcement to all those interested in the infertility community and those interested in this topic.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Will Their Cousins Still Love Them?

I currently have two nieces by my only sister. These two girls are the only first cousins my kids currently have. My sister and her spouse are fully aware that my kids were conceived by donor insemination. I doubt my sister has ever mentioned the word donor to her kids and as they are also young (6 and under) I doubt that without explanation they could grasp the concept that their cousins were conceived via donor insemination. My concern is at the point when they are told and they actually understand will they treat my kids any differently?

I am already thinking ahead to some family gathering where a disagreement starts over some stupid toy and one of my nieces says something like "you are not my real cousin anyhow" or something cruel like that. How will my kids react to that?

The affects of disclosure are still to new to even guess at this point to us. We still haven't told our families about the half sibling yet. As a result they don't even know of this blog yet. We are still committed to continuing to inform our kids of their origins as we feel their right to know trumps any right we have to keep it private to avoid questions or negative comments from the outside at our, the parental level.

The issue of family is a tricky one. It's one thing for kids at the playground to learn, react and accept the next kids family structure or origin but how a kid reacts in the family itself I am guessing can have greater affects on the DI child's psyche. My son loves his cousins very very much. If they all of sudden, even innocently, if one of them commented that they were not real cousins it would hurt him very much. I think I want to start talking to my sister about this as maybe her kids need to start hearing the terms more frequently just as we tell our son so it just becomes a normal part of our lexicon and NOT something that comes as a surprise.

But just as I expect to someday hear my kids as struggling teenagers to answer me in anger that I am not their "real" father I guess my kids should expect the same from their cousins. Raising kids is going to be adventure enough without worrying about this stuff but what choice is there. At this point none.

Friday, September 16, 2005

New School - Concerns re Potty Training (A post that is not DI related)

We were notified today that my son, the 3 1/2 year old, got into a public school program here in the City that is close to us and supposedly very good. My first reaction was is he potty trained enough to get in. It's little events and thoughts like this that make you realize that raising kids whatever their method of creation is just that...raising kids.

If you love them and take care of them the issues surounding their birth are just parts of who they are, not defining characteristics (despite the title of this blog). The real issues are how you raise them and whether they'll grow to be good people. And if he has an accident or two in those first days of school, so be it. It's part of his life and ours.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Blog Name Changed : I am the Dad not the Donor of my DI Kids

There I did it. I changed the name of this blog. I liked the sound of the old name "Life as a Donor Insemination (DI) Dad" but the fact is that I am the Dad not the Donor. Hopefully this does not screw up some links but I think I made the right choice.

Janice, I know you voted for simply "I am the Dad" but I decided I wanted the name to be close as possible to the old name and also clearly indicate the main topic of this blog to be my relationship to my kids and referencing their creation. I want to hear from men who like me made this decision with their spouses or partners to be the Dad (or one of the two Dads) and not the biologically connected Donor.

This was a big switch for me folks as it seemed to me that the old title that I was more connected to my kids (no I do not imagine myself as the donor) but this title indicates as it should that I am the Dad by decision (and action) but not the physical action that we hoped would bring these kids into the world when I envisioned as a young man to becomming a father and dad (and I do believe these terms mean different things).

I love my kids and I know they love me.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Searching for the Donor When the Children Haven't Asked

A continuing topic on the Donor Sibling Registry Yahoo Discussion Group has been whether to begin a search for the donor before the kids even indicate they are interested or when they are too small to even ask. The reasons for such a search include not losing any time before is too late and the donor may be lost, die or whatever to that of in case of an emergency. These discussions indicate that actual contact would not be made but just that the donor would be found and tracked for future reference.

I am not sure yet how I feel about this. My wife like others has very definitely announced her interest to me. I mentioned in an earlier post (Carrying on the Family Name) that my skills as an amateur genealogist might prove handy in any search. But I am not yet ready for this.

Do I consider the donor a threat to my position as father? Perhaps. Am I scared that the donor would want any continued role in my kid’s lives? Probably. Correction, that does bother me.

Another matter is if contact was made would I be disclosing the existence of the half-sibling we found where I have no right to do so? Then again when we (the half siblings) registered on the DSR we knew we were opening ourselves up to the donor finding us although our joint goals were (as I am guessing) to only find other half-sibs not so much the donor.

As I stated above I am not yet ready to entertain this question. Not yet but it’s a topic on continuing discussion on the DSR Discussion Group.

September 11th – Then and Now

Four years ago like many New Yorkers I was living that day in a case of shock and just trying to get to my wife and get home. My wife was at that date approximately 2 to 3 months pregnant with our first child. Our home is in Manhattan and we used to have a view of the Twin Towers before they fell from our windows. Last night as on each anniversary since that date the City of New York as part of its commemoration lights up twin beams of blue lights directed towards the heavens.

Yesterday evening we watched the Discovery Channel documentary of Flight 93, the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania that fateful day. It was an amazing piece and through their re-creations brought you right back to that tragedy and the triumph of those heroes. I certainly recommend it being watched if you can catch it.

Last night I stood at what is now the window in my children’s room while they slept and I gazed out at those beams of light amazed how the world has changed hoping they see the world improve not take a step back to barbarism.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Conservative Judaism and Donor Insemination

Before my wife and I started down the road of agreeing to use DI to create our kids I was concerned how my kids would be recognized under Jewish law. I was concerned whether the kids would be considered illegitimate and not have rights as Jews. This post links via it's title to a position paper titled "Artificial Insemination, Egg Donation, and Adoption" as originally published in The United Synagogue Review/Fall 1994 issue.

It basically states that under Jewish Law it is a commandment to create children and that where biologically that is not possible but where science can provide a method, including DI, the child is fully recognized as legitimate. As opposed to the law of the State of New York where I am the legal father, Jewish Law only certifies me as the agent for the donor who is deemed the father. Not exactly the result I wanted but my main concern of legitimacy was addressed positively.

The paper does not address naming traditions nor does it address whether the children would also be considered Kohanim or Leviim based on the social or biological father's heritage but I will leave that for another day.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Where are the Dads of Donor Insemination Conceived Kids?

I am beginning to wonder where are the other dads like me? They must exist. I am curious how to find them. Do they wonder the same thoughts as me? Do they wrangle with thoughts of the donor? Why aren't they looking for others as well? Are they internalizing their thoughts? Are they reading books and do they have comments on them?

Here in the USA there appear to be few groups that address the social fathers of donor insemination conceived kids. I need to explore the UK Donor Conception Network site more to see what percentage of active members are the fathers. The same goes for the Australian Donor Support Group.

Is it perhaps the stigma that a donor was needed to create their children that keeps them from speaking up? I wonder.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Renaming This Blog? Current Name Misleading?

I have realized over the past few weeks that perhaps I misnamed this blog. As I surf websites related to this topic it is clear that the actual donor is the individual referred to as the donor dad and I am the social dad. I must admit I like the sound of the current blog name.

Perhaps a new name should be "Life as the Father of Donor Insemination (DI) Kids" or something like that. Do you / I think the current name is confusing or misleading? Perhaps. I thought the sub title explained it clear enough but who knows maybe nobody reads the sub-title.

Any comments?

Monday, August 29, 2005

Carrying on the Family Name

There is a strange but all to real pressure on men to have sons to carry on the family name. This pressure was only magnified internally by the infertility. Before we had my son I was always painfully aware that I was the last male among my father's children and among those of his siblings to have the family surname. What made it more evident in my life is that I am the family historian / genealogist. My son now bears the surname and he too may feel pressure down the road. My question as always is where a DI child accepts Mom and Dad as his parents what does the child think about the family that comes along with those parents? Do adoptive and DI children accept the adoptive parent's family tree as fact or a legal fiction?

For the record my uncle has only daughers and my father's other siblings were both women. For the record one had all daughters and the other all sons.

My response to the "carrying on the family name" comments growing up (pre knowledge of any infertility issues) was that while I am the last male bearing my grandfather's surname his brother had many male grandchildren of my generation. I would continue to state that "if it was to end with me it would continue with them and be no loss as we all issue from the same great grandfather".

These thoughts are all relevant as per the blogger Marty's comments to a few of my posts regarding the role of kinship (blood or not) in the relationship between DI children and the social father. It would be untruthful for me to say these issues have not played out in my mind. Again I turn to the fact that I love these kids and I expect I will have some interesting discussions with my son (and daughter) in the years to come.

One note that makes the issue of names interesting is that my wife kept her name after we were married. The children bear my surname. How this generation processes that difference will be interesting to see. Questions of why should Mommy's name disappear and not yours? But then again that is my brother-in-law's problem. He and his wife for the record have no children yet.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Donor Related Books - Part Two

We received in the mail last night the book "Before You Were Born ... Our Wish for a Baby: Donor Insemination" that is available via It is a very cute book. The drawings are bright and cheerful and the DI story is told in a matter of fact way by the bear father to his cub son. The pictures are of every day life playing, house stuff, and not centered on medical views and glum looking parents. At the conclusion of the story the cub asks for another retelling of the story just as many kids keep wanting the story re-read to them over and over. I'd definitely recommend adding it to any library of books that DI parents use to inform their child of their beginnings. The author also has a blog Wishing for a Baby that is linked here and to the right on my main and archive pages.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Trading Pictures with Half Sibling

We saw a picture of our children's half sibling. Very cute little girl. I saw a resemblance with my son especialy around the eyes. But then again I was looking for a resemblance. I sent a picture of our kids last night.

Seeing a picture of this little girl makes the concept of a half-sibling all the more real. It's one thing to trade e-mails but seeing a picture makes her so much more real. I wonder how my son will react when he meets her. We have not shown him her picture as we have not jointly decided with the half sibling's family what to call the kids when we would first meet.

To be honest I am not sure when I should show him her picture. Obviously before we meet so he has some familiarity when they meet. But now? Only I guess if we were all to decide at this age to fully explain that they (the kids) share a common donor. But then again sharing a picture of a new friend is normal as well. It's wild what thoughts / questions are raised bya simple little act of showing a picture.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Thoughts: A True Cure; Known Donors; Kinships

Within the comments to the August 12th post titled “How Did We Decide to Use a Donor” a discussion evolved between myself and a blogger going by the user name Marty. The issues have focused on several terms, their meanings, and how I have defined them as far as my actions or feelings.

The initial exchange dealt with whether my wife and I or just I have looked upon DI as a cure for infertility. The current inquiry defines what would be a true cure and whether I consider my infertility to be incurable. This new round of questions also asks whether we considered using a known donor, one related to me, that would enable the kids to be related to my family in some form perhaps via a brother’s sperm donation. The third prong of the current inquiry focused on responses I gave previously that addressed the result that by using a donor my wife was able to experience a pregnancy and be the biological mother and that I had accepted the DI process as sort of a half adoption and that the desire was at a least for one of us to be blood connected to the children and why that mattered. Hopefully I restated these questions correctly with the original intent which they were posed (the reader can view the originally worded queries below in the comments to the Aug 12th post.

The following answers were written off the top of my head as it is nearing 1am in the morning and I need to get to sleep in order to get up in 4.5 hours for work.

(1) Do I consider my infertility incurable?

Yes and No. Let’s start with the No and my response will bring us to the Yes. Medical science advances at paces faster than one can believe. But along with it rising costs follow and insurance coverage that do not follow. With enough time and money I am sure we could have harvested sperm that would have resulted in chemical and actual pregnancies. Physically I was told my testes could only handle one more testicular biopsy to even look for more sperm. I believe during each of the two prior biopsies they found maybe 2 dozen usable sperm. Of those I cannot recall how many were used to create fertilized eggs. I believe between the two full IVF cycles only about 7 embryos were transferred back into my wife and none took hold. I already discussed that various meds were used to try to build my sperm counts to no avail. Could have that third biopsy been the one to lead to success? Who knows. Is my infertility incurable? If one sperm was found that lead to a fertilized egg which resulted in a child then obvious is it incurable? Obviously not as a child was created so I would be fertile. None of that happened though and the odds were / are so far against success that my diagnosis of azoospermia (meaning virtually none) means the answer in my case is Yes it is incurable.

(2) Did we consider using a known donor to enable the child / children to be related to my family?

Yes we thought about it. But I have no brothers and the concept of my father or uncle was not something that either of them would have gone for and to be honest was not something we felt comfortable asking much less desired. Did we consider male friends of mine? Yes but that also was quickly put aside as too complicated socially. Marty, lets let it drop here as this is self explanatory.

(3) Blood kinship, my half adoption rationale and expediency.

Biologically a heterosexual couple is built to produce children. There is no question to that. Without getting into sociologically questions as to what marriage is that fact is incontrovertible. To create a child you need sperm and eggs. In our case we had the eggs…as far as we knew the only issue was on my side and my wife’s systems were fine. As far as I know and saw the desire of my wife was to bear her own children. The pain I saw during each failed IVF cycle and failed DI cycle was pure. She wanted that biological desire to be pregnant and give birth to a child. She of course wanted any child she bore to my mine as well. That obviously was not happening easily or at all.

To say that DI just allowed that for expediency purposes is not fully accurate. It is in that it cut down the years before we stopped trying to find sperm in me that would result in live births since that was not happening. Studies have shown from what I was told that women over 35 have a harder time becoming pregnant. My wife was approaching that age and she / we wanted more than one child. So a decision was made to come to terms that trying to work with my body was not the best or wisest course of action to again attain the true goal of having children. DI allowed us to have better odds at achieving that goal.

Why did it matter that she be related at this point? Your question of kinship. Do adoptive mothers love their children any less? I am guessing not and maybe more as they chose to love the adopted child when they did not have too. Could we jointly have adopted? Yes. That’s a whole different story which we’ll skip as not applicable to our facts here. Why was it important for my wife to be related herself? Because she could and needed to be. After several failed cycles and starting from the first any woman feels a sense of failure as if they did something wrong that their bodies were causing failed pregnancies. I would have to guess that that sense of failure goes both ways. Just as I felt failure when my counts were low and non-existent. Males were built with the ability to impregnate and females to be able to be pregnant. When either does not work of course there is a sense of failure of why did I not work right. So am I saying my wife at that point wanted to be pregnant to just prove something to herself. No. She wanted to be pregnant because that biological need or desire was overriding and that she / we wanted to raise a family together as one more facet of the life we wanted to gether.

Now onto my rationale of half adoption and reconciling that need to the child’s need (and ours) for kinship. I don’t wholly believe kinship need be via blood. I believe kinship can be gained via loving relationships and shared experiences. Where blood kinship can be found it should be celebrated (via my wife’s family, via developing bonds to half siblings perhaps). Where there are no blood kinships social bonds are just as important. As humans we realize what others do for us and one another. My son knows I love him and he returns that love based on our mutual actions. He accepts my role as father as he knows little beyond basic biology and only can truly appreciate that I am there for him when he needs me to be and that I am an integral part of his life as he knows it. Years from now when he is leading his own life I still hope to be part of his life wherever he lives and in whatever he does. Is it possible I will not be? Of course. Will he still know that I raised him as my son and I was his father. I expect he will. Did he and I need the blood kinship to be father and son? No. Did I adopt him as my son or his sister as my daughter. NYS law says I did not. Did I need the law to confirm that? No. Do I look upon them as adopted no. I look upon them as mine. Yes. Do I know that biologicaly I am not their father. Yes. Do I think about this fact all the time? No. Lately the topic is on my head as this blog was begun, we registered on the DSR and as we made contact with a half-sibling.

My rationale of half adoption looks at one point in time. The point of delivery of the donor’s vials. I don’t treat it as a purchase. I look at it as a gift where I was given a blessing and an obligation to raise these kids. The words half adoption are an analogy to the fact that we could have jointly adopted a non-blood related child to both of us. In our case we together did not have to but I did individually in order for this to work.

Will these kids need more. Perhaps. Many DI kids do at one point want to learn more about the donors and the families behind them. Will I encourage that or try to stop that? I would never discourage anything other than trying to make sure it is at a time when the child is emotionally ready. What that means I don’t know yet. I can say only this. One of my overriding hobbies during my life has been genealogy. Some say it grew out of my inability to bear children so I gave birth to the past bringing family members back to life recanting their lives and their connections to us. Would I use those investigative tools here. Probably. But my first goal is to raise them and get them potty trained.

Good Night. Marty, hopefully that answers some of your questions.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Contact made with half sibling

Last night we received an email from the mother of the child who apparently is the half sibling of our two kids. Like us she did not expect to find via the DSR half siblings so soon. My response was after we tried to initiate contact we ourselves thought we were perhaps moving too fast as the concept of a sibling actually existing had not yet fully sunken in.

Continued contact will be at a pace set by both families and privacy maintained regarding personal info. I plan to still record my own thoughts here in this blog as this is an exciting development BUT with the goal of not violating my promise to maintain privacy for the sake all of the kids.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Donor match on DSR...but no contact info found.

Last night I was able to post the births of my two kids to the DSR. I was quite excited to do so as I had seen the night before another child listed for the same donor number. When I finally got back on the site and clicked into the profile for the parent listing this child I was disappointed to see no contact e-mail address. So now it is up to this parent to contact me regarding my posting if they are looking for that contact between their daughter and my kids. No rush. Just surprised that's all.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Half sibling found via Donor Sibling Registry?

Last night I registered myself onto the Donor Sibling Registry. Upon searching the donor database I immediately found a listing for the same donor that we successfully used to conceive our kids. It appears that a little girl was born in 2003 and that she would be a half sister to our kids.

My registration to the site had some glitches so I was not yet able to register my kids or to make initial contact with the site user that registered the matching donor listing so confirmation yet.

To say we are very excited about this is an understatement. About a year ago or so after learning about this site from the Oprah show we checked it out but found no matches. I am unsure why we did not register at that time. I thought we did. Apparently this listing was only posted about two months ago so that explains why in 2004 I saw no listing.

I wonder how this girl's family will react when they check the registry and see that there is a match. I only found this listing around 11pm last night and I needed sleep. Today I will figure out the next steps.

We're still working on slowly telling our son about his own path into the world. I will want to speak to a professional before ever telling him he has a half sister out there. My wife is already wondering if there are more kids out there.

Books about explaining DI to a child.....

This evening I found a link on the Donor Sibling Registry site to another site where they are selling a line of books geared to explaining conception and birth to kids born via various ART techniques, being donor spem, egg, IVF etc. The site is XY and Me and the blog is Wishing for a Baby. Apparently the author is a nurse who works in an infertility clinic. I plan on buying the book for DI tomorrow.

The only book we have is Let Me Explain: A Story About Donor Insemination which we found engaging but for an age range of about 6-10 which is much older than my 3 year old. Sadly I just learned via this link that the publisher stopped printing it based on low demand and specifically per their site because "so few families seem to be intending to disclose to their children their donor conception (despite strong recommendations from professionals) we are unable to justify reprinting this book."

The only other book I have seen regarding explaining DI in a real simple fashion was published as a softcover book and was titled "My Story" and was illustrated as a storybook written from the child's perspective and was published in 1991 by the Infertility Research Trust together with the University Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Jessop Hospital for Women in Sheffield England. It was wonderfully illustrated by Julie Heath. I only saw this as the therapist I was working with before our kids were born let me borrow her copy for a time in order to copy it. If I find a link to any further about this book I will post it later.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Am I thinking too much? Why so many blogs?

My wife commented when she read this blog for the first time that I must really be bothered by the whole DI thing. I am not sure I am or not. I am not even sure why I am blogging on this topic. I guess since I started the blog I am interested in documenting what is like from my perspective. If not just for myself perhaps for others who want to know or are curious. Nothing has happened to cause these thoughts to surface other than everyday occurences.

My children are healthy, normal kids and I love them more than anything. I could not imagine loving them any more if they were biologically my own.

I have found myself looking online for other sites dealing with this issue. I guess where I equate DI with a adopting half of my kid I am concerned whether there really is a stigma attached to DI as the topic even comes up rarely in discussions dealing with infertility. That is what I am concerned with. I don't want that stigma being attached to my children and I want to explore my reactions to ensure it doesn't attach from any actions I take or from anything external to our household.