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: