Saturday, December 24, 2011

Sharing the Pain of Loss

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.

"Still Playing Head Games with Myself"

It never seems to fail with me, after being married for 11 years and having never used any birth control, having received a diagnosis of male infertility due to unexplained azoospermia and having to use donor sperm to create our family I still find myself looking at the calendar every month wondering if some how by magic I will have gotten pregnant the good old fashioned way by my husbands sperm.

I play this torturous mind game with myself, I think maybe I am pregnant, i do a detailed analysis of every phantom symptom I have. I further twist the knife in my heart by wondering if it will be a boy or a girl, what names would we pick, would we have to move or add onto our house to make room for another child. I do this month after month, and the inevitable always happens. Auntie flow shows up with the bad but predictable news that “NO you are not pregnant you silly girl, your husband is infertile and it isn’t going to happen that way”.

I hate her, my auntie flow. Hate her because she comes to me every month with the bloody reminder that I will never have a biological child with the man I dearly love. And stupid, desperate me looks in the mirror at myself every time she is here for her visit and says, “maybe next month!”

My reply as posted to the Yahoo Discussion Group:

I have been unsure how to respond to this post. I am that infertile husband, or rather was, and my first reaction is to say I am sorry. My next reaction is the following....

Most (admittedly not all) DI Dads like myself know how hard it has been or is for our spouses who shared our pain addressing male factor infertility. It haunts us terribly throughout the process. We feel extreme guilt for it and are eternally grateful for you sticking by us. With the birth of these DI children we find ourselves in love with both the child and each of you again so deeply.

Most of us don't realize that the sense of loss you feel continues and need you to tell us so we can work through the feelings with you. We would rather share your pain then let you suffer it silently and alone.

We can't make it stop but we can let you know how much we love you and how much stronger we are as a family and as a loving couple.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Post Secret: Sperm Donor via One Night Stand

One of this blog’s most viewed posts involved a December 2008 postcard that was posted on the popular Post Secret website. That post card was submitted by a donor conceived individual who was envious of adopted individuals because their fathers had not “jacked off in a cup for money”.

The below post card was published this evening, 12/17/2011, on Post Secret, and was mailed in by a man who apparently was chosen for a one night stand with the goal of effectively becoming a sperm donor by a woman whose husband could not naturally have kids. I am sure the child conceived by this IUI would be equally not thrilled to learn their conception story if they ever learned it.

Certainly looking at this post card from the point of view of an infertile husband, this brings out many of the fears that DI Dads have that their spouse would turn to another man sexually to create a child. For all he knows the wife, if she has chosen this path, might even let the husband think it is his child, until the truth would come out, via blood works or blood tests of some nature.

Granted while technically this post card details a donor conception, this scenario is not legally a legitimate donor situation and could lead to all sorts of custody and paternity issues, if and when, reality is confronted. But as a DI Dad as soon as I read this card all sorts of issues popped into my mind.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Year End Updates

Kids are doing well. They have been speaking with their male half sibling Z from out West on a fairly regular but unscheduled basis lately and the conversations are getting less silly and more “normal” or what passes for normal among 9 year olds. My son J does most of the talking from our side. The kids have not spoken with T, their female half sibling, in some time, my fault not making that happen, even though they have asked about her.

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

WiFi May Damage Sperm Quality: Study

An Argentine study is claiming WiFi in close proximity to sperm may damage the sperm's quality. The article in yesterday's NY Daily News is not that surprising as was the conclusion of a 2004 study that use of lap tops causes an increase in temperature to the scrotum and hence sperm causing damage.

Just something to think about when working at home or accessing WiFi on a laptop PC. Better safe than sorry. Guessing using the WiFi on top of a nice metal table is preferable to using the couch.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Dating Sites and the "Want Kids" Box

One amusing facet of dating again as a adult is the proliferation of on-line dating sites. One question on most profiles is whether you want kids. Many single women looking to get married also will want to have a family. Not all but many. When some see you have checked off you are done having kids it it obviously closes off some potential relationships.

This would never happen but can you imagine a box which would state "Can't physically have more kids but are you open to DI?" Not happening.

I am done no matter what. My kids are all I want unless I meet someone who already has kids. Is amusing thought though as it would the put issue out there and not have to worry about bringing it up later.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Divorce and Unused Donor Sperm

Within the past few weeks I signed my Settlement Agreement with my spouse settling the division of our assets, agreeing to all issues surrounding our kids, etc. This agreement will now be filed in the NYS courts and eventually be approved resulting in a final divorce decree. We did not include any section detailing what is to become to the unused donor sperm vials still sitting in storage at the cryobank facility. We forgot to address this issue.

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 They Misinterpret My Exasperation?

My daughter's weekly homework packet is due Monday morning. Inevitably when she comes to me Sunday nights from her mother's there is always a large chunk not yet done prompting me to get on my daughter's case about why this much is left undone until the last minute. It usually results in hours of prodding her and both of us becoming very very exasperated.

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 Finding a Donor or Half Sibs Could Mean Life or Death

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

Participating in Web Chat re "Donor Unknown" Today

As I noted earlier in the week I will be participating in a web chat today to coincide with the premier of the documentary "Donor Unknown" on PBS website Independent Lens.

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

Parallel drawn between the Donor Conceived and Occupy Wall Street

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

Listening to DI and DE Moms: NYC Gathering

Last night I attended an installment of the NYC Gathering's dinner get-togethers here in Manhattan. The group organized by Sara Axel of the blog "Our Story Begins at Home" usually is attended by women who either used donor eggs, donor sperm, or both conceiving their children. I was the only dad in the room.

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

Web Chat to Coincide with PBS Premier of "Donor Unknown"

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

Review: "Style Exposed: Sperm Donor"

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

Requesting the Cryobank to Contact the Donor (Again)

With all the recent news coverage regarding donor conception I have become curious again about our donor and wondering if he also has been noticing the recent news stories and wondering whether he'd be open to agreeing to contact with the children once they turn 18. His donation had been an anonymous donation with no provisions for identification or contact at any point

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

How Linked are Issues of Openness to Anything DI Related? And Am I Wrong to Link Them?

I posted a question this weekend on the DI Dad Yahoo Discussion Group asking what were some of the members greatest fears about using donor insemination etc. A couple of the responses involved fears of whether the child would love the dad. My responses included the thoughts that if a child is shown love and respect that the child would have no reason not to love that parent.

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

9/15 NYC Presentation - The Ethics of Telling Children if They Were Donor Conceived

Sorry for the short notice but just learned about this speaker / presentation.

Per an email to Ms. Sweeney at Columbia the presentation will be in Fayerweather310.


------Original Message------

From: Infertility Network

To: IN-Yahoo

Subject: New York, NY: 'The ethics of telling children if they weredonorconceived', Sept 15

Sent: Sep 15, 2011 12:32 PM

The ethics of telling children if they were donor conceivedSpeaker: John Appleby, Welcome Trust Fellow in Bioethics, Cambridge University,UK

Sept 15/11. 6:00-7:30pm. Columbia University, Morningside Campus, New York

NB.The following location are both given in various notices about this event, socheck with Meghan Sweeney, to be sure which one is correct before going:

* Hamilton 516

* Fayerweather 310

Presented by The Columbia Master of Science in Bioethics program

RSVP: Meghan Sweeney,

What Does Our Donor Think about 150 Offspring?

Lately with the two main donor stories currently hitting the media about upwards of 150 offspring or the Ben Seisler story about him having over 70 donor conceived offspring I am wondering what our donor thinks of all this?

If he knows his donor number he would see there are only four kids registered as having been born from his donation. I am guessing he would then sigh with possible relief. He must be in his mid thirties by now at least. I wonder if he is married did he ever tell his spouse he donated sperm? Guessing if he has kids they probably have no clue. But he must wonder if there are more out there. Does this scare him?

Seisler himself seems so far amused by it all and not overwhelmed, yet. Apparently Ben Seisler's fiance was told and from I saw on the news she is a bit concerned if all these kids start coming around looking for her husband. Seisler's story is being told as part of a documentary titled "Style Exposed: Sperm Donor,’’ which airs Sept. 27 on the Style network.

So far our four siblings, my two plus their two KNOWN half-sibs seem content with just each other as they each live in their own little worlds not even thinking about each other day to day. What their donor thinks about all this will remain a mystery.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Debate: One Donor 150 Offspring

In the past week the NY Times ran a piece titled "One Donor 150 Children". That article can be found here.

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.

Wendy's op-ed contribution was co-written with Naomi R. Cahn a law professor at George Washington University and the author of “Test Tube Families: Why the Fertility Market Needs Legal Regulation.” Their piece suggested a three prong approach at regulation, (1) required data base and tracking by the industry of donors, births, etc, (2) limnitation on the number of children that can be born from a single donor, and (3) limited disclosure of a donor's identity (i.e. reconsidering the practice of donor anonymity).

I must admit of the debate I have read so far I am amazed how some of the writers can't look beyond the donor industry and insurance company point of view and the truth of the numbers to focus on what is best for the offspring. Yes people will find limitations put before them in their quest to have a family but as a parent I think looking back, if successful, the speed bumps reform will bring will be recognized for the greater benefiit it provides society and the offspring.

Monday, September 05, 2011

General Update

I can't believe school is starting this week in NYC and that it is already September. The Summer flew by at least it felt like it did.

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

Art/Commentary - Mobile Sperm Bar Seeks Donors

The blog "Gothamist" in here in NYC reports today the following:

"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"... "

Link here for the balance of the blog posting. Interesting mix of art and commentary. On top of everything else I have explained to my children I don't expect I will go anywhere near this cart with them as I don't want to discuss what this cart is trying to say. Can't even imagine how one would start. The possibility of a child asking if this is where his donor contributed is not an image I want.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sperm Donation Google Ad vs Opinion Piece

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

Hurricane Irene - Shared Connections and Concerns

In the past 12 hours I have been trading e-mails and Facebook posts with each mom to my children's two known half siblings. Nice feeling that we are all concerned about each other.

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

Lesbian Couple Removes Donor From Birth Certificate

Just read the linked story over on BioNews about an Australian court case where a lesbian couple after petitioning the court was able to remove the name of their [known] donor's name from the birth certificate of their child. I am not sure how I feel about this.

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

Old Friends, New Friends

This morning when I dropped my kids off at camp I ran into an old friend whose child started at the camp last week. There are a lot of kids and they are broken up into different groups as most camps do so they all did not know each other before today.

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

You're a Stranger

This morning my son crawled into my bed and I called my daughter to join us stating I wanted all my children in bed with me. My son then stated, out of the blue that I am not his biological dad and that I am a stranger. Now I know he as a 9 year old likes saying things at times to get a rise out of me. I stated that he is right that biologically I am not their dad but asked why he responded like this now. He stated it was my statement about "all my children".

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

Just saying hello... Say hello back...

Not too much going on. Kids are happy and having a good Summer. They start camp in August. And I have to say I have been having a good Summer and I am quite happy too.

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

Kung Fu Panda 2 - Importance of Bloodlines in a Family ?

In Kung Fu Panda 2, the story involves Po's (jack Black) examining his relationship with his dad and the importance (or non-importance) of bloodlines in a family.

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

It’s Father’s Day, Truck out the Sperm Stories

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

Father's Day - My Annual Thank You

Once again it is hard for me to believe that is now x 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. I still worry about how the kids 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.

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 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

One Year Ago We Lost a Friend....

A year ago I learned via an anonymous comment left on the DI Dads Speak Out blog that a friend I only knew from on-line correspondence, Moondance Max, had passed away. It had been expected as Max has been sick for some time. But was no less shocking when the day finally arrived.

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 had cancer and I am not remembering the timing which came first but also that Vee was pregnant. They now have a beautiful son from the pictures I have seen.

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.

[Note: Parts of this blog post were part of the initial post I published last year on hearing of Max's passing. I offer this post as a reminder of a friend who will always be worth remembering.]

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Another View of "Donor Unknown"

Kim from the blog “Where Love and Chaos Reign” left a comment earlier today on an earlier post that she was disappointed with the film “Donor Unknown”. She posted a full review of her thoughts on her blog which I found quite interesting and worthwhile to read and encourage folks to do. Yes, I realize I have spending a lot of time and text on this one movie.

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

"Donor Unknown" - Trailer on YouTube

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.

Donor Unknown:

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

My Full Review of "Donor Unknown" - A Must See

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.

Donation Rooms

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.

Donor Remuneration

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.

In Summary

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.

Initial Reactions to "Donor Unknown"

Just finished watching the film "Donor Unknown". The following post is the comment I left on the Tribeca Film Festival website below the view screen:

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

2011 Tribeca Film Festival Debuts “Donor Unknown”

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

Could My Children Erase Me Legally ?

I read today in the NY Times of an interesting case before the NYS Courts where a woman, Nina Viola Montepagani, is looking to remove the name of her father, Giuseppe Viola, from her birth certificate or at least the name of the man who was married to her mother when she was born (and therefore legally considered her natural father). Sound like a possible donor insemination case? You might think so but it’s not. But could it have implication for families and individuals conceived via donor insemination?

The case in question in summary involves a woman’s desire to amend her birth certificate to name a man, a Dr. Sebastiano Reali, whom in all likelihood is her biological father and whom left a fortune to an Italian university as he had no existing descendants. This is not to say there is not “evidence” to support her claim or to say the woman is pursuing this goal to only gain access to possibly inheriting the aforementioned fortune. It appears she loved dearly the man that raised her as his own and he loved her. But she wants to correct a fact that she always felt was wrong.

The Court if I am reading the decision correctly said there was not enough evidence to support her claim to move her position forward thus denying her request to remove her father’s name. The implications of the case are interesting. It would seem if there would be enough evidence perhaps a “child” could in the future petition the Courts to remove the name of the man listed as their father on their birth certificates. Thus erasing the legal link to their DI Dad. I am sure there is more to the decision that that but in summary at a high level that is the question.

- - -

Monday, April 04, 2011

Perspective: "Why I have to legally adopt my own son"

Because I used to write this blog daily I am subscribed to several news alerts when articles are published regarding donor conception. Today I received a link to the above headline published by Salon yesterday on-line. I guess any topic depends on your perspective. When I first read the headline I figured it was voiced by a DI Dad like me. I was wrong.

The article is actually written by a new DI Mommy but one who is one half of lesbian couple where the non-bio parent has to adopt the child to be seen as its parent. The same thing happens to men in many states but in this case the article is written from the female perspective. Luckily for me being a NYS resident at the time of my children's birth and being legally married to their mom at that time I had no such requirement. I was considered their natural father despite the biological aspects that I am not.

Realistically the NYS law and the laws of states like it are such that there is no documentation anywhere filed with the state that states I am anything other than a natural parent. I recall something that the papers we signed with the clinic are required to be kept to complete the legalities but dont recall why at this very moment as no one ever said we would need them to prove parentage on my part. My only requirement that I know is as I stated above.

Again perspective is everything when reading headlines on this topic.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Newsweek Story re Site

Newsweek article title: "Donor-Conceived and Out of the Closet"

There is an article in this week's Newsweek which focuses on the website 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.