Saturday, June 30, 2007

Donor Does Not Equal Daddy T-Shirt

no. 397

Donor Conceived over at Whose Daughter? (who for some reason I have in my head as previously going by Buffalo Girl) has posted the above T-Shirt design in response to the "My Daddy's Name is Donor" t-shirt that can be seen for sale around the web.

Despite the veracity of the statement made on the shirt she is suggesting it is interesting to see, even after all this time, the immediate feelings it can stir up in me. Envy is an interestng emotion. As I stated in my Father's Day post I don't believe I am threatened any longer by the donor (am I backtracking already?) but the underlying fact of the t-shirt's statement still has some sting. Granted it is not the shirt's intent but still there it is.

Friday, June 29, 2007

One Line Updates re Donor Conception

no. 396

I am taking a cue from Brett over at DadTalk and posting one or two line updates on various fronts as I have been unable to sit down an write due to work and sheer exhaustion:

(1) My Father's Day post was picked up by the Donor Conception Network and posted under their Articles section.

(2) I was part of a panel of active egg donors and egg donor recipients at the last meeting of an Ovum Donor seminar series held here in NYC that was sponsored by the AFA. OK, seems out of place since I am obviously DI related but the session included a focus on disclosure and issues surrounding choosing donors etc.

(3) Over at Stirrup Queens I was honored by someone via the Secret Ode of the Day (1) with some very kind words about my blog and efforts. I was very touched. I must say, that Stirrup Queens is an amazing site and the amount of work that Mel puts into it is unreal. What started as a blog is truly a true community which various virtual events and support opportunities going on all the time.

(4) The Second Infertility Film Festival is due to be premiered on July 28 so all aspiring film makers have less than a month to put their entries together, pot them to YouTube or wherever and send the links to Bea. Another blogger who has gone way beyond her own keyboard, Infertile Fantasies, and built a community via her Festival and own writings and the support she constantly shows others.

(5) I discovered today a newly minted male written fertility blog, written from the average joe point of view. It is quite hystertical. Definitely worth checking out and watching as it will definitely make anyone male or female smile. It is called "The Adventures of (In)Fertile Frank".

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

“On The Lot” Reality TV: Sperm Bank Robbery Film Short

no. 395

The following may be more amusing to a Choice Mom than me but the reality TV show “On the Lot” included an entry on their 6/26 episode where a single woman and her mother robbed a sperm bank at gunpoint forcible withdrawing a fresh deposit. The video can be linked to here. The short was titled “Under the Gun” and was written and directed by contestant Hillary Graham.

I had to laugh at the “bank lobby” scene where the men were all sitting around waiting to be called to make a deposit. I immediately recalled my own experience waiting to go into the “collection” room with the hope of actually giving a sample where they would find any usable sperm (my diagnosis you may recall is non-obstructive azoospermia). Anyhow I had to laugh as I pictured these same women trying to attempt the same robbery from a room of infertile men. Sorry, wrong room ladies the fertile waiting room is next door.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Bio Mom to DI Dad: "I Did Not Sign Up For This"

no. 394

The other night I called my wife over to the computer and asked her to watch a webisode of this 5 minute comedy per day called "Where are the Joneses?" Besides her dumbstruck reaction to the content of this very strange donor sibling search psuedo-comedy she quickly stated that I am nuts and she "did not sign up for all this".

By this she means my continuing involvement in ongoing DI issues and the occassional absurdity (i.e. the aforementioned web based video sitcom) that I find related to it. In her mind we used DI to make the kids and that was the end of the story. Don't misinterpret this to mean she would count herself among those hetero families that use DI and never tell a soul much less the kids. She doesn't believe that and she is a firm believer in openness / disclosure. She just means she doesn't think about this stuff every day like I do and wants simply to put this all in perspective whatever that might be.

Truth is I can see her point of view. She is not affected like me as she is the bio parent and her day to day life is raising two small kids, shuttling them off via the NYC mass transit system to school, classes, playdates and general household stuff etc. She really does not have the time to stop and focus or obsess on these issues. In her mind we used DI to get around infertility, it worked, we have two kids growing up in NYC so lets stay on that plan and continue to raise them and ourselves.

This all got me thinking whether as time goes by, does the bio parent generally forget about these issues and only the social parent continues to revisit them from time to time? Again this blog forces me to not just forget this stuff but to dwell on it perhaps unnaturally.

To be honest when I look at my kids I don't see neon DI signs on their forheads I just see them. Truth is we signed on to be parents and we got that but occasionally we have to remember the other stuff and prepare to address it when the times come that it will be raised by them. And I know my wife will be with me when the kids realize what this all means.

Monday, June 25, 2007

60 Minutes Revisits 48QAH, Donor Sibling Registry

no . 393

Last night's CBS 60 Minutes piece revisits or really re-ran its March 19, 2006 piece about Donor Siblings first focusing on the offspring of Donor 48QAH and then also Wendy and Ryan Kramer's Donor Sibling Registry.

My initial thoughts abouts about the segment can be found via link one and the link I previously provided to the original transcript of the segment can be found at link two.

At the conclusion of the segment Steve Kroft updated the viewer as to the number of 48QAH donor siblings found and that Dr. Matthew Niedner and his wife had since had their own little girl. For more about 48QAH there was a very nice USA Today article that ran the same day, June 14, 2006 (Father's Day weekend) as the their DI Dads article .

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Donor Insemination Sibling Search as Comedy?

no. 392

I am not making up the following plot line for a new comedy sitcome to be I guess broadcast on You tube.

Excerpts per the website Chortle (linked above):

"The plot concerns a brother and sister – played by comics Neil Edmond and Emma Fryer - who discover that their father was a prolific sperm donor and travel through Europe in search of their many siblings."

"The comedy, called Where are the Joneses?, features a five-minute episode every day, over a 12-week run."

"Viewers can then suggest scripts, plots or new characters for the show, which Baby Cow writers will incorporate into the story."

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A DI Dad's Movie Review: "And Then Came Love"

no. 391
This past weekend I saw with my wife the new Vanessa Williams movie where her character, Julie, is a choice mom via DI and she tracks the donor down. I don't want to give too much of the plot away ( I have actually done so quite extensively in previous posts about the movie) as I do think it is a movie worth seeing.
There are a few weak points in the donor side of the story (based on my knowledge) but overall I thought it was handled responsibly and put the issue in the public eye with some honest feelings behind it.
Two issues jumped out at me. (1) The donor indicates to Julie when they first meet that while in college he donated his sperm for the money (generally the case) but that he then decided against continuing and that he donated only the one time. From what I know donors who do not continue giving would not be offered generally on the open market. And you would think that the first batch donated would also be lost to testing for diseases etc in addition to various blood tests. (2) When Julie reads the donor profile out loud at one point she mentions the college where the donor was attending. While I know some programs openly market as having donors from XYZ college I still think it is rare and it was a loose end in my mind.
The most interesting donor conception tidbit in the movie I noted was from watching how they portrayed the donor conceived child. I was interested as it became clear that from the child's perspective he obviously was aware that he had no dad but it appeared clear to me that the "disclosure" discussion between mother and son never went farther than it was only "a mommy and son family". Seeing this in person in the NYC playgrounds and then here on screen made it clear to me that even in these households it is hard to easily explain these things and life passes quickly so even parents who intend to disclose and feel it is obvious don't always have the disclosure discussion as early as they would hope. Yes the child was only tops 6 or 7 so even if the mom did tell him the odds are the kid would not get it.
But back to the movie. The casting was great. Seeing Eartha Kitt as Vanessa's mom was perfect. Kevin Daniels as the donor was a good choice.
It is playing through only this Friday in NYC after that in limited run around the country. check out their website for dates, places amd times. [] As I said overall a cute fun movie while addressing some of the seriousness of the issue. This is not another "Made in America" and is worth seeing.
After the movie there was a short Q&A with Caytha Jentiss the movie's writer / producer and the two leads. At this I thanked herfor her writing and for responsibly putting forward an image of a DI mom and child family.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Thoughts on Father's Day

no. 390

The following was written and submitted to the NY Times as an Op Ed piece but was not published......

With Father's Day on the horizon my thoughts stray to the man whose gift allowed my children to come into being. This man is not the doctor or mid wife that delivered them. This man is their sperm donor. My children were conceived via Donor Insemination.

Without this man's gift, these children would never have come into being and into my and my wife's life. I am occasionally asked if I resent that this man could do what I could not. I can comfortably say I do not. On the contrary I want to thank him.

When I was diagnosed with non-obstructive azoospermia 12 years ago I was told that I should expect to never have children of my own. The fact that my children are not biologically linked to me has never lessened my love for them nor my belief that they are indeed my children. At the same time I am cognizant that there is another man whose role cannot be nor should be minimized.

To me he is and is not simply their donor. For now to my children he is in effect non-existent as they don't fully understand the concept of donor insemination. They have been told of their conception story and that a donor was used but this is still too much for them to truly comprehend as they are both less than six years old. Someday soon this will change and I wonder how that will play out. For now the knowledge of his existence rests with my wife and me and as I see it I have a responsibility to not let the truth of him fade away.

The lives of my children are as much connected to him as they are to me. I do not pretend to argue nurture is greater than nature but rather together play a role in these children's lives. I have his bios, medical, social, and educational. I have a toddler picture of him and a recording of his voice. All of this info is being saved for them as it is part of who they are.

Everyday I see articles addressing infertility and the use of donor conception from the side of the couples going through infertility, women choosing single motherhood, or lesbian or gay couples looking to start families. There are court cases around the country redefining what is family and who has the right to be legally defined as a parent or not. Under New York State law I am considered the legal father to my children. But despite that fact I know that someday my children will wonder about the man that is one half of their genetic make up.

Most heterosexual families of donor conceived children choose to never tell their children of the conception story fearing the child will turn against the social parent or for fear or shame of the perceived stigmas of using another person’s sperm or eggs to create their children. In my opinion these parents do so for their own reasons and not for the benefit of the children who have a right to the truth. I recently contributed an essay to a book series titled “Voices of Donor Conception” and have been increasingly involved in the discussions of these topics on the Internet.

The central issues surrounding donor conception, including donor anonymity, regulation and reform, have been or are being addressed in several countries around the world including Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada among others. The United States has not yet entered that discussion and currently there are no federal laws directly regulating the sale of gametes
[i] nor are there any regulations imposed on the administration of the various cryobanks and clinics that solicit gamete donations and sell these gametes to the public. I am in favor of reforming the practices of this industry but I am not here today for that purpose.

I no longer fear the donor’s shadow but rather acknowledge his presence and if my children ask that his contribution be honored this or on a future Father’s Day I must honor their wishes if I am half the father I believe myself to be to them. So on their behalf I wish him a Happy Father’s Day and I say to him thank you for allowing me to do the same.

[i]Reproduction and Responsibility: The Regulation of New Biotechnologies” The President's Council on Bioethics, Washington, D.C., March 2004, Chapter 6

Friday, June 15, 2007

NY Times Op Ed re Genetic Engineering Through Donor Conception

no. 389

David Brooks in an Op Ed column titled "The National Pastime" published by the NY Times today, June 15th, quotes a Harris Poll that " 40 percent of Americans would use genetic engineering to upgrade their children mentally and physically". His opening paragraph states:

"At this very moment thousands of people are surfing the Web looking for genetic material so their children will be nothing like me. They are looking through files at sperm bank sites with Jetson-like names such as Xytex, which have become the new eBays for offspring."

The column continues to state that at the current rate "normal" non perfect specimen humans do not stand a chance and that to keep up all of us must follow suit or our children will be left behind.

I submitted a reply that individuals like me did not go the donor route to simply improve our gene pool or our children's chances of attending Dalton here in Manhattan. If anything the normal couple choosing donor conception, at least here in the US where such choices of donor are possible, made such choices as to match our infertile selves as best as possible. If anything I stated that our donor's medical history is a tad worse than my own. [Do my children have a lawsuit against for me for such a decision? Lord I hope not but I digress.]

I am posting the full text of the column on this blog's Annex as it is only available on-line if you subscribe to Times Select. It always seems like articles like this pop up around Mother's Day or Father's Day or is it just me noticing them more around this time of year.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

YouTube: One Man's Male Factor Infertility Options

no. 388

I was surfing YouTube this evening and came across a pair of videos posted by Caliban018 regarding his diagnosis of suffering from a Varicocele .

His first entry discussing the pain of learning of infertility reminded me of my own raw pain of learning years ago. After blogging for so long you get used to the faceless interaction as opposed to seeing a person's emotions in their face and not just through their words.

Within his second entry on the topic you learn of the varicocele diagnosis and the options and hope he and his wife have. It is within this entry he discusses those options and the possibility that he could be open to raising "another man's child" if it came to that.

We wish you well Caliban018 and will be hoping your July 2007 varicocele surgery goes well in all respects.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Reminder That My Sperm Don't Work......

no. 387

New York Times
By Natalie Angier
Published: June 12, 2007

Today's NY Times included an article that only reminded me that my sperm did not do what they are designed to do. Granted the article does point out that only 15% of a man's sperm does what it is supposed to so perhaps I should not feel so bad. It is an interesting article but somehow did not add to my overall demeanor or self worth today. The graphic accompanying the article, copied above, had an old vintage text book look to it that was cool.

I was quite amused at the opening two lines of the article:

"We are fast approaching Father’s Day, the festive occasion on which we plague Dad with yet another necktie or collect phone call and just generally strive to remind the big guy of the central verity of paternity — that it’s a lot more fun to become a father than to be one. “I won’t lie to you,” said the great Homer Simpson. “Fatherhood isn’t easy like motherhood.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Ken Daniels: Donor Gametes: Anonymous or Identified?

no. 386

Thanks to Wendy Kramer at the DSR for posting info re this scholarly article on the DSR Yahoo Discussion group. Ken Daniels is a leading author and researcher on the topic of donor conception. He is a Professor at the School of Social Work and Human Services, University of Canterbury, Chistchurch, New Zealand.
The full article / chapter is linked through the above blog post title.

Summary Provided by Elsevier:

Ken Daniels, MA (Hons), Dip Soc Stu, Dip App Soc Stu(Professor)Corresponding Author Informationemail address

Published online 10 October 2006.

"The practice of gamete donation has, until recently, been shrouded insecrecy. The stigma associated with infertility and, in particular, donor insemination has been the main factor contributing to thissecrecy. Over the last 20 years, this secrecy and the anonymity of thegamete donors has been challenged. In the first instance, the challenge came from governments in some countries legislating to abolish donor anonymity. Counsellors, social workers and psychologists advocating for the interests and needs of children and their families, as well as parents who did not wish to keep gamete donation secret from their children, were also instrumental in the change of policies and practice. Those offspring who know that they were conceived as aresult of gamete donation are also calling for an end to the secrecy. This chapter reviews the changes that have occurred and which are still occurring, and reviews the research associated with these changes."

Thursday, June 07, 2007

BBC 4 Radio: Should Parents Tell Their Children The Truth ?

no. 385

Text from the Program Site:

"Ministers have chosen not to include measures in the new draft Human Tissues and Embryos Bill that would require parents to tell children they are donor-conceived. But the British Association for Adoption and Fostering believes that if someone has been conceived with a sperm or a donor egg, they ought to know. Should parents be obliged to tell children the truth about their biological origins? We hear from Jo Rose, who was conceived from an anonymous sperm donation at Harley Street. She says it has had a profound affect on her life. Miriam O'Reilly also discusses the issue with Dr Allan Pacey from The British Fertility Society and Julia Feast of the British Association for Adoption and Fostering."

Thanks to Buffalo Girl at Whose Daughter for posting about this radio program discussing the current state of donor anonymity in the United Kingdom. Quite compelling. I first blogged about the decision to not require disclosure in the new darft bill back on May 21 linked here.

To link through to the 14 minute radio program interview link through the post title above.

Victoria Australia Commission Recommends Expanded IVF / DI Access

no. 384
Cabinet split looms on IVF
Herald Sun
Ashley Gardiner and Ellen Whinnett
June 08, 2007 12:00am
"PREMIER Steve Bracks will decide whether lesbians and single women can get IVF treatment in Victoria despite a looming clash in Cabinet.
The Law Reform Commission yesterday recommended sweeping changes that would allow gay couples to adopt children and free up IVF for single women and lesbians.
The report was commissioned by the Bracks Government in 2002, but will face challenges in Cabinet."

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Going Rate for Egg Donors ?

no. 383

I was reading through an issue of the free tabloid newspaper amNY and I was taken by the ad placed by the NYU Fertility Center where they were offering $8,000 as compensation for egg donors.

I know there are centers that pay more and ads that are more glossy but for some reason I was just affected by the number.

Monday, June 04, 2007

June 24, 2006 - California - Donor Conception Related Gathering

no. 382

Later this month, on June 24th, a donor conception gathering is planned to take place at Florin Creek Park and Recreation Center in Sacramento, California.

Everyone is invited. Donors, donor conceived children, donor conceived adults, single mom's by choice, friends, families and any one interested in coming.

Michelle the gathering's organizer asks that interested parties let her know if they are thinking about coming, presumably to help gauge supplies etc. If anyone is interested in contributing to the event or helping out Michelle's contact info is available on the website set up for this gathering.

The site also provides directions, local lodging suggestions etc.