Friday, October 31, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
VANCOUVER - The daughter of an anonymous sperm donor has filed a legal action against the attorney general of B.C., seeking to change the rules that currently deprive children born by way of "gamete donation" the identity and history of one of their biological parents.
Olivia Pratten filed the proposed class action in B.C. Supreme Court, claiming that the records relating to the identity of the biological parents of an adopted person are preserved, but the records relating to a gamete donor are only required to be preserved for six years.
Once destroyed, a person born by way of a donor cannot get the medical or social history of a donor, and cannot learn crucial components of their identity such as racial, cultural, religious and linguistic history, which may cause psychological distress, the legal action claims.
"The information in the donor records could one day be vital to Olivia's health," the court document says.
"If the donor records are lost or destroyed, that information will be lost for all time and Olivia's health and safety could be compromised as a result."
Pratten, who seeks to have donor records preserved permanently, also seeks to know the identity of her biological father.
"That knowledge would alleviate the psychological distress that Olivia experiences in not knowing her biological origins," the legal action states.
"The differential treatment imposes a disadvantage on the plaintiff and class members, in comparison with those people who are adopted," the court document says.
"Many of the members of the class were conceived by gamete donation because of the physical disability of one of their parents which resulted in his or her infertility," the statement of claim says.
The legal action states those conceived by gamete donation are discriminated against, violating protections enshrined under Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Vancouver lawyer Joe Arvay, a constitutional specialist, is handling the lawsuit on behalf of Pratten and other potential class members.
For more than a decade, Pratten has advocated change in the area of reproductive technologies and was featured in the CBC documentary "Genetic Orphans."
In 1981, Pratten's mother visited a Vancouver doctor, Gerald Korn, now retired, because her mother's husband was infertile; her mother was impregnated with donor sperm through insemination.
The mother informed her daughter from an early age that she was conceived by way of donor insemination.
Pratten says the only information about her biological father disclosed by Korn was that he was a healthy Caucasian medical student who had a stocky build, brown hair, blue eyes and type A blood.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
"My So-Called Family" by Courtney Sheinmel - $11.99 hardcover @ Amazon.com
From the reviews it seems like a very well written book and really takes on the issues that we face. I will try to get a copy of it and see for myself what happens, but in the meantime it looks like a good novel for any teenage DC person to read.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
As I mentioned during my introduction in class last week, I was conceived by an anonymous sperm donor and I write a blog called “Confessions of a Cryokid”. On my blog I discuss issues related to donor conception from the eyes of those of us who are most affected by it, but I also discuss and chronicle my own personal search and give advice and resources for others trying to search.
There is such a huge degree of variance in what information offspring have in regards to their donors – many older offspring who were conceived in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, prior to cryogenically frozen sperm and large-scale sperm banks, all they may know is a doctor’s name or a clinic and nothing else. Those of us conceived in the 1970s and 80s might have information such as hair color, eye color, height, and possibly ethnicity or occupation. The lucky ones might have a donor number, which is imperative for offspring to find siblings and possibly their biological father on donor conception registries. Today children conceived by a donor may even have the ability to know his name upon turning 18, but others who still have anonymous donors have personal intimate information and even pictures of their donors, depending on how much money their parent(s) wanted to spend.
I was one of those lucky ones with a donor number, but only after five long years of searching. Once I had the donor number (found in my mother’s medical records as a “vial number”) I was able to contact the sperm bank and get more non-identifying information on my biological father. “Brown hair, green eyes, 6’0, and was a senior in college in 1982 when he began donating.” The sperm bank also told me he donated until 1989. What I was not expecting was to receive his birth date! Even though I don’t know where he was born, the sperm bank is located in Augusta, Georgia, and therefore he was likely a student at Augusta State University (called Augusta College at the time), since that’s where the majority of donors were recruited from in the early years and graduated in 1983.
That was eight months ago, and since then I have routinely searched the Internet far and wide to try and find more information. Not only am I registered on every available registry, but I have gone through several DNA tests and have my X chromosome information in a Donor Gamete Archive database, where they cross your X chromosome inherited from the donor to all the other females (Y chromosome for males) in the database for sibling matches, as well as the donor. However, probably the most intensive and grueling task is combing the web for my biological father, or at least potential men who could possibly be my biological father. Since it’s time consuming and complicated (and obviously has yet to reveal anything of substance), I only attempt this once every few months. Last week I attempted it again and I’ll describe the steps that I most typically take to do this.
- I first do a basic Google search with the phrase “born February 12, 1961” (the birth date identified as my biological father’s)
41 hits found
A death notice for a Dr. Gerald Reagan, born February 12, 1961, died September 3, 2006 in Bethlehem, PA. “He attended Penn State University and graduated from Life University, Georgia with a Masters in Sports Medicine and a Doctorate of Chiropractic.”
This is a possibility (albeit a sad one since he’s now deceased), so a further search on Life University in Georgia tells me that it’s in Marietta, Georgia. Doing a Google map search for the distance between Marietta and Augusta shows me it’s approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes apart. While plausible, highly unlikely for a college/graduate student to travel nearly 6 hours 3 times a week to make a donation for 7 years straight.
A page on Genealogy.com for the descendents of Joseph Patterson. Using the cached feature on Google I’m able to find exactly where the phrase “born February 12, 1961” is. It turns out it’s a woman, so that’s definitely not the one!
Other hits include:
An American actor and stand-up comic, Brian Haley (http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Brian-Haley), but it’s noted in the biography that he was in the US Army from 1980 to 1985, so that knocks him off my list.
A lawyer, Douglas Crisman (http://www.lawyers.com/California/Palo-Alto/Morgan,-Lewis-and-Bockius-LLP-2748058-f.html), who was born on February 12, 1961, but received his BS from Indiana University and his JD from Cornell – not possible distance-wise.
Others are foreign people, other women on genealogy websites, other famous people, as well as several hits directed to my blog where I have his information posted.
- My second Google search is typically one of the other bits of information I have about him – such as “Augusta College 1983”
16 hits found
The educational background of a lawyer Mark Wortham, who graduated from Augusta College in 1983 and graduated from Georgia State in 1986. It’s probably unlikely, since he graduated from law school in 86, that he would continue donating until 1989 since it says he was admitted to the Georgia Supreme Court in 1987.
The other searches were immediately not what I was looking for and were not further investigated.
While a more in depth search may have included many other search terms, this is a general idea of how I go about this. Even though I may not have found my biological father, or even a man I would consider a prime candidate, it has given me excellent research experience in maneuvering the web, and how to search in the most unlikely ways. It has given me experience in going through genealogy websites, which will be beneficial for what I want to specialize in. I will continue to complete this task until one day I might chance upon someone who could possibly be my biological father. What I would do at that point I have no clue.