Thursday, August 31, 2006

Today Show Video: Families Fight for Sperm Donor Records

This video piece (linked via the post title and here) aired during the second hour of the Today show's August 31, 2006 broadcast. I have not viewed it yet as I am blocked from it for the moment.

I am not sure how long it will be available through their site. The site also provided, within it's viewer resources box) a link to the Donor Sibling Registry via text stating "Donor Sibling Registry: For more information on how people conceived as a result of sperm, egg or embryo donation can find genetic relatives, click here."

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

8/30/2006 Today Show Segment on Donor Siblings Expected

Look for a segment during the 9am hour on the half siblings reported recently via the AP. I believe this will be a piece about the Warthen / Jorgenson / Elin kids (and their families) all conceived using Sperm Donor 3066. If it is you can also read about their meeting and story at this link to a recent MSNBC story about them.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Chandler & Monica Consider DI

I was watching and old Friends episode a few nights ago. It was the one where Chandler & Monica consider donor insemination.

One of the quotes in the episode that any guy suffering MFI can relate to was from Chandler stating "Well I'm the guy, I'm supposed to bring the sperm."

Joey asking where she [Monica] was and if she was ready only to be stopped by Chandler was amusing. I can imagine the child thanking Chandler for becomming his Dad but stating he wants Joey's advice how to get the girls.

Chandler's asking guest star John Stamos to his and Monica's apartment to secretly determine if Stamos would be their choice for a sperm donor was also amusing as Stamos had no idea what was going on. Their deciding later that Stamos was too perfect and that DI was not right for them was touching.

Of course the episode made the obligatory joke regarding free porn in the semen sample producing room but overall the show treats the entire infertility story line with respect mixing in humor when appropriate for the characters involved.

Somehow I think I have commented on this episode before but I always find it amusing. I am sure Chandler Bing would have made a great DI Dad. After all he took care of Joey all those years and Joey was not his biological child.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Opinion Essay: Zygotes to Go - Taking orders for custom-designed babies

Eric: Overall this essay, by Ronald Bailey published in syndication on 8/24/06, , makes sense to me. It does not address identity issues but effectively equates the premise to an alternative to adoption. Unless I misread or missed something in the text.

This whole "controversy" is blown out of proportion and is simply combined DE / DI and marketed as a complete package. If you disagree with donor conception from step one this is ceratinly something you are not going to agree with.

I believe dual DE / DI is probably more common than people realize. It's just that it probably is not discussed on the boards as much for the same reason men don't openly discuss DI based on misconceptions and stigmas. These stigmas being that a man to be man must produce virile sperm and a woman must produce viable eggs. The truth is not all bodies are so blessed and this provides an option that otherwise would not exist but for the science.

The issues involved with DE / DI add a level of complexity to disclosure but again like full boat adoption some of the answers are similiar. Is it custom designing a child. Even in using DI or DE you are doing that already as you are matching traits you want or don't want so again the hoopla arguing such is just noise.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Jealousy among Partners & Alternative DI Dads

As I was writing the previous post I started wondering if I harbor any jealousy towards my wife that the kid's are genetically related to her and not me. I had not thought about this for some time. But what it lead to is my wondering how this is handled between same sex parents.

By same sex parents in the DI world you usually think of lesbian parents where one woman used DI to get pregnant. But in truth where two gay men opt to use one partner's sperm with some combination of DE (known or anonymous) and/or surrogacy the non genetic partner is as much a DI Dad as I am. But instead of a unknown donor the person providing the sperm is their partner. The issues must be the same for lesbian couples but I am looking at it from my angle so I am focusing in on the male DI Dad.

Granted the facts are different as in my case infertility forced us down the DI path where for Gay couple the issue is one of choice if both men have normal sperm counts. If they are lucky I suppose if multiple children are wanted they can switch off who is the bio dad.

I have only seen a few articles in the electronic papers ( 6/22/2006) addressing gay couples having kids and I believe they addressed this issue. If anyone knows of a blog addressing this side of being a DI Dad let me know as I am curious to learn more.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

A Reminder of My Infertility?

A comment posted to this blog sometime back pointed out quite succinctly that DI is not a cure for infertility it's just an end game around it. So I continue to be infertile although the birth of my children puts aside the pain of that reality. Or does it?

One of the men on the Yahoo discussion group in response to my posting about meeting my kids' half sibling indicated that such a meeting would only serve as a reminder to him that another man provided the sperm for his own children, just as he the donor, did for the half sibling.

This DI Dad's infertilty in effect was re-affirmed by the presence of another child sired by the same donor. My first thought was how could an innocent child trigger such a threatened result. But in truth I can understand it.

In my case the half sibling's presence only made me smile. She certainly made my kids' smile. I hope they made her smile. My smiles were not based upon solely my reactions to her but the knowledge that there is one more person out there that my children can relate to and share common experiences with.

Sure when I saw her the truth of what the donor accomplished or rather enabled to happen was again made clear that his genetic material was carried on and not mine. But that's selfish. That fact does not matter. My sister's kids carry those genes.

What is at issue is whether a half sibling existence triggers a reminder of my infertilty. In my case I don't consciously believe so. What it does trigger is how precious these children are, that they are gifts, and how much they need our love and support.

Am I still an infertile man? Yes. Big whoop.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

You Know You are Related? Yes

My wife asked my son this question yesterday (Tuesday the 22nd) regarding his meeting with his half sibling. He replied with a simple "yes".

They also apparently had a discussion regarding what it means to be a quintuplet and how that means that five babies were born at once. To demonstrate what that meant his mom then instructed how and what singletons, twins, triplets, quadruplets are each are, and then what quintuplets are.

Putting aside the social implications of the word "related" as we (us and the MOCHS) have agreed that the term to be used is half-sibling we intend to pursue what Jason's understanding is of what "related" means by simply asking him. Should be an interesting response.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I Missed the 1st Meeting of the Half Sibs

I knew it was going to happen this way but it is kind of appropos. My wife got showered before I did Saturday morning at our hotel and the kids were getting stir crazy in our room so she took them down for breakfast.

We had unofficially made it up that we would all meet at breakfast. So when the two moms walked in they recognized each other from pictures of the kids. It must have been pretty cool to see especially since none of the other diners would have had a clue that three children connected via a common donor were meeting for the first time.

By the time I got down to the dining room there were three children sitting with my wife as the MOCHS (Mother Of my Children's Half Sibling) was up getting some food for the young lady. My first reaction was that the half sibling is absolutely adorable and a real cutey. And I say this not because she bears a resemblance to my son either (mostly around the eyes and smile). I later learned she is very smart too.

We all got acquainted and the kids already seemed to be having fun. Our plan that day was to travel to a local theme park about a half hour's drive from the hotel. It turned out that we all drove together in the minivan I rented which gave us all more time together.

The great thing about the kids was that they all seemed at ease whoever the parent was directing them. All three were very good. True there was an ocassional outburst from one pushing another and yes my two year old bit her half sibling but that passed quickly.

As an aside packing for three days away from home and traveling via minivan is a trick. Even with overpacking we ran out of kids socks and shirts.

I know my family will miss the kids' half sibling and her mom and we look forward to our next meeting whenever that happens.

[Drafted by a sleepy dad on 8/20 at about 730pm on a bus after returning the minivan in Manhattan].

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The kids are having a ball with each other

I am writing this from a free internet desk at our hotel. More later but the kids are having a ball with each other and the resemblance between Jason and his and Zoe's half sibling is pretty wild. She is an adorable little girl and her mom is great. More later.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

"I'm Older Right?"

In preparing for our DI half sibling meeting I again went over with my 4 year old son his and his sister's DI story that a donor helped create him. I also stated that the donor also helped create another child that we would be meeting this weekend on our trip. His main concern more than knowing the sex of the child was "I'm older right?".

At first he was not happy that she was not his age but seemed content feeling that he would be the older child. You would think this would be due to the fact that perhaps he could exert a dominance in playground political terms. The truth is my son likes playing more with kids younger than him as I believe he feels less intimidated. My daughter will just have fun playing with another girl. Hopefully the half sibling just likes them both even though she will be in the middle age-wise.

Yes, Jason you are the oldest. That I know of.

Monday, August 14, 2006

(1) Telling More People and (2) Friends Discovering Our DI Story


I told a few more people at work about my kid's conception story and explained what Donor Insemination really means.

This coming weekend, before we scheduled our first meeting with the kid's half sibling, we had been invited to a wedding of a work associate. I had originally declined truthfully due to baby sitting concerns etc. Then when we scheduled this meeting I felt a little guilty that we were not attending the wedding. Work this week is insane for several reasons and I am working like crazy in order to take off Friday for our trip.

Telling work folks is always a bit strange as you are hitting them with personal info that is truly thought provoking. You should expect very few questions as folks are usually overloaded what it really means.

Discovering our DI Story via USA Today

Two funny stories of how people I know learned of our DI odyssey via the USA Today article

A few weeks ago a fellow congregant from our temple comes up to me and mentions the Article. She indicates she never reads USA Today but on the day the article came out USA Today was giving out free issues on 14th Street in our old Manhattan neighborhood. Now a few local friends were aware of the DI stuff but now I guess many more old neighbors know as well.

The second story involves the mom of one of my oldest friends. (We were both born on the same day in the same hospital and alphabetically would have been in adjacent cribs more likely than not). Anyhow his mom was at a bridge tournament in upstate NYS and only reads USAT maybe twice a year in hotels and that was the day. This friend has known of our DI stuff but his mom learned that day by seeing my mug on the cover. We (the friend and I) figure by now half the moms of kids we went to high school with now know my family's DI story. Pretty amusing. Should make for an interesting 25th reunion. We'll see who has the curiousity to approach me about it.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

"Your Son Said XYZ" & Dumb DI Jokes

We had friends over today who had not yet seen our new apartment. Amid a sea of toys and other craziness the husband, Mr. X, remarks to his wife, Mrs. X, "your son said xyz".

I immediately stated how I am the only one in the room that can make that comment. To which my wife immediately yelled at me. It was a joke. It even took Mrs. X a moment to realize what I meant and why my wife was yelling at me (they've known for sometime of the kids' conception story).

Ok my wife was not yelling but sternly reminding me how they are my kids. I know this off course and love them dearly. She hates my DI jokes. I will admit the jokes are generally stupid and are usually just meant for me and my wife and long term I should refrain from making them as the kids might take offense despite the fact that they are made at my own expense.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Common Thread Project

There is series of posts (starting on 8/7 - 8/10/06) over at Stirrup Queens regarding a project called the Common Thread Project. The idea grew out out of a discussion where the Towncriers (Melissa) discussed whether infertiles could develop a secret handshake where they could identify themselves to other infertiles. The discussion eventually developed from a handshake to jewelry to something simpler and in this case a common thread.

The need for the secreat handshake was prompted by a post by Melissa regarding infertility survivor guilt. By creating the handshake the survivor could easily say I am one of you. My own input via a comment left there was in reagrds to our bringing our son into the fertility clinic when we were trying to conceive our daughter. I had wanted to make a shirt for him that stated "I am an A.R.T. Baby" so the woman and men in the waiting room would not be hurt by his presence and kill us for it.

Anyhow I encourage folks to read the posts over at Stirrup Queens and even if you don't run out and buy the Pomegranate thread that perhaps you can show your support by posting this graphic on your site with links back to Stirrup queens.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

An Essay on Being an Infertile Dad - That's Easy !

A friend who is a writer and a publisher has asked that I contribute to a book dealing with DI and that I contribute an essay along the lines of what it means to be an Infertile Dad including my fears regarding the donor. I'd say doing this should be fairly easy as many of those fears have been broached right here on this blog.

I read my friend's e-mail letter to my wife who again was surprised that I might have fears or feel threatened by the donor. I know my wife has no time to read this blog but I don't think she has a clue as the bio parent what goes on in the mind and subconscious of the social parent even when I have been fairly open about these issues. After dealing with infertility and the treatments for years her feelings are we are past all that and let's move on. Hey wife, from my perspective I am never quite past all that! I can accept it but it's still a fact. A fact that becomes smaller over time but an immutable fact nonetheless.

Over at Stirrup Queens their blog is geared towards acting as a resource but also to gather info towards a book to teach non-infertiles regarding proper etiquette so as to not upset their infertile friend's or family. Somehow I think they need to remember to include a chapter for the infertile spouse to point their fertile spouse to regarding ths stuff. This info is not just for the muggles in the outside world.

I have been wanting / thinking about editing a book about this stuff from the infertile guy's perspective for some time and this writer / publisher friend offered her help so maybe this can start me down that road as well.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

This DI Blog is One Year Old Today

One year ago today I started this blog on Monday, August 8, 2005. This is my 244th post.

I would never have imagined doing this much less for one whole year. I remember years ago watching Doogie Howser and seing him at the end of each episode keeping a log / diary on his PC thinking that was pretty cool. None of us imagined then the concept of web logs and what they would become much less how we use them.

Pretty soon after I started this blog I found on the DSR a registration for a sole half sibling to my kids and now within the next few weeks they will be meeting for the first time. Little did I know that that association would also eventualy lead to a USA Today article outing myself as an infertile man who turned with my wife to DI to start our family.

Do you wish a blog a Happy Birthday or a Happy Anniversary? It's been an amazing year. Thanks for following along.

Friday, August 04, 2006

UK Sperm Donor Shortage and the Male Infertility Awareness Campaign

When I first saw Max's original "Don't be a Wanker" artwork (see sidepanel for campaign graphic and link) for his Male Infertility Awareness Campaign my first reaction (see 6/19/06 post) was that it was a funny joke. Yes it is crude and seen by the few donor conceived individuals that I know of as demeaning. I can honestly say that it was not its intent. The fact is that in countries such as the UK and Australia the end of donor anonymity has resulted in a reduction in the number of available donor sperm. There is some debate on this which I will not get into here. What started as fun is actually taking root among a number of bloggers, including myself, as an actual campaign to increase awareness and to promote responsible informed sperm donation. But while I will support that campaign I also support the ban on donor anonymity that has unfortunately contributed to the shortages.

For men like Richard and his wife in the UK who have limited or no donors to choose from the issue of limited sperm donors controls their ability to access DI as a viable method of creating their family. As a man whose family was created via DI my heart goes out to them. Here in the United States we have no donor sperm shortage. If donor anonymity ended here in the States whose to say the shortages now evident in the UK would not be repeated.

I have read news stories that the British parliament, or at least certain MPs, have been making noise about repealing the donor anonymity laws due to the belief, warranted or not, that these laws caused the shortages and will continue to keep men from donating. There are individuals out there that would claim the discussion to repeal these laws have emanated from the UK donor conception industry trying to regain lost profits. I cannot say but I am sure that they are not stopping the discussions.

My own belief is that to rollback the laws will do a disservice to those individuals created by donor conception. The laws try to ensure tha the DCPs have the ability, if they want it, to reconnect on some level with their genetic past. A subsequent repeal would serve to devalue their rights and to always put the rights of the TTC couples over their own and that is a dangerous precedent. Yes, I recognize that the utilization of DC itself creates the disconnect between the DCP and their genetic past but I am not here debating the legality of the utilization of DC. That is a whole debate in of itself.

To state that the donor anonymity laws should not be repealed from my position of already having my kids and not living in the UK is perhaps too easy. For that reason I have joined the Male Infertility Awareness Campaign that the Don’t be a Wanker ads support. There is a genuine need for the authorities to recruit more donors but to do so responsibly. Donors should be made clearly aware of the consequences of what they are contemplating while still informing them of the gift they are bestowing on the families that birth and raise these children. They should be fully aware of what being a non-anonymous donor means and the possibility that the donor conceived individuals may down the road want to learn more about them, the donor, and why they donated and be ready to have such a relationship if and when the time comes that contact is made.

As a DI social parent I must be truthful that the Victoria, Australia model that the donors can initiate contact bothers me. Donors made choices to give up their seed for others to raise as their own. I believe any and all contact should by legislation only be initiated by the conceived individuals. Yes, another debate, for another post.

I was asked back at a donor conception conference by a group of adult donor conceived individuals would I again use DI to create children after hearing their stories and my reply was that I had no answer. The fact was my kids do exist and I did not plan on increasing the size of my family. I still have no answer but I do feel and fully understand their pain and reasons for it. By endorsing the Male Infertility Awareness Campaign I am however supporting DI as a family planning alternative for those families that choose it.

Yes, as I state above the use of the term Wanker is a bit course and can be seen by some as demeaning based upon the reality of the act that created the seed that allows DI to continue. It is that shock value that the campaign relies on for it to become noticed. The goal is not to recruit donors from the ranks of men who are merely wanking for no purpose which would seem to demean the hoped for altruistic act of donation.

This post was originally meant to address my delay in joining this campaign. That delay was mostly due to my internal struggle to recognize and balance what the option of DI means to infertile couples TTC alongside the reality of the issue that a DCP would lose the opportunity to learn who their donor is if the current UK laws were to be repealed simply to increase the pool of willing donors. The campaign has not addressed this issue but my own views are quite clear and stated here.