This morning I read a post on the Yahoo group Donor Sibling Registry by Allison Rouble of the blog GENdMOM. Afterwards I posted a reply. Both are below.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
This morning I read a post on the Yahoo group Donor Sibling Registry by Allison Rouble of the blog GENdMOM. Afterwards I posted a reply. Both are below.
Monday, December 19, 2011
Sunday, December 18, 2011
J asked about the donor again recently and whether he’d ever get to meet the donor’s kids, if he has any. I said it is unlikely that will happen as we’d first need to find the donor. I asked if that is something he’d want but I got no response. He still is close friend with the other donor conceived kids I know in his grade although this to my knowledge has never been a topic of discussion among them.
J has a crush on a little girl at his school. She is younger than him and they are at that stage when they are way too young to be “dating” etc and are taking on the aspects of a very friendly brother / sister relationship but one where they can’t wait to see each other every day. J was excited when this little girl said he was like a brother. Apparently that is a stage with little kids when they get closer to each other. The whole way home he was so happy and said he had three sisters and two brothers. One each of this count is this girl and her brother. Very amusing and will get confusing.
Over this past year I have dated women who have had young kids of their own. No one has met anyone at this point as none have lasted the requisite six months called for under my separation agreement. The possible concept though of extended blended families will be very amusing down the road if a relationship becomes that serious. Half siblings, step siblings, full siblings. Family tree time will need a lengthy color coded legend more than it already does.
As I write all this I am concerned as my sublet is up at the end of January and I have yet to find a new apartment. I have lived these last two years in the same building I lived in with my then-wife and the kids. It helped the kids adjust to the separation coming back to the same building every day even though they split their time between apartments. That issue has been the main issue of concern to them more than anything donor conception related. They seem so far well adjusted and handling it well enough.
Time to go. Nothing else new to report with the Yahoo DI Dads group.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Have we set ourselves up for some legal battle over the disposition of these remaining vials?
For the last several years we had left these vials sitting and paying fees for their storage. Or should I say I have been paying these fees. I still am.
The question had never been whether we would be using them and certainly we are not now. The question was whether they'd be used for medical research to identify the genome or whatever could be learned from them as they provide direct DNA samples from the donor.
Could we determine if there are any latent diseases the donor was carrying? I was told by a friend that any such analysis could not be used by insurance companies to claim a pre-existing condition as the kids are not the ones being tested. But to be honest I don't have extra funds to pay for any such analysis.
Testing would be nice but even to send them would probably cost some money as I am guessing there would have to be some subterfuge as I am guessing the bank would not allow a vial to be sent anywhere other than a doctor's office under the belief it woud be used for an attempt at conception.
We never intended to sell them back to the cryobank as we did not want to see other half siblings created unless they were to be used by a family who already had kids by this donor to ensure full siblings within their family. Perhaps this is selfish but had been discussed with the other two known donor sibling famioies and we were all in agreement on this issue.
The account with the cryobank is in her name but the payments are set up to be from me. Either of us I guess could direct the bank to destroy the remaining vials. At this point neither of us would probably try to legally prevent such an action but it would lose the testing opportunity.
So again the question continues what to do with the extra vials but with the background of larger issues.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Will she interpret this years from now as just a dad being upset at her homework skills or will she take this as some underlying issue? I should not worry about such things and really I don't do so always but sometimes I do. I read too many blogs and articles about kids who always felt an underlying tension between themselves and the parent they either later learn is not their biological parent or that they already knew. And then I stupidly reconfigure those into fears.
I love my kids so much and like any parent I just want them to do their best work. My little one is not the fastest in getting her work done. She never has been despite what skills we try to teach her. It's just so exasperating. My creating fears that should not exist does not help matters.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
When I first started writing this blog, I came across a number of blogs written by young donor conceived adults mostly from outside the United States. One such blog was "who do you think you are?" written by Narelle Grech. The blog's URL subtitles it as T-5s daughter. She was an opinionated, straight talking, never afraid to be in your face blogger. And she challenged my thoughts and feelings about donor conception with a semi-confrontational tone which I appreciated. Others tried the same tone when commenting on my posts and came off as simply angry. Narelle's honesty I found appealing and I knew her opinion to be worth listening to.
Narelle is now battlling stage four bowel cancer. And where her search for her donor and half siblings was originally an effort to know who she is, genetically, ethnically, and for all the normal identity issues most donor conceived are trying to answer, her quest is now to also find these individuals to counsel them to get tested for possible early warnings of cancer. I learned about her current battle through this 10/22/11 story in the Herald Sun.
Her story, this story, is another reason why I believe it is so important that access to records not be lost or taken away or left to the auspices of individual commercial cryobanks. In Narelle's case the records exists and are known where they are but she has no legal right of access to the existing identifying information about the donor.
This is an example of where the system needs to include mechanisms to allow such medical based access as it is clearly a case where lives could be saved or lost.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
This movie is an interesting contrast to the Style Network: Sperm Donor as it involves involves young adult donor conceived individuals making contact with their donor Jeffrey, California Cryobank Donor 150. When the Sperm Donor show involved little kids. The two donors profiled in each program could not be more different.
The chat is scheduled to start at 1pm EST in real time. I am still unsure if it is being broadcast in real time or not. Probably a delay of some sort for editing etc.
UPDATE: Post Web Chat
The text of the web chat can be found HERE. Scroll down the page. It was an interesting experience. I really need to learn how to type faster. Good panel and very interesting discussion. Very glad to have participated.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Lindsay Greenawalt of the Cryokid Confessions has analogized the plight of the donor conceived to that of the protests of the 99% which presently reside at Zuccotti Park here in NYC. I understand the intent is to draw the parallel of a group without power over decisions that affect them. Lindsay herself built upon posts by The Declassified Adoptee written with regards to the Adoption Rights Movement. Link here for the full text of the pictured statement.
What I am not sure of, and perhaps this is still an issue I have regarding the #OccupyWallStreet movement is that the lines of who and what is being protested are blurred (at least for OWS). The OWS movement right now, as I see it, is a simultaneous protest against everything where the general population, the 99%, has no control and the effects have economically disadvantaged that 99% where the 1% benefited.
Lindsay is pretty direct in her statements that here in the US (1) the infertility industry is not centrally regulated, (2) records can be destroyed and held back without recourse, and (3) America has turned a blind eye to the whole thing.
Part of me dislikes linking the plight of the donor conceived to the OWS movement as the OWS while catching the eye of the world’s media its seeming lack of focus does a disservice to defined issues such as that of the donor conceived. I think Lindsay’s goal was to highlight the lack of control held by the donor conceived, which is a positive goal, I just wish the movement she is associating with seemed less disjointed.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Last night the dinner had Wendy and Ryan Kramer as special guests. Both had been in town for an SMC event held in Brooklyn this past weekend. The featured topic discussed by Wendy and Ryan was "Who's Your Mommy? Should they tell their twins they came from donor eggs?".
The identity issue is wholly mixed together with the disclosure issue so both topics were discussed and brought up by the roughly ten women in attendance. I sat at the far end of the table as I have a bad cold plus I had the kids with me as the dinner was immediately after their school extended day pickup. I also heard the common theme that some of the husbands did not want the kids to know their conception stories more it seemed to their discomfort than the interests of the kids.
The moms in discussing the "Who's your mommy?" questioned the differences in connections to the donor when the mom carried the fertilized eggs producing their children. The fears of feeling less of a natural parent. Overall an interesting evening and I was sorry I felt like garbage and that I had to leave early.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
This Thursday October 20th, I will be participating in a telephone chat to coincide with the US premier on PBS of the documentary Donor Unknown. As I understand it, the chat will be recorded and be available to listen to on the PBS website set up for the documentary.
The documentary is being premiered as part of the Independent Lens series on PBS. The participants on the chat are slated to include myself and :
Lindsay, a donor conceived adult who blogs over at "Confessions of a Cryokid"
Jerry: Director of Donor Unknown
Steve: Marketing & Communications Manager for Independent Lens
I expect it to be an interesting chat. Hopefully some of you will look for it, listen and then comment on both the movie and the chat. You can link through the images above for the Independent Lens site to see the trailer and clips from the movie. Link below to see the resources page on the Independent Lens movie site.
One amusement is that the resources description of my blog has me having two boys. My daughter was not to thrilled. They were amused to see my blog linked to from a PBS website though.
Monday, October 03, 2011
I watched the "Style Exposed: Sperm Donor" episode yesterday evening. I enjoyed watching it. From a posting by Wendy Kramer of the Donor Sibling Registry, to the Yahoo DSR Discussion group, the continued showing of this episode on Style has yielded more donor signing up on the DSR than I believe usually do in a single year. Which has resulted in numerous matches between donors and offspring.
There are only 4 more scheduled showings of the episode on the Style Network. The last one this Friday at 1:00 am. [UPDATE: watch it here above or here]
Certainly seeing Adriene's and Kris's meeting and connecting was great to see and feel a part of. Watching Adriene talk with her dad and mom about her feelings for her dad despite his not being her biological donor dad was very touching and comforting. The connection she felt for Kris, her half sibling, was palpable and rewarding to see. You could see the joy in Kris's face having Adriene there for her big day.
The other half of the episode involved watching Ben Seisler, former donor, from Boston address the fact he has at least 74 offspring and balancing the concerns and fears that his fiance was herself having. At the same time he himself was dealing with his own thoughts and concerns meeting for the first time with two children conceived from his sperm.
He seemed like a man who honestly was trying to find his way. As he said to his fiance there is no guide book for this. The concerns I have for them is how does he balance his desire to provide info to these families and balance his life as a married man. There is a danger that this could create a divide in his marriage.
At the same time a number of these donor families, if Ben allows more to meet him, will want him to be a presence on some level in the lives of their children. It would appear so from just this one family. Not all will want contact but even if a few do it will be something he has to address if he plans to on treating these kids as clinically as he intended to before he met family one.
My own thoughts are the episode was a positive step to getting the stories out there and certainly it encouraged more donors to step forward. Will more donor family stories follow? Certainly the DSR hopes so and so do I. But will the general public, and advertising sponsors, have a desire to see a periodic series? I am not sure they would.
There is no guide for this.
Friday, September 30, 2011
A number of years ago I requested the cryobank we used to try to contact the donor and ask a couple of questions. One question I had was regarding the donor's religious background. The cryobank made contact and the donor answered as best he could with the info he knew of his family.
I am curious to ask the cryobank to contact the donor again and whether he would agree or be interested in converting, under the cryobank's auspices, from a completely anonymous donor to a donor ID status where he would be open to contact once any of the kids turns 18 and initiates contact. It may be that the cryobank would not even ask my question but I am curious to ask.
Before I do though I need to discuss this with my children's mom and the mothers of their half siblings. I am curious for their reactions to. I am just thinking with the recent news coverage, the Donor Unknown documentary and the new Style exposed episode perhaps the donor might be receptive to the idea. For all I know neither of the 4 children will even care but it is an opportunity I am thinking should be taken so it's there when and if they want it.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
It was how I continued that leads to my question of how connected the issue of openness is to anything donor insemination related. Directly or tangentially.
I stated my belief that if a child is told early enough and as a normal part of their life I think the question of whether a child will love the parents is or would be a non-issue as the children would only know love from these parents. If a child is never told and always shown love they will of course, in normal situations, also love their parents. But if the secret is later found out it may cause a rift, in those relationships, it may not. My point is as always that telling early does more to take away the pain of a possible secret being learned and resentment being born.
It was my bringing up the issue of openness and telling that had one long time member of the group asking me to not always bring the conversation back to openness. I did not think I had been doing that but perhaps I do. He felt I was veering away from the group is for.
Does my thinking and response go beyond the initial answer given to my fear question. Certainly it does. Am I pushing my openness views. Can't argue I am not. But have a crossed a line? Perhaps. I do try to state that these are my views and it is also possible not telling may be right for some families. I can't believe how but I guess it could be.
So again how linked are all these issues? I think the entire picture should be known and looked at together as to do otherwise can allow us to compartmentalize and rationalize. Donor conception has causes, action / reactions, and effects. As the character Dr. Ian Malcolm in in the movie Jurassic Park stated "You've never heard of Chaos theory?" Life has a way where all information eventually gets out. To ignore all the possibilities when decision making I feel is to be acting in a vacuum and life is not that easy.
As Marilyn indicated in the first comment, my statements are not meant to state that openness will prevent a donor conceived individual from having issues with the concept of their conception story or wanting to know more about their biological father. I only meant to indicate that openness allows the truth to be known and that from there a base can be developed for a family to work from without anything hidden lurking waiting to be exposed and creating additional issues that may divide an individual and the parents that raised them. Does that make sense?
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
The TODAY show the next day ran a video segment about the article speaking with Wendy Kramer of the Donor Sibling Registry from her home in Colorado and an in studio guest bio-ethicist. Both woman are moms to donor conceived children.
The ensuing debate has lead to a NY Times on-line debate among ten parties associated with the industry or interested groups. I encourage everyone to read the debate HERE and come back and let me know what you think. I was struck how of all the experts and individuals only one parent was asked for their opinion and that was Wendy Kramer. The doctor who contributes was the doctor that helped my wife and I conceive our kids.
Monday, September 05, 2011
Kids are both fine. They had a fun phone call with their half sibling Z from out West. My kids got extremely silly and hung up several times on Z not meaning too and blaming each other each time it happened. I wish we could see the half siblings more often as we did not get a chance to see either T or Z this Summer. It's been 9 months since we have seen Z and about 18 months since we have seen T. Winning a pile of cash in the lottery would be nice and help here and a lot of other factors in life these days.
Both kids have received their school assignments for the next two years as their school loop the classes with the same teacher for two grades. It has its pluses and minuses. What's interesting about is that my son is again in the same class as the other two donor conceived boys he has shared a class with since kindergarten. At the end of these next two years they will have been together for 6 years.
I asked J if he has ever discussed donor conception stuff with one of the boys and he said he has not. I am still not sure what the third child has been told and I have not discussed the topic with his mom in a few years. The one who does / must know again has two mommies so the issue is out in the open. Day to day it's a non-issue in the house or for the kids these days.
Friday, September 02, 2011
"Later this month, a mobile "SpermBar" will hit the streets of NYC, setting up on Museum Mile to offer delicious non-alcoholic cocktails made by Cristian Molina, who does the exceptional cocktails at Rouge Tomate. The SpermBar is an edible interactive art installation by French artist Prune Nourry, who says her work is "inspired by the commoditization of human reproduction and the ‘customer satisfaction’ culture." It sounds like an amusing project, but lovers of semen-infused beverages beware: the mocktails won't actually contain sperm! Oh, these "conceptual" artists and their confusing "happenings"... "
Monday, August 29, 2011
I admit I don't read all the articles out there anymore regarding donor conception. For some reason I linked to the above opinion piece titled "Our Selfish Creation of Human Life" which was run back on August 5th in the Sydney Morning Herald. Certainly it was the article's title that drew me in. The intent and direction of the piece and the writer's position are quite evident from the get go.
What made me laugh was the placement of the Google Ad below the headline and before the article's text. Double click the image to enlarge it if you have to.
It may not be the same ad if you link through now but it will probably be on the same topic. I am sure the writer would have been disgusted by this placement as it works against the piece. Or maybe it doesn't. Getting paid $1,200 a month is nothing to laugh at but here I could do nothing else. I just found it very funny. Even though it is clearly not a subject to laugh it. I am sorry but I did anyway.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
T apparently was hoping the hurricane would knock out power in their mid-Atlantic state so that she would get to use her flashlights. Z is out West so luckily his family did not have to deal with all this.
My own two kids had been set up to sleep in their mom's walk in closet but J felt to enclosed so he slept in the dining area of the living room to stay away from his bedroom windows. J laughed when he heard T wanted the power to go out. He did not want that as he wanted his TV.
My younger child lost her second big tooth during this storm. Supposedly the tooth fairy made an appearance at my old apartment (after I sent this image to their mom that we use to convey the congratulatory wishes of TF with today's "quarter dollar plus").
Monday, August 22, 2011
Here in NYS as I have stated numerous times I am recognized on the birth certs of my children as their natural parent. I can empathize with this couple wanting their names on the certificate but somethig here just bothers me as the child has an ongoing relationship with the donor.
Read the article and then come back here and let me know what you think.
Monday, August 15, 2011
What was interesting is I know this child's story and it's a typical single mom by choice / donor conception story. The three kid's have no idea how similar their stories are. They just see each other as normal kids which they are.
Monday, August 08, 2011
It's amazing how a simple statement, despite it's truth, and how long I have been dealing with this, still hurts.
He stated something that he has been having conversations with his mom. I didn't quite get what he said was in those conversations and I will be asking her.
I asked him after we got out of bed what prompted this again and again he stated it was my "all my children" statement. I told him I loved him and although I love him very much the stranger statement still stung. He replied how do I know you're not lying. Here I know he is baiting me but still what makes kids say things you never know.
Definitely want to speak to their mom.
One thing I should make clear is that the kid's mom and I have always been in agreement in how we discuss the donor and my being the kid's dad. She and I actually spoke this morning and I know she has never nor woud she ever use words like stranger when discussing my relationship to the children.
I think my son, in his choice of the word stranger, was simply looking for a word to mean "not biological". He did ask me about the donor and I did not know what to say as we only know what we know from the profiles. We are all good now. Had a good trip to camp and drop off.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Have been checking in at the DI Dad Yahoo discussion group. Some interesting threads there. Is there anything you are curious about? Is there anything donor conception related you think I would be interested in discussing?
Just stopped in to say hello. Say hello back and let me know how you have been. Anything interesting going on with you? Does not have to be donor conception related. Just say hello. I'd like to see a lot of you say hello in the comments to this post.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
You can guess then that I am interested in taking my kids to see this film to see their reactions to this plot line and use it as a tool to further a discussion of what they understand about families.
But alas, neither child (ages 9 and 7) wants to see the movie. If I force them to go that would not help so I am stuck wondering.
Has anyone taken their kids and discussed this part of the story with their kids? Did anyone who saw the movie even realize this was part of the story? How was it addressed? I am curious for feedback.
The reviews I am reading here on Common Sense indicate the adoption story line may be a bit intense for younger children and the bad guy is truly bad and the film is much darker than the first one.
Monday, June 20, 2011
Last week I received an e-mail from a NY Post reporter looking to see if I could direct her to a local NYC area sperm donor that had a number of offspring resulting from their donations. My first reaction was that she really came to the wrong guy as I am the infertile guy who helped start a Yahoo group where other men like me gather to discuss our not being able to biologically create children. I pointed her to Wendy Kramer of the DSR who pointed the reporter to Todd Whitehurst. The resulting article was titled “Pro Creators” subtitled “Sperm donors dads to dozens”
On the same day the NY Times ran a from page story on their Metro Section titled “Baby Makes Four, and Complications” about a woman, her known sperm donor, his lover and the resulting baby. The Op-Ed page ran an essay titled “A Father’s Day Plea to Sperm Donors” written by an 18 year old man, who was conceived via donor insemination, raised by his single mom, who has never known a father and wonders about the man and where he could be.
Today the NY Times blog Motherlode reacted to both earlier NYT pieces and posted a piece titled “Explaining Sperm Donation to a Preschooler” which elicited many comments, including my own.
It appears that anytime there is a holiday, parent related, we get these stories. I guess I should be happy as it elicits discussion. But part of me finds it disheartening that it takes a gimmick to start a discussion.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Without this man's gift, these children would never have come into being and into my and their mother'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.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Saturday, May 07, 2011
Kim and I each came away from the movie with different thoughts and perspectives. I was struck by much of what she wrote. Two statements have stayed with me. I think these statements stuck as I don’t think my liking the movie was at least consciously driven by these thoughts. But I’d like to expand or explore why.
“the more we hold up movies like “Donor Unknown” as an opportunity for people to understand how are families are built, the more we do ourselves a disservice.”
“holding up the donor as some sort of icon in our families minimizes the completeness of our own familial unit”
How Families Are Built
I am not sure my recommending the movie is holding it up as a model as to how families are built. Yes my children, ages 9 and near 7, look at their half siblings as their brother and sister. And yes those words may be too suggestive as to the relationship they have to these other children at this point. But it helps them to understand the connection to these siblings in a way that the term “half siblings” does not register for them at this time. While my kids use the terms brother / sister at their young ages we have discussed that they are more like distant cousins. They know the difference as they have each other and know most full siblings live with each other.
But returning to Kim’s point I can understand her concern. In the movie, the Fletcher’s mom states at least in reference to the donor that he has to earn his way into being called family. Similarly the half sib Daniele seems to be a step with drawn from Jeffrey, the donor, as opposed to the others who are more interested in developing a relationship to him. But yes seeing the half sibs start treating each other as family may give third parties a misunderstanding as to how we see our family structures expanding or rather are dealing with such issuess due to the use of donor conception.
Donors as Icons and the Minimization of Family
Kim’s post certainly was correct that the eccentricities of Jeffrey help make the Donor Unknown movie interesting. Although I think had the movie had a donor who was a normal married man with two kids of his own 20 years out past his college / sperm donation years it would have been more interesting to me. I certainly did not look at Jeffrey as an icon and I don’t believe any of the siblings who participated in the movie thought so either. Although the fantasies they had of the donor prior to learning about him do evoke that image of the possible perfect father figure.
I am wondering if thoughts or concerns that interest in a donor can result in views that a family configuration would be minimized have to do with the differences in my and Kim’s family units. Certainly two mom families are equal in love shown to children as heterosexual couple families. But I know there are folks out there that may feel children without fathers in the home suffer. Right now my kids 100% of the time live in households missing at least one parent. Each parent is trying their best to let the kids know the other parent is always there even if not in the same house, So my focus is not on the donor. But again my kids at school are not seen as possibly “missing” something that kids from sex parent households may encounter. I don’t know. I know I never felt our family was minimized by thoughts of the donor. Certainly I did not get the feeling from the movie that any of the young people who came from same sex households felt their families were minimized.
Again I think Kim's review is worthwhile reading. I am curious for your reactions to my thoughts and Kim's full review.
Tuesday, May 03, 2011
The above YouTube clip is the trailer for the documentary "Donor Unknown" which I have reviewed below in two earlier blog posts.
News re the movie from its Facebook page:
Are there plans at one point to release this movie on DVD? I want to own it to show my donor conceived kids once they get older? I also would be interested in promoting the DVD on my DI-Dad blog.
Hi Eric - thanks for your reviews and comments. We're releasing the DVD in the UK in July. In the US it has to wait until after the broadcast on PBS Independent Lens, which will be in October or November.
Monday, April 25, 2011
This morning I posted my initial reactions to the new indie film “Donor Unknown” that premiered this week at the Tribeca Film Festival. Now I am posting my second set of reactions based on notes I took while watching the film. Overall I am still very impressed by the movie. I have questions though, comments and observations. Spoiler alert as I am discussing specifics of the movie.
Lies re Not Telling
Sibling Daniele Pagano stated in the film that her parents did not tell her until she was 13 that she was donor conceived and she was angry at being lied at. I wished the film had explored those emotions further. Also of the six siblings we met, was Daniele the only sibling whose parents were a heterosexual couple? I think of the main five siblings she was but I was not sure. No direct effect on the movie’s premise of the siblings finding each other and finding and meeting their donor Jeffrey Harrison but still a fact I was interested in.
Dating Half Siblings
I was happy that the movie addressed Rachel’s concerns of dating a half sibling or blood relative. It is a valid concern of both the donor conceived individual and of their parents. Especially when as Wendy Kramer explained in the film that the “limits” promised by the sperm banks is not enforced and as she demonstrated by example that unrelated Donor 1476 had 58 offspring. Again not directly affecting the movie’s premise but was glad they addressed and brought out this issue.
When we started the process of choosing donors the first donor we used was from California Cryobank. We looked at both California and Fairfax as recommended by the clinic we were then working with. Cappy Rothman’s stroll from as he stated “Masterbation Room” to room was very creepy. Did he really say that or a variation of that? I don’t think the donor conceived or prospective parents really needed to see the pornographic images. I am glad the film makers showed it as he stated it but in reality these were images that these parties just really don’t want in our memories.
Certainly the issue of donors being paid for their sperm was noted when Jeffrey Harrison, Donor 150, admitted that for years his payments helped him pay the rent. Although in his case I was happier to know the money paid his rent as opposed to your standard college student who uses the money to supplement their beer money. Jeffrey Harrison certainly appeared to have altruistic intentions mixed with his realization that this was an easier pay day than many jobs out there.
Donor Fantasies and Realities
Jeffrey Harrison as a donor and as a human being is certainly one of those people as he described that lives on the fringe of society. A self described fringe monkey. He seems like a man who honestly believes in truth (as he sees it) and living his life as a free spirit. The reactions to him by the siblings was compassionate and interested. Certainly it was clear that at least one sibling had no desire to meet him and felt that the contact initiated was enough to answer her questions. The honesty of the siblings as to whom they expected their donor would be was typical as I expect of all donor conceived fantasies of who and what their donor might be. In truth reality might now live up to expectations. This movie made that clear. But as a man this man helped bring these individuals together and his willingness to step forward is a gift.
Welcome to the Family
At this point my children refer to their half siblings as their brother and sister just as many of the movie’s siblings have decided to do. The amateur genealogist in me loved the chart that JoEllen put together showing the inter-family relationships that the Donor 150 siblings have to each other. It’s amazing to watch how quickly these young people seem to bond. Granted the movie condenses its presentation of the time these siblings found each other and the development of these relationships. The scene of four of the 14 known siblings in either Ryan or Roxanne’s California home was fun to watch.
I also enjoyed the scene where Fletcher’s mom states she is not yet into the new reality of the expanding family her son is now part of and that she is being drawn into. Her statement that Jeffrey must earn his place in the family is something I believe every parent (bio or social) immediately connects to but in reality the acceptance of Jeffrey, or any donor found, is up to the donor conceived individual’s and the parents will be dragged into accepting it or at least dealing with it.
The movie “The Kid’s Are All Right” demonstrated how the kid’s brought their donor into their home’s front door. The crazy affair entered into by Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo played more into the fantasy / horror that some parties have of what could happen if a donor is contacted and found. That story line was interesting as it played out like many movie play out infidelity fears and its effect on families. It just played with a same sex marriage being betrayed by one of its spouses. It was at that point that it was no longer a donor conception movie to me and destroyed any short term and possibly long term contact those teenagers might have had with their donor.
The images of Jeffrey riding bikes with JoEllen, Fletcher, and I believe Roxanne were great fun. I admit I did wonder whether this was suggested by one of the siblings or Jeffrey or perhaps the film makers.
In this movie, it is clear that a few of the siblings will maintain continued contact with Jeffrey and it is unclear if the others will or will not. It was also interesting and a bit sad at the end, after the siblings departed, when Jeffrey commented that it is “back to the birds” and that he still had his puppies.
Overall I liked the movie and as I stated in my first post I think the movie did what it set out to do. It introduced us to how the siblings found each other (thanks to Wendy and Ryan once again for the DSR) and their first meeting with their donor. The courage of Jeffrey to step forward in reaction to the initial NY Times story must be applauded. Certainly not every donor would. His actions are the exception. His statement that it is the right of the [donor conceived] to meet or not should be the norm. The movie Donor Unknown should not be missed as it is a great step forward in addressing the underlying issues and putting real faces to the stories. Does it FULLY address and delve deeply into the hard core issues of anonymous donors, donor remuneration, cryobank screening of donors? No, but it brings the issues to the surface. It is not some cutesy romantic comedy / melodrama using donor conception as a prop to sell movie tickets claiming it is groundbreaking movie making. This movie stars the real kids and they were all right.
I have a lot of strong reactions to the film. I remember reading each of the NY Times articles and wondering about JoEllen and Danielle and how they were handling all the issues surrounding their discoveries and the meaning of it all.
Each of the 6 young people in the film seem very well adjusted. We did not meet all 14 known siblings so we don't know their reactions or how they have dealt with the knowledge of their conception story or the concept that they have 14 siblings and probably many many more.
Overall this is the first American film letting us know and feel a bit how American teenagers born within the last 20 years are reacting to the issues. Certainly the film cannot cover every issue but it is certainly the most complete to date and was very very well done. It respected the thoughts and feelings of all parties that participated. I want to say thank you to the film makers and each of the siblings for putting their story into the public realm. I say thank you my children and for me.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
In late 2005, the NY Times ran a series of articles by Amy Harmon dealing with donor conception one of which was titled “Hello, I’m Your Sister. Our Father is Donor 150”. My reactions to that article can be found here. In early 2007, Donor 150, Jeffrey Harrison, broke his silence and came forward. Well now the story of that donor and his donor conceived offspring has been made into an indie film titled “Donor Unknown” and premiering here in NYC at the Tribeca Film Festival. An article online by IndieWIRE discusses the film and talks with its director.
I have only watched the two minute trailer which can be found on the film’s official website and would love to see the 78 minute film in person at the TFF but don’t think I will be able to swing that but it appears the film can be screened on line based on the schedule. There is an on-line screening this Monday, April 25th at 6:00am EST and later in the week on Friday, April 29th also at 6:00am EST.
The film looks quite interesting and the children are all American teenagers so I expect we will see some genuine reactions regarding their thoughts about half siblings, their donor, and their origins. As the movie is about them and the donor I expect we will very little of their moms and if any of them have social fathers like myself. I would be curious for those views. I will also be curious to down the road to buy a DVD copy so when my kids are bit older they can watch. At 9 and 6 I am guessing they would not yet want to watch. I asked my son to watch the trailer online but he was more interested in what was on the TV instead.
Friday, April 15, 2011
Monday, April 04, 2011
Sunday, February 27, 2011
There is an article in this week's Newsweek which focuses on the website AnonymousUs.org which is an "online story collective for donor-conceived people, their families, donors, and medical professionals."
It is an interesting site and well worth reading. There are a couple of interesting stories posted by dads like myself. I must admit I am wondering if I know one of the two dads who contributed stories. Neither is me.
What I like about the site is there are plenty of opinions and positions taken but the site is not hitting you over the head, pushing one specific opinion or position regarding donor conception. It's there but again not being pushed in your face.
I like it as it is another venue for individuals to lean and share.