Monday, December 29, 2008

Video: "All About Me - Donor Unknown"

This evening I came upon a video by Alice, a donor conceived adult, in her twenties who set out to learn more about what it means to be donor conceived. I found the video on the British website

The video's creation, per the credits, was assisted by the Donor Conception Network, in the UK, and includes interviews by Alice with two families that were included on the DCN "Telling and Talking" DVD. Alice also interview a 14 year old donor conceived young woman who has known since she was a child as well as Andy, a former donor, who now believes the rights of DCPs to learn the identity of their donors outweigh the expectation of anonymity by donors.

The video is overall a worthy addition to the lexicon of videos by donor conceived individuals to educate the public of the issues and questions that go along with DC methods.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Should We Look For Our Sperm Donor?

There is a post on the Yahoo Donor Sibling Registry discussion group about a family that learned that their donor had died. They had been excited as they were making plans to meet and recently learned of his passing.

Makes you wonder, whether despite the legal contract I signed not to look, whether we should be looking. My first responsibilty is to my own kids not ethically whether I must uphold the contract. Should we look now? Just to locate him so we know where to go if the kids are interested to know. If we wait we could lose their opportunity.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Infertility Books (1) Land of IF & (2) Maybe Baby

This post is a hit and run post as I am at work on 12/26 and want to get out of here. My apologies to both authors.

I have "known" Melissa Ford, albeit online, for a few years now and I can say therefore I knew her back when as she has become a singular force in the on-line infertility community with her website Stirrup Queens and its related special purpose sites.

She has built, on a personal level, what so many clinics, therapists and national organization can only dream of....a pre-built support system of fellow bloggers and individuals who know exactly what you are going through. The system has peer support for every variation of infertility.

So when she titled her book "Navigating the LAND of IF" you can be sure you will have no better guide than Melissa.

This afternoon I stopped in at a local chain bookstore and wandered past the infertility section to see what titles were new and to see if the male perspective was being represented at all and was surprised to see that it was. A rare and amazing event had occured. "Maybe Baby" is by the author, Matthew Miller, of the blog by the same name. Perusing the blog today I am amazed at how I missed this great blog and resource for guys going through male factor infertility.

I have read many MFI blogs over the years and most have fallen by the way side once the kids show up but I can say few if any have reached as many readers as Matthew Miller's Maybe Baby blog do. I applaud Mr. Miller for his honesty and humor for putting his life and that of his wife's so pubicly out there. So for those guys out there who are TTC and want something to read on thei daily commute and at home if the Internet is not really your thing pick up this book. I have and I am obviously no longer TTC but want to read what this man has to say.

Regards and Happy Holidays !

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Jennifer Lopez : Mom via Donor Insemination in "Plan B"

According to the NY Daily News story linked HERE Jennifer Lopez will star in a film titled "Plan B" where she will attempt to conceive a child via donor insemination.

No word whether (a) her character is planning to be a choice mom / single mom by choice or (b) whether her character's husband has male factor infertility issues or (c) whether her character is one half of lesbian couple. My bet it's choice "a".
If there is a DI Dad in the picture perhaps we can get the script to include him in the yahoo group.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Updates: Local DC Groups, Seminars, Discussion Groups

The past week and a half, I have personally seen donor conception activity on several fronts.

On Monday December 8th, I participated in the last session of a multi-part forum for families considering using donor egg to start their families. The Forum was sponsored by the American Fertility Association and was chaired by Patricia Mendell. That same day received back comments from Vinnie, another DI Dad, about a draft Donor Conception New York flyer I had drafted. Olivia from the DCN also gave me her comments later in the week.

On Tuesday, I received an email from Sara Axel who for the last several years, as a volunteer, has run a stand alone, unaffiliated, peer support group called NYC Gathering and who also runs a similiar group for Resolve of Long Island. On Thursday, December 11th, I received another email from Nancy Kaufman, who together with Elizabeth Silk, run a group titled Third Party Parenting Network right here in New York City. TPPM is also a peer support group even though both Nancy and Elizabeth are therapists.

On Friday, Bob Bammon, a therapist who also work with infertility issues, and who is also associated with the AFA, invited to me to join in a phone discussion group of professionals and concerned individuals to discuss issues relative to the rights of donor conceived children and families.

Pretty cool week.

Monday, December 08, 2008

AFA Publishes Donor Conception New York Article

The American Fertility Association published an article I wrote regarding Donor Conception New York in their November 2008 eConnections on-line newsletter. They titled the article DI_Dad where I hoped it would be titled after Donor Conception New York. I can understand it as I wrote the top half of the piece about who I am, this blog, the DI Dads Yahoo Group and then how I came to the point of wanting to create the Donor Conception New York group.

Anyhow if you want to read the whole piece you can link to it above or HERE. I am hoping it will generate interest in the group. The Donor Conception New York blog and related Yahoo group can be linked to within this sentence.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Post Secret: Donor Conceived Post Card

Anyone who has ever visited the Post Secret website knows how raw the emotions are regarding the post card submissions posted on this site. The above card re donor conception is no exception. I have not yet foudn the URL to its posting directly on the Post Secret website itself.

Also as enlightening is the post published on Lindsay's blog Confessions of a Cryokid. I have been reading Lindsay's blog for some time and for some reason only tonight got around to linking to it in my right hand side bar.

Lindsay also links to the Post Secret Forum discussion thread in response to the above Post Secret post card. It is also worth checking out.

I am hoping my kids never feel this level of pain to feel submitting a card like this is necessary but I thankful for this individual that they did something as evidently they feel a fair amount of pain.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Forbes: "Searching for my Donor Dad"

Many of the articles regarding donor insemination that I have read by donor conceived individuals include the phrase "I wasn't looking for a dad. I was looking for a donor". Hana Alberts includes just that sentence in an article she has written and is currently published on

It is a statement that many internet comment posters don't always believe. That is their problem. The article is pretty good and details a bit about the search the writer has gone through. Definitely worth checking out.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cheaper by the Dozen

This afternoon while watching television with the kids we ended up watching the Steve Martin version of the movie Cheaper by the Dozen. I asked the kids if they wanted 10 brothers and sisters and of course the answer was yes even if that meant 8 kids in my son's room and 4 in his sister's room. The movie is plenty cute and despite the internal squabbles of the kids they all loved each other and as the movie ended they all lived happily ever after.

I realized this evening that my own kids will grow up like both my wife and I did with only one sibling and that will be basically their whole family except for two cousins on side of the family. No we are not even contemplating having more DI kids but the wish the kids had a larger family for support and just normal stuff is appealing.

It's been several months since the kids last physically met "T" their only known half sibling. I wish we all lived closer so that the kids could see her more often. They have not asked about "T" that much lately. I am not pushing them to include her in their thoughts and we let her existence come up naturally if and when the kids ask.

I still check the Donor Sibling Registry periodically to see if more half siblings are out there but as time passes it is less and less likely that there are others or at least if there are that their families will register their existence on the DSR decreasing the likelihood that we will even learn about them.

I believe I have written here that before I learned of my infertility I always wanted four kids. These days for financial reasons alone that is less heard of much less when infertility is encountered. So for now I will continue to live out my desire for a larger family through television while snuggling with the two beautiful kids I have.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Advertising for Donor Conception New York

Yesterday I decided to start advertising on a few "parent" centered blogs and a few LGBT blogs / site to start getting the word out about building a donor conception community here in the NYC area. The button on the left is perhaps overly simple, but states its question, and hopefully it with a link to the Donor Conception New York blog site will start attracting interest in the idea of a new organization. I will also be starting a Facebook group as suggested to me by a member on the Donor Conception New York blog's companion Yahoo group.

What are your thoughts? Can you spread the word and post the blue button on your blog or site?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A need for local networks but for now just lunch

This Friday, if work schedules allow, I will meet for only the second time another father of a child conceived via donor insemination. The first such meeting was one week before the Oct 4 Toronto DC Ethics conference when I met Walter Merricks of the Donor Conception Network. For goals of openess and disclosure to increase in the United States among heterosexual couples there must be local support groups set up to connect donor conception families.

Internet groups and connections are a giant step forward to disseminate information and to get men to start addressing fears and open questions but until there are meetings that wives can drag men to where they can see other men like themselves and as individuals and couples to start discussing the topics of disclosure openly it will always be easier to hide the use of donor conception and for individuals not to be told their donor conception stories.

So again I am hoping to start Donor Conception New York off the ground with this goal as one of several purposes. Hopefully this lunch is a start to that path. For now it is simply a lunch between two dads. Next time maybe more folks can join and meet.


If there are any donor conceived individuals in the NYC area who would be interested in an informal meeting please let me know. I know I have spoken about planning a larger "gathering" but I am now thinking smaller more intimate meetings are a way to start and connect. My goals for Donor Conception New York are not for only hetero families but to be open to all DC individuals and families.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Teenage Donor Conception Literature - Fiction

Over the next few weeks I plan on reading each of the below fictional donor conception / insemination books. I am debating whether I will be leaving the dust jackets at home as my fellow subway / bus riders will no doubt wonder what a 40 something man is reading what are obviously books aimed at teenagers and teenage girls at that.

I posted the synopsis for each book on the DI Dads Yahoo group and one of the initial reactions was that neither synopsis mentions anything about a social father who raises and wants the child while the first book seems to indicate that the Choice Mom later married and bore children with her fertile husband prompting a discussion about real men and a call for a book featuring a DI Dad.

After I finish each I will post a review and my comments. I admit I will be reading each wondering what my own kids would be thinking if they were the reader much less my own reactions.

My So Called Family
by Courtney Sheinmel

Pub. Date: October 2008
ISBN-13: 9781416957850
Age Range: 9 to 12

Synopsis per Barnes & Noble:

"Leah Hoffman-Ross just moved to New York and she wants her new friends to think she's a typical thirteen-year-old. But Leah has a secret: She doesn't have a father; she has a donor. Before Leah was born, her mother went to Lyon's Reproductive Services and picked Donor 730. Now Leah has a stepfather and a little brother, and her mom thinks that they should be all the family Leah needs.

Despite her attempts to fit in and be normal, Leah can't help but feel like something is missing. When she finds the link to the Lyon's Sibling Registry, Leah has to see if she has any half siblings. And when she discovers that one of the other kids from Donor 730 is a girl her age, Leah will do anything to meet her -- even if she has to hide it from everybody else."

The Other Half of Me
by Emily Franklin

Pub. Date: September 2007
ISBN-13: 9780385904490
Age Range: Young Adult

Synopsis per Barnes & Noble”

“Jenny Fitzgerald has been outside the huddle, trying to fit in to her sports-obsessed family. The only time she knows the score is when she's holding an egg-carton palette and painting on a canvas, but even then she feels as though something is missing.

Unlike her three younger siblings, Jenny knows her biological father only as Donor #142.

As Jenny's 16th summer draws to a close, she feels more alienated than ever. But then a chance meeting with gorgeous ├╝ber-jock Tate leads Jenny to reach out to someone else who might know exactly how she feels. With Tate by her side, Jenny searches for a genetic relative in the Donor Sibling Registry and discovers that she has a half sister, Alexa. Jenny hopes their budding relationship will fill the gaps in her life, but when Alexa shows up on her doorstep for a surprise visit, the changes in Jenny's world are much bigger than she could ever have imagined.”

Friday, October 17, 2008

The New Atlantis - Donated Generation - Summer 2008

I believe I have forgotten to mention an article that I was quoted in by Cheryl Miller, who recently met at the October DC ethics conference I attended. Cheryl interviewed me months ago and to be honest I had forgotten about the interview and then the article was published in the Summer 2008 issue of The New Atlantis. I then heard about it and was quite surprised to see the opening three paragraphs were all me. My fame tapers off from there on but it was quite amusing.

You can read the article in its entirety on line by linking HERE. The publication is a bit right leaning but overall the article presented was received warmly by many in the donor conception community. Cheryl spoke about it and other topics at the DC conference.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

International Network of Donor Conception Organizations

On October 5, 2008, as part of the Infertility Network's 2008 Donor Conception conference which focused on Ethics, several of the attending organizations came together to form "The International Network of Donor Conception Organizations". I attended this year's conference but had to leave before the second day which was to entail how to breainstorm and push forward items of shared interest. Apparently this organization was the result of that meeting.

I have hoped to see such an organiation since I attended the same conference in 2005 after which I floated an idea to start a Donor Conception Alliance and even went as far as creating a steering comittee trying to pull together individuals from differing backgrounds which never left that committee. Although I had no role in INODCO's creation I expect to be a firm supporter of it.

While a blog is obviously not an organization perhaps they will create a blog roll of supporting blogs? The image in the left side bar is not authorized by anyone and was created by me to show my support for the organization and the objectives listed below.

All involved organizations support the following objectives:

1. End donor anonymity.
2. Track all recipients, donors and births and safeguard all records in a central, government data bank indefinitely. Information to be accessible by all involved families.
3. Mandate reporting of donor conceived live births from each donor.
4. Limit the number of births conceived with the sperm or eggs from any given donor
5. Require donors to regularly update their family medical history. Medical information to be included in donor data bank.
6. Mandate genetic testing for donors and include genetic information in donor bank.
7. Push our respective governments to inquire into followup health histories of egg donors.
8. Require mandatory third party counseling for all prospective donors and parents.
9. Require legal and financial protection for anonymous donors so that they may feel safe to come forward.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Competing Rights and Concerns re Donor Conception

Earlier this evening I posted a message on the DI Dads Yahoo Group regarding contact between half siblings. One of the dads, someone whose opinion I value and who is also one of the moderators, commented that he and his wife are unsure what to tell their child or whether they will tell their child about a known half sibling. I should point out their child is very young and is no more than toddler age. Certanly not old enough to comprehend any of the issues and what it means yet to be donor conceived.

I ended up posting two messages in response to this member's comments. The first focused on my beliefs that at this point my feelings are the larger issue is that the rights of the donor conceived shoudl trump what feelings we may have as parents. The second message was posted as I was concerned that my first comment would be taken too critical of this man's views. I do firmly believe we are each entitled to our own views and I also don't believe one parent has the right to impose their views on how another parent parents.

But at the same time I am becomming more convinced that the rights of the donor conceived should trump that of parents trying to conceive. I am not yet convinced that donor conception shoudl be outlawed as I do believe individuals / families have the right to determine what reproductive methods they choose without legislation saying what they can and cannot do. That may change as I am pretty close to believing that donor anonymity in the USA should be legislatively abolished. I realize that the last two statements may not work together.

My evolution on the overall DI topic seems to be heading towards a conclusion that when infertile couples are trying to conceive that we focus only on our desire to have children without as much thought as to the issues and concerns that the donor conceived individual created may face at a later point and that has increasingly been a source of concern to me.

As a non biological parent who jointly used DI to create my family I believe that an increased responsibility exists that requires non bio fathers to protect the rights of our donor conceived children even if that means sometimes sacrificing a small bit of our pride to ensure the children grow up with as positive a self esteem as possible such that they can process whatever questions arise about their identity and all that goes along with that.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Ethics Conference: Happy I Attended

Since I got back from Toronto I have not had much time to truly start putting my reactions down to paper. Overall I am very happy I decided to attend. I got to meet a number opf folks I have only corresponded with or have read their blogs or just seen on TV. I spoke as a DI Dad and also updated folks as to where the Yahoo Group is and my desire to start a NY area based in person support group. I only wish I had written out what I wanted to say as I missed a number of points I wanted to make by speaking off the cuff.

It was quite a long day. I started the day by getting up at 330 am here in NYC, leaving at 430 am for the airport, arriving in Toronto at 730am only to return back to New York that evening and walk back into my New York apartment at 930pm.

The conference stayed pretty much focused on ethics for most of the speakers. I will try to give the conference the recap it deserves later this week but it is going to be tough as work is nuts, Yom Kippur is this Thursday and then on Friday my wife and I have our first real vacation in years leaving the kids with her parents for 4 days and 3 nights. God help them all.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Interview with Donated Generation Blogger Damian Adams

The following links are interviews conducted with Damian Adams from the blog Donated Generation by Cheryl Miller of the New Atlantis (A Journal of Technology and Society). Damian is an adult who has known most of his life of his origins. I have found Damian to be pretty direct, forthright and worth following his comments and feelings.

Part One:

Part Two:

Monday, September 22, 2008

Trying to Avoid "Feeling Different"

One of the phrases I see a lot in stories about the moment that a donor conceived individual learns the truth of their conception is that they always felt different in some way from the man they always knew as their father. It's a comment that haunts me at times. It's not a comment I have heard from donor conceived individuals that have always known that their dad was not biologically related to them (as my kids "know") but still the comment haunts me.

I am not haunted by the knowledge that I expect my children during some argument we have once they hit their teenage years to say that I am not their real father. I am not haunted by this as I know it will happen and it will be the by-product of their reaching for something to hurt me during a normal parent - teenager argument. It will hurt, yes, but I will know it is as merely the equivalent of just trying to fight back.

But the "different" statement worries me as I wonder if I am subconciousnessly saying or acting in a way that my now young children would ever sense. As a dad I sometimes react too fast. I have said on this blog in earlier posts that I am not as patient a parent as I had expected or hoped to be. At times my son just does not listen and I tend to react, after asking him to do something several times something which he ignores, by stating I will take a favorite toy away (yesterday it was a chess trophy) when the act in question does not deserve such escalation.

On hindsight I wonder if he or his sister will bury these exchanges in their psyche and later interpret them as daddy treated me differently than he would a biological child. I know I am over thinking this but it is something I wonder about. Especially on a day after I have reacted too fast and a six year old now keeps stating that he wants me to throw away his chess trophy and doesn't care about it even after I have apologized and told him how proud I was to see him be presented with it.

I guess I am the one feeling different based on my own shortfalls as a parent.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mandating Central Donor Registries Discussed in Today Show Segment

This past week the issue of donor conception and specifically the issue of mandatory donor registries was addressed. An interesting piece mostly because most news pieces simply focus on the kids searching for the donors and the message of mandating such registries was discussed and featured prominently as opposed to being just thrown out there and not addressed.

UPDATE: 9/22
For the reactions of an adult donor conceived individual to this video link over to "Whose Daughter?"

Thursday, September 18, 2008

1929 all over again?

The last three days have been pretty scary. I am watching sizeable chunks of my 401K retirement accounts being eaten away and tomorrow I need to act to stop the losses before it is too late. Years ago I woud have said to myself to just ride it out as there are many years until retirement. If this is as bad as the pundits say I don't think anyone can wait.

Why am I writing this here on a DI related blog? I am not sure. Of the several blogs I maintain, DI and non-DI related, I guess it is here I have spoken the most personally. I grew up in a house where my father changed jobs pretty often as the sales force always got laid off when times were tough and while we never really went without anything there were times when we knew it was months between my dad securing a new job. And you get accustomed to worrying about money.

After all the IVF attempts and other financial miscues we don't have a huge nest egg we can tap into if this market collapses. My job is not tied directly to the financial markets but most people don't realize how tied together everything is and I am a bit stressed right now. My greatest fear, at this moment, would be losing this apartment and not knowing where to go.

Sorry for the non-DI tangent but needed to get his out before I screamed and woke everyone up.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Donor Conception New York

In my quest to find other donor conceived children and families here in the NYC area it was asked of me whether a gathering sponsored by Donor Conception New York would be open to donor conceived adults to which my response was of course that it would be.

While many of my posts have discussed finding families to develop a local network with the concept and focus being the future of my kids the truth is that without that network being comprised of kids and adults from every age (and their families) such a network would lose out on the experiences of its members.

In the short term Donor Conception New York (the blog and yahoo group) are I hope vehicles to start and find new connections and work torwards a gathering or series of gatherings in late 2008 or most likely in 2009 in the NYC area. As to what the long term holds I cannot say as we first must see if the short term can be a reality.

The initial interest was encouraging but trying sustain that interest and find individuals is the greater trick. So if you are donor conceived or part of a donor conceived family here in the NYC area please say hello.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

SNL: Tina Fey and & Amy Poehler

I could not resist. I know this is not donor conception related but this video has had me laughing since last night.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Oct 4 Symposium: Putting Ethics At The Core Of Gamete Donation Practice

On Octiber 4, 2008, the Canadian group Infertility Network is sponsoring, in Toronto, an all day seminar titled "Getting it Right - Putting Ethics At The Core Of Gamete Donation Practice". I am attending both as a parent personally and as one of a few parents who will speak about our experiences.

When I was last at a Infertility Network symposium the number of attendees was about even with invited presenters. I encourage anyone who lives nearby to attend as the list of speakers / presenters is quite good. I am concerned as to what I can say as I have spoken my mind on most issues in print and on-line and I am unsure what I can bring to the seminar that is different. Like last time the presence of a DI Dad is an anomaly and interesting one to most people.

As far as speaking on the general topic about ethics, do I feel it was unethical to create two lives separating them from their genetic past?

The attorney in me wants to ask how could it have been unethical if I had no intent to be unethical and did not see the issue from that position when we made the decision to use DI. Grammatically I am not sure I worded that correctly but my point is like many infertile coupdles we were dealing with ourselves first and did not look at the issue from the perspective of the life (lives) we were creating. So perhaps then the answer is we were unethical as igmorance of a moral issue is probably no excuse.

Now that we are past ther act of creation, right or wrong, the next question is are we ethically raising these children in light of their conception story? I believe we are. We decided long ago that we were telling them their storiesas early as we could so we can build upon the story and fill in what blanks we can as time goes on. For us the only ethical issue left to us was solved when we decided to tell and te reaization that the children's interests are greater than ours in this respect.

More later.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Spouses of DI Dads - "New" Yahoo Group

Not sure how I missed this but apparently last year a spouse dealing with her husband's male factor infertility started a Yahoo Discussion Group titled "Spouses of DI_Dads". Her opening post stated the following reason for its creation:

"I have started this group becauseI needed a place to go where I can talk to other spouses who are dealing with the effects of trying to support somebody through the difficult aspect of DI. I have that there are not many groups that are dealing with the every day aspect of DI and the effects that it might have on a marriage.

I hope this group helps people who may be in the same situation as I am and are very confused, scared, and angry about what infertility is doing to their marriage and their future possibility of children."

I wish this "new' group luck as I think it can be a very valuable resource for women in marriages / relationships with men who are experiencing male factor infertility especially since while it is the man who may be infertile or unable to have kids etc it is the woman who has to go through a larger portion of the medical treatments while still trying to cope hereself while they both struggle to process what donor conception is etc.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Looking for NYC Metro Area Parents of Donor Conception Conceived Children - Are You Out There?

How many of you are from the NYC Tri-State area?

Would you consider getting together for a picnic in Central Park with your family?

If enough individuals are interested I would love to make such a gathering happen.


Information regarding a possible NYC Gathering will be focused on a new Yahoo Discussion Group I created today and my existing related blog Donor Conception - New York.

Video of Donor 1096 Half Sibs - Family Reunion

This video made me cry as it was a great representation of how these 6 kids appear to be adjusting well by their knowledge of their conception stories. OK, I admit this topic gets me emotional as I still have fears as to how my kids will process their own story as they get older.

There are many who feel that in a fashion parents like me essentialy brain wash our kids to feel OK about their conception and who later in life will, in their words, feel their loss greater. I fully believe it depends on the child so I push back when I hear blanket statements.

I wish my kids lived closer to their half sibling as I do wish all three of them could spend more time together. Seeing how the Donor 1096 sibs act with each other was a nice way to spend a few minutes during my lunch hour.

Eric Jacobson featured in the video is a member of the DI Dads Yahoo Group and I want to thank him for sharing this video:

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Another Month Gone By....

Over the past few days I have found myself increasingly curious what is out there regarding donor conception and even responded to a post I on the DSR blog on the DSR Yahoo Group. Essentially I still wish more men came to groups like the DI Dads Yahoo group so they can discuss their feelings / thoughts regarding DI with other men before they flatly tell their wives that as a couple they will never tell the children their conception stories.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Thoughts, repeated, this Father's Day

I wrote the below words last year as an op-ed piece for the NY Times which they never ran. They were my thoughts then and still apply today. I thought I would indulge myself and post them again today with this Sunday being Father's Day:

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

Sunday, June 08, 2008

School Charts and Family Trees

The following post is the text of a message I left on the Yahoo DI Dads Discussion group this evening:

It's been a while since I have posted and I admit I have not been checking in as much as I used to due mostly to the fact that being aDI Dad has not realy been in the forefront of my mind lately. My mind has been busy with just being a dad, husband, breadwinner etc.

Anyhow tonight I was reading to my 6 year old before bedtime and we ran out of books to read so I grabbed the "Let Me Explain" book byJane Schnitter. This is the book where the story is told by a 7 or 8 year old girl how she was born using donor insemination.

I am not exactly sure why I chose this book but I have to think it had something to do with a sibling / family addition chart his kindergarten class had in school where I noticed a few days ago that my son had added a male sibling where he does not have one. I had asked him at school how he came to have a brother when he knows its just him and his sister and he merely indicated he had wanted a brother. I told him if anything he could include his female halfsibling as she really does exist. I realized however to include her would require using the term "sister" which in our home we do not use to describe this little girl. I did not say that to him but Iwondered if he would make the connection.

After reading the "Let Me Explain" book which spoke about how the little girl got her genes from her mom and some from the donor I decided to draw out a family tree so my son could see the relationship between himself and others in our extended family. As an aside I have to say that we use the term "donor" in our housewhere there are folks out there that use less clinical words. It is how we started and how the kids know the man whose sperm helped create them. My son also has a problem saying or remembering the word "donor" so occasionally he will say "owner" (how I hear it) which he finds amusing as to him he is only saying "onor" and gets embarrased by his forgetting the "d".

Anyway we drew out the chart including the donor and my children's half sibling as well as her mom (they are a single mommy family). We also included my sister and her family as well as my wife's brother and his family. We also drew out all of the individuals who reside in my children's grandparent's generation and their parents as well. Let's just say the page was getting a little crowded.

While drawing the chart for purposes of showing shared genes I drew the lines to my kids as solid lines from my wife and the donor and a dotted line from me to the kids. My son later drew over this dotted line as a solid line conecting me to him and his sister. I will admit I smiled at that not truly knowing what made him do that or really why. I can say to myself he did it to make me more real but (1) I know I am real so that thought is silly and (2) I have no idea what he was thinking and I should have asked to see what he would say but the moment passed quickly.

When we finished the rough hand sketched chart he asked if he could bring it to school and I paused and stated that we should wait before he does that. He did not push the issue so I was not required to say why or why not I had made that decision which I was happy about as I was not ready to answer it myself despite the fact that some of the other parents already know our story.

All in all an interesting week as I had not been thinking about thisstuff too much lately.

I hope everyone is well and not getting a Summer cold which I nowhave and truly is annoying in 100 degree temps in the NYC subwaysystem.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Meeting Their Half Sibling - Again

Tomorrow we drive South so the kids can spend the weekend with their half sibling. We are staying at their house and the kids are real excited. Tonight was Purim so the kids were up later than usual and we are hoping that does not throw their schedule out of whack. Big day of driving and hopefully the kids are good. Exciting stuff.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Blog Maintenance and Modifications

My goal is over the next week to work on this blog changing its look and physical composition. Adding maybe another column and stuff like that and re-organizing the sidebar which is terribly out of date and a mess. It's a dream but maybe I can get to it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

When Infertility Issues Are No Longer the Issue....

Over the last two weeks or so I have been reading the blog of a person many of us in the infertlity related on-line world have come to see as a friend. The pain she is writing about now is not one of lost cycles but of the fears she and her husband are facing. The issue is now the possible diagnosis of her husband having liver cancer and / or testicular cancer.

I am referring to Max and Vee. Many of us recall Max's male infertility related blog, Dynamo Dad, until he stopped writing it choosing to focus on other pursuits while he and Vee continued on their quest for a baby via DI. The videos they have submitted to the three International Infertility Film Festivals held to date, have each been wonderful and usually have garnered many positive comments for how perfectly the video the submissions nailed each festival's theme. Their entry to the Third IIFF "The Recipe" is just one example.

For all of us the issue is clear that we all pray that they find no cancer and these two wonderful people not be plaqued any further with such pain and fear. It is said that life is not fair. It is not right for life to be cruel to anyone much less a couple such as these two. My thoughts are very much on these two. I hope perhaps that your thoughts will think of them too. They say positive energy has amazing powers. Perhaps this energy can help from across the globe.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

DNA Tests and Pre-Existing Conditions - Insurance Fears

There is an interesting article on line in the New York Times, February 24, 2008, regarding DNA tests and fears regarding insurance coverage. I have often wondered if this could be a problem regarding testing the DNA of my children and that of their donor (via sperm vials I still have in storage).

The article was written by Amy Harmon for the Times who covers many of these medical issues as well as the donor conception series she ran a couple of years ago. I am tempted to write to her about this angle but I would be more concerned on he insurance industry picking on the concern and causing long term problems.

My gut is if you test the "donor only" the child cannot be held to a pre-existing condition if te condition has not been diagnosed as being current and real. the problems mightbegin if you test and disclose the results of any tests on the children.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Second Meetings….Postponed

Tomorrow it’s supposed to snow. I hope it really snows bad. We were supposed to be driving South to spend the weekend with “T” and her mom at their house. When I told my son that due to the weather we were postponing the trip he was very very upset and crying uncontrollably.

Now as he is my child I know he was crying for a number of reasons including not being able to see his half sibling who he was very much looking forward to seeing. He was also crying as the trip was an adventure and a chance to be in a rent-a-car. He was also crying as he wants very badly to see “T”’s puppy before the dog is no longer a puppy. The boy has wanted a dog for as long as I can remember.

It’s hard to say how much a 5 year old, sorry 5 ¾ year old, can miss another child, they really barely know each other but I guess at their ages (“T” turned 5 last month) they can sense at least what we already know that they are connected in some way beyond just being a friend.

Certainly we treat the relationship differently than a simple friend. We have a few pictures of our kids with “T” around and they periodically view the home movies of them with T from their first and only meeting (weekend) to date. When we talk about being created with the help of a donor we always refer to T as well as her story as it is part of their story. So for our kids to know “T” is someone special and above other mere mortals is not surprising, so when a planned weekend we have been talking about on and off for some time is postponed it is natural that the kids should be disappointed and be upset.

So I hope it really snows bad up and down the Northeast and Middle Atlantic seaboard so I can justify to my kids, and ourselves, why they are not seeing “T” this weekend.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Picking a Donor Based on Their Silhouette ?

I saw online this evening that Fairfax Cryobank is now offering donor silhouettes. Based on the celebrity silhouettes I don't think many couples will truly use this as a determining factor but you never know.

I guess it seems unlikely but who knows maybe if someone looked at a profile and saw the donor had a nose or jaw line that protruded too much / too little perhaps they would rethink that donor but who knows.

Based on the below silhouette profiles I am not sure I would have chosen any of these guys despite now knowing their celebity pedigree. Also it is me or does the Tom Cruise profile look like scary old man?

I may be opening up a can of worms but somehow this topic made me think of this very funny People for Ethical Treatment of Animals ad:

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Second Meeting, One Year 6 Months Later

In August 2006, my kids first met their half sibling "T", and at the end of this month, if all goes as planned, the kids will meet for a second time.

During the last year they have exchanged cards, drawings and the occasional phone call. My kids have watched the video of themselves with "T" numerous times and see the picture of them all together whenever it has not fallen behind my son's dresser.

This meeting will be quite different than the first as it is not on the neutral ground of the hotel we met in and the first day we spent at a theme park. We are traveling to "T's house and per the plan staying with "T" and her mom. I expect the kids will have lots of fun and also get on each other's nerves by the time the weekend finishes.

We thought about doing the tourist thing in "T"'s city and I am sure there will be a bit of that but for right now just the thought of the kids playing in the backyard and hanging out is enough for me to hope for and see them reacquaint themselves with each other. Building any real relationship takes time and familiarity.

Probably until they are all a few years older a true relationship will not fully take hold. But for now just seeing them have some fun and begin to build some memories is all I can really hope for.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Reactions to Yesterday’s Oprah Episode Regarding Donor Insemination

Overall my reaction to this Oprah show episode is that we need to engage Dr. Matthew Niedner as a face and voice to promote donor conception reformation and regulation. The former donor very eloquently spoke that the industry is still the “wild, wild west “and needs to be regulated. Wendy Kramer pointed out in support that there are a number of donor listings on the Donor Sibling Registry that by the sheer number of half siblings proves that point.

Overall the most moving segments of the show involved the video meeting of Stacey Smedley and Chris her half sibling. These two could have been twins and watching the video of them not being able to take their eyes off each other was amazing.

The segment with the live and video interviews of the adult donor offspring (Kristina, Susan, Kathleen and Katrina) was moving but for me nothing new as each of their stories (or stories like theirs) I had heard before. I don’t say that to belittle what they said at all but after two and a half years I am fully cognizant of the range of emotions each of these woman have. It is these emotions that keep me blogging (albeit not as often) as my children may go through each of these emotions. Two of these women knew from very early on their conception story just as my children do.

When I went to the Oprah website this evening I saw two or three discussion threads in reaction to the show. One was 76 comments in length and another 4 comments in length when I visited the site. I started to draft a comment but it got lost when I disabled my pop up blocker. I was reacting to a single comment about where were the dads like me to the guests who had dads like me. The truth is the story is about the donor conceived individuals themselves and the donors. Yes we dads have our own story but I don’t see Oprah doing a show on us dads anytime soon. The story should always be about the individuals created in this unregulated system and how these individuals cope and process the story of their creation.

All in all there was not to much new for me to learn by this episode. For someone brand new to the topic I think it was worthwhile. I think the biggest positive was it was not sensationalistic, its brings the issue back into the public eye, and the number of visitors to the Donor Sibling Registry will again spike tonight leading to many more matches of half siblings and perhaps a few donors to offspring who desire such connections be found.

Wendy, Ryan – You both looked great. My regards to both of you!

And yes I checked our donor # on the DSR and it’s still just my two kids and “T” their half sibling.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

My Son Now Realizes the Donor Is a Real Person. I Think.

One of the downsides to referring to the donor, as the donor, is that it does dehumanize that person. Yesterday my kids had a play date with one of his classmates, in this case the boy who like my son is donor conceived and has two moms.

While tucking my son in I mentioned that like he and his sister have a common donor and are full siblings and that similarly his classmate and his baby brother also are full siblings as they share a common donor. I realized my son did not understand that the donor was a man like me when he asked whether the donor was a man or a woman. I explained that the donor was a man like me but that his sperm “worked” where mine did not and that is why we needed his help in making he and his sister. I reminded him that “T” their half sibling was created like them from the donor's sperm and an egg provided by her mommy.

I explained that the donor was a young man when he sold/gave his sperm to the sperm bank and that he is older now and may have a family of his own and that those children would also technically be my son’s half siblings. My son then asked if we know if there really are any more half-siblings like “T” out there. I said I did not know but I check the list where I found out about “T”.

I did not give the “donor” another name as I don’t really know what to call him. I did not go as far as to tell me my son that someday if he wishes he may want to meet this man. I did tell him that no matter what I will always be his and his sister’s daddy and that I love them both very very much. He smiled at that. I was afraid to humanize the donor too much as I was scared to, in effect, out right state that this man is his biological father and possibly scare my 5 ¾ year old son into thinking this man may come for him as the thought that I may place a fear into his head was in my own.

When I told my wife of this conversation she asked how in depth were our son’s questions or was I pushing the subject. I admitted that I started the conversation but I had not pushed the topic on him and would have changed the topic if he showed no interest in it.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

TV Planner: Oprah Feb 8 Episode re Donor Conception

On February 8th the Oprah Winfrey Show expects to run a show to be taped this week titled "The Ultimate Reunion: When Dad is a Sperm Donor". Wendy and Ryan Kramer were involved in the show in so far as putting individuals who matched through the Donor Sibling Registry in touch with the producers and they themselves will be at the show.

According to Wendy, the Oprah folks, in November, went and filmed a meeting between two adult donor conceived half siblings that met via the DSR and is flying these individuals to Chicago for the show. The show is also expected to include two donors (each listed on the DSR), one of whom who has met with offspring and the other who hasn't. Wendy also indicated on a Yahoo DSR posting that a few adult donor conceived individuals are expected to be part of the show as well.

A few posters to the DSR Yahoo Group commented that they hope the show will also address the disappointment that is also common to donor conceived individuals and their familes who have never found a match.

It does not sound like the show will address any feelings or thoughts from the perspective of a dad like me but still I hope to watch it on tape when I get home that day or a delayed broadcast from another networj that carries the show.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Donor or Father ?

The other night I saw a post on the Yahoo DSR group by Tom, a donor conceived adult, that was part of a thread addressing the ongoing debate and fact that donors are indeed fathers, biological fathers at a minimum. Tom stated the following as part of a larger post:
My point is this: *all other things being equal* a biological parentwill be better than a non-biologically related parent. And quite significantly better too.

Something about his post made me respond with the following:

We live in a strange world all of us on this site. For each of the heterosexual families out here they certainly would have preferred to not go through infertility and the subsequent choices they made but here we are. Whether it was right or wrong no longer matters now that we are here.

The trick is now dealing with the deck we have created and determining what is best for the kids. I try my best every day to bethe best father, dad, whatever term you want to apply to my kids. Sometimes I do well and others I screw up and forget they are only 5 and 3 and expect to much of them but I believe in all cases I am acting as their dad through and through.

I was struck by Tom's use of the phrase "all other things being equal". Yes without a doubt the sperm donor is the natural father to my children. If he had married my wife and produced these kids with her and raised them I am sure he'd be a great father to him. But he did not and was not part of that particular equation.

His part in the process so far has been genetic and the kids have grown thus far due to a mix of his genetic and my nuture. Which one has played a greater part? The question is irrelevant and unfair to them and to each man involved. If we look at it in that manner it makes it a competition and does not serve any purpose but force the children to look at me as competing with a ghost.

If the kids someday look to find this man and create some sort of relationship so be it. But the fact is at this point his contribution has been in the creation and what his genes bring to these kids. I am not discounting this man as his contributions help define who these children are but I still believe until these children define him as the father that decision is their alone.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Tom Cruise: A DI Dad ?

According to reports of Andrew Morton's new unauthorized biography of Tom Cruise, baby Suri is the product of donor insemination using frozen sperm of late Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

I am not even sure what to say to this. I am doubting the veracity of the story but it sounds a bit like the plot line from the Boys from Brazil albeit without little Suri duplicates dispersed around the world.