Friday, December 29, 2006

Sperm Storage Fees: The Annual Question

no. 320

It's late December again and we received the addendum to our storage agreement asking us to determine if we want to continue to store the unused vials of the donor's sperm. I last spoke about this in September 2005. We still don't know what to do.

A week does not go by that my wife doesn't comment that she wants another baby. I actually want more children as well. But financially it would not be easy or even fair to our existing kids to have another child considering our current liabilities. Living here in NYC is not cheap and for all I know our kids may to attend private school based on the condition of the local grade school (but that is another story).

Part of me wants to keep the vials for us. Part of me wants to keep them for another family that has already used our donor for one child but who do not have more vials to create a sibling. My wife has suggested we destroy them but I am not yet at that point. Certainly with storage fees at approximately $350 / year we can't keep the vials indefinitely.

I liked the idea of sending one vial for testing but that did not seem so cheap either although it would be a single one time fee and would perhaps shed more light on the donor and what genes may have been passed on to my kids.

I don't know what to do. We have to decide in a few weeks. My wife actually suggested last night that we sell them back to the cryobank so we can get some money back and if there were other families interested in this donor they'd have the ability to use him now. He was one of the few Jewish donors at that bank.

At this point I am betting another $350 will be charged to my credit card with no decision really being made. See you in another year when I bring this up again.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Voices of Donor Conception Book is Now Available

no. 319
The first book in the Voices of Donor Conception book series has been published. I am now a published essayist.

It's kind of strange to see my words in print in a real book. Seeing my writing here on the screen seems normal after publishing several websites and blogs over the years but a real book is pretty cool.

The book, titled "Behind Closed Doors: Moving Beyond Secrecy and Shame" includes essays by donor conceived individuals including Ryan Kramer, Rebecca Hamilton, and Karen from Whose Daughter. Kirk Maxie contributed an essay about his experiences as a donor. And Wendy Kramer (Donor Sibling Registry) and Olivia Montuschi (Donor Conception Network) contributed as biological parents and as individuals with vast experience on the topics they each discuss.

The book has a companion website where individuals can contribute their reactions, their own stories and read what others have to say about the essays in the book. There is also a Yahoo discussion group created to encourage two way discussion on the topics discussed in the book and in general.

Mikki Morrissette is the editor of the book and contributes her own essays to open and close this volume of the series. Mikki is also the author of Choosing Single Motherhood.

The book only arrived last night by mail so I have not yet read through it all but already I believe it to be an important book to see various sides of the issues written in the first person presented together.

I recently purchased another book titled "Who Am I ? Experiences of Donor Conception" which only presented the view of three different donor conveived individuals. I have not received it. It will be interesting to read both books to compare and contrast the experiences and thoughts discussed.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

One DI Related Column - Many Shadings

no. 318

During the past week Ellen Goodman of the Washington Post Writers Group published her syndicated column which included a piece which focused partially on donor conception and which began by looking at the Mary Cheney - Heather Poe pregnancy which supposedly was conceived using anonymous donor sperm. What I find amazing is how the editors of the papers running this column all shade and color the story by their choice of column titles.

Now as I always wonder would this story have been raised to this level if the Vice President had a son who together with his wife chose to use DI? Who am I kidding we would never have known unless that son and his wife were brave enough to be public about it.

If anybody found another version of the Goodman column not mentioned below please let me know in the comments section. I am sure Ms. Goodman is syndicated in more papers than I have included below.

TruthDig - 12/20/2006
"Who's Your Daddy?" - 12/21/2006
Concord Monitor - 12/21/2006
Arizona Daily Star - 12/22/2006

"Figure in the father factor"
The Boston Globe - 12/22/2006

"Looking for Mr. Right donor"
The Seattle Times - 12/22/2006

"Sperm donors are still biological dads"
Lawrence Journal World - 12/23/2006

"Whose your daddy? Children have the right to know"
Utica Observer Dispatch - 12/24/2006

"Donation isn't enough for the child created"
The Topeka Capital - Journal - 12/24/2006

"Cheney pregnancy raises disclosure expectations"
Kansas City Star - 12/24/2006

"However it arrives, one person's DNA is another person's 'dad'"
Pioneer Press (Twin Cities) - 12/24/2006

"Mary's having a baby"
The Buffalo News - 12/25/2006

Indianapolis Star - 12/25/2006

"There are consequences with 'donor dads'"
The Baxter Bulletin online - 12/26/2006

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Not Much to Say About Donor Insemination at the Moment

no. 317

This past week I don't have much to say on the topic of donor insemination or about my role as the dad to two kids conveived via DI.

I have been having fun attending classroom holiday parties and being exhausted from just being around them. How stay at home parents do this I have no clue.

But other than reading some of the articles coming out here and there I just don't have much to say. Perhaps it's end of year burn out. Perhaps I am just burned out I am not sure. My wife still gets on my case to put this blog to bed but I am not ready to do that by any means. But I would expect to hear less from me over the next week or two while I recharge.

And yes I am still trying to get myself to write the Telling post for Mel's blog and I am excited about the IIFF (noted in the post below) but unsure how to approach it..

Happy Holidays to the few folks that visit here on a regular basis and also to those of you that have just found this old blog. Don't worry I am not done.

International Infertility Film Festival

no. 316

Bea from Infertile Fantasies has launched the First International Infertilty Film Festival. In short the Festival will be held on March 31, 2007. Basically the concept is for participants to submit film shorts about any stage related to their infertility, pre, TTC, or post. Visit the site linked above (through this post title) to learn more.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Washington Post: Donor Conception Articles

no. 315

In addition to the Sperm Donor article the Washington Post is running two other articles in tomorrow's paper regarding donor conception:

The first article is from a donor-conceived person who found her donor titled:

"My Father Was an Anonymous Sperm Donor"

By Katrina Clark
Washington Post
Sunday, December 17, 2006; Page B01

A full copy of this article can also be found in this blog's Annex.

The second article starts out discussing Mary Cheney, the vice-president's lesbian daughter, who is expecting but launches into a full discussion about donor conception:

"It's All in the Genes, Except When It Isn't"

By Liza Mundy
Washington Post
Sunday, December 17, 2006; Page B01

A Known Donor Who Is a Dad

no. 314

In tomorrow's Washington Post (December 17, 2006) is an article written by a man who is a father and dad to two children via a known donor arrangement. I use the terms father and dad as it's quite clear that this man while biologicaly the father also chose to be a dad with the blessing of the lesbian couple who asked him to be their donor. The children look upon him as their dad despite the fact that he does not live with them or have any parental rights as he gave these up.

Growing up these kids will never have any of the issues most DI kids or families have to address. Yes, it will be obvious that two moms needed outside help but that help is only a phone call away for the identity and medical issues. No feelings of stress telling family members or resentment. In fact these kids get three parents for the price of two. Sure dad does not custody or rights but the kids will probably pull him into the picture more and more as life advances for them.

Again not your typical DI story. Certainly not our story.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Are Heterosexual Couples Using DI? Not According to the Press

no. 313

My nightly online ritual not only includes visiting the Donor Sibling Registry to check for any new half siblings but to check Google for any new news articles regarding donor conception. Sometimes it feels like opposite sex couples (let me use that retro term Heterosexual) must not be using donor insemination.

Rarely a day goes by that I don't see a story or two addressing DI through a story about lesbian couples using DI (articles re gay men and surrogacy and DE are less frequent). Not that there's anything wrong with that (sorry could not resist a bit of Seinfeld).... as this segment of society for too long has had their rights curtailed unfairly.

What bothers me is that the story should be addressed from our point of view as well. Maybe this should not bother me.

Some would say that the lack of stories would indicate that DI among heterosexuals has become more accepted. But I don't think this is the case and if it was we'd have an easier time getting the next level of discussion out in respect to better regulation and reform within the industry.

Putting this aside the stories of the day are:

"US Experiences Lesbian Baby Boom"
Easier Lifestyle
December 15,2006

"Nation's Only Lesbian Sperm Bank Records 2,000th Birth"
December 15, 2006

"Full parental rights for gay couples"
December 15, 2006

Thursday, December 14, 2006

How to Write About "How to Tell About Donor Conception"

no. 312

Mel over at Stirrup Queens and Sperm Palace Jesters asked me to write an article / post about how to tell a donor conceived individual about their donor conception story. I have begun writing it but have come to the conclusion that I should not try to reinvent the wheel. What I intend to do at this point is combine my own thoughts with a travelogue to the best sites out there where this same issue has been addressed by the experts (and my thoughts on these sites).

The article would be part of a series of articles, "write ups" as Mel terms them, compliled on her web site under the heading Operation Heads Up which will include write ups about common procedures, medications, tests, and diagnoses associated with infertility. The series is also directly related to the site's Peer Infertility Counselor listing. This group is comprised of individuals who all have experience in their area of expertise and who have agreed to try an answer what questions that come their way. In many cases these same indioviduals wrote the related Operation Heads Up article.

DI Mom wrote a piece about choosing a sperm donor and I thought she did a pretty good job with the topic. I only hope I can draft an appropriate article on "Telling".

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Usage of DI Images

no. 311

The above image is of a poster from a campaign to help men take a more active and compassionate role in their children's lives. Specifically it is aimed at men who are biologically connected to their children but who apparantly may be abusive towards their children. It was interesting to see the image and how it was being used to make these men aware that unless they are involved in a positive manner they are nothing more than sperm donors to their own kids. Note the tone and content of the words describing the "dad".

Monday, December 11, 2006

My Position On and Purpose Regarding Donor Conception

no. 310

A few posts below, # 307, I offered congratulations to Mary Cheney and her partner on the news that Mary Cheney is pregnant. Based on that message I have been asked, within the comments to post # 307, what my "true" position is regarding Donor Conception. I was asked this in the context of how I could congratulate a couple who have used DI and also have been "deeply moved" by the stories of donor conceived adults who have felt true pain and sorrow at not knowing the truth of their past. In short I am being asked to explain this "inconsistency" as otherwise I must be a "hypocrite". My response to Michael / BioDad was that I would not continue the discussion left for me there on the topic. I changed my mind.

What I find interesting about this and why I am posting this today is that I don't recall ever stating that I am anti - donor conception. On the contrary I believe I my position has always been that this is an area of personal choice which must be made with as much information as possible including the knowledge that for some donor conceived adults the knowledge of their lost past and connection to their biological parent may bring with it sorrow and/or pain. This may sound like my position is anti-donor conception but in my mind it is not.

My whole point in continuing this blog and my involvement in the DC community is to learn as much as I can in order to be prepared if indeed my children do exhibit any sorrow or feelings of loss so I can help them in any way I can. My purpose is to let them know their story and answer their questions along the way. I don't expect to be defending to them why we used DI but to be there for them as they process the results.

My goals also include educating other parents who have used DI to encourage them to bring their story out in the open with their children as all secrets eventually are discovered and it is far better to open and honest than secretive and ashamed.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Mandating Personal Moral Decisions as Law

no. 309

In today's on-line issue of the UK "Daily Mail" there is a report that it is a possibilty that female patients receiving IVF treatments (from what I assume to be state sponsored clinics) will no longer be required to demonstrate to the doctor that the patient has taken into account a child's need for a father figure. The full article is linked via the above post title.

As an American, who does not rely on socialized medicine the concept of proving one's intent or belief's to my physician is totally foreign to me. Yes I believe that if laws exist that qualify whether state monies can be used for specific procedures those laws must be respected. But if I disagree with those laws it is my right to vote for a legislator that shares my views with the hope of changing the offending law.

In my opinion there are certain choices of family lifestyle that are personal and I have no right to tell a person how to live. My blog is written to provide information on many sides of the DC debate. I made with my wife a choice and I support others to make their own choices. I only hope their choices are made with as much information as possible.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Voices of Donor Conception: New Book Series

no. 308

Voices of Donor Conception
Behind Closed Doors: Moving Beyond Secrecy and Shame

As stated on the book's website:

The first volume in this revolutionary collection of real stories about people affected by the donor conception industry is now available for purchase.Volume 1, Behind Closed Doors: Moving Beyond Secrecy and Shame, includes first-person essays designed to take some of the stigma out of donor conception and enable more open conversation for families affected by donor insemination.

Essays include:

>the honest fears of an infertile father (THIS IS ME !!!);
>the motivations and concerns of a sperm donor who is in contact with one of his adult offspring;
the insight and advice of two experts (Wendy Kramer and Olivia Montuschi) who have had contact with thousands of families affected by donor conception;
>three donor-conceived grown-ups, reflecting on the effects of their origins, as well as on the misperceptions of what it means to them; ( I believe one of the three individuals is Karen frpm Whose Daughter).
>specific recommendations--some controversial--for change within the industry.
The goal of the series is to open new pathways of communication and develop a wider range of print and online resources for parents, offspring, donors, industry representatives, legislators, bioethicists, mental health professionals, and others interested in humanizing the approach to reproductive technology.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Mary Cheney's DI Baby - Who's the Father ?

no. 307

I was recently asked if anyone knew of celebrities who have used DI to create their families. The only male celebrity I knew of that publicly acknowledged his infertility was Tom Arnold. I have no idea if he has kids to be honest much less if they were donor conceived.

Apparently the newest political jokes involve Vice President Cheney's daughter becomming pregnant via donor insemination and the shame (in the eyes of others) it has brought her parents. Reportedly the VP and his wife are looking forward to the birth of this grandchild. For those of you who care and are not aware Mary Cheney is a lesbian and in a commited relationship with her partner who under VA law will have no legal relationship to the child.

Back to the joke reference. Up until now celebrity news re DI focused on David Crosby being the biological father to Melissa Etheridge's child. But now people are joking who the bio father could be of Mary Cheney's child. No news has come out yet whether they selected a known donor or an anonymous one but I am sure the press will soon dig up this personal fact and let us all know in the interests of national security.

In all seriousness congratulations to the parents to be.

Donor Conception Among The Ten Trends That Will Shape Our World in 2007

no. 306

"NEW YORK, Dec. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- JWT, the largest advertising agency in the U.S. and the fourth largest in the world, announces the top 10 trends for 2007, in conjunction with the release of Next Now: Trends for the Future, co- written by Marian Salzman, executive vice president and chief marketing officer. The book is due out December 26 from Palgrave Macmillan.


(2) New Ties That Bind - Watch as our definition of family continues to broaden and evolve while dating takes a turn toward the traditional. Today, the family circle may include a child born from donor insemination and his/her half- siblings scattered across the country, found through online registries....."

Simply amazing.....

Blogging in Beta: Why I Made the Switch

no. 305

Ok, I made the switch. As a reader I don't think you will see many changes in the format of the blog except for one change I was waiting for: the ability to add labels or categories to each of my posts.

The only downside is that changing the format automatically removed the team members from the DI Dads Speak Out blog. For each to re-join they have to change their blog or account over to a google or blogger beta format. I hope this is not too much to ask for the labelling ability.

Hopefully this was the right decision.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Wanting Babies Like Themselves, Some Parents Choose Genetic Defects

no. 304

The title of this post is that of an essay published in today's New York Times. A copy of the full text of the essay is available through the post title on this blog's Annex. The essay's title could very easily describe in some manner how many familes choose their sperm or egg donor. Perhaps we would not use the term defect but the concept is the same.

True most families choosing donor conception probably start out joking that this opportunity gives them the ability to improve the gene pool. This was true in our own case but to be honest the donor we chose in the end had as many medical conditions in his past as did my own family, many the same, according to his and his family's medical profile. So not expecting to my kids genetic medical history ended up mirroring that of my lost biological children. Did we plan on picking these defects? No we did not but others purposefully do so their kids are like themselves for varying reasons discussed in the article.

The essay is not specfically about donor conception but it does discuss a scholarly article to be published in the journal Fertility and Sterility which itself discusses the "use of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, or P.G.D., a process in which embryos are created in a test tube and their DNA is analyzed before being transferred to a woman’s uterus. "

As I mentioned the essay speaks to the issue not of parents screening out disease and disability but using the DNA analysis to ensure or support the desire that the children be like their parents, who may have varying "disabilities". The essayist refers to individuals who "suffer" from dwarfism who would rather have children who are little like them rather than "normal" size kids. Another couple who are both deaf would prefer their child be born similarly deaf rather than a child born with the gift of hearing.

One would say why are these families looking to ensure their kids are handicapped and at a disadvantage. Others woud argue just the opposite. Many in the donor conception community would again argue that the desires of the parents were taken into account first before that of the children "created".

Did we choose traits we wanted? Yes. Did we look at them as defects? No. Would we have used PGD to pick and choose prior to a transfer? I cannot say. At the point we achieved a DI IUI pregnancy we did not want an amnio and we knew whatever child we were given was a gift that we would cherish.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Kansas Supreme Court Hears Case of Sperm Donor's Rights

no. 303

The Kansas State Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday regarding the case I described in Post # 298 below. The post title above provides a link to the full text of the AP article regarding the oral arguments.

The plaintiff - donor, is arguing the unconstitutionality of a 1994 law which requires that an agreement have existed mutually acknowledging the donor's rights as father.

Seeing DI Related Illnesses That Aren't There?

no. 302

My four year old son for the last six months has had a recurring eczema problem on one of his arms. It has been mostly limited to a single spot on one arm located right below where the arm bends. We had been treating it with an over the counter cream / ointment that seemed to control it but it really never gets better and the boy doesn't help matters by scratching it. This past week we noticed another spot on the outside of his forearm on the same arm.

After reading too many blogs, including the three Donor 1084 related blogs, I have begun to get paranoid. We didn't use Donor 1084 but because DC / DI / DE issues are continually in my head due to this blog and the yahoo group, paranoia has become too easy.

Of the three known half siblings (my two kids and T) my son is the oldest so I wonder if there is an issue out there (or rather waiting in them) if he would develop it first. By nature throughout my life I am somewhat paranoid and after living through / with infertility for years (it never really goes away - we just side stepped it) you wonder when (not if) the other shoe will fall.

I pray every day these three kids will remain healthy and happy but the fears are never far away so when a little thing like eczema pops up that you know is a real issue out for other DI conceived kids the possibility of an issue becomes real.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Experimental Kids & The Seminal Search

no. 300

Three Donor Conception related articles:

Experimental Kids
World Magazine
December 9, 2006
Lynn Vincent

"Family: It’s a brave new world of alternative family models, but some “lopsided” children are beginning to speak out about what they missed growing up"

The Seminal Search
The Australian
December 2, 2006
Stephen Lunn

"Children of sperm donors in Australia are searching for their biological fathers, trying to learn more about their genealogical origins."

Lesbian Mother's Custody is Denied
The Philadelphia Enquirer
December 1, 2006
Associated Press

"The county judge had determined that Jones was preferable after comparing the two women's "psychological profiles" and because Boring Jones had tried to cut off Jones' contact with their sons."

"Jones' lawyer, Alphonso B. David, said the ruling demonstrated that custody can be shifted away from biological parents without necessarily having to prove they are unfit."


Neither of the first two articles present anything new from my point of view. The first article presents the experiences of the child of a single mother here in the United States. The second does address children born into a married opposite sex couple. I found this term interesting as I had not seen it written this way before. Both are worth reading.

The third article is to yet another case involving same sex mothers who eventually split and each file for custody. I found it interesting only due to the comment quoted above by the non-bio mother's lawyer.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Looking in NYC for Donor Conceived Kids for Playdates?

no. 299

Just under three months ago I published a post with this same goal: to locate other donor conceived children in NYC for periodic playdates with my children. I received no responses. It's not to hard to accept that answer as this blog is not widely read as compared to other blogs.

But at the same time this is a city where the population is approximately 8.1 million individuals. Statistically there must be a number of children conceived via donor sperm or donor eggs. Therefore somewhere in this city must be children whose conception story mirrors that of my own kids. I wonder if it will take an ad in the newspapers to find them. I am guessing the ad rates in Metro and amNew York are cheaper than the NY Times. I'd actually start with the tabloid Big Apple Parent I suppose. Or maybe Go City Kids or Time Out New York Kids.

As much as I find posting messages on the Yahoo discussion groups rewarding I'd like to sit in a room and speak live and in person to other parents who are like us. But how do you find a group of married parents who will speak publicly on a topic where the majority of heterosexual couples hide this story?

This could be interesting.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Kansas Case re Donor Parental Rights

no. 298

This Kansas case will be an interesting one to follow. In short it involves a single woman who used a known donor to conceive her twin children. Immediately following their birth she filed papers so she would be considered the sole parent. Problem was that the donor believed he would have a role as their father and there was nothing memorialized in any agreement protecting his belief.

The case involves a 1994 Kansas law that sperm donors have no parental rights without an agreement. The plaintiff donor's attorneys are arguing the unconstitutionality of that law. Amicus briefs filed on behalf of the defendant mother, lead by Joan Holinger (a UC Berkley law professor) argue that to set aside the 1994 law could result in donors uninterested in being parents to have such responsibilities (financial and otherwise) thrust upon them without such protection.

The case has no applicability to unknown donor arrangements but it has longer range effects regarding the establishment or not of donor parental rights. In our case NYS treats social fathers as the natural father if we are married to the biological mother at the time of a DI child's birth.

A great site with info and links regarding the laws in every US state is the Human Right Campaign Foundation. The links have not been updated in some time (please let them know) but it's a great starting point for info on any state you are researching.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Donor Conceived Blogs - Current Posts 1

no. 297

If I could figure out how to set up autofeeds of various blogs I read on this blog I would create a section where the titles, links, and entry summaries would automaticaly pop up. My thoughts are to highlight, more than I already have, the blogs of donor conceived individuals, DI Moms & Dads and those TTC, and Donors.

Until that point here are the links and current posts from the blogs of a few donor conceived indiduals:

Whose Daughter?
"IVF Youth Experiencing Genetic Anger"
November 23, 2006

Donated Generation
How do I tell MY children??????
November 21, 2006

Who do you think you are? T5's daughter
Apparently he thinks about me too
November 4, 2006

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Family Ties & Night Terrors

no. 296

Family Ties

This evening we hosted Thanksgiving dinner at our apartment. In addition to the four of us we also hosted both sets of grandparents. Growing up I only really knew my mom's mother. Her husband passed when I was only eight and by that point they lived in Florida. So grandparents were not an everyday occurence much less thought. My own dad never knew a single grandparent as both his parents emigrated here while each was under 20 years old and the only grandparent that emigrated as well dies two years before his birth.

While sitting on the floor in my son's room my mother-in-law began pointing out how many states her ancestors resided in. My own family, historically, has been pretty much limited to NYS and NJ (although my generation is spread out nationwide) and before that it was Eastern Europe. I often wonder what kind of connection my kids will have to my genetic past.

Night Terrors

My daughter lately has ben prone to sporadic and short night terrors. They may not truly qualify as night terrors. She trashes wildly for anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes calling out for me and nothing seems to calm her down. I try rubbing her back but am pushed away while at the same time she is caling out for me. At those moments I wonder if she knows the truth. I am probably imagining this last thought as all during her waking hours I am currently the center of much of her life.

It's late and I have work in the morning.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Yahoo DI Dads Discussion Group Marks 100th Member

no. 295

This afternoon I approved the membership request of a gentleman who became the 100th current member of the DI Dads Yahoo discussion group. For a group of 100 men to come together in one forum to discuss an issue as personal as their own infertility is truly amazing. Some members along the way have left for various reasons, so in truth this is probably not the actual 100th approved membership, but it is the first time that the group stands at 100 which is quite cool.

The group was started, in Aug/Sep 2005, by a former sperm donor who saw a need and invited me to join him, with me at first moderating the group and later he ceded ownership of it to me. Today I announced the 100th current member in message post 729 to the group. Thanks Mark for the start.

There have been a few interesting moments regarding the topics of discussion but in all cases the men have been great about opening up and sharing their fears, thoughts, and concerns.

I believe I am actually prouder to be a member of that group than I am of my keeping this blog going for the about the same amount of time. I started here in August 2005 as well.

I am not sure statistically if you can extrapolate how many DI Dads must be out there but if anyone figures it out please let me know.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Who'll Say Kaddish for This DI Dad?

no. 294

Recently while googling "religion and donor conception" I found an interesting site that analyzed donor conception under Halakhah (traditional Jewish law and ethics) and also compared the analysis to a paper published in 1990 by the Ethics Committee of the American Fertility Society1 published in reaction to the Roman Catholic Instruction on Respect for Human Life and the Dignity of Procreation.2

What struck me hard was a one line sentence at the end of a short paragraph in the midst of the website which stated:

Halakhah, too, knows of no legal procedure by which a genetically unrelated person can be considered the full legal father of a child. The sperm recipient's husband, by virtue of his consent to the donation, might have assumed those legal obligations to support and educate the child that usually evolve only on the natural parent. However, when the husband dies, he is assumed to be halakhically childless with regard to inheritance and other religious issues.

Now I should not have been surprised by this statement as I already knew most interpretations of Jewish law on the topic only looked at me as the guardian of my kids but something about the starkness of this statement hit me hard.

I am probably screwing this up but here goes. Years ago when I used to go daily to morning prayers I read something about the Mourner's Kaddish that said unless the child of the decedent says Kaddish the decedent does not pass through onto heaven.

A friend told me that there are specific rules when the child is adopted which may apply in this case but I have yet to find them. Does this mean I need to adopt my children under Halakah?

How will my children feel if at my death a Rabbi tells them they are not allowed to say Kaddish for me? I can't imagine being told you can't do something that is integral to what we know as part of the mourning process.

The Kaddish is one of the most basic prayers in Judaism and one repeated in various forms including that of the Mourner’s Kaddish. Somehow I all of sudden felt cut off from my children and from a future (even one after death). Now don’t get me wrong I am not “observant” in the true sense of the word but my religion is a big part of me.

But this statement more than many I have read before it hit me hard.


Donor Gametes for Assisted Reproduction in Contemporary Jewish Law and Ethics
Richard V. Grazi, MD, Division of Reproductive Endocrinology, Maimonides Medical Center, Brooklyn, New York 11219,Joel B. Wolowelsky, PhD, Department of Jewish Philosophy, Yeshivah of Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York 11230
Assisted Reproduction Reviews 2:3 (1992)
1. Ethics Committee of the American Fertility Society, Ethical Considerations of the New Reproductive Technologies, Fertil Steril. 53:6 Suppl 2 (1990).
2. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on Respect for Human Life in its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation, Vatican Press, 1987.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Clinics target men's toilets in search for new sperm donors

no. 293

OK, let me start off that while I am glad to hear that clinics in the UK are being creative in their quest to find new avenues to find sperm donors this one, for me personally, crossed a line. For a future donor conceived individual to ever learn that their biological parent started down the road to their creation due to his reading an ad possibly over the urinal is pushing it. I know I joined the "Don't be a Wanker" campaign to help support new ideas but the association between urinal and creation I find distasteful.

The Independent
By Sophie Goodchild
Published: 19 November 2006


Fertility clinics are to advertise for potential sperm donors in men's toilets for the first time in an attempt to help couples desperate to have children.

The shortage in recruits has forced one clinic in the West Midlands to display posters above public urinals urging men to sign up.

Midland Fertility Services, near Birmingham, is targeting 18- to 45-year-olds with its campaign, which launches this month, through appeals in the gents at Walsall Football Club as well as in fire and ambulance stations."

Dr Gillian Lockwood, the clinic's medical director, said: "The removal of anonymity has had a direct impact on sperm donation. We want to attract older men who may already have families with quality sperm who are motivated by altruism."

Thursday, November 16, 2006

American Psychological Association: Parents Should Disclose Using ART

no. 292

Monitor on PsychologyVolume 37, No. 8 September 2006
American Psychological Association
Should parents disclose?
Print version: page 54

As more children are born using assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs), a major question looms: Should parents tell their children how they were conceived?

In both policy and practice arenas, psychologists are saying, “Yes.”

“The feeling is that this is not only the parents’ story, but also the child’s story,” says Jan Elman Stout, PsyD, chair of the Mental Health Professional Group of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). The reasons are both medical and psychological: Children of donor and surrogate technologies risk receiving inaccurate medical advice if they are misinformed of their genetic or biological roots, and such a fundamental secret can create an undercurrent of shame, experts note. For these and related reasons, ASRM’s Ethics Committee released a position paper in 2004 advocating disclosure (see

Given the recent development of some ARTs, as well as complications in using children as controls whose parents have not disclosed to them, research in the area is still relatively new. But thus far, telling children appears to be neutral or positive, according to a review article in May’s Sexuality, Reproduction and Menopause (Vol. 4, No. 1, pages 17–19) by psychologist Joanna E. Scheib, PhD, and Alice Ruby of The Sperm Bank of California (TSBC). The article also reports on Scheib’s and colleagues’ research on identity release, in which TSBC children can access their donor’s name at age 18. Adult children and donors are mutually curious and may want to meet, Scheib’s research finds, but they also want to respect each other’s lives and not intrude.

It may be easier to tell children in some cases than others, other research finds. Studies by University of Virginia psychologist Charlotte Patterson, PhD, and others, find that lesbian and single moms are more likely than heterosexual couples to have told their children how they were conceived, undoubtedly because it’s clear there is no biological father, Patterson says.

Other research shows that some people don’t disclose because they want to protect one or more family members, or they’re afraid children might reject their own father in favor of their biological one.

No matter what the circumstance, psychologists can offer clients important guidance in deciding about disclosure and in talking to their child, notes Cornell University infertility expert Elizabeth Grill, PsyD.

“There is no definitive answer on the right time to talk to kids,” she says. “But in general, younger is better, and parents might want to tell their children before adolescence, when issues of trust and identity take center stage.”

Sunday, November 12, 2006

And Then There Was Only One DI Dad Blog....

no. 291

Well it is now official that I am again all alone in the blog-0-sphere as the only man maintaining a blog about donor conception. That I know of anyway.

Max over at Diaries of a Hopeful Dad (The Adventures of Dynamo Dad) informed me off line that which most of us figured out that his blog is on hiatus. His last post was in August. As I mentioned earlier this week this a tough topic to keep going at when you are trying to conceive. Vee, Max's wife, is still maintaining her blog The Sweet Life and folks should make sure to stop in often to offer support on their continuing and hopefully short term journey.

On the flip side Richard from The End of My Line? has also suspened service over at his blog due to the happy news and events leading up to his and his wife's eventual delivery of DI conceived twins. His wife up to recently was having a rough pregnancy and things seem sto calming down as I understand she has headed back to work and is feeling better. We all look forward to Richard at least posting another entry when the children arrive complete with photos if that is possible.

I am saddened by each of these men leaving but fully understand where they both are at having been at both places myself. I first learned of my infertility in 1995, our first IVF / ICSI procedure was in early 1999 and our first child was not born until the Spring of 2002.

To deal with the topic of male factor infertility on varying levels for seven years before our son arrived was quite tough. There are many folks out there whose cycle count exceeds our own and the toll that takes monetarily much less emotionally is intense. So I can appreciate the different methods people use to deal with it on their own terms.

So again if anybody hears or sees a male written donor conception blog please let me know.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Donor Conceived Ignore Chance to Meet Sperm Donor Dads

no. 290

"Kids Ignore Chance to Meet Donor Dads"
The Herald Sun
Kate Jones, Medical Reporter
November 06, 2006 12:00am

DESPITE new laws and a statewide advertising campaign, no Victorian children conceived by donor sperm have tried to find their biological parents.More than 100 young Victorians, who have turned or will turn 18 between July and December this year, are eligible under the new consent laws to apply for identifying information about their biological parents.
The laws came into effect on July 1.
But so far, the Infertility Treatment Authority has yet to receive one application from a donor-conceived child.

ITA chief executive Louise Johnson said many children may not be aware they were conceived with the aid of a donor, "or the time may not be right for them," she said.

It is thought 30 to 50 per cent of donor-conceived children are not told about their true origins. Next year, more than 200 donor-conceived children will be eligible to contact their biological parents. Donors also have the right to apply for information about children. Providing there is consent, a donor and child may contact each other.

The ITA has received 10 applications from donors wanting to know details about offspring and 16 donors have voluntarily supplied their information.


Note: I edited the spacing of the text and combined many single sentences into whole paragraphs to save space

I have to wonder if and how these stats will change for these same donor-conceived children over the years. I expect in the future the ITA will release stats in total and also based on the "class" year that these individuals could have first requested contact info.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Fairfax Donor 1084 Update - Restrictions Imposed

no. 289

According to posts I have seen on the Yahoo DSR related discussion groups and at least one Donor 1084 mom's blog it appears that Fairfax has decided to limit access to the remaining vials of this donor to families looking to conceive siblings for existing children. A second Donor 1084 mom's blog reports no such confirmation but for her correspondence with Donor 1084 mom #1.

My understanding is that little or no explaination is being offered (beyond that another mom reported that her child conceived from 1084 also shared a skin condition) and thereforethe vials are restricted and being offered only to existing families.

It would appear that when enough noise is made [whether it be in the media or perhaps other avenues (recall Mom vs. NECC) ) that results in some measure can be achieved in some measure.

Reform is needed folks and the public must be involved in the process. I am not saying the banks should be excluded from the table as all sides need to be in agreement to make any reform work but steps are needed and we need to take them sooner than later so other children don't have to go through such pain and struggle.

[Note: I edited paragraph 3 slightly].

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Decrease in Male Written Male Factor Infertlity Blogs....

no. 288

I am beginning to see that for a few of the male written MFI blogs the bloggers have either stopped writing altogether or the posts are few and far between.

Part of the attrition is due to the emotional whallop that writing does take. For some the experience is cathartic for others it is draining. For some there is a point where the blogger says what am I getting out of this other than constant reminders of the issue at hand. I will admit keeping a blog current is tough work as I am sometimes hard pressed to put something new to "paper" myself. Max, if you are out there I wish you the best as I have not heard from you, on all fronts, in quite some time and I hope you are OK.

For other couples the drop in MFI related blogs is due to successes (or what I am guessing is success as the blogs just stopped at positive early pregnancy tests). I am obviously quite happy for these men and their wives but what's interesting is that their success are leading to a downturn in the number of male written infertility blogs. Not that I am looking for other families to have such issues to just find new blogs written by men but it does leave a vaccuum for those looking for that perspective.

So when I hear and see new male written MFI blogs I will try to highlight them......and if anyone hears of new male written DI / DE related blogs please let me know.....

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Britain's Sperm Crisis: Call Up Our Boys

no. 287

November 5, 2006
The Independent
Britain's sperm crisis: call up our boys
By Marie Woolf, Political Editor

What I found most interesting about this article in the UK newspaper The Independent is not so much the idea of "recruiting" service personnel to donate sperm or to freeze their own before going off to war but the idea of bartering free IVF cycles for the healthy sperm of men who are trying to conceive with their wives when their issues are female centered.

It's interesting and scary as it can create the cruel result of creating children by a husband yet if his / their own IVF cycles fail the couple itself can remain childless.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Telling...Whose DI Story Is It?

no. 286

Ultimately the story is that of my children. So have I been doing them a disservice by running this blog with my real name so prominently posted in my bio? I am not sure. Certainly by being public I believe I give some integrity to my questions. On the other hand had I withheld my name I am sure my words would have spoken for themselves and my children's identities and stories would have remained their own until they decided to be public.

Why am I thinking all of this? Did something happen at their schools or the playgrounds? Actually nothing happened involving them. What happened is that a good friend whom I have known since literally almost birth {born same day same hospital same doctor] told a high school classmate, that I have not seen in 25 years, clear across the country over lunch. Why should this bother me? My name was in the NY Times and USA Today among several other publications and if googled this blog will appear. This friend's mom actually learned not from her son but from seeing the USA Today issue itself. We have guessed that through this mom half the mom's of old high school acquaintances probably know.

Part of my uneasiness might be from the fact that this friend has joked and complimented me at the same time that he could not imagine a discussion of his testes being made in such a public forum. To be honest I am numb to it but on reflection it is somewhat embarrassing. There is currently a book in the works where I contributed an essay under my own name on the topic of DI where again the source of infertility is discussed so why again should I care that this friend shared my story.

Perhaps it is because it is not my story and because I am now more clearly thinking about it as my children's story.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Monday, October 30, 2006

Two Hopeful Dads: A Donor Egg and Gestational Surrogate Story

no. 284

When two men who are partners want to start a family the process is a lot more complicated than that of two women who use DI to start their family. The links below are to magazine length articles which started in this past weekend's Los Angeles Times. The arrticles are part of a multi part series following the story of the two featured men.

Sunday 10/29: The Journey Begins: Ready to be dads, but they're going to need help

Monday 10/30: Trying to make a baby: Shots, eggs, embryos and a big dose of hope

All I can add is that I can't imagine going through the process these men go through to have biological kids. As I have said in the past I wonder if the non-biological parent shares many of the emotions that DI Dads like myself do. I envision they must.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Leading Academic McWhinnie: DI Fertility Treatment 'Traumatises Children' (per

no. 283

The article linked above, pubished 10/25/2006, states:

CHILDLESS couples were yesterday warned that fertility treatment could traumatise their future children.

A leading academic claims that children are left angry and resentful of their parents when they discover they were conceived through a sperm donor. Dr Alexina McWhinnie, of Dundee University, said donor conception was soaring in Scotland, yet no-one had thought of the consequences.

Dr McWhinnie has researched and investigated the lives of donor-conceived children in several research projects, the most recent in 2001. "No matter how they found out about their origins, the reported reaction was anger, resentment and a loss of a sense of self and identity," she said.

What bothers me about this 5 line article is that it provides no links to where or in what context Dr. McWhinnie makes her claim. It does not state where the statements were made or whether the statements are part of any current research being published by Dr. McWhinnie. There is no author taking credit for this story and nothing to corroborate or support it.

I almost want to think that The Scotsman, which has continuously covered the lack of sperm donors in Scotland, needed to fill space and figured since they have covered this issue continually we would not notice the lack of substance to this piece.

Without support and references this article does nothing more than provide a scary headline. If this is a lead story in a print edition I'd say they were trying to merely sell papers. Come on guys you can do better than this. Your readers deserve better.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Is there DI Happiness?

no. 282

What makes a person happy? What keeps them from being happy? Will my children be truly happy? Right now they are happy. I am hoping they remain so. When they fully understand DI will it change this? Will it throw a thin veil of sadness and questions over them that will color their lives denying them true happiness? I am plagued by this question. If I could take on that veil ensuring that they would not I would gladly do so. This topic keeps coming back to haunt me.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Pregnancy Loss Awareness Day : A DI Dad's Perspective

no. 281

I don't know all the details how the day began or why it was calendered for October 15th but the concept is an interesting one. I let it pass without discussing it with my wife as she has put most of the pain we had during our infertility years behind her. I can't always say the same though.

For a DI Dad, you thank heaven every day for the kids you have but occassionally you do wonder what children born of you would be like. For me this day actually served as a reminder of what might have been. I am not sure I wanted that reminder.

I am happy for the day to allow those that want to mourn to mourn but for me it is a painful reminder of the embryos and cycles that did not work and all the pain we went through.

My comments seem to contradict themselves but as a DI Dad I also don't want to highlight the day as I don't want my children to think of themselves as the best daddy could get setting them up to think I love them less because they are DI. I don't. I love them more and can't imagine life without them. At this point I don't want any life but one with them in it.

In Judaism, on the anniversary of a loved one's death we are required to say Kaddish, a prayer for the dead. Interestingly enough the prayer never mentions death but focuses on extolling the greatness of G-d without whom the life we are mourning would never have existed. So in that vein I offer the Engllish translation of the last line of that prayer:

He who creates peace in His celestial heights, may He create peace for us and for all [Israel]; and say, Amen.

O-seh Sho-lom Bim-ro-mov hu ya-a-se sho-lom O-lay-nu v'al kol yis-ro-ayl v'im-ru o-mayn.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Cognitive Thinking Comes from ... Not the Donor?

no. 280

In response to my post (no. 278) regarding my son having to take an IQ test and my hope that my son “take after” the donor that day I was sent the above link to a site that restates (based on a 1997 New Scientist article) that cognitive thinking comes from the mom not the father. My wife will be thrilled. And here I was rooting for the advanced degree'd donor's genes to kick in.

Perhaps it's true when they say 'Mom's know best'.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

You Tube and Sperm Donors

no. 279

Yesterday I attempted to watch a video (linked here and above) on You Tube that was titled Sperm Donors. I had seen the link on the DonorMisconception Yahoo group. It was an interesting coincidence as I had never really explored You Tube and the site's purchase by Google had me curious.

The video linked was 8 minutes long, fiction, labelled a comedy, and revolved around a young man, Jacob, short on cash who wanted to buy a diamond engagement ring for his girlfriend. My understanding is that by the video's end he reconsiders this path. My cable modem kept winking out so my wife and I only saw the first 3.5 minutes (several times).

From what we saw it did not paint a complimentary picture of donors, or at least the one donor, Herman, that Jacob encountered in the minutes we saw. This may be the reason there was a comment from a donor conceived person who was offended. But that confused me as most of the donor conceived persons I have “met” would be happy with this portrayal on some level as the video was headed towards an anti-DI message. Having not seen the rest I may be wrong. The pen given to Jacob to fill out the form was quite cute if not silly. Perhaps some folks would even be offended by it. I don't know.

A lot is discussed on DC boards regarding donor intent. Here Jacob seemed to honestly think his donation was to be used for research until Herman clued him in. And he seemed surprised and the fact that his donation would result in many children needing college tuition etc did noticeably have an effect.

Anyhow I did notice when you run a search on You Tube using the terms Donor Sperm several videos pop up. I hope too what else they say and if they all are labelled as comedys as this one was.

If anyone can give me a fuller synopsis of the video I'd love to hear it as my modem will continue to wink out and anything with streaming video is blocked at work.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Intelligence Tests and What Your Dad & Donor Gave You

no. 278

Today is one of those days when I hope my son is somewhat like his donor. As I write this he is taking some sort of IQ test in order to qualify for a gifted program / school here in NYC. I say the donor as I have never thought myself to be highly intelligent and based on the donor's educational background he apparently was / is. It's silly for me to think this as I am not a dummy, I hold two professional licenses, and I consider myself to have better than average horse sense. But my son is not biologically mine and on a day like today you want every edge the kid can get.

I usually feel environment plays a big factor in an individual's life but the facts seem to be that if the “nature” genes are supporting the good environment teaching you at least have a head start and that would not be a bad thing.

So today little boy hopefully your own intrinsic curiousity together with what ever the donor gave you and what I taught you will come out while you take this test. And if you have a case of the silly's please just shake them out and listen politely to what the tester asks and try your best. I love you no matter what and I always will.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Videos of the Half Siblings

no. 277

When my kids met T and her mom, back in August, we all took photos and I took some short videos on my camera. I put them altogether as one slideshow and three short videos from which I then made a DVD from.

My kids love watching the video of them and T. They ask for it at least once a week and sometimes on a weekend multiple times. The whole DVD only last about 8 minutes.

Truth be known they like seeing themselves on the TV screen as much as seeing T with them.

As I write this I am finally standing in line at the post office to send a copy of the DVD to T's mom along with data disks of the raw photos and video. Hopefully T finds the video as amusing as my kids do.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

"The Truth About Donor 1084" - SELF Magazine Article - October 2006 Issue

no. 276

"The Truth About Donor 1084" is a disturbing article to read and an important one among the articles being written about Donor Conception. It is one of the next generation of article being written to open the door beyond the happy stories of Donor 48QAH that present these stories as oddities and mere human interest. The Donor 1084 article begins to paint a picture for the public that borders if not crosses the line into criminal negligence and disregard for the children created by this process.

The stories of the families in this article are not as uncommon as you would think or hope and thankfully I can say my kids to date as well as "T" their half sibling are all healthy but as a parent of DI I cannot turn a blind eye as I want the banks to take responsibility and determine how these issues can be rectified.

I am not saying that I expect the banks to pony up funds to cover the medical expenses of these kids (although it is strong belief that they should if it can proven they had knowledge of any chance of xyz conditoin occuring) but at least they have to start changing their rules and contracts to allow more communication and info to flow and to make donors aware that they have a responsibility to these kids and that at a minimum to be honest and that to not do so can have repercusions.

Reform is needed. I don't have the answers but I know I want to be part of that equation. Stories like these just make me angry and my heart go out to these families.

If you can get to a library or a Barnes & Noble read the article and see if you don't feel just as angry.

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Multnomah Oregon Mistake

I posted on the Annex an editorial posted by the Albany Herald Democrat where the writer calls for the case brought by the inadvertent donor to be thrown out. The editorial restates the facts well enough but in short the plaintiff produced sperm intended to impregnate his girlfriend but the hospital mistakenly used it to impregnate a married woman who was expecting an anonymous donor's sperm. The plaintiff donor is suing I guess to establish whether he is in fact the biological parent of the child created. (I will admit I am not sure what the current status of this child is and whether it is still a enbryo, fetus, viable birth, or even been born yet).

The editorial is interesting mostly as I see it as it lays out all the various issues that may exist and the rights as seen by the writer.

If I was the husband of the woman mistakenly inseminated I would certainly be upset that this was not the “donor” we selected and be fearful of what rights if any this plaintiff would want.

The article speaks to the fact that the hospital offered a free abortion. Yes a loaded issue if there ever was one. Would I consider it. Yes. But to be honest the child would be one half from my wife and again not from me so biologically it would be the same issues as the donor of choice but not the one we chose. Try eplainig that to the child a few years down the road. Well we wanted half of you.

What happened was obviously a mistake and a mistake that apparently the facility has taken steps to now avoid again. No degree of sperm bank reform could forsee this as this was a localized event but I bet it's happened more often than we know. It certainly adds fuel to those that call for DI to be abolished.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Revolution in Parenthood:The Emerging Global Clash Between Adult Rights and Children's Needs

I have not read the below linked report. My understanding is that depending on the reader it may be seen as controversial and political in the sense that it was written and published by a group, the Institute for American Values, that is seen by some as leaning to one end of the spectrum as opposed to espousing positions that are more centrist. That is neither good or bad , or a judgment, just stating what is.

People I do respect on both sides have agreed that the report is worth reading despite its length (44 pages) and I plan to do so.

The Revolution in Parenthood:The Emerging Global Clash Between Adult Rights and Children's Needs

An International Appeal from the Commission on Parenthood's Future. Elizabeth Marquardt, Principal Investigator.

A continuing discussion of the issue can be found at the Institute's blog titled within the category set up for it linked here. Again the views espoused at these site are those of the writers and not my own so I can't say I agree with all that is written or even what percentage of what is written but it is interesting reading.

Buffalo Girl, a donor conceived adult from here in the USA, who writes the blog “Whose Daughter?” was invited to speak in response to the report at the Eleventh Annual Institute For American Values Symposium on September 14, 2006 at The Association of the Bar of the City of New York. Her remarks can be found on her blog’s 9/27/2006 post.

I respect most of Buffalo Girl’s views and positions and encourage readers to visit her site for her remarks and in general as there are few blogs written and kept current from a US based donor conceived person.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Does My Half Sibling Have a Daddy?

Until now I have not named my children's half sibling and I am doing so by giving her a psuedo name as writing out half sibling is too much typing on my crackberry where I write most of these posts. So as of today she will be referred to as “T”.

Now onto today's post....

This morning my son asked me if T had a daddy. As soon as he asked this my wife from the next room yelled be careful how I answer this.

I replied simple that she did not have a daddy. I continued by stating that when her mommy decided she wanted a baby that she was single and that the donor's sperm helped her create T. I then stated that when his mommy wanted a baby that she was married to me his daddy and that the donor's sperm helped us create him and his sister.

He seemed to accept this.

Without giving me a second to decide if I answered this appropriately he then asked if he and T could get married. I said "no ... but hopefully someday she will attend your wedding".

If I last that long with all his questions.

Monday, September 25, 2006

More Letters to the Editor: Dilemmas and Dangers of Donor Conception

I have posted, on my Annex blog (linked above), copies of the letters published at the in tomorrow's, 9/26/06, edition.

The letters posted include that of two donor conceived individuals (including Rebecca Hamilton and Dr. Don Moody), a medical ethicist (Dr. Andrew Lawson) , and a leading rep of the Infertility Network UK (Sheena Young).

At this point by my count we have seen letters from all parties involved except that of the donors.

I am following this debate as it's interesting to see all sides. I don't expect anytime soon that donor anonymity will end here in the USA but if groups like the AATB and the ASRM start coming around to the base issues involved then perhaps serious legislation could be attempted.

Again I am not so much in favor of mandated abolition of donor anonymity but my primary concerns are more towards greater regulation and monitoring of the system we currently have to ensure the medical safety of the individuals created. That should be the primary issue in my mind. Yes the emotional is just as important but when I hear the stories of conditions and diseases that might have been caught due to screening limitations I cringe.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

More on Competing Rights: Donor vs. Conceived vs. Infertiles

The above post title links to this Blog's Annex where you can read two additional days of Letters to the Editors of the on this topic. Buffalo Girl of Whose Daughter and Tom Ellis let me know that additional letters had been posted by the Times including Tom's own response.

My own submission to the fray as the only responding DI parent is as follows (who knows if this letter will be accepted and posted by the Times so that is why I am posting here):

I have been reading all of the letters posted on this topic and as an American whose children were both conceived via an anonymous donor I am amazed. The US system being consumer based has not been forced into a position of outlawing the use of anonymous donors so I am reading these stories from a position where I am not affected and all too easily can comment without repercusions but here goes anyway.

Over the last two years that I have been following this topic I am amazed at how individuals like Colin Campbell (Sept 21) and Tim Hammond (Sept 23) can still make the argument that donor conceived individuals should accept the "be happy you are alive" argument as a prong on which to support their belief that the rights of the infertile parents trump that of the donor conceived.

As a parent whose kids are donor conceived I will work to fully ensure my kids have as much as possible about their past. To try now to turn back the clock to donor anonymity does future children conceived via DI a disservice and appears to me to border on criminal. It is true that donations have plummeted via the change in your laws but it appears to me that there have to be better avenues to increase donations than to just throw up yor hands and turn back the clock. For instance how about the UK government to provide more funding and staffing to the National Donor Gamete Trust. From what I understand you have a group whose mandate is to work in this area but without proper funding how can you expect results.

Again speaking as a parent who benefiited from donor sperm but now sees the bigger picture don't turn your back on these children and adults. No parent wants to cause their children harm, emotionally or otherwise, but to coopt their rights you would be doing just that.

Eric Schwartzman
New York, New York

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Competing Rights: The Conceived vs The Infertile (A Continuing Debate)

An age old argument raised against the premise of abolishment of anonymous donors is that the rights of the Infertile parents trump the rights of the unborn yet to be conceived children. To say it politely this is rubbish. To deny however that the UK abolishment of anonymity greatly affected sperm donations in the UK is also fantasy.

Colin Campbell, the former and founding chairman of the British Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) from 1990-1994, has again raised the issue in today's (9/21/2006) in a letter to the editor stating that the current policy is unfair to the infertile parents and their rights should be supreme. I think he's blind to reality that human beings are created that deserve more than this “be happy” you are alive argument. There are issues that must be addressed including the emotional well being and rights of the donor conceived and these issues should be paramount.

For new readers let me say I am not anti-DI. DI has given me two beautiful children and I would do it again if we could afford a third child. I am not pro-anonymity as I seen the results for some that were created via DI and will never have any knowledge of their biological and cultural past. I just believe there must be other ways to increase sperm donations than to imply that the human rights of the children are subservient and that anonymous donations are the cure. Max's Male Infertilty Awareness Campaign and the work of the National Gamete Donation Trust are examples of such good work. But more needs to be done.

I am sorry Mr. Campbell your argument just doesn't hold water. If you have another we'd be happy to hear it but this one is again simply rubbish and too easy to make.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

What To Do With Extra Vials of Donor Sperm?

The question of the day since we are finally coming to terms that more children is not financially plausible is what to do with the extra vials of the donor's sperm.

We have it noted on the DSR that we have extra but the half siblings mom is also not planning to have more kids (that we know of) and there are no other half sibling families out there that we know of that might want them.

Do we sell them back to the Cryobank enabling other families to have kids from this donor? Do we destroy them? Do we submit them to research?

These questions don't rise to the level of controversy that families with frozen embryos have to deal with but like them we continue to pay yearly fees to store and maintain their viability. Not an easy decision.

The idea of taking one vial and having the DNA analyzed appeals to me and I am leaning in that direction for one vial. But the rest is still a mystery as to what we should do.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Making References to Half Siblings?

On my son's dresser are a couple of pages with pictures of himself, his sister and their half sibling. As he is only 4 years old he can't see these ppictures when standing directly next to the dresser but he can see them when he enters his bedroom or if he is standing on his bed.

The question I have is what is appropriate regarding how often parents should make reference to half siblings is simple conversation or under what circumstances. What is too much or too little?

My kids had a great time when they met their half sibling. And today my son asked when they would get to see her again. He doesn't refer to her as his half sibling or sister (we've never used that term regarding her) but simply by her name and always with a smile.

Occasionally we'll bring her name up to the kids depending on the circumstance. But we try to keep from overdoing it and at the same time because we are of different families there will be certainly periods of time that no reference is made whatsoever.

Was just curious what other families thought about this stuff. As I have said repeatedly because of this blog and related discussion groups etc this stuff is in my head too much.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Looking for DI Conceived Kids in NYC for Playdates?

A few weeks ago after seeing a post on the DSR_Discussion Yahoo group about a plan to stage a West coast gathering of DI families I proposed a concurrent East coast event. I have no experience planning events but threw my hat into the ring. Somehow I have a feeling this could snowball into something complicated but I hope not. The West coast event is planned for June 2007 and the email exchanges have proposed the East coast for August.

In advance of that I was wondering how many DI families are in NYC itself? I was thinking maybe doing something small with families maybe meeting on a perodic basis at the Central Park Zoo or other local venues so the kids have friends like themselves (conception story wise) so as they better understand this stuff they have their own built in network to discuss this stuff. But in the meantime the group for them would just add new friends.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Glasses in the DI Family?

Yesterday as I rode the bus home I saw a dad with a boy at his side on a street corner. I am assuming the boy was his son. I base this guess on the facts that they we were both wearing glasses and the man was holding the boy's hand. I always assumed that any kids we were to have would wear glasses as both my wife and I were them.

I actually don't recall if the donor wore / wears glasses. From a vanity and practical aspect it would be nice if the kids skipped this part of life. It was just so cute to see this child looking like a miniature version of his spectacled father. Part of me misses this possibility and part of me is hoping the donor's eyes are better than mine.

Monday, September 11, 2006

"Sperm Banks and Social Issues: Are We Going to Lead or Follow"

On Saturday, September 9, 2006, the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB) at their National Conference within their Reproductive Council Session included a subsession titled "Sperm Banks and Social Issues: Are We Going to Lead or Follow". The importance of this session cannot be understated because unless the Donor Conception community becomes politically active this organization along with the ASRM will most likely and does dictate how the industry will be self regulated absent national and local legislation. The long term is the protection of our children's rights and that means either forcing these organizations to accept our positions or to work with them to an agreeable set of regulations that are realistic.

Addressing the 30 or so Sperm Bank directors that attended was Mikki Morrissette, the author of Choosing Single Motherhood, and a Choice Mom herself of two donor conceived children. I first met Mikki at the 2005 Donor Conception seminar hosted by the Infertility Network. Mikki's own comments subsequent to her addressing the AATB can be found here at her new blog Choice Mom.

The agenda for the AATB session stated:

“At the conclusion of this program, participants should be able to identify critical social issues that will affect sperm banks in the area of public expectations by donors, recipients and donor children (i.e. release of donor identity to children, fascilitating donor-child contact, national archive for donor records, national donor registry for gamete donors and children, standards and guidelines to allow gay donors to become sperm donors beyond the known donor category).”

With all the media coverage in the last few months to two years the industry is beginning to take notice and unless they present themselves as both consumer and donor conceived friendly they risk outside regulation. But this risk is only tangible if the donor conception community increases the pressure and starts to make more noise before the banks come up with their own plans. The key to success may be working together and the fact that they invited Mikki to speak is an encouraging step.

For many there is an inherent mistrust of the cryobanks and that to go forward the banks will need to earn back the goodwill they desire from the community that relied on their assertions. But we must first bring ourselves to the table or rather first ensure the issues dictate that all sides are required to be part of the process and not decided only by one constituency.

The door is beginning to open let's not let it close in front of us.

My BR Windows used to view the Towers

Today is never a good day. On each anniversary the City gets a little jumpier, a little more on edge. Much of it we take in stride, the Presidential roadblocks, the National Guard in our trains stations, etc. But much of it we internalize and we just wait for the day to pass. Hoping nothing will happen.

Five years ago my wife was pregnant with our first child. Its amazing how much life has changed but more amazing how fast the old fears come back. Since we moved I don't even have a view of the lights and that I miss as well.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Coloring a Child's Interpretation of DI

Within the comments to my post "Donor as Genetic Parent" published 6 Sep 2006 "DD" asked:

"Wouldn't we already color a child's interpretation by telling them that there was a donor involved in the first place? What is inheretantly wrong with having a kind of "Ignorance is bliss" mentality, if you will?

Maybe I am debating the wrong issue or being premature in my concerns. We are wrestling with whether or not we make it known that a donor was involved, so maybe my concern/issue is moot. And it's not just the child resulting from donor (IF there's a child), but one biological child, that we have to consider."

My thoughts are that there is no "coloring" or undue infuence by telling a child or any donor conceived individual that they were conceived using donor conception. The information is theirs by right. To not tell and live with "Ignorance is Bliss", in my personal opinion, is setting up the child, upon subsequent discovery, to feel that they were directly lied to or at least lied to by the act of omission.

"How" a parent divulges the information can result in "coloring" by the parent's presentation. Children are very good at seeing the emotion or feelings we as parents have when we talk to them. If the parent feels ashamed at using DI the child will pick up on that and feel ashamed. The stigma will be reinforced and the child will forever feel different iin a negative manner. If a parent is truthful as to what brought them to the decision the child will see that love.

This is not to say the child will down the road be a DI proponent. As the child or individual gathers more info in their life their own opinions will form. But what I am saying is if we discount the process and the role of the donor we are pushing our own views and emotions onto the child and discounting their feelings and rights to have contrary views. Let the donor conceived come to their own conclusions.

How to deal with with these issues when there is already a biologcal child. Here I cannot speak from experience. Obviously both children should be shown equal amounts of love but that is easier said than done. I would counsel you that for advice of this nature you should turn to literature that deals with having bio and adopted children in one household.

Again my opinions.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Fwd: Donor as Genetic Parent?

I had thought the below post by Wendy Kramer to the DSR Yahoo group, a co-founder of the DSR, to be especially poignant in her appeal regarding this topic. I missed it when it was originally posted but ran across it while reading the blog Buffalo Girl, a donor conceived adult here in the US.

My own views in discussing the donor to my children have been probably around the norm that he helped create them but not too much more than that. I have never referred to him truly as a person that is walking, talking or somebody we could by wild chance run into on the street. At the pre-school age I have not wanted to confuse my kids. But Wendy's plea is important as it cautions parents to note that the decision as to how to process who the donor is to our children is that of the children as they grow older and better understand the circumstances of their conception and birth.

I will hopefully refer back to this post as a reminder to not oversimplify the role of the donor and to not over play the impact of my views on this topic when addressing it with my kids.

These are my personal views and may not be yours and I can respect that. The below post has been reprinted here with Wendy's consent.

--- In, Wendy Kramer on 08/21/2006 wrote:

For those of you who feel that an egg or sperm donation is simply a "cell", a small piece of genetic matter and nothing more, I beg of you to let your kids choose for themselves if this is how they too feel. I am afraid that a child brought up being told that their donor did nothing more than donate a "cell" may not feel fully able to express their own true thoughts, curiosities and feelings on the matter. Many of these kids will indeed view it as one half of their genetic background and heritage, much, much more than a "cell".

We have heard on the site over and over, older donor conceived persons who have a burning desire to know this invisible side of themselves. We have also heard story after story of donor conceived kids and adults connecting with their donor relatives, either half siblings or donors, and it being a profound and meaningful experience. These people are definately acknowledging avery important genetic bond.

Please parents, allow your kids to decide for themselves. Please do not set it up that somehow they will think they are hurting or betraying you to be curious about or value this genetic piece of themselves. (This is why 80-90% of heterosexual couples never tell their children that they are donor conceived- because of the associated fear and shame.) Just because parents feel one way about donor conception in no way guarantees that their children will feel the same way. Please let the discussion and decisions on genetic importance be child driven.

My goal with this forum is to help educate those of us who made decisions long before we were aware of the true ramifications, so that we can better serve the needs of not only our children, but those to come.