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.

1 comment:

A dad someday said...

I had to grapple with this recently, too, when I interviewed about infertiliy. Initially I was very reluctant to identify myself and told the reporter as much. However, after talks with my wife, I realized that there is probably more to be gained than lost.

Thanks for your courage and thanks for sharing.