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.