Sunday, July 22, 2007

Irish Case of Sperm Donor vs Lesbian Couple

no. 408

First off let's state a few facts as I gleaned them from the various articles about this case. In short this is not a simple case involving an anonymous sperm donor or even a ID-release donor. This is case stemming from a known donor who was involved from the beginning.

The sperm donor was known to the couple and there was a contract between the parties laying out the expectations of the parties even going so far as stating that if the bio mom were to die the sperm donor would have some parental rights as to how the child would be raised. The contract even specified visitation rights. The lawsuits appear to have began after the women began to cut down or stop allowing the sperm donor the right to see the child and after the lesbian couple announced plans for protracted travel out of Ireland with the possibiilty of emigration to Australia.

The court made references to the best interests of the child and that the first years are critical to the development of a bond between "father and son". In this case from what I see this donor was acknlowledged as both father and dad as to both his existence and to his ability to interact with the child. This is not a case where the donor anonymously gave up his sperm to a clinic only to recant his decision and want interaction. This man had that interaction and was the father (beyond the obvious biological connection). Yes he rarely saw the child based on the visitation rights agreed to but all parties acknowledge his connection and right to it in some form.

In my mind this case while involving the use of donor insemination to create this child is nothing more than a custody case between parents. It should only be precedential to similiar fact patterns. I respectfuly disagree with any parties that argue that this case is a precedent that sperm donors are something more than a father biologicaly, defined in its narrowest sense, where these facts don't exist.

Irish Independent Journal, UTV Ireland, UK TimesOnline, USA Today, UK Daily Mail, UK Scotsman

11 comments:

biodad said...

So,from what you have been saying, I take it that if your donor had been known to you from the start you would be willing to acknowledge his rightful role as father of your children? Similarly, if he were to knock on your door tomorrow, would you be willing to acknowledge his biological connectedness to his children and accept that this connection is as important to them as it might be to him?

Bea said...

From what you're saying, it seems all parties agreed to a parental relationship with the donor/father from the beginning - and you're right, that does make all the difference. In fact, to me it strengthens society's current view of the role of sperm donors - in that it points to and supports the original agreement between the parties, instead of whatever changes of heart may occur down the track.

Bea

DI_Dad said...

Michael -

If we had used a known donor (again I am defining this as not through a bank) I am saying whatever documents we all created with whatever intentions we had, I'd have to expect that the donor would someday want or consider a larger role that just providing his genetic code. I am not saying I'd be thrilled but his paternity would be acknowledged.

"Rightful" role as father? Again in the fact pattern I just wrote his paternity would be acknowledged. Legally in our state I would still be the legal father. What role the children would give this man as they grow up is their right. They would know who he is and what he provided but the day to day stuff would not be his responsibility or privilege.

If he were to knock on the door uninvited and without prior notice he would not be welcome. Again once the children reach maturity (of mind or age depending on the kid) who am I to stop their making contact. But if the donor would to start imposing his presence with no prior connections or agreements he would be crossing lines that woud only harm the children until they could comprehend the facts and what they mean (as defined by them).

This is all theoretical as I have discussed we did not use a known donor nor did we use a ID release donor. We used a purely anonymous donor.

- Eric

Laura said...

In my view it makes all the difference what was agreed beforehand - the donor was going to have an active part in this was agreed by all parties.

I'm glad to see that this principle is upheld in court and that he's not dismissed as 'just the sperm donor.'

biodad said...

Eric,

Why would place all the above stated 'rules of engagement' - "if he were to knock on the door uninvited and without prior notice he would not be welcome" - around the 'kind man' who gave you the 'most precious gift a person could ever give another person'?

It sounds like you more regard him as the enemy.

On the one hand the donor is presented as the most generous, giving, kind, person on the planet to whom you are eternally grateful. But on the other hand, should he dare materialize and show you his face (shudder to think if he actually looked like your kids) he would not be welcomed unless he agreed to the many restrictions you have placed on his interactions with his 'gifts'.

Would you treat a half sibling (from the same donor) with the same contempt and restrictions?

Unless you sort out your feelings on this, your kids are going to go through life feeling very inhibited particularly if they did harbour a desire to know and establish a relationship with their biological father, oops sorry.... donor.

Lia

DI_Dad said...

Lia -

If a man showed up on your doorstep claiming parentage to a child and you never saw him before, never discussed it with him, and you never discussed it previously with the child the child will be confused and scared. The purpose of what I wrote was to protect the child. My first priority is to protect them. If the donor / bio dad is serious about meeting and wanting to start a dialogue much less a relationship they better see it from that angle otherwise the first memory put into the child's memory of that man will be fear of that man and questioning his intent.

You have read my words for sometime now. Start thinking about what is said by me or anyone else from more than just your own angle, as I am trying to do, and maybe ask what the intent is behind the words before you attack. It would give your concerns and points more credence. I try to understand where you and Michael come from but when I feel I do I get scathing comments without discussion fromn you two taking you each down two pegs in my mind and others.

Thanks for participating but take it back a step before you respond for both our benefits.

Eric

biodad said...

If I had a child through donor sperm, I would not be suprised to find a man at my doorstep claiming status as the biological father of my child (of course this is all speculation because we will all agree that this would rarely happen along these lines).

When I met Michael he told me he had donated sperm and that one day some children may appear on his doorstep claiming to be his biological children.

They did.

And we embraced them.

And so should you.

If the biological father of your children appeared on your doorstep.
Emotions of jealousy, possession and protection are ones that ought to be accepted and then rejected. Caving into these darker emotions will ultimately prove to be the hard way out for everyone concerned.

Attempting to rise above these emotions towards being open and embracing to the man who gave you his children will eventually enrich you as a person as well as your relationships.

As for me seeing things from my own angle, well how else can I see them? I think my angle, of love, acceptance, openess and honesty is quite a good one and fairly mature.

I am not a donor, nor a donor recipient, nor a donor conceived person. My position is fairly objective and I can only go by the emotions I experienced when I became involved in this scenario and how I attempted to overcome them. Which was by exercising openness, tolerance, love and acceptance. For the sake of the children first and then the adults who created this problem.

I can't really see any other way of resolving these issues.

Love
Lia

LorMar said...

Thank you Eric for responding and handling this the way you are. Judjing from your response and entire blog, I can tell that you believe in handling your children's donor (hypothetically if he were to show up one day) with authentic love, and acceptance rather than embracing aggressive tactics that would only hurt the children involved. I agree that we should see this from another angle than our own. If we are unable to see things from the angle of another person, that shows that we are thinking of our own needs and no one else's (not even the needs of the donor conceived children). I don't know if my child's donor will ever show up in the future. If he does, I will embrace him; but only after I see that he can handle things with common sense. I do know this, if the donor really cares for the needs of the children, and if he had any amount of decency, he would proceed in a reasonable and logical manner. Demanding a "daddy" role is not the best way to handle this. Again, Eric, thank you for handling this selflessly.

Didn't mean to intrude on the discussion...just wanted to add my .25 cents.

Ryan said...

Heh. I wonder what would happen if my donor showed up at any of the various doorsteps he could show up at.

Hmmm... Allow me to reminisce of scenarios.

He shows up at my mother's house. She calmly ushers him in and proceeds to tell him how the sperm he donated was diseased and I'm an awful child.

He shows up at my dad's house. Dad would want proof first, then would send the information on to me or tell the donor how to contact me.

Donor shows up at my house. That could go a few different ways:

"Hi, I'm your dad."
"No, you're not." Door closes.

"Hi, I'm your real father."
"We're all stocked up, sorry." Door slams.

"Hi, I donated the sperm that you came from."
"Neat! Come on in."

"Hi, I donated the sperm that you came from. I'm in a real bind and need some help from my kids."
"You've been paid. I'm not your kid. Don't walk on my grass as you leave."

The particulars of the situation would change based on mood, timing and intent. If my donor were curious, great. If my donor needs something or acts like he is due something from me, well... Heh. He's been paid for his time.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, "Biology is overrated." All this talk about genetics implies that I can't possibly love and care for my adopted son more than his white trash, high-school-dropout, alcoholic, abusive, ignorant, stupid and foul biological dad could do. Well, my son has made his decision as to who the better father is, and the kid has my vote of confidence.

(Eric, if this seems rambling, let me know.)

biodad said...

Hmmm.... cute.

It never happens that way of course. Most donor conceived people spend their entire lives wishing they could slam the door on mystery man, the wanker-bio-dad who sold his sperm.

It seems to me that nurture will succeed over nature every day. During WW2, for example, Jewish children were sent to live in England and after the war they could no longer relate to their biological parents and preferred to stay with their English foster parents.

Once children's family ties are ruptured, they appear to remain that way - forever - and there is absolutely no threat to adoptive parents when their adopted children meet their biological families.

Thats why I wonder why adoptive parents are so insecure and hostile towards their children's biological parents (particularly since they do not seem to accept that biological ties are important anyway).

What can exist between biologically related people is a bond, not always, but often, and there is no reason why that bond should be discouraged.

You seem to be plainly hostile towards your sons biological father and glib about your biological father. I guess its one way to go with your emotions.

You say that your sons biological father is a 'white trash, high-school-dropout, alcoholic, abusive, ignorant, stupid and foul'. I hope your kid didn't score any of his genes!

Why would you even compete with someone like that? "Well, my son has made his decision as to who the better father is". Bio-dad sounds like no competition at all and besides which, through the adoption, your sons ties and bonds with his bio-father have been completely severed.

I guess you can consider yourself lucky in a way that bio-dad is such a drop kick. Just imagine if he was a really good bloke? Then you might have something challenging to compare yourself against.

I guess your win is your sons loss.
I mean how does your son really feel, knowing that his biological identity is so degraded? It can't be good for his self esteem.

A lot of kids from divorced families see their dead beat dads described and degraded that way too and its a real burden for the poor kids to shoulder. It seems so sad and unfair.

I guess your son, if he knows how you feel about his bio background, will be very anxious to assure you that, though he came from a 'white trash' mold, he will not allows his genes to acquire 'white trash' traits. I can't imagine how bad that must feel. Perhaps being donated is better.

A lot of donor conceived people have feelings, like you, of anger and hostility towards their donors, they explain it is because they feel they were abandoned, sold, given away.

Understandable really I can't really say that I blame you.

Well.... I hope your get over your hostilities some day. You will feel much better.

Lia

Ryan said...

Prefacing comment: I would really like to do the right thing and say, "I'm not going to argue with you on Eric's blog." I've never been known for doing the right thing, though. I do apologize to Eric.

Hey, Lia. Take your assumptions about me and blow them out your ear. Seriously. Get off your high horse and consider that some of us have excellent reasons for choosing an outlook that does not match your diseased, self-centered ideaology.

Why do I deride my son's biological father? I want my son to know that I do not approve of how that man lived his life. Real men do not abandon their children, drop out of high school and hit the hooch. His biological father insulted me in front of my son every chance he had. So my son can have pride knowing that he is greater than the sum of his parts. As far as white trash goes, well, I let my son well know that my origins are half-way into the trailer park anyway and it's only through striving to better oneself that one can achieve anything worthwhile.

And if you think I openly insult bio-dad in front of my son, you're intellectually bankrupt. I do have some subtlty and tact (though I see no reason to waste it here).

As for my glib outlook toward my dad and hostility toward my donor... Ha! You couldn't be more wrong. I'm glib toward both of them. In fact, I'm glib toward damn near everything. Most of this stuff: Donor conception, adoption, biology plays no part in who I am. I'm who I want to be, and I'm not going to let any of those factors have an undue impact on my sense of self.

As for hostility to my donor: No. I have none. There's been no contact, no reason for hositility. Now, if he were to approach me, he could quickly garner hostility by how he approached me. I have a dad, a very good father, not perfect but he's the only one I would choose. I'd like to meet my donor, but I feel he and I have no obligation to one another. Whoever he is, he's where my DNA came from. *smirk* Normally one can't put a price on the gift of life, but I have receipts proving my worth. I think that's fantastic.

You seem to have a lot of opinions about the donor conceived, which is fantastic for someone whose username is "biodad" (Not setting ourselves above the "donor dads", are we? Ever think maybe there's a reason I instantly disliked you? Good call, biodad. You have functioning gonads. Clearly a remarkable trait.) and claims to be "objective". To me, you just sound like a judgemental blowhard, an idiot blowing wind about a subject about which he knows nothing. Just drop it, stop attacking members of the DI community (such as it is).

Yes, I know you have a scathing reply that will blast me out of the water and leave me pleading for mercy. I probably won't see it, as I'm leaving on Tuesday and will be offline for a couple months. So go ahead, blast me with your response... it won't matter.