Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Recent DC Related News Stories 2/15-2/28

An Economist Examines the Business of Fertility

A Conversation With Debora Spar
New York Times
Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Multiple Single Moms, One Nameless Donor

By Lois Romano
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 27, 2006; Page A02


Internet Connects Sperm Donors With Offspring
Web Raises Privacy Questions

WCVB-TV Boston, Channel 5
Posted: 11:42 am EST February 15, 2006
Updated: 12:53 pm EST February 15, 2006


Monday, February 27, 2006

Genealogy and Anonymous Donors

On Saturday night we watched an amazing special on PBS focusing on genealogy and African-Americans. And once again my thoughts turned to my children and what their desires will be in this area and obviously the fact that half of their past is cut off to them. As I have stated in past blogs the personal and family history we have from the cryobank is quite rich compared to others out there. In my recent post I talk about grafted family trees and that is one avenue how this topic will be addressed. What prompted this post was my wife's question as to what happens to the donors records upon his death and would the cryobank release his name and info.

My reponse was simply No. And the reason is quite obvious: How would they know that he has died? This puts aside the obvious that the agreement between donor and bank was one probably drafted as anonymous into perpetuity. Unless this donor made special arrangements to release his info at death and he took steps to ensure the bank is so notified how would they know.

Identity release programs are a whole topic unto themselves. We know our donor was not part of any such program. We also know current attempts by the cryobank to contact him (re lifetime photo series) have gone out with no responses to the cryobank. So its unlikely any death based info will surface.

It becomes evident to me that for some African Americans they have better odds at tracking their past into Slavery era records than my kids do regarding learning the names of their donors own parents and his own name. The genealogist in me finds that sad. The DI Dad in me concurrently recognizes the loss.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Need for Laughter

We all need to laugh and to kick back as life is way to short. My heart scare a few weeks back certainly should make me remember the need to laugh and relax.

The online world of donor conception can get too serious. My previous blog post is a prime example. So whether you are pro or con take a minute to kick back and surf the Internet for topics other than DC issues. If this blog or others brings up something that makes you smile or laugh please let the blogger know. Chances are they need the laugh as much as you do. I know I'd appreciate it.

A Call for Decorum in the DC Comment Wars

Since I started this blog and enabled comments I have received numerous posts of support but I have also received a number of comments contradicting my own view which on occasion have come close to or crossed the line into something more angry. Marty, you have to agree some of the exchanges were too much. Comments can be a great tool to elicit further discussion if decorum is followed.

Currently across this blog and the blogs of DD and Richard (both TTC DI blogs) there exists an unspoken war of words regarding positions on donor conception. Now some of the exchanges are instructive and some are just expositions on positions because they can (due to the blogger's
allowing comments). In this manner the warring comments do not result in genuine discussion but have evolved into attacks.

I ask now the following of the members of TW who are placing their commments on these DI blogs to take a step back for a moment and consider the following. Each of these DI blogs has been started by individuals looking to explore and share their journey through their decisions to use DI and yes by allowing comments they are inviting responses not attacks. Comments must be civil or the blogger will close this avenue to you. Yes, Lia, I understand that part of what is needed is that donor conceived persons are asking for VALIDATION that what they are experiencing is true loss and separation. I have given that and I expect to do so more over the years but for others to do that they cannot feel that they are being attacked. Individuals who are directly forced into defensive postures are harder pressed to feel empathy for their attackers much less validation.

Michael, you have started DA-DI and the TW blog bulletin board, use them to voice your views. If the positions are reasonably argued and put forth they shall be linked to by others as examples of contradicting opinions. So far the DA-DI blog has been used in a limited fashion. Yes the posts have been quite compeling but have you seen these TTC bloggers go out of their way to purposefully harrass your posts, no they have not and I don't expect they will as that is not a valuable exchange if it is met only with hostility and not meaningful dialogue. Yes if you give the
chance to these men they I expect they will get into more of the deep dialogue but not from a defensive position.

DD's comment regarding Aussies was meant as a light hearted response to my query nothing more. His intent was not meant to demean Rel's experience from what I saw. The response received was totally disproportionate to its intent. Rel's reply was perfect and it played off of DD's terminology.

Those that have read my posts here and on the Donor Misconception yahoo group know I give the DC persons a fair shake. This has been demonstrated by my posting about new blogs and other pertinent info that makes sense for me to comment on. I have demonstrated that on various other yahoo groups as well. Lia, thank you fo the acknowledgement. Its no secret in the donor conception community that it is my goal to start, from here in the US, a new organization that as part of its purpose is to help and support not only those affected by DC (parents, dc persons, and donors) but the organizations themselves. I want to create a central portal where not only support can be provided and links to our representative orgs but a forum where articles and stories can be told from all sides of the equation. What I don't want and nor will I be part of is a forum where attacks are standard and participants go out of their way to harrass or flood out another individual's opinion.

My concern is that currently through these DI blogs, which are honestly written and put forth, all that I have described above as destructive to rational discussion is occuring and must stop. So again I call for decorum in these comment wars and a call for each party to use what resources you have (your own and other related blogs) otherwise opportunities to be part of larger discussions will not available as no one knowingly enters a party where they know that others are there only to attack them. Validation and empathy must occur before active support but nothing begins from a position of distrust.

By the way please notice this post has no comments section. If you have something to say in response please post it on your own blog as we all need to take a break for a moment. Feel free to link your blog to this post as the backlink will be available below for others to see your own post.



Sent by Eric Schwartzman Wireless Blackberry

Thursday, February 23, 2006

(1) IVF and ICSI (2) Donor T5's Daughter


Over the last several months I have seen numerous TTC blogs written by women and I have begun to see a few written by men (and later discussed here). I know of one couple who each maintain their own separate blogs and today I write here about the only joint husband and wife TTC blog I have seen. It should be noted this is not a DC TTC blog. Depending on the day you don’t know if the blogger will be either Paul or Lisa or maybe separate entries from both. It allows the reader to see both views of infertility (via MFI) in one location and to see how they are jointly handling their journey.

Who do you think you are? She’s T5’s daughter.

At only two posts old this blog is brand spanking new. It’s creation was well thought out as it clearly states its position (against DI) based on the numerous information and organizational links in its sidebar announcing it as a blog written by a donor conceived person (from Australia) announcing to the world that her creation via DI has profoundly affected who she is.

Is it me or does it seem that the majority of DI blogs I find are outside the US and at the moment concentrated in Australia?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Do Souls Transcend the Body?

Are people fated to be together? Some people believe that they have soulmates waiting out there for them to love. If so why shouldn't that concept be applicable also between parents and children?

I never really believed in the whole fate concept or soulmates. But after meeting and falling in love with my wife I began to wonder. Had I not been at a particular place and time we would never have met and eventually had these children.

There are those that believe that upon birth G-d bestows our soul upon us. If that is so, then while the genetics that created my kids are from the donor their souls are from G-d and if you believe in fate their souls were fated to be brought to Earth as our children. I'd like to believe this is true.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Father to Son: No Kissing Whole or Half Siblings on the Mouth

Little children see their parents and learn that they the parents are married and then sometimes apply the concepts to their siblings. My own son has said on occasion that when he grows up he'll marry his younger sister because he loves her. It's all cute and then you explain that siblings don't marry each other and you laugh it off.

We had another laugh when we had to explain that parents can kiss each other on the lips but children generally only kiss parents and siblings on the cheek (putting aside Angelina Jolie at awards ceremonies). The silly joke was when I stated "there is no kissing whole or half siblings on the lips." Only my wife and I laughed as the kids had no idea what I had said. Just another facet of being a DI parent where normal stuff has an added twist. You had to be there.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Many Articles: But To What Result?

In the past several months the topic of donor conception has appeared 3 times in the NY Times (twice on its cover page) as well as being featured in national news and other magazines as well as on a few cable news shows. But to what purpose? Are we being used to satisfy a human interest quota of columnar inches in these publications?

Certainly there is a fluff piece factor but anytime our stories get out and people hear them I propose that these issues will become more mainstream topics of discussion (if not practice) and perhaps we can have greater leverage for increased regulation or at least attention to issues warranting greater review and monitoring.

Should we proactively try to put our stories out there? I believe so if the facts call for it. Certainly the issues surrounding the Mom fighting NECC are worthy of discussion as are the issues of other such cases. Recently a few other donor health screening issue cases were being discussed on the DSR yahoo groups that would merit further media attention.

On a lighter media note the March 2006 issue of Teen Vogue has been on the news stands are includes a short article / interview with the 5 Colorado teens (across three famlies) who discovered they are all half siblings. Their story has been made public before but the format of the interview is relaxed and the kids seem very at ease with their conception and happy at their expanded family as they already see each other as just that family.

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Symbolism and Truth of Names

Tonight on the DSR Yahoo Group a woman named “L” whose DI daughter “M” is approaching her Bat Mitzvah posted a message regarding how her daughter should be named when she is called before the Torah. Jewish naming traditions include not only the individual’s given name but the name of their parents including the father’s tribal status. I have discussed the issue of tribal status in previous posts.

When my wife converted to Judaism years ago and she picked her Hebrew name she chose "Ruth" so her full name became Ruth daughter of Abraham and Sarah signifying her entrance into Judaism as evidenced as her symbolically being named as the daughter of the first Jews. In Hebrew Natan (or Nathan) means a gift. This mother and daughter have come to refer to their donor as Natan the giver of life. To honor the donor and the circumstances of M’s birth her mom has proposed naming M at least for ritual purposes as “M” daughter of Natan and “L”. Symbolically I think this is a great choice and perhaps other Jewish mothers by choice would consider the symbolism as well. A variant of Natan is Netanel, which means a gift of G-d.

Regarding our request of the cryobank we have not heard anything regarding their search for our donor to even ask our question of his tribal status.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Why My Wife Agreed to DI

Our first experience with DI was to simply have it as a backup when we attempted each of our IVF / ICSI cycles. My wife had been against using donor sperm for the reasons couples do including the yuk factor of having someone else's seed in her etc. We were lucky that during these IVF/ICSI cycles the testicular biopsies I underwent yielded usable sperm which allowed us to create viable embryos. Unfortunately none ever took.

My wife at this point reconsidered using DI as our prime method of creating our kids as a result partially due to watching how I handled the surgeries and her fear that something could go wrong during the surgeries. I had had a very hard time coming through recovery each time between nausea and just being able to walk. Nothing truly serious but as a kid I had had a reaction to some anesthesia and almost died. Following the second procedure a 93 year old man came out of recovery faster than I did. It was easier once I got home but she had decided that she did not want me going though another surgery and felt that my life was worth more than any genetic connection to our kids where she knew I would be a good father whether related or not.

Now there might be some out there who might feel her decision was easy as she is genetically a parent to our kids. But I know she struggled with the decision as she wanted the kids to be ours jointly as any couple would. But she decided like I, that DI was sort of a half adoption and that looking at it from that angle we decided to go this route.

Monday, February 13, 2006

DC Network - The Men's Page

About two weeks ago the British DC Network added a new “For Men” page. The page is still in its infancy and will develop over time. It features articles by dads like myself and links to other general articles located on the DC Network site. I would never say I am to credit for this page but I hope my meeting Olivia of the DCN helped her decision to create it as there is a need for it.

A number of the stories are quite compelling including Ted’s story and that of Paul. Each of the stories presented formerly ran in the DC Network newsletter (available generally only to members). The time lag between stories being printed in the news letter to being uploaded to the Internet seems to be about 6 weeks or so.

My thanks to Olivia for creating the page, for the plugs regarding the Yahoo DI Dads discussion group as well as this blog! My wife was amused at my being described as a "good bloke".

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Crying for What I Always Wanted

Tonight I was speaking to a couple dealing with male factor infertility issues. During the call my wife reminded me that on several occasions after our first child was born I would break down crying wishing he was my own. While I do not recall the exact circumstances of these moments I do now clearly remember crying several times, if not more, wanting to be his actual dad.

I think each of these moments were very early in the first few months of his life when I was still somewhat overwhelmed that we had actually made it that far and we actually had a baby. Like any dad, I recall how beautiful my son was to me and for how long we wanted him. On the day of his bris after most of the guests left, I was sitting with a friend, who also had male factor issues, and I just started crying in disbelief that I had a son. This instance was different from the others that followed I believe.

Now almost 4 years later I know I am my children’s only father (socially if not genetically) so the concept of crying wishing for this fact to be true seems strange but I do recall the pain and joy that I felt during those occurrences. As I have stated in other posts I cannot imagine my kids being any different nor would I want them to be but I do now recall those feelings and crying, at times uncontrollably.

I do not recall any such episodes after the birth of our daughter. Don't get me wrong I certainly cried as any father does at the birth of their kids. And I certainly love her no less than our son but at the point of her birth the concept of DI and the knowledge of my role as her father was already entrenched in my mind. If G-d were to tell me today that by some miracle I was actually the genetic father to these two kids I believe my reaction would be that the love I have them already could not be increased therefore the reality of such news would be irrelevant.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Daily Rituals: Checking the DSR

One of my daily Internet based rituals is checking out a daily photo blog that focuses on the NYC subway system. The pictures are amazing and really capture life in the tunnels and stations that I am generally in for part of each day. It is worth checking out.

My other daily ritual in addition to checking the DI Dad yahoo site, as its moderator, for pending members or messages needing approval or denial is to run a search on the DSR for any new registrations of children that were created using the same donor as my kids. Currently they have one and only one half sibling out there. I am not sure why I check each day, other than it takes less a minute to do so, other than mere curiousity.

I believe I check as a touchstone as to how their lifes can change at the turn of an Internet page if the result is the existence of another half sibling. Do I want there to be more half-siblings? I am not sure. Part of me is sure there are more out there, part of me figures these three kids are it. Sometimes I wonder if I want there to be more so all three of these kids will know there are others just like them that perhaps they can turn to who know exactly what they are dealing with in their daily thoughts.

It's funny my kids have not even met their half sibling but I hope someday they develop a lasting relationship with that child. Thoughts for another post.

Again checking the DSR is just one part of my daily ritual as a DI Dad.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Grafted Family Trees

A message from a single mother by choice on the Donor Misconception yahoo group the other day discussed her beginning a family tree for her child detailing her own history. As part of her research she found much more than she expected and she was struck by how detailed the history available was. At the same it apparently hit her how empty the tree was for her child's other side, that of the donor.

While we are not a single parent household my kids will see a full tree of the folks that created their daddy in addition to their mommy. And yes they will know that these ancestors are theirs only by the choice of their creation by DI and that these are their ancestors through their DI Dad despite the fact they are not genetically theirs due to biology. Will they wonder about their donor's lineage, of course they will.

What info I have for them (of the donor's parents, siblings and relatives) I will graft onto their tree to show them that this history is real and that much of it, ethnically and religiously, matches their "imposed" or "adopted" history. Will it be same, certainly it will not. But it will at least demonstrate that many of us came from the same place and lived similar lives and, perhaps, that most families cared enough for their children and tried to make better lives for them. I seem to recall a phrase which stated "a part was taken and a part was given". The context may not be the same but maybe it will work for us.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

UK Ch. 4 TV Show - The Baby Race - February 6-8th at 11:05pm

Tonight is the third and last episode of this British documentary. Channel 4 brings together a group of single women in their thirties and follows them as they try to realise their dream of having a baby. Just learned about this today. The website gives more info.

Another Why I Post to this Blog....

I was reading the recent posts of Richard over at The End of My Line (EoML) and DynamoDad (DD) at Diaries of a Hopeful Dad and I was reminded again of all the decisions we (my wife and I) had to make and all the anguish expended in making them. From fights to crying fits to just exhaustion from the whole topic.

Richard in EoML states that his wife accused him of being obsessed with his infertility upon which he realized he had made his infertility the center of his thoughts (while trying to outwardly state that it was not a big deal) and in effect pushed his wife’s feelings to the side and forgetting that the goal was a child.

During our TTC years we went through much of the same thing although for us I was not blogging our feelings but pouring my time into genealogy projects. My reaction was to bring the dead “back to life” if I could not generate life myself. I was partially removing myself from our marriage by taking myself to another time and place.

Getting back to why I am blogging. We all need outlets to get out our thoughts and energies while going through the rough periods. It comes down to finding some sort of balance to help us through. Finding that balance is not always easy. Anyone going through the TTC years dearly knows an outlet is needed whether its one of expression or escape. Now I don’t think I am trying to escape anything at the moment but I do feel a sense of responsibility and the need to give back.

Is this blog payment for the beautiful kids my wife and I now have? Or is this blog a justification / rationalization for the choices we made (right or wrong). Perhaps a little of both. It's late so perhaps I am just rambling.

Newsday Article: On the Importance of Telling Children Early and Often (2/6/06)

The full title of Liza Burby's article published this week in Newsday (Long Island, NY) is "For the growing number of children conceived using sperm donors, it's important they hear the truth early and often, experts advise".

Quite similar to the article of 10 days ago published in the NY Times but worth checking out for it's focus on the issue of when to tell children conceived DI of their origins.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Male Factor Infertility & Fertility Stories

Two new sites of interest:

Male Factor Infertility?

This blog like A Dad Someday is a good solid honest blog by a man journaling his and his wife's experiences while they are trying to conceive. An active blogger and worth following if you are at the IVF stages of infertility.

Fertility Stories

Last night I happened upon a site called Fertility Stories. The site is made up of contributed personal stories which range across the fertility spectrum including more than a dozen addressing donor conception.

Of those discussing donor insemination all but one is written by a woman. But again the fact that one is wriiten by a father is good to see.

In addition to the stories the site provides basic definitions and resources that the visitor will find helpful. It's worth checking out.

How to Keep Up to Date With Your Favorite Blogs? Try Blogarithm

On my sidebar is effectively a subscription box to my blog where the Blogarithm folks, free of charge, will notify you via e-mail everytime I update this blog. And I will never know you are there. It offers you complete privacy.

I subscribe to about 10 infertilty and donor conception blogs via Blogarithm and have found it a great way to see which has been updated and to get a few lines from that new post before I even hyperlink to that blog.

I recommend this for all your blogging favorites.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

My Name is Eric Schwartzman and I am a DI Dad

The following post was submitted to the New York Times on Friday, December 27, 2005, as an Op-Ed piece but was not run within the week following that submission date nor was I contacted regardings its submission. I am posting it here now as I stated I would:

On Friday, January 20, 2006, I informed the readers of my blog of an article in that day's New York Times, written by Amy Harmon, titled “Are You My Sperm Donor, Few Clinics Will Say”. What I did not say is that I am quoted in it as a father who jointly with his wife chose Donor Insemination (DI) to conceive our kids. By agreeing to be interviewed, I effectively “outed” my family as one created via donor conception.

The decision to do this while not hard was one done with a great deal of thought as the two individuals affected (my children) had no say in this decision (as they also had no input in the decision to use DI in their creation), the latter being a decision that some individuals feel will bring the kids mental anguish later but which has brought immeasurable levels of love into my life and that of my wife.

For far too long there has been a stigma attached to the use of donor sperm one being that it is shameful and embarrassing to the social fathers or DI Dads like me and their families as a whole. Amy Harmon stated in her article that approximately 40,000 children are born each year through donor conception (egg and sperm). It is unclear how many of these are to heterosexual couples but it is estimated that thousands of these couples due to the stigma attached to DC will never tell their children.

The decision not to tell has led to many learning later in life their great secret and caused immeasurable anguish and pain to them with respect to their birth families and specifically with their secretive parents. This does not even address the possibility of unknowing half siblings becoming involved with each other only to cause greater issues later. Granted the odds of this are small but it is possibility without knowledge being shared. And probably most importantly the secret prevents these donor conceived individuals from ever knowing there is a separate medical history out there that could affect their lives.

My purpose today in becoming public as a DI Dad and within my blog is to encourage families to be open with themselves and their children and hopefully begin to break down the unnecessary stigma of DI. Certainly the articles written by Ms. Harmon on this topic begin to educate the public but without the families who choose DC becoming more open themselves there will forever be a stigma attached to DC.

I believe the best way to prepare these children and later adults is to give them knowledge, openly and securely in a safe environment letting them know they were created with love and will forever be supported by that love.

My name is Eric Schwartzman and I am a DI Dad.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

"The End of My Line?" - Just the Opposite: Another DC Blog

And the number of male written DC / infertility blogs grows by one more. This is a big deal as anytime one man takes to the keyboard on this issue it is proof that a significant number of more men are out there statistically dealing with the same issues.

The blog "The End of My Line?" is written by a Brit who with his wife are undergoing fertility treatments and DI is their only option.

US News Article: Who's Your Daddy?

The February 13th issue of US News & World Report includes an article by Betsy Streisand titled “Who's Your Daddy?” with the subtitle “Sperm donors rely on anonymity. Now donor offspring (and their moms) are breaking down the walls of privacy”. The issue hits newsstands this week and features information regarding (1) DI Moms who found each other through the DSR and determined that their kids share a common donor and that many of the kids have medical issues, (2) known vs. anonymous donors here in the USA, (3) donor screening, and (4) the article closes on the emotional void that some DC persons experience.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

A DI Dad's Greatest Fears

The greatest fears a DI Dad has, at least for me anyway, is that the donor will try to take my children from me.

I was thinking about this fear the other morning as I was scheduled to take another school tour. I began to wonder what precautions this school takes to make sure that it is only the parents or authorized individuals picking up the children. Granted this question is applicable to all parents, not just DI Dads and DC families, but it's one that struck me.

When I hear donors stating that they are the only true father it scares me. All deference to Michael of Donors Against DI as I know Michael is a donor whose views have completely turned around since he was a donor years ago. While genetically the statement of "true" fatherhood is accurate the use of the term seems to negate or invalidate my role as my kid's dad and the only father they know.

The fear of children being taken away is nothing new to any parent as I stated above but to parents who struggled with infertility, wrestled with the concept of and chose DC you can sometimes feel like this gift of a child is something granted to you only on a temporary basis and especially in the beginning years you keep expectinng for it all to end.

So in effect the normal fears of a child being snatched etc are multiplied by the knowledge that there is a "true" biological sire out there.