Thursday, May 31, 2007

AFA Telephone Support Group re Donor Gametes

no. 381

Tonight the American Fertility Association is holding a telephone support group titled "Parenting Donor Gamete Children (Donor Sperm, Donor Egg, Donor Embryo). The Disclosure Issue: If, What, When, and How."

It was an advance registration group and before being enrolled the moderators asked a series of questions to get a feel where everybody is at regarding whether the participants even have kids yet, how they were conceived, whether other biologicaly connected children are in the household, and if we had any thoughts or basic concerns regarding disclosure.

I am interested to see what the general consensus of the group is on all levels and also curious to see how the group is run. I have never participated in a telephone group before and to date I have only seen the AFA run Ovum Donor seminars as opposed to any involving donor insemination.

I will post how it all went either later tonight or over the next couple of days.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Lack of a National Discussion Regarding Donor Conception

no. 379

In October 2005, I attended a conference held in Toronto regarding the future of donor conception where I met Mikki Morrissette, the author of Choosing Single Motherhood and also the editor of Voices of Donor Conception. Earlier this week Mikki attended a second conference held in Nanaimo, Canada at Malaspina University - College regarding the Reproductive Technologies. The conference was titled Nobody's Child Everyone's Children.

Mikki's reflections on the conference as they relate to the fact that here in the United States no such national discussion has begun can be found at her blog Choice Mom.

The conference agenda looked quite extensive and I would have loved to go but finances, work, and other responsibilities kept that idea from being anything more than that. If anyone finds any other commentary as it relates to this conferebce please let me know.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Ryan And Anna, Two Half Siblings Meet

no. 378

When Wendy and Ryan Kramer created the Donor Sibling Registry it was for partially so Ryan could find and meet any half siblings that might be out there. After two misses this past February, 2007 a third connection was made that allowed Ryan to finally meet a half sibling, three years younger than Ryan to the day. Wendy Kramer writes about this experience in the May 2007 issue of the AFA newsletter Connections.
It's a very touching piece written by Wendy who after all these years of seeing other families connect finally was able to see the joy on her own son's face when he met his own half sibling.
The closing paragrpah in the article highlights the terminology question of how should these individuals defiine themselvves and each other. More often than not when the individuals are teenagers or older they go straight to "brother / sister" where the adult parents first lean to "half" this or that.
For my own kids and T, we were in control and the kids don't fully understand yet who they are to each other so for now they are still just half siblings. I truly hope my kids develope a close relationship to T as they get older as it would allow them to have someone just like them to comprehend all of this.
Reading the AFA Connections article was special and you felt you were sharing Wendy and Ryan's joy. Two people who deserve it very much.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

American Sociological Assn Study : Valuation of Egg and Sperm Donors

no. 377

The ASA released today the results of a study undertaken by Rene Almeling, a UCLA Ph.D. candidate in sociology, where Ms. Almeling reviewed the operations of US sperm banks and egg agencies. The following are excerpts of the study's summary linked through this posts' title.


“Men donors are paid less for a much longer time commitment and a great deal of personal inconvenience,” she said. “They also are much less prepared for the emotional consequences of serving as a donor of reproductive material. Women, meanwhile, are not only paid more for a much shorter time commitment, they are repeatedly thanked for ‘giving the gift of life.’

“From compensation rates to the smallest details of donor relations, sperm donors are less valued than egg donors,” Almeling said. “Egg donors are treated like gold, while sperm donors are perceived as a dime a dozen.”

“A pronounced double-standard exists in the way that men and women donors are valued by the fertility industry, and it can’t be explained medically or by market forces,” Almeling said. “Based on the availability of donors alone, you would expect the abundance of potential egg donors to drive down compensation fees and the scarcity of potential sperm donors to drive up their fees. But I found just the opposite."

My comments:

I found Ms. Almeling's comments and conclusions interesting as my expectations were very often the opposite of hers. While I do think sperm donors go through a longer comittment period it seems to me that egg donors are subjected to the greater inconveniences of being subjected to actual medical procedures, taking drugs that could affect their own reproductive systems down the road as compared to the men who very often are just “get[ting] paid to do what you [they] already do.” Yes I understand because men are comitted to a longer relationship to their banks they are in effect agreeing to affect their own social lives due to required "abstinences" between "donations".

I am not trying to discount the contribution of the sperm donors as I am greatful for the eventual creation of my own children but I am just surprised by the researcher's own surprise at the results of h er own study.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Parents to Decide Over Secrecy of Sperm Donors Not Birth Certificates

no. 376

The Times Online ran a story on May 18th, linked here, reporting that parents will get to decide whether to tell their children that a sperm donor was used in their conception.

This conclusion is based on the UK Department of Health not including in its draft Human Tissue & Embryos Bill a provision requiring birth certificates to indicate if a child is donor gamete conceived.

The British Association of Adopting and Fostering ("BAAF")had as recently as May 17th called "for amendments to the draft Human Tissues and Embryos Bill to ensure donor-conceived children have access to fundamental information about their identity" via notation on each donor conceived child's birth certificate.

While anyone who reads this blog knows I am favor of openess / disclosure to a DCP of their origin I must admit I am not sure where to come down on the issue of a notation on a individual's birth certificate.

Where I fully understand the purpose of what BAAF is calling for as it would compel a parent to tell, I am concerned that such a mark would lead to secondary status. I would never want my child to be envious of a star belly sneetch or feel they are one and believe it to be mark of unequality. Sorry too much Dr. Seuss in our house this week. I have always been leery of government intruding on privacy issues and this idea scares me.

I also am not sure it is the place of the government to compel parents period. Yes I understand to not tell in effect violates the DCP's right to their own history etc. I also realize it is naive of me to expect all parents to automatically plan to tell but again I have issues with privacy and perceived government intrusion. Hard questions.

Mummy, Daddy, Donor

no. 375

OK, this article, online at the Guardian Unlimited, got me. I admit it, my eyes welled up, and I almost cried. I am a sucker for this kid of story. The article, linked through the blog title above, introduces the reader to an egg donor whose eggs resulted in triplets being born to a couple living in San Francisco, CA. In what is certainly a rare occurence, the egg donor meets her genetic children and their birth parents and ends up participating, unplanned on her part, in the children's baptism. You feel the donor's emotions and when you hear the priest's words you feel the raw emotion.

I am not sure how I will internally react when my kids truly understand and ask about their donor. I don't think I could ever had thought to include the donor in the brith milah ceremony (Jewish circumcision) where my son entered into his covenant with g-d. Perhaps my thoughts would have been different if it was a known donor, but still that level of involvement may have been too much. But when I read this article I was moved by the acts of each of these individuals, the birth parents and the donor and I pray these children will process this all with the love and altrusim of the parties involved. I suspect they will. G-d I hope my own kids do someday.

Beneath the article there is a note that this story is one of several captured in the book Everthing Conceivable by Liza Mundy.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

MD Donor Egg Surrogacy Case: No Mother Ruling

no. 374

"Ruling Alters Idea of Mother"
Md. high court finds paternity laws must apply equally to men and women

By Andrea F. Siegel
Sun Reporter
Originally published May 17, 2007

Full Article Linked via Post Title


"A baby conceived from an egg donated by one woman and implanted in another may have no mother at all under Maryland law, the state's highest court ruled yesterday."
"The man who arranged for the children to be born from his sperm and donated eggs, and the woman with whom he arranged to carry them, brought the case. The two wanted it made clear that she had no legal claims or responsibility for the children."
"The ruling is pioneering because of its basis on the state's Equal Rights Amendment: The court found that paternity laws apply equally to men and women."
""The change is that Maryland's paternity statute - which was written to define paternity - can now be used by women in the same way to challenge maternity. That really is the main and, as I see it, significant change," said University of Baltimore law professor Barbara A. Babb, who directs the law school's Center for Families, Children and the Courts."

BBC Three: The Great Sperm Crisis (Danny Robins)

no. 373

Tonight, 5/17/2007, on BBC Three at 9pm (UK time):

"When comedian and TV presenter Danny Robins travelled the country to highlight the UK's shortage of sperm donors, he was surprised to discover just how many men were prepared to pledge their support."

All kidding aside the post title is linked to a BBC article where the comments section has an interesting cross section of serious comments from former donors and other men on the topic as a whole.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

DI Movie: "Semen, Una Historia de Amor" (Semen, A Love Story).

no. 372

How's this for a DI related movie: a Spanish language comedy (subtitled in English) called "Semen, Una Historia de Amor" (Semen, A Love Story). It's about a man working in a donor insemination lab. I heard about it from a DI mom who follows this blog. I have to rent this and watch it. It almost sounds like a Roberto Bennini movie (the guy who wrote and directed Life is Beautiful ).

"A hapless technician in a donor insemination clinic meets a young, single woman and finds himself quite taken with her. Later that same day she comes to his clinic to be inseminated. After accidentally breaking her sample, he of course replaces it with his own (because he doesn't want to get in trouble). She gets pregnant, they start dating, he really wants to tell her but can't, he finds out she is a surrogate for her sister. He REALLY doesn't want her to give his baby away so he kidnaps it from the hospital but he gets the wrong baby. Now he needs to return the baby but can't figure out how. Somehow he gets an address from the other baby's records and when he goes there, it's a fire station. When he talks to them they say "Oh yes, isn't it sad that someone would abandon a baby on our doorstep." He finally confides his deception to the girl, she forgives him, the sister keeps his baby and they keep the abandoned one."

Ok, how's that for a theme for a comedy? And I was concerned about the movie "And Then Came Love" starring Vanessa Williams which at least takes the donor conception topic seriously. Yes I know this Semen movie is fiction, and apparently a screwball comedy, but I would wonder what that kid will think if told his or her conception story. "Well kid this is how your aunt and uncle (bio parents) met... "

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

NY Times (5/15/07): As Demand for Donor Eggs Soars, High Prices Stir Ethical Concerns

no. 371

The linked articles discusses the prices offered egg donors, the possible medical effects on the egg donors but nowhere from what I see does it address the donor conceived individuals created.

There is a stat from the CDC that in 2003 approximately 5700 babies were born from donor eggs. Interesting that the CDC collects that stat but cannot require sperm banks or clinics to report births resulting froom donor sperm (not that I think they could accurately collect that info - see prior blog post).

Thursday, May 10, 2007 USA Limits Donor Offspring to 10 ?

no. 370

Re: Serious Failures Found at [Israeli] Hospital Sperm Banks

Dear Ran Reznick:
In your article, published online 5/10/2007, regarding serious failures at Israeli sperm banks you state that "In the United States, donors are limited to 10 births to decrease the chance of incest among offspring. "
I'd like to know where you got that "fact". I know of no regulation or law that requires sperm banks to monitor live births much less pregnancies achieved. As a parent to two donor conceived children here in the USA we would love to see reform that would limit the donor conceived offspring born to a single donor but as of yet we have no legislation.
Thank you,
Eric Schwartzman


I sent the above inquiry today to the reporter who wrote the article linked above. I would have posted my inquiry as a comment to the article but no option was provided.

Did I sleep through some major legislative pacakge here in the United States? I will give the reporter the benefit of the doubt but I don't believe we have any such legislation either at the federal or state level in the United States. But if anyone reading this knows on what basis the reporter got this info I'd love to hear it.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Donor Sperm TV Story Line Alert: Monday 5/7 at 8:30 pm EST

no. 369

Apparently the plot of tonight’s episode of this show is that Robert (Duane Martin) finds out that Neesee (LisaRaye McCoy) is planning to visit a sperm bank in order to have a baby and questions her reasoning for going through with the procedure.

I know nothing about this show and the following is from the CW website for the show:

“Returning for a fourth season, ALL OF US, the series inspired by the domestic adventures of entertainment superstars Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, reflects a new generation's enlightened attitude toward juggling ex-spouses, dating and professional lives with humor, sensitivity and heart.

Robert (Duane Martin, "Deliver Us from Eva") and Neesee James (LisaRaye McCoy, "Beauty Shop") are divorced. But that doesn't mean their complicated and sometimes stormy relationship is over. Not only do they share custody of their 6-year-old son, Bobby Jr. (Khamani Griffin, "Daddy Day Care") but for the last year, they've been sharing a house.” - Coming to a Mall Near You ?

no. 368

I happened upon the above website and my immediate reaction seeing the name was to ask did I happen upon a retail site like Baby Gap? Turns out the page is an extension of the web site The Baby Corner which is an information resource and bulletin board service. But my first reaction was what the heck is this?

The site does not appear to have any direct live links back to The Baby Corner but is clearly related to it by the corporate footer at the bottom of the page. What is strange about this page is that The Baby Corner has a number of donor conception related pages, all pretty much standard definitions, basic issue stuff, so why would they feel they needed a new separate website with the name I have submitted a question to them to find out more as I am curious.

I almost thought at first this was a site like the SpermCenter which is one stop shopping for sperm donors across many different cryobanks or a site for an organization similiar to The Abraham Center, the Texas based embryo adoption center which was in the news.

Maybe they'll do a promotion with the Gap where they will sell t-shirts that say They would certainly be a attention getter and conversation starter at the neighborhood playground.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

DSR Radio Interview WBAI - 5/4/2007

no. 367

Wendy and Ryan Kramer of the Donor Sibling Registry were interviewed on Friday May 4, 2007 by a weekly radio program titled "Healthstyles" which aired at 1:00pm. The program is available to interested listeners for 89 days from today via the on-lines archives of WBAI.

Just scroll down once you link through to this page to the listing for Healthstyles on May 4th and you can enjoy their interview. For people interested in learning aboout the DSR, its founders and purposes it's a wonderful way to do so by hearing the info right from Wendy and Ryan directly.

Alec Brownstein: "Lega-Seeds" - DI Offspring of Harvard Grads

no. 366

I first saw mention of this blog piece on the DSR yahoo group thanks to Wendy. As a social dad I loved it. Link to it via this post's title.

As a parent already planning for paying for two college educations could I use the legacy systems to get my kids an edge? Could I use this info to get them into Harvard? Very amusing and worth a two minute read.

Makes me wonder what made this Alec Brownstein guy think up this story.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Manchester Evening News: Men Still Donating Sperm

no. 365

According to an article published in the UK on March 5, 2007:

"the first full-year figures from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) since the change [in the law regarding donor anonymity] show a 6% rise in the number of men registering as donors.A total of 265 new sperm donors (of which 208 were based in the UK) were registered with the HFEA in the 12 months to 31 March last year."

The full article is presented on this blog's Annex as linked through the above post title.

All I can say is that the men I speak to on the DI Dads Yahoo Discussion Group seem to indicate that locating a clinic in the UK with an available donor pool with any choices is near to impossible. That tells me more than any statistical report.


"HFEA chair Shirley Harrison said: "Many commentators continue to claim that the change in the law to remove anonymity for sperm and egg donors would lead to an immediate and steep fall in the number of donors."These new figures show that the predicted drop in sperm donor numbers is a myth.""

""NGDT chair Laura Witjens welcomed the increase but said the number of donors were still far short of the estimated 500 donors needed to meet demand. .... "The most important lesson that can be learned from this is that recruiting donors can be done," she said."

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Jewish Bioethics & a Call for Access to Donor Medical Records

no. 364

In the Thursday, May 3, 2007 edition of Washington Jewish Week Online Edition staff writer Eric Fingerhut interviews Rabbi Elliott Dorff, a frequent writer on Jewish Law and Bioethics. Within the article the Rabbi called for greater access to donor medical records for donor conceived individuals. The pertinent excerpts of the article are printed below:

Among the most important bioethical matters in the Jewish community today is infertility and the issues that arise from it, said Dorff.

With Jews getting married later in life, women have a tougher time conceiving children and couples are increasingly turning to donor sperm or eggs.

But when those children become teenagers, and want to find out "who [they] are," they can't look to their father and mother to see the exact sources, for instance, of their various personality traits.

Thus, he would like to see donor banks collect and make information available for children. He pointed out that there are some facilities already doing this, such as a California sperm bank that tapes interviews of donors talking about themselves and allows children to get information on their biological heritage. “

My comment:

Many, not all, cryobanks here in the US already provide some data regarding the health of the donors. What I think needs reformation is some sort of standardization of that information across all banks with some sort of minimum level of info that must be provided. I am not even talking about testing of the donor sperm but merely standardization of the info that must be available to the parents and the donor conceived individuals. Furthermore that info must be made available for a minimum of some period of years, at least say 25 years past the last date sperm samples were sold so that DCPs who were not provided that info by their parents have at least som shot of finding the info. We not even getting into medical conditions that arise after the donations have stopped. That's another issue which I am not sure we can ever mandate.

According to the article:

“[Rabbi] Dorff will be speaking on "Bioethics: A Progressive Jewish Perspective" at Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation in Bethesda on Sunday, May 6, 2007, at 6:30 p.m. The program is co-sponsored by the Institute for Science and Judaism

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Book Alert: "Tomorrow" by Graham Swift

no. 363

Book Alert: Tomorrow by Graham Swift
Published by Picador
September 2007 – expected US Publish date


This post is not so much a book review as it is a book alert. One reason for this is I have not read the book and only heard about it today.

In short, the book is narrated by Paula, a 49 year old British wife and mother, while she lays in bed late at night next to her sleeping husband. She has a secret to tell her 16 year old twins. Now if I am writing about this book it should be obvious that the secret is that they are donor conceived. The mother recounts her and her husband’s life and everything that brought her to this point the night before she and her husband are to tell her unsuspecting children the truth.

As I cannot truly comment on the book as a literary work I thought it would be appropriate to provide excerpts of published reviewers that have read the book. My only observation is that I am not surprised that the topic has reached into popular fiction as I know that it has been addressed in earlier books. What I do find interesting are my reactions to the reviewer’s texts.

Overall it appears to me the book is a long and drawn out read about the parents’ lives which does not appear to address how they chose the donor, the thought processes behind their choice, any thought by the parents about the ramifications of using DI or why and how they determined that they would tell the children after they turned 16.

The Independent
A lovely trip to a humdrum destination
By Carol Birch
Published: 27 April 2007

So what is the dreadful secret to be unveiled tomorrow, a revelation long ago scheduled for "after their 16th birthday"? What could possibly be so terrible that it might split asunder this close and loving family?

When the bombshell finally explodes, it does so with all the shock value of a child sticking out two fingers and shouting "bang!" Is that it? You say, and read on to the book's quiet end. Dawn, and the revelation is still to be made. What to make of it? Perhaps Paula is delusional. Is her life so content that she feels the fragility of it, and perversely has to manufacture a drama of monumental size? Mike, she says, is "like a man finding it in him to sleep on the eve of his execution". Perhaps he sleeps so soundly because there really is nothing too much to worry about

Eric: Nothing to worry about? If I had not told my kids until after they turned 16 and they were about to learn I was not their father I’d bet I‘d be up all night.


The Guardian - Digested Read
John Crace
Tuesday May 1, 2007

Eric: You almost have to read the whole review (it’s quite short) as the reviewer is digesting the book more than somewhat tongue in cheek.

I rushed home and told Mike that, consumed as I was with lust for him, I needed a child and we should try artificial insemination. Yet if I was to receive an unknown man's sperm, I needed to know what it was like to have another man inside me. At least that's the ridiculous reason I'm giving you for the unconvincing one-night stand I had with the vet. Don't worry, though, my little snails, the vet is not your father. The thing that will change your lives for ever is far duller than that. It is that your birth father was a sperm donor.

Yes, we love you as much as if you were our real children - Mike even saved you from drowning once. But can you ever forgive us, my little whelks, for him not being your real father? Will you leave us? We shall find out tomorrow. Or maybe I should just get out more


Eric: The
US Amazon book site had little info outside various newspaper site one line throwaway reviews for the author, previous works and the current book .

UK Amazon book site included one personal reader review including the following comment:

Tomorrow's event which Paula has been worrying about turns out to be a huge let-down. Sure it is a revelation which will take some getting used to, but in this day and age it is hardly unusual. Talk about making a drama out of a crisis.”

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

AFA Telephone Support Group: 5/31/2007 Parenting Donor Gamete Children

no. 362

Copied entirely from American Fertility Association email :

"TOPIC: Parenting Donor Gamete Children (Donor Sperm, Donor Egg, Donor Embryo).
The Disclosure Issue: If, What, When, And How".

This coaching group is accessible to you via your telephone.
It is appropriate for couples and individuals who
  • Are considering the use of donor sperm, egg, or embryo to create their children
  • Are already parenting children created by donor sperm, egg, or embryo

During this one hour group conference call, you will have the opportunity to receive information on:

  • The pros and cons of disclosure to children of their genetic origin
  • What and when to share this information with children if you so choose
  • If and how to share this information with family and friends

You will also have the opportunity to share information and support one another in making this decision and implementing this aspect of parenting.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

9:00 PM to 10:00 p.m. PM, EST

Joann Paley Galst, Ph.D. and Patricia Mendell, L.C.S.W


For more information, and to register, contact:
Joann Galst ( or 212-759-2783)
or Patricia Mendell ( or 212-819-1778)