Monday, April 30, 2007

Dear Would-Be DI Dad To Be

no. 361

Linked through the title to this post is a letter written by Walter Merricks, one of the founders of the DC Network, to woudl be DI Dads. It was one of the first writings I read about donor conception when I started researching on line about the topic (after my kids were already born).
The letter was part of a series of letters written by DC Network associated individuals. It's an excellent starting point for any man looking at DI. To see the series go to the DC Network, link through to Library / Booklists / Planning a Family Leaflets.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Ethics: Donor Gametes - In General and Between Parents and Children

no. 360

There was an interesting Opinion piece published in the April 27, 2007 Ottawa Citizen that I learned about due to Diane Allen's posting about it on the Yahoo DSR Discussion group. It was an opinion piece regarding the ethics of donor gametes. The piece was written in response to the news story regarding the freezing of a mother's ova (eggs) for later use by her daughter who is infertile. An interesting piece. I admit I need to read through it again to fully absorb it. The author is Margaret Somerville who is founding director of the McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law.

I have presented the full article on this blog's Annex but at risk of being accused of publishing spoilers the last three paragraphs of the article are:

"Ova freezing is just one more example that raises the broad question: How should we deal ethically with scientific advances in reproductive technologies? I propose that all these technologies must be ethically evaluated primarily through the lens of the children who will result from their use.

That lens requires that, at the very least, we first do no harm to those children; that we respect their fundamental human rights to come into being from natural biological origins; and that we act in their "best interests," in particular, in preserving their natural genetic relationships.

Except for concern about physical risks to children from using reproductive technologies, the focus up to now has been almost entirely on the rights of adults, who want to have a child, to use these technologies -- that is, only the adult lens has been used. That has caused a failure to consider, in the depth and breath required, both what ethics requires with respect to the children conceived through the use of reproductive technologies and the fundamental human rights of those children with respect to their coming into being."

I don't think anyone will be surprised by her conclusions but I do think the entire piece worth reading to understand her reasoning.

Friday, April 27, 2007

AFA Infertility Conference: Donor Conception Sessions

no. 359
This weekend, on Sunday April 29th, the American Fertility Association is hosting the annual Family Matters, the National Fertility and Adoption Conference at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City .

On the conference agenda are a few workshops available (during the many breakout sessions) addressing donor conception. I am hoping to at the last minute be able to attend but I don’t expect it to happen. These are the session titles as noted in their program (linked above):

Session 1 Workshops include: (9:55 – 10:55)

>Panel Discussion on Next Steps – Donor Egg, Embryo Donation, Sperm Donation, Surrogacy or Adoption [Steve Snyder, Esq., Elizabeth Swire Falker, Esq., Nanette Elster, Esq., Aaron Britvan, Esq.; and Daniel Becker, Esq. (Moderator)]

Session 2 Workshops include: (11:00 – 12:00)

>Donors are People Too – A Panel of Ovum Donors [Patricia Mendell, L.C.S.W., B.C.D. (Moderator)]

Special Conference Event: (4:05 – 5:05)

>To Pay Or Not To Pay: The Great Donor Compensation Debate [Jamie A. Grifo, M.D., Ph.D.]

I actually do want to attend but know my wife will want me to stay home.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

DSR & Univ of Cambridge: Survey Regarding Donor Conception

no. 358

The Donor Sibling Registry in conjunction with the University of Cambridge Centre for Family Research has launched a large scale survey and study of those DSR members looking to answer questions, anonymously, regarding their thoughts, feelings, and experiences regarding donor conception.
DSR members must log into the DSR site and then they can link into the actial survey. It took about 20 minutes. The questions are for the most part multiple choice with sections allowing for added comments.
Considering the DSR has over 7800 members even if only 10% respond it would represent a major study in this area. To my understanding the survey is open to any DSR member including donor conceived individual, bio and social parents, and / or donors.

Friday, April 20, 2007

BBC One Drama 4/20 "All About Me"

no. 357

BBC One Program Reminder for 2:05 pm on Friday April 20, 2007
Link to my original post to see a synopsis of the one hour drama inspired by the changing DI / AI laws in the UK. For additional details link here to the PDF document posted by the DC Network about the program.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Vanessa Williams "And Then Came Love" - Sperm Donor Search Movie (with additional comments)

no. 356

The release date for this movie has been announced as June 1, 2007 (per IMDB) The blog post links to the site of the production company Fox Meadow Films which merely states to expect a Summer release.

Recall that the earlier working titles for this movie were in most recent first order: "Somebody Like You" and "Who Needs 'Em?". My bet was that the first title could be seen as anti-men and that's why it was dropped.

The brief synopsis for this movie per the official website is as follows:

"Julie (mid 40s), a successful Manhattan columnist believes she has it all - a great job, a rent controlled apartment, a boyfriend and best of all, an adorable six-year-old son named Jake.

Her perfect world, however, is rocked when she’s called in for an emergency parent-teacher conference and learns that her son has been acting up, needs to be ‘tested’ and is on the brink of expulsion. Julie places genetic blame on Jake’s father whom she does not know as Jake was conceived through an anonymous donor. Through a private investigator, Julie is able to learn the identity of the donor and meets him. Julie has neither intention nor desire to reveal her identity to him, she simply needs to check her sources, get the facts, and move on."

There is a lot more to the plot which you can read on their site. Obviously this movie is romantic coomedy movie with serious undertones. Until we see it and read the script it is hard to tell if they address the issues of donor conception as more than just a mechanical vehicle to take us from the donor once found to the love interest / father figure for the child created.


When I posted the above text earlier I did not see the trailer posted on the movie site linked through the post title. It looks cute and I apparently mischaracterized the premise as it appears that the mom apparently starts falling for the donor while at the same time a relationship develops between the child and the donor (even though both child and donor don't yet know the reality of their connection). Yes I am probably giving too much of the story away but I am not saying anything that their synopsis doesn't say itself.

What I am concerned about is whether this movie will make kids born into Choice Mom families start saying where is my bio father? Granted in this story the mom is a single heterosexual so the fantasy of the child's mom finding and falling for the donor is possible. Also what message does that send to children born to married mothers (like mine)? Will my kids look for me to be displaced? Probably not but it adds to the fears of DI Dads. And what of kids born into families where the mom may be lesbian and there is no chance of mom falling for dad?

OK, I realize this movie is not meant to answer the really hard questions but you wonder what level of responsibility the writers felt if any to the larger donor conception community. I'd love to interview the them and ask.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

TV's "Brothers & Sisters" & One DI Dad & Two Donors

no. 355

Julie over at DI Mom summarizes what is happening on the ABC drama "Brothers & Sisters". It seems that the show has taken on DI as a story line and has involved three of the shows featured siblings. Julie also quite eloquently states her concerns about this story line as a parent of a DI conceived child.

Will TV get it right or will they get it wrong? Is this the type of exposure we want for this issue or not?

I want to know how I can get the infertile dad character to join the DI Dad's Yahoo group.

Let Julie know your thoughts on her blog and I'd like to hear yours as well.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Oregon Man Deemed Donor - No Rights to Sperm Mistakenly Provided to Second Couple

no. 354

"Judge says accidental sperm donor has no right to know if he's a father"
Posted by The Oregonian April 16, 2007 15:56PM
-- Ashbel S. Green


"A Portland man whose sperm was inadvertently given to a Salem-area woman has no right to find out whether he is a father, a Multnomah County judge has ruled.

Circuit Judge Henry Kantor said he was not finished writing his opinion, but wanted the parties to know his decision because it had been so long - nearly seven months - since they argued the case before him.The man, who sued for a paternity test under the initials M.H., claimed that he produced a sperm sample at Oregon Health & Science University's fertility clinic in September to impregnate his fiancee. The same day, a Marion County couple that had struggled to start a family was visiting the clinic. A mix-up occurred, and clinic workers gave M.H.'s sperm sample to the woman."

"Michael G. Smith, the attorney for the Marion County couple, praised the decision. He said he expected M.H. to appeal. "I think essentially what they would be doing is to ask the Oregon Court of Appeals to declare Oregon's artificial insemination statute unconstitutional, which is a tall order," Smith said"

Full text of the Oregonian article at the Annex.

My Opinion:

I can understand the plight of the couple given the sperm by mistake but I think the judge got the decision wrong. I'll have to wait to see the written opinion once it is public but to me it appears the decision has a fatal flaw.

I have posted the Oregon statute on the Annex but it essentially says a Donor has no rights to the children created by the donated sperm. [Oregon State Law Section 109.239].

The flaw as I see it is that the intent of the plaintoff was never to be a donor but that his sperm only be used with respect to his wife so how did he become reclassified as a donor? If he is not a donor his rights should not be cut off. I disagree with the defendant's attorney. The appeal does not have to invalidate the law but it does have to attack the application of the law to this plaintiff.

Friday, April 13, 2007

My wife is having another man's twins - and I could not be happier

no. 353

Daily Mail
Last updated at 23:42pm on 12th April 2007

"Richard and Sandra Woolven were looking forward to starting a family. But after a year of trying to conceive, they were horrified to learn that Richard had a zero sperm count, making it impossible for him to have children.

The couple, who live in Worcester, decided to have fertility treatment using a sperm donor. Now Sandra, 27, a sales manager, is 35 weeks' pregnant with twins. Here, Richard, 30, a software developer, talks about his mixed emotions as he approaches fatherhood... "

I will post the entire arrticle in this blog's Annex later today. For now the article is linked via the above title.

You can check out Richard's personal journey via his blog:

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Who Did We Tell Again? Should We Tell Anyone Else?

no. 352

There is a problem with telling. Not with regards to telling your kids as they have a right to know. What I am refering to is telling only select segments of your friends and family. The problem is you tend to forget who you have told and who you haven't.

I got home from attending the NY Mets home opener at Shea Stadium and my wife asked me if had told my college friends, at least the core group, of our kid's conception story. My reply was I think so but wasn't wholly sure. I knew I had told at least the friend who was our best man at our wedding. Beyond that I think I told the other guys, but to be honest I wasn't wholly sure. Thinking about it now I am not even sure why she asked me this question.

For the most part I am sure 99% sure none of our friends and family would care or even blink at their conception story but at this point I am prone to not tell anyone else as it is my son and daughter's story to share or not share.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

"All About Me" New BBC Drama Exploring Donor Conception, The Search For Identity, And The Nature Of Family

no. 351

The above named drama will premier on Friday April 20th On BBC 1 At 2.05pm.

Medical News Today
Article Date: 03 Apr 2007 - 11:00 PDT

"ALL ABOUT ME by Malcolm Campbell explores donor insemination, genetic inheritance and the damage of secrets and lies.

The drama was inspired by recent changes in the laws regarding donor anonymity for sperm and egg donors. Donor conceived children now have the right [in the UK] to trace their donor parents, just as adopted children do."

"ALL ABOUT ME comes from triple BAFTA award-winning indie Resource Base, commissioned by BBC Education and BBC Daytime in a first co-production."

If anyone can secure a copy of this drama or provide a review once it airs I'd be interested to hear about it. We have yet to see a serious take on donor conception on TV or in the movies here in the US. It is presumed that the Vanessa William movie will be more serious than "Made in America" ever was but is still being promoted as less than a hard core drama from what I have seen.

Explaining Passover to a Five Year Old & Matching Donor Backgrounds

no. 350

This week we have been celebrating Passover so that means not only not eating bread products but also due to the fact that we are of Ashkenazi descent we also do not eat rice and other products where the product "rises" even though the product does not contain yeast or is defined as "Chametz".

My son, this evening on day 5, for dinner asked for a PBJ sandwich at which point we again asked him if he understood why we have not been having bread and that his PBJ would have to be on matzah. At which point my wife added if we were Sephardic we could at least have had rice. My son latching onto that wanted rice.

My response was unfortunately both I and his donor were of ashkenazi descent so he was out of luck no matter what and he should just eat his PBJ on his matzah and like it. He seemed to accept that and just enjoyed his matzah sandwich.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

UK NGDT Chair Defends “Give a Toss” Sperm Donor Campaign

no. 349

The entire text is posted at this blog’s Annex.


“The National Gamete Donation Trust (NGDT) has never believed that removal of anonymity in the UK caused the decline in sperm donor numbers. As we said in a previous BioNews commentary: 'It is important to remember that, with or without the removal of anonymity, there have never been enough gamete donors in the UK to meet the demand. One of the main problems continues to be lack of awareness' (BioNews, 7 August 2006).”

“We do not believe that this campaign affects the altruistic nature of donation, that is, the kindness of the kind man. No one will donate because they think our campaign is funny; only those who take the bait, read on and get the message. Potential sperm donors that contact the National Office receive a full information pack with practical, legal and medical information. Initial follow-up calls suggest that these men did get the message, and a substantial percentage have actually decided to go on and contact a clinic. Regardless of what message made the potential sperm donor contact a clinic or the NGDT, we believe a donor is a very special, caring and committed person.”

My Observations:

Laura and the folks at NGDT from what I have seen and read are truly trying to help those families looking to avail themselves of ART via donor conception. I have not seen any news pieces on the campaign as of yet here in the United States and I am quite curious what kind of reaction it would get.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

NYMag: Israeli Donor Egg Farming

no. 348

By Kira Peikoff

NY Magazine

April 9, 2007

The entire text is posted at this blog’s Annex.


"There is a shortage of Jewish in vitro eggs. Hopeful parents are turning to the Promised Land. "

Here’s a riddle for your rabbi: If your baby is born from in vitro fertilization, and the donated egg isn’t from a Jewish woman, is the baby really Jewish? Although different branches of Judaism have different answers—Reform says it’s about how the kid’s raised; Orthodox rabbis tend to believe a conversion is necessary—many parents want to make sure their child is a member of the tribe down to its DNA. The problem is there aren’t enough Jewish eggs to go around. So a new type of yenta has arrived on the IVF scene who finds suitable donors, usually from Israel, to match with Americans seeking to become pregnant.”

My observations:

As the full article notes “Israelis may identify more strongly with infertile couples because of their society’s strong pressure to reproduce”. Based on Rachel’s site and other information I have seen IVF and related ART techniques are much more common and accepted in Israel based on societal pressure. My only concerns, beyond the normal issues surrounding the donor conceived created, is whether the women donating are putting aside their health issues and risks for a chance at the money offered. The article certainly closes on the exorbitant monies they can earn.