Friday, December 31, 2010

One Last Post for 2010

During 2009 my children learned they had one more half sibling. We wondered if 2010 would bring any more half siblings into our lives. None showed up. Is that good or bad I cannot say. My kids are lucky to have found two half sibs as many DI / DE kids never find any and always wonder.

Do the children or the parent(s) of DI kids look for half sibs as a replacement for the anonymous donors that are generally lost to their kids? I cannot say. Do we look for these half sibs due to guilt on our parts a parents? Again I cannot say. I wonder though. I certainly am not as keyed into these thoughts as I once was.

My kids are my kids. Now I am more keyed into issues that affect their day to day lives and not so much the larger DI picture. Perhaps that is good. If this issue were in their lives every day how would that affect their thoughts about DI? Would they be so keyed up that it would affect them negatively or positively?

I wish we had a support group like the Donor Conception Network here. But in truth there are local groups that do offer seminars and get togethers with the kids (The Third party Parenting Network and the NYC Gathering) that I should attend with the kids so they have exposure to the issues without deluging them. Perhaps in 2011, once things settle down again I will step back and look for answers. But right now I am still just trying to be a good dad.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays 2010, Welcome 2011

A few random thoughts....

Life these past 18 months has been anything but predictable or where I expected to be but nonetheless it is where I am and from where I must continue. My children are well and within the last 12 months plus gotten the chance to see each of their half siblings.

I have begun writing a bit again and hope to do so with more regularity. I expect to shut down my other blog (non DI related) as I no longer have the desire to keep it going.

I am so very tired but expect part of that is adjusting to the holidays. DI is not in any way a focus to my life these days but I still wonder what it will mean to my kids and for that reason will never walk away from the issue or this blog. When I have time again I hope to again increase my involvement with the issue.

In the past two weeks I opened the question on the DI Dads Yahoo Group of creating a Facebook page which would act as a link to the Yahoo Group encouraging those men looking for support to say hello and join. Due to continuing fears and issues surrounding facebook privacy and security the Yahoo group members asked me to not create such a page for fear of parties making their way into the group looking to cause trouble or exploit the information they would learn. It is a shame as I really would like to promote the group and find more men who could use the support.

One Yahoo group member came up with the simple idea of creating business cards advertising the group which would be dropped off at local fertility clinics. It is an idea I have had for years but never acted upon. It is a good idea and I thank the member for suggesting it. I woujdl expand the idea to also drop off the cards with local in/fertilty practitioners and/or therapists who could give the cards to men they meet in their practices who could benefit from the support.

I am looking forward to 2011. I wish you all a happy holiday season and happy New Year !

Friday, December 17, 2010

Thinking of Max - Dynamo Dad

For some reason this evening I began thinking of Max and Vee. As a result I posted on my facebook page a drawing Max used as his profile picture on the above blog. Below that profile picture I stated the following:

"I wanted to say here now that I remember you Max and am proud that I knew you. Your wife and son were lucky to have you."

The thread that followed on facebook included the additional statements I posted:

"I met Max online after my own kids were borne but empathized with his and his wife's journey through infertility. They both blogged about the journey. Max's blog and reactions to it eventually led him to stop posting and when he got sick it was certainly not his focus. His wife Vee is a special lady as she went from the pains of infertility to watching her husband become sick and see that sickness destroy his body but rarely his spirit. They live across the planet from me but I wish I could have visited him before he left this place. I did not always agree with every position he took, nor he of me, but he was someone I will always remember and respect."

"I met Max at a time when I was much more active in the online blogging world discussing... a topic with real world consequences. He was one third of three blogs written by myself and one other friend dealing with donor conception all from a married heterosexuals men's perspective when few men would even think of even acknowledging a connection to the issue. I admired Max's spirit and belief that public recognition was not only needed but proactive conversation was required. Something I truly believed in and encouraged. Max was one of the men who followed me into that discussion."

Again I was thinking of Max today and wanted to let others know it.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Half Sibling Z in NYC

My kids are being picked up from school by their mom along with their half sibling Z and his mom. They are with us, between the two apartments, for the next 5 days. Should be an amusing week.

My kids are very excited to see Z and I am guessing the same for him. How my kids introduce Z at school to any friends will be interesting. They already use the term brother half the time when referring to Z.

More later when I meet up with everyone this evening after work.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Have Not Had Much To Say DC Related Lately...

These last few months I have not had much to say regarding donor conception / donor insemination issues. Not so much that there are no issues relevant to discuss but my heart has not been in it as the kids are fine and it is not affecting our daily lives at this point. And I have had other issues on my mind.

There was a conference / seminar yesterday held here in NYC which I was bad as I even did not advertise it here on this blog. That I regret and I should have done that at a minimum. I also have been an absentee Yahoo group owner as it relates to the DI Dads Yahoo group. I thank each of the members of that group who have been acting as moderators and keeping it going. I regret my involvement there dropped off as well.

Life lately has been about other issues other than DC/DI. My children's half sibling Z was supposed to visit last month but it was cancelled and we are expecting his mom and he to visit this coming December which my kids are looking forward to.

I have no idea who checks into this blog anymore from my many online friends who regularly did so but to those of you that stop by I hope you and your loved ones are well. Feel free to say hello privately or here if you wish as all of you have been great friends over the years.

Monday, August 30, 2010

I Finally Saw "The Kids Are All Right"

Well I finally got to see the movie "The Kids are All Right".

Spoiler Alert.

I found all the scenes of the two teenagers interactions with their donor and the scenes of how they made contact spot on with what I expected to see and the scenes were played by the three actors quite well and with respect for the interactions they were portraying.

As I am not a lesbian mom I cannot say if the parent's reactions were what I expected or what would occur. What I can say is that the characters portrayed by Benning and Moore could very easily been a heterosexual couple and the movie played out almost exactly the same. I can see how introducing a new individual into a long term marriage with similiar issues of "appreciation" could go the exact same way.

One fear of many DI Dads I have interacted with on the DI Dads Yahoo group is the fantasy / concern that a spouse may end up wanting to sleep with the donor if they ever met. The reality is this probably rarely if ever happens as 99% of hetero couples will never meet the donors they chose.

Are lesbian couples more likely to invite a donor to their home so all parties can meet? Perhaps as they might find a male donor less threatening than a hetero couple certainly would. But as I saw in this movie as the married Moms were at a point where one mom was vulnerable she allowed / initiated "something more" with their donor. At this point the movie became more about infidelity and reconciliation than donor conception.

Overall I felt the movie addressed each issue (donor conception / infidelity) as it would be played out in real life and it should be commended for that. I just hoped the two issues would never had to be mixed as I felt bad that these teenagers now forever will link the infidelity to their donor and the relationship will probably never progress beyond that point.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Switch: A Donor Conception Movie ?

Is the new Jennifer Aniston movie, "The Switch", truly a donor conception movie?

Sure the main character is impregnated using a turkey baster with sperm from a cup so technically yes it is. And yes the intent was to use a known donor where the mother to be was not considering having the donor involved in the life of her child. But something about this just seems to me to be another dumb movie where the mother probably ends up with the donor and they all live happily after without truly addressing the issues that affect individuals, couples and the children created.

The Kids are Alright from all reports addresses the actual issues. This romantic comedy seems to be one that was shot purely for comedic value and just another twist for the old story line where two friends realize they should be together and the path taken to get there.

My Daddy's Name is Donor: A Promised Posting of a Response

Since Family Scholar's published their study entitled "My Daddy's Name is Donor" there have been a number of articles written about it as well as commentary debating its merits by both sides of the aisle. Most of the main stream press have written stories that this is the first major study of its kind. To my understanding it is not.

After I commented on the BioNews article / response written by Eric Blythe and Wendy Kramer I received a few comments from Elizabeth Marquardt and Karen Clark, co authors of the original study. I promised that when Ms. Marquardt had posted her response to the BioNews piece I would link to it at a minimum.

The Family scholars response can be found here. I want to read it again but the anology that one side sees the world as a glass half full while the other sees the glass as half empty is interesting. I think characterizing the sides this simply is an over-generalization.

Overall I still believe couples should have the right to make their own decisions regarding the creation of their families. I do think the rights of the children created should be respected and that prospective parents should be made aware of all the issues surrounding donor conception. Greater regulation is needed but such regulation should not be created / promulgated by the industry itself.

As a Dad I try not to push my kids at their young ages into discussing their thoughts about being donor conceived but I must admit I am very very curious to know more what they think.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Chalk Sisters

This morning I took my kids out to a local park wher they started a number of chalk drawings on a hand / paddle ball court. My daughter at one point while drawing indicated that two of the "girl" drawings were of her and her "Sister [T]". I had not prompted this at all.

More and more I have noticed they refer to T and Z as their sister and brother. I admit I have not done anything to stop or modify their terminology as I wanted their thinking to be organically derived. I do think their watching yesterday's Good Morning America segment where they saw Ryan Kramer and two of his half siblings refer to each other as brother / sister only confirms their belief that their use of brother and sister is OK.

Half Sibling Z to Visit Fall 2010

It's official my kids will get to see their Half Sibling Z when he and his mom visit this coming Fall.

Maybe Half Sibling T will make a trip to NYC again as well?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ryan Kramer, DSR and his Half Sibs Profiled on Good Morning America

Just watched a spot about Ryan Kramer (co-founder of the Donor Sibling Registry) about his path to locating half siblings on the US American morning show Good Morning America. Interest in donor conception is obviously due to the success generated due to the new movie "The Kids are Alright".

I taped my kids watching segment. The 8 year old was mildly interested where my 6 year old still does not really understand beyond taht she has two half siblings. I don't think I will be posting the tape of them but wanted to tape their reactions as they watched and I tried to explain it a bit more.

Truthfully they would have rather been watching Phineas and Ferb. Amusing and expected.

Monday, July 19, 2010

General Update

This past weekend was a busy one for my kids and I. We saw a baseball game, traveled to a friend's house out of state and also visited with family a short commute away from our apartment. Both of the kids are getting bigger but are still very much children.

While at the game I was seated next to a woman from our old temple who commented how much the kids resemble their mom. I responded that they do. At first I thought she had commented how J looks like me but I held back and heard her again and realized it was not me but their mom.

When we visited family my mom commented how my son perspires stating he certainly is a "Smith". A reference to a line of her family. I responded he is not. I did not even think I just responded. Mom was not happy with my comment. J did not catch any of this but I did say you've got roots kids where the warm weather is not something that agrees with us.

I have not written much as day to day there is not too much to say about my life specfically. The kids are growing. They make references to their half siblings to others that may or may not know about their story and do so naturally. Most of the time no questions arise and the kids lead a normal life with no issues. I don't wonder or worry as often about how they will process this all. We have other issues to deal with in life such as camp, Summer reading lists, etc.

I sometimes miss writing everyday about this topic and other times I absolutely do not. I sometimes get e-mails from folks looking for advice and I try to get back to them but lately it has been tough to do so. I apologize when this has happened. Right now my focus is them and me.

BioNews Comment: “Read With Caution” Response to “My Daddy’s Name is Donor” Study

I learnd via Facebook today that a response to the Institute for American Values study “My Daddy’s Name is Donor” was published online at and within BioNews 567. The response published under their “Comment” section was written by Professor Eric Blyth and Wendy Kramer (co-founder of the DSR), two individuals whose work in this area I highly respect.

The review starts out by declaring their “alignment with the authors' desire to acknowledge donor-conceived people's right to access their ancestral, genetic and biological background” but then launches into “serious misgivings” they saw with the report. It is a short read and well worth it for anyone serious enough to want to acknowledge alternative viewpoints and/or criticism, something the IAV rarely seems to acknowledge themselves from my own experiences with their website.

I have stated before that one of the author’s of the IAV piece I consider a friend, Ms. Karen Clark, as I have long admired her blog and her discussions of these topics. But overall I find the “misgivings” posed in the BioNews comment to be serious enough to question the IAV study and to echo the sentiments to "read it with caution”.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Movies: "The Kid's Are All Right"

A majority of the reviews I have read or seen so far are positive for the movie "The Kid's Are All Right". Link to NYT Review. Granted all of these reviewers probably have no connection to donor conception outside flicks like this. They each go on how this is a accurate representation of how a family interacts between parents and teenagers etc.

But can they really say this is accurate for a family with two moms from an insider's perspective ? I don't know as I am just a heterosexual DI Dad and I know very few two mommy familes much less with teenage kids. I must remember to ask the mom's of one of my son's classmates for their reaction or if they even plan on seeing the film.

I do want to see this in the theatre but to be honest I want to see Grown Ups with Adam Sandler first.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Father's Day - Then & Now

It is hard for me to believe that is now three years since I wrote the below words and submitted it as an op-ed piece for the NY Times which they never ran. They were my thoughts then and generally still apply today. My life and the lives of my children have changed due to issues unrelated to donor conception and I now have concerns how they will process everything together. My life as a blogger has changed and dropped off as other issues and day to day concerns consume my life now. But my concerns for my children are still paramount and I love them more than anything.

As an aside last night I spoke by phone with Z's mom for a time about possibly scheduling trips for the kids to see their half siblings. Maybe they will get the chance this Summer but if not then it looks like Z may come East to NYC in October. My kids would love to see Z and also T. Perhaps we can convince T's mom to bring her up in October for a long weekend so all four kids can have some time together.

For those of that you that were not dealing with these issues back in 2007 I present this post again:

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.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Family Scholars Report: "My Daddy's Name is Donor"

The folks over at Family Scholars and the Institute for American Values have released their long awaited reported regarding Donor Conception titled "My Daddy's Name is Donor".

I have not read though it completely yet and only have read the Executive Summary. Truthfully I can't argue against too much of what is written as it based on polls of a large sample of donor conceived adults, adoptees, and others. I can't say it is representative of every donor conceived adult as I have met a few that would argue otherwise. I admit freely that I have felt in the past that the positions espoused by Family Scholars have been put there and argued somewhat heavy handedly.

But what reports like these do is they provide information to intended parents which is useful before they decide if donor conception is right for their familes and also how they parent a child who is donor conceived. There are plenty of issues to consider and reports like this highlight many of them quite effectively. Sometime with a hammer, which some would argue is not helpful, but the message is made known.

More later.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

In Memory of....

An anonymous comment was left on the DI Dads Speak Out blog this morning simply stating "In Loving Memory of Moondance Max". I just received confirmation that this is true. It has been expected as Max has been sick for some time.

Max was a man who found out that he could not have children naturally and turned to donor insemination with his wonderful wife Vee. They later found out Max has cancer and I am not remembering the timing which came first but also that Vee was pregnant. They now have a beautiful son. But now that son and Vee have lost Max based on the comment.
Vee had chronicled their struggle to conceive through her blog "The Sweet Life" and later their life together addressing Max's illness and the birth of their son. The blog is now privately published. Together they published many great videos to the International Infertility Film Festival dealing with their infertility struggles which will continue to offer hope to others dealing with infertility.

Some of us get caught up in our own lives and lose touch with friends we make over the Internet. I am guilty of that here. Max was a special person and I regret letting his friendship slip away. He wrote a couple of blogs while here one of which as his persona Dynamo Dad, in the Diaries of a Hopeful Dad to Be. He sparred with some of those leaving comments, commiserated with others, and also offered advice and his take on the whole donor conception thing.

There is more which I will try to add later but I need to digest this and also begin my day. A day less bright due to his loss but also hopeful knowing that his son through Vee will always know his Dad.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Movie Review: The Kids Are All Right

I stumbled upon a trailer for "The Kids Are All Right" on IMDB and the movie in one line is about "Two children conceived by artificial insemination [to lesbian moms] bring their birth father into their family life." The movie stars Julianne Moore and Annette Bening as the moms, Mark Ruffalo as their sperm donor.

After watching the trailer I can say it looks cute and challenges how people look at the definition of familes etc. My main concern with any of these movies is how donor conceived children, such as my own at young ages, would look at the images being portrayed. Granted my kids are way too young to see this flick much less get it.

I must admit my kids are still young so the old fear still exists, on some level, about being replaced by their donor father. I thought that fear was long put to rest but now as a separated dad I can say it is still there and maybe that fear has more to do with a fear that their mom will remarry someday and is not really a donor fear thing.

But films like this may at the same time raise expectations for some donor conceived kids that they can easily find their donor and make them part of their lives when I think many donors still want to remain anonymous. I don't know. Maybe I am just tired.

My kids may someday want to find their donor and I still hold to the belief that if asked I will either help them or not dissaude them from their wish to search.

Do you think movies like this are (a) merely capitalizing on the topic of donor conception, (b) promote healthy discussion of the topic, or (c) don't even register for most people?

Thursday, April 01, 2010

2010 Census: Biological Son or Daughter - Best Fit

It's April 1st, the official enumeration date for the 2010 Federal Census. Like most people I received the envelope, tossed it onto my desk and have been meaning to get to it. The trick for a parent of a donor conceived child is how to accurately fill it out.

"Biological son or daughter" is not wholly accurate in relation to me. But as I am living in New York State and I was married to my children's mother when they were born under NYS law I am seen as their "natural" parent so I guess it is the best fitting answer I can provide.

On the other hand I have written that I have looked at donor conception as sort of a half-adoption.

From a psychological stand point I am going with biological as viewed through NYS law. In the end this is a people count not a tool to measure households with donor conceived kids so I am not stressing my answer. But I admit I thought about the answer enough that I felt I wanted post about it here. And we know I have not exactly been as active on this blog for sometime now.

Happy Passover and Happy Easter everyone. If you have not completed your Census forms please so as they make a difference in the disbursement of federal funds and politicial representatives your State is a alloted.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Divorce, Separation, Donor Conception, and Me

Over the years I have written this blog I have read plenty of articles dealing with divorce, separation and donor conception. Most of the cases that make the headlines have dealt with lesbian and gay couples and few regarding straight families and the effects of such decisions. I never expected it to be a personal issue. It now is.

My wife and I have separated and are still dealing with the legal side of things. The day to day stuff we are already addressing as I now live in a separate apartment and the kids are already going back and forth depending on the days who has whom. It is still early so it is unclear as to how they are adjusting. To be honest I am still unsure how I am adjusting to not being with the kids every night.

For the most part we will move forward as any family does in this situation. Our one donor conception related issue we have open is the disposition of the remaining vials we still own and are in storage at the cryobank we purchased them from. Other than that we are in agreement as to disclosure as the kids already know and we will address their issues as a family as they get older and ask more questions.

Both moms of their two known half siblings are aware of the situation and have been great about it. To be honest we told each of them when they were all in NYC this past December. In that department I should state that my kids with their mom are headed to Colorado next week for Winter break to share their vacation with Z the little boy that is their half sib that lives out there.

So if I occasionally now discuss the effects of life as a separated dad to donor insemination kids please indulge me.