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.