Friday, June 30, 2006

Stirrup Queens and Sperm Palace Jesters

I was contacted last night regarding a new blog whose creators state in their profile that they are "two writers who have made it over the infertility chasm and are now writing a book in order to educate the non-infertile world on the feelings and needs of those experiencing infertility." Their blog is an opportunity for all their readers to contribute directly to that planned book by the posted comments they contribute. It's a pretty cool idea.

Not everyone in the DC community went through infertility issues but most of us had to deal with the fertile world around us who all had no problem getting pregnant so here's your chance to let others know what you found annoying and insensitive. I think any book on this topic that could be handed to a family member to help them understand your pain is a great idea.

AZ Egg Donor Informed Consent Bill Vetoed

Excerpts from:
Matthew Benson and Karissa Marcum
The Arizona Republic Jun. 29, 2006 12:00 AM

Gov. Janet Napolitano put an exclamation point on a contentious legislative session by vetoing 9 more bills Wednesday, including a measure requiringinformed consent for women considering donating their eggs. The measure threatened doctors with suspension or revocation of their licenses if they were found to have not properly informed patients of the risks of egg donation prior to performing the procedure.

In a letter explaining her veto,Napolitano called the measure "yet another attempt by the Legislature to inject politics into the medical advice a health care provider gives to a patient."Her decision was cheered by Sean Tipton, director of public affairs for theAmerican Society of Reproductive Medicine. Tipton said informed consent already is the standard for egg donation and called the measure "a proposed solution in search of a problem that doesn't exist."

But Cathi Herrod, interim president of the Center for Arizona Policy, saidthe proposal was "simple legislation intended to bring informed consent towomen who are donating or selling their eggs. It's unfortunate that ourstate is not supporting women."

In addition to the human-egg bill, Republicans sent Napolitano 5 abortionand "sanctity of life" measures this session, including one to prohibit the sale of human eggs. She rejected each.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

More About Vanessa Williams Sperm Donor Film

Previously in a post of a couple of days ago I passed on info that a film was being filmed where Vanessa Williams was to play a mother to a child conceived via DI who was searching for her child's sperm donor. FQ on the SpermDonors Yahoo Discussion Group found a blog post further describing the film as:

"a comedy about a high-powered single mom who opens Pandora's box when she seeks out the anonymous sperm donor father of her 5-year old son. The father turns out be a much younger, self-absorbed California slacker."

Part of me reading this is thinking is why is Hollywood or rather this screenwriter portraying the donor as a slacker? Do people want to trivialize this topic? At the same time maybe it will provide us all a good laugh at ourselves and I guess anytime this topic hits the mainstream media, especially with a name actress involved, we should be happy to use it as an opportunity to push for reform or at least recognition to break down walls of ignorance.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

DC - In the News

Redefining Family - Minnesota Woman's Press - 06/27/06

by Mikki Morrisette

Single women and lesbian couples who choose parenthood are unwittingly transforming the donor insemination industry.


Breeder Reaction - Mother Jones - July / August 2006

By Elizabeth Weil

“Does everybody have the right to have a baby? And who should pay when nature alone doesn’t work?”


Doctors say sperm and egg donors should have anonymity – The Scotsman – 06/26/2006

by Lyndsay Moss

“DOCTORS are calling for sperm and egg donations to be made anonymous again because desperate couples are left unable to access fertility treatment.”


Golden Eggs – Boston Globe – 06/25/2006

By Carlene Hempel

“Drowning in credit-card debt and student loans, young women are selling their eggs for big payoffs. But can they really make the right medical and moral decisions when they're tempted with $15,000?”

New Film re Mom Searching for Son's Sperm Donor

Apparently an independent film is currently in production with the title "Who Needs 'Em" and is about a single mother from Manhattan who searches for the anonymous sperm donor dad of her young son. The film, being directed by Richard Schenkman, is a post-feminist comedy.

The film stars Vanessa Willaims, Eartha Kitt and Ben Vereen. Williams states in the article linked that "For me and my age and background, this was a great opportunity to play a woman who was smart and accomplished. It had an interesting subject matter of sperm donation and women choosing to raise their kids independently without the traditional family unit. So it's topical, heartwarming and funny."

It should be interesting to see if the film results in serious discussion of the topic when it is released or is treated as a fluff piece. Other than the article linked I can find no other articles about the film or anything on the Internet Movie Data Base. Thanks to Diane Allen over at the Infertility Network for posting about this film on the Yahoo Discussion Groups.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Random Thoughts....

A few comments I read or heard today had me thinking. No substantial comments in response to my thoughts yet but these were the comments I read either online or via e-mail:

> The mother of my children's half sibling commented, via e-mail, how after seeing the picture accompanying the USA Today article how my son and her daughter look alike.

> One former donor on-line noted that while he respects the rights of the parents raising his offspring he fully intends to request full grandpas privileges down the road when his "children" themselves are parents.

> Another former donor commented how he has no knowlege of what he was thinking while producing his sperm samples many many years ago but assumes it was not anything of an altruistic nature as he claims he had no knowledge that the samples would be used to create life.

I actually can respond to the recognition that the half siblings share a resemblance. It made me smile. My thoughts on this are based on a couple of facts. Right now my kids only have two cousins via my sister as my wife's brother and his wife don't yet have kids. I grew up with ten first cousins and while we were not all close in age or close personally it was always nice to know they were there.

I don't yet know what relationship my children and this half sibling will have and I don't at this time think of her as their sister as they denotes an existing social relationship but I do hope they become friends and recognize the special tie to each other that they share. If only to have someone else they can turn too who like them was created by equal parts given and received.

As for the comments of the two donors I'll just let those thoughts percolate for a bit.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Did Our Sperm Donor or Cryobank Read USA Today? Or Do Either Read This Blog?

I wondered over the last few days if either our donor or our cryobank read or saw the USA Today article. Would it matter if they did? I guess it depends. Certainly to both I have said thank you on this blog as the kids are healthy, smart and good kids. We have been lucky that they are healthy as opposed to some of the stories I have heard and read.

I have had no real issues with the cryobank we used directly. I have not named them specifically but it would not be very hard to figure it out. Perhaps a fee or two has been higher than I would wish but that is the price for the consumer based business DI is in this country.

I certainly have issues with the industry as a whole and I do believe reform and increased regulation is needed. I believ both can be accomplished without direct attacks by me as I have not had the experiences to warrant it. Others may have with their banks and I don't condone nor condemn their actions as I am not in their shoes. But as a result of their scenarios and the fact that many donor conceived persons feel that DC has contributed to ongoing issues in their lives I am a supporter of reform.

She Looks Just Like You....

Today we had a contractor come over that will be installing dors on my son's room. My daughter had just woken up and was somewhat clingy which she is not unusual when she meets strangers anyway. The contractor commented how she looks just like me. Which is actually a first with her in my arms. Anyhow my wife asked me should we show him the article and I commented to her to just drop it. As I have said in prior posts at this point I just smile and say thank you. I think my wife is having fun with the USA Today article and why shouldn't she the picture of the kids is cute.

UK Repeal of Anonymity = Sperm Shortage

Richard of the TTC DI blog "End of My Line?" and his wife like many UK couples are struggling with the current donor sperm shortage that has beset the UK since donor anonymity ended in that country. Richard is currently trying to brainstorm ideas to help increase the level of sperm donations in the UK.

Max from Australia and his blog "Diaries of a Hopeful Dad" half serious and half kidding around created the short advertisement shown to help stimulate interested parties to donate. I don't think such an ad would be printed here in the USA but I admit it made me immediately laugh despite the seriousness of the topic.

The level of seriousness is further complicated when you take into account the views of may donor conceived adults who feel there are better ways to building families than using DI. Rel of T5's Daughter, also of Australia, mentioned in a comment left on Max's blog that the advertisement made her feel that she would cry when she saw it.

I can see all parties views and I certainly empathize on a much stronger level with Richard and his wife. To be honest if I was in his position I'd probably be doing the exact same thing.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Father's Day Cards

Father's Day Cards. On the Yahoo Group Donor MisConception there is a picture of a test tube unsure of what to make of a Father's Day card it apparently received. Sounds crazy but the Cryobanks may soon start receiving such cards. A few folks posting on one donor conception related discusion group are suggesting just that.

Now one hand they are suggesting this as a signal to the cryobanks that there is a need for reform and on the other hand they proposing the cards be sent in case the donors are curious and ask if their offspring have attempted to contact them through the cryobanks.

I only read the e-mails suggesting this idea once through and I probably through again. I am guessing none of these suggestions come from families that include a DI dad. If my wife told me she was going to have the kids write such a card to the donor I am guessing I would not be overly thrilled.

The concept as whole does not seem a bad one to highlight the need for increased openness from the banks. And if the concept is truly to establish contact with the donors I can see the issue being stronger if the sender is a teenage or adult donor conceived person but for the cards to come from minor children when there is a DI dad in the house I ask that the families first discuss this altogether otherwise there will be unhappy DI dads out there.

Granted this all was written on a gut reaction and I need to learn more about the concept with a more neutral mind. With that in mind I wish a Happy Father's Day to all who know themselves to be father's and are lucky enough to have family nearby to celebrate the holiday with.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Effects of the USA Today Article: Part 1 - As Teaching Tool

I actually used the print edition of the Life Section as a tool to demonstrate to my son who and what a donor is.

This was possible because a few pages behind our aticle was an article about Donor 48QAH, where there was a picture of Dr. Matthew Niedner and his wife along with a picture of their now 11 day old newborn daugher. Further down that same page were pictures of a few of the children his sperm donations helped create.

I showed my son the picture of him, his sister and me stating that I am his Daddy and nothing will ever change that. I then showed him the picture of Matthew stating that a donor like him helped create him just as Matthew helped create the children in the other pictures. I stated that Jason was just like those other children but where a few of them only had mommies he had both me his daddy and his mommy. I stated that like them he had a donor who he was biologically connected to, who helped create him, but that we don't know who our donor is where these children will know who Matthew is.

I did not get into the fact that Matthew does not look upon his donor offspring as his children or anything of that nature. At that point I figured this was geting to be too much and I put away the paper. I doubt he absorbed too much of this exchange but I think showing real pictures was a cool thing as opposed to all the kid's books where there are drawings. I am hoping some psychoanalyst will not say I just messed up my son's mind.

Fox News: Geraldo at Large "Who'se Your Daddy?"

Last night the Fox News program "Geraldo at Large" supposedly ran a story on the DSR and focused on both Wendy and Ryan Kramer as well as former donor Dr. Kirk Maxie. By all estimates Dr. Maxie may have approximately 400 biological children out there. I missed the show but for those interested the above post title links to the Geraldo Blog post on the segment.

Reading through the blog post it appears mostly to be info that those following the DSR have seen before. The photo of Wendy with Ryan as a toddler was very cute as was the current shot with the dogs. It was also amusing to see another current picture of Ryan eating Cool Whip out of the tub but I will admit had I watched that on film it would have been too much..

Overall not a bad piece and if it brings more folks over to the DSR worth every second of filmed tape.

I Got Tagged….Silly Internet Games

OK, I am doing this despite my propensity to tell Katty who tagged me I don’t do this stuff. I am usually the guy who always breaks chain email letters. I don’t know why I am doing this as I think it is virtually pointless but it does perhaps say something about me. FYI I am NOT tagging anyone else and this is a one shot deal and you'll never see me write that 100 thing list.

5 Things in My Fridge:

1) Apple Juice;
2) Hot dogs for the kids;
3) Mustard;
4) Lactose Free Milk
5) Apples

5 Things in my Closet:

1) A ladder;
2) My grandfather’s fishing poles;
3) Many boxes of genealogy records;
4) My tallis and tefillin;
5) An old broken folding stool that was my other grandfather’s

5 Things in my Backpack (I am substituting this for the Car category)

1) Medical bills I need to submit to insurance;
2) Charger cords for both my cell phone and Blackberry;
3) A map for the cemetery section my Temple owns ( I was volunteered to modernize their records system);
4) An umbrella (ask any accountant if they have one in their bag even if it hasn’t rained in weeks and they’ll say yes);
5) An empty sippy cup (I commute with my son and I sometimes forget to leave the empty in his backpack)

5 Things in My Desk at Work (Since I used Bag for Car, I am adding this Category)

1) A miniature slinky;
2) A picture of my friends and I at the Accountant’s Hall of Fame at Ohio State University or is it the University of Ohio (we were in Columbus to see the AAA Columbus Clippers and read about it in a tourbook and had nothing else to do as the bars were not yet open – have I justified this enough);
3) An Easy Button (from Staples);
4) Two pairs of those fake kid’s eyeglasses and nose novelties;
5) A copy of the script book to the movie “Monty Python & The Holy Grail”
and as a bonus:
6) A set of about 60 McDonald's Happy Meal Halloween McNuggets (collected over various years)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Infertile fathers fight stigma as 'DI Dads' (USA Today 6/14/2006)

A little less than an hour ago USA Today published on-line their article (linked through this post's title above) regarding DI Dads with my story as a focal point and pictures of me and my kids. As much as I have thought I was ready to be public about this stuff I have to admit the reality of it is unnerving.

I still feel feel whatever fears I have are secondary to the goal of trying to break down the stigna of DI so that these kids will not ever be ashamed of their conception. More men have to own up to their decisions and be honest with their kids so the children can process the information earlier than later in their lives. In the end we owe it to the donor conceived individuals to help them make sense of their lives. DI is not a cure for infertility and I feel at least that it requires parents to take on added responsibility and accountability to their DI children to help them over whatever hurdles arise in dealing with this issue.

It should be an interesting few days. USA Today is not a truly big paper in NYC so whether people I know that are not aware of my family's conception story learn via this article should be amusing to see. Hopefully this level of "being public" does not cause any issues for my kids.

[Once the free link (through this post's title) to the USA Today article expires the complete text can be found posted on this blog's Annex.]

Monday, June 12, 2006

New Blog - DI Dads Speak Out

This afternoon a new blog was launched to put another face on the issue of donor insemination. In this case it is the face of men who have themselves found out they suffer from various forms of male factor infertility and have turned to DI as an option.

The idea is to take the issue of donor insemination one step further out of the closet. This site is not a advocacy site promoting DI but simply a group of men who jointly felt that a male perspective on the issue should be made more public with the hope of informing the public and helping other men address the issues.

Currently each is a member of the Yahoo Discussion Group DI Dads where approximately 50 men can discuss issues surrounding DI in a non-threatening closed community of other men who like them are dealing with MFI.

In the interests of full disclosure I am the moderator of both the existing Yahoo group and this new blog.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Mix Pix Awards

Recognition is always a very nice and helps an individual feel validated in what they are doing. Apparently one of my readers nominated me for a MixPix Award. The site that shares the award's name is pretty cool in that it recognizes several blogs each for a number of categories and is definitely worth checking out. In addition to the link above I have provided a chicklet link within the sidebar for future reference (within the blog directory link section). I thank the MixPix folks for this recognition and the nominating party.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Father's Day, School Projects, Donor's Day

Before we had our children Father's Day meant celebrating my own father. While for myself it was a reminder of a status I had not yet achieved. I am unclear now whether it was a painful reminder or not. I am sure there was some of that but I am honestly not sure of the degree. I was reading the DSR-Discussion yahoo group and a number of the single moms were commenting about their children working on father's day projects at school and how the kids reacted and their own reactions.

Some of the women we're not thrilled and others commented how their kids honored them by recognizing that mom did it all. I would hope that where the teachers were aware that there is no dad that they would tailor the project to honor any parent. It's not like the topic of a missing “parent” is wholly new. When I was a kid I recall kids who were being raised by grandparents, aunts or uncles and the teacher's took all into account.

I am thinking about starting a day for our kid's called Donor's Day. My thoughts are not so much to increase their curiousity about their donor, as that will develope naturally I suspect, but to simply to recognize his contribution and to instill that gratitude I suppose in my kids. To not recognize his contribution I guess is the same as hiding it or worse to allow the kids to be ashamed of their conception. Not sure yet how to do it. I really wish we had a DC Network here in the States as I am sure as an event this would be easier with other DI kids around.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Secrecy Using Donor Sperm Can Be Health Hazard (Opinion - NY Times)

Today's New York Times includes a Second Opinion article by reporter Denise Grady as the lead cover story of the Health & Fitness section. The article re-covers the Michigan case where the donor passed along a rare genetic disease.

Overall what is important about this article (its full text is linked to above in this blog's Annex) is that it specifically states as an Opinion piece that the Sperm Banks are largely unregulated and recognizes that the banks are regulated as to infectious diseases but not regarding pregnancies.

Overall a well written article and the more Press these issues receive from major publications like the NY Times are positive steps forward that can be used to begin to oush our legislators to address these issues.

[Graphic by William Duke published 06/06/2006 - NY Times]

New Study: Quality of Sperm Declines with Advancing Age

A new study published by National Academy of Sciences of the USA has concluded that the genetic quality of men's sperm decreases with advancing age, raising the risk of dwarfism and reducing the chances of a normal pregnancy. My immediate reaction was at what age does the average sperm bank stop using existing donors and not taking on new donors.

For years people have been claiming that a man's sperm was always the same as opposed the quantity and quality of a woman's eggs as the woman ages. The results of this study should come as no surprise as any other conclusion never made any sense.

The entire article published by Bloomberg can be found on this blog's Annex.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Too Much Bonding with a DI Child is Exhausting

Bonding with your children is a blessing. Too much so leads to exhaustion. I can safely say that my kids love me as evidenced by the number of times per day they say, yell, scream, cry, plead the word "Daddy".

We are lucky in that our kids conk out for an early bedtime but we are also compensated by this good luck by our daughter (who at just under two) as she wakes up each morning, on average, no later than 5:30 am. Her first word each day is "Daddy" not "Mommy" but "Daddy". I am blessed by being draggged out of my bed for fear of our neighbors banging on walls to get this little girl to be quiet. She has a set of lungs that I am assuming can be heard across Manhattan at that hour.

Based on what my wife tells me it appears that they ask for me all day to the point she wonders who actualy bore these kids. As soon as my kids hear my keys hit the door when I get home I am surrounded and deluged with book reading requests or more often than not requests that Mommy denied and last ditch efforts are being made for these requests to be granted before Mommy can fill me in as to her decision. I am sure every dad goes through these rituals but for a DI Dad they are especialy sweet as you know you worked harder to get here so the exhaustion feels twice as tiring.

I know during their teenage years the word Daddy will not be said with as much love as it is now so I am saving up these memories. Now if I can only get the two year old to sleep to say 6:00 am I would smile a with a bit more energy.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Defining Manhood in Sitcom-Land

I recently caught a syndicated episode of Tim Allen's Home Improvement television sitcom. The episode focused on Tim's reluctance to get a vasectomy despite his wife Jill's requests for Tim to do so. The episode included the expected silly jokes involving a man's virility including measuring a man by his ability to sire children. Tim's reactions were further complictaed when he saw that the urologist was a woman and he wasn't letting a lady doctor into "man-land".

One of the episode's pivotal scenes was Tim at the backyard fence talking with his neighbor Wilson. Part of Tim's reluctance to have the vasectomy was that he never felt more like a man than when he heard his wife was pregnant that first time. He and Wilson had a discussion regarding cultural beliefs about men and virility. Wilson being Wilson offered reasons that the act of creating kids does not define a man as there are many facets to be being a true man besides being able to procreate. Had it stopped at the procreation = manhood I would have been pissed. Years ago watching this I would have watched the episode for pure comedic value but it's interesting how present facts do color your interpretations and reactions.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Real Debate re Donor Conception Currently in Australia

To date I have not seen nor heard of any true debate in the United States regarding Donor Conception. Sure most of the major new programs, mostly television, have run segments on siblings finding each other through the Donor Sibling Registry, or even sperm donors stepping forward like Donor 48QAH to acknowledge the gift (albeit paid) they provided to families (however you define them) wanting to have children. But few of these programs have gotten into the true meat of the two major issues: (1) health issues and (2) identity loss.

In Australia the issue gaining the most attention currently is the effects of the current laws regarding anonymity and right of first contact. As of July 1st this year donors have the right to initiate contact via letters being sent by the government to the families of donor conceived individuals born after 1988 (I believe) when a donor has indicated to the government agency they, the donor, is interested in contact.

This has ignited a thunderstorm of activity by groups like the Aussie DCSG advocating that parents tell their children of their conception if they have done so already to avoid their teenagers coming home to find the letter waiting to be opened in the post box and for these young adults to learn this information via a piece of paper rather than from their parents. There is currently a movement to reform the legislation in Victoria to require that contact can only be initiated by the donor conceived and not via the donors as a result.

Two nights ago, May 30, 2006, on the Australian TV show Insight there was a discussion / debate where the program brought together donors, donor conceived individuals, parents and industry reps to discuss many of theses issues. Check it out at these links video, article, transscript.

My own views at this point are that the donor conceived individuals should have the right of first contact. For better or worse the donors gave up that right at the point they donated. Yes, they should register and their info be available when and if the donor conceived individuals come looking but the right of first contact, as it should apply to the Australian scenario, in my mind should be left with the children or adults conceived via donor conception.