Sunday, November 30, 2008's a Secret

My friend Kelly brought my attention to this Post Secret from today...

I don't know who sent this in, but whoever you are - thank you, thank you for being so painfully honest to speak the truth.   I don't agree completely with this individual -- I am not envious of adoptees, but the rationale nonetheless, is powerful.  We were commodified long before we were conceived (unlike adoptees), and the perception that we were so "loved" and "wanted" does not make up for our loss.  

To know that our biological fathers were handed $40 after jacking off and left to buy beer or textbooks without a second thought of the children they are so carelessly creating is horrifying.  I know not all donors have this frame of mind, but many do, and the ones who so foolishly believe that they are "helping" people have become just as brainwashed as the rest of society who only sees one side of the story...that the pain of infertility is superior to the pain of the loss of one's biological family.    

This is not totally their fault.  Most of the donors are young and naive, and are never exposed to our side of the story.  They are never told that they are creating children that they will never be able to meet.  Their sperm is medicinalized and its true purpose is skewed with words like "helping people" --- not once does the infertility industry say that these donors are creating THEIR OWN BIOLOGICAL CHILDREN!!  And that those children will be equally like the children that they may later father in a committed relationship, and that those children will be forever missing siblings.  

The problem is, most everyone can relate to infertility.  The majority of the population either knows someone who is infertile, or has suffered from infertility personally.  On the other hand, the majority of the population has NEVER met anyone donor-conceived, and most people do not want to admit that there are adults who are donor-conceived.  It is much easier to see them as cute little babies, rather than angry adults.  This leads to an unbalanced number of people that only want to see one side of the story, because the other side conflicts with what they previously have been exposed to.  When they hear donor-conceived adults speaking out, they want to put us in a box and continue to argue that we are troubled and that what we are demanding is wrong because we should be grateful and we are so loved and wanted, etc etc.  

All it takes is sympathy and understanding people!!  Even if you're not infertile, you can sympathize with the why can't you sympathize with us?!?  What is so absolutely reprehensible about our feelings that you must degrade us and insult us??  Why are we continued to be treated as second-class citizens --- first we are denied any knowledge of half of our identity, and then after that we are spit in the face by society for saying that we want it back!!

ADDENDUM: An interesting conversation is going on right now on the Post Secret forums about this secret.  Many donor-conceived individuals are coming out of the woodwork with a variety of different viewpoints.

Friday, November 21, 2008

How to search for your sperm donor father - Part III

Bay area girl finds Sperm Donor Father on Myspace
November 20, 2008
CBS 5 - San Francisco
By Dr. Kim Mulvihill, MD

She didn't know his name, or what he looked like.  But a Bay Area girl born from a sperm donor was determined to find her biological father.  

Seventeen years ago, before medical school and a move to Los Angeles, Dr. Todd Whitehurst studied electrical engineering in the Bay Area.  The bright young grad student saw an ad for a local sperm bank and thought "Why not?"

Fast forward to January 2007, this time the bright young student is a 14-year-old Bay Area girl named Virginia.  She was conceived with the help of an anonymous sperm donor, a fact her mother never hid from her.  Even so, Virginia had questions.

Our video has more.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How to search for your sperm donor father - Part II

I recently discovered a new tool for people searching for their biological fathers....all you need to know is that your 'donor' was a student (college, medical school etc...) at the time of donation, which many donors were.  If you know the exact college/university that's the best - often a clinic/bank is connected to a specific school, but if not check out what schools are nearby.  Do a google search for the school in quotations and alumni.  Ex: "Augusta State University" and alumni and 1983.  

For most medium-large schools they have a listing, and it normally comes up as a hit, sometimes on the second or third page.  This is a way to bypass needing to be a paid member of to access information.  Here's the listing for Augusta State University on and the Medical College of Georgia on

If is a hit, there should be a list of every member who listed that school as attended.  It should also list the years they attended.  For me, I was looking at Augusta State University and the Medical College of Georgia (because I have a hunch he was in science/medicine based on my own interests), and I was looking for men who attended one or both of these schools anywhere from 1979 to 1989.

I wrote down every male who attended either of those schools during the 10 years that I assume they were in college/graduate school (since he was a senior in 1982, but didn't stop donating until 1989 - leads me to assume he was short on money for about 7 years post-college, and most graduate (PhD or medical/residency programs) are 6-7 years in length).  I also checked that they graduated from high school around 1978, so that I was not looking at non-traditional students who may have been older and in school at that time.  

Then, I went to the Free Birthday Database and entered their name in to see if anyone came up as being born 2/12/61.  Since I tested the site to see how accurate it was, and many people I entered weren't in the database, I assumed it was not a perfect system, so I also googled these names, and for many of the men from the Medical College of Georgia who are now doctors, I was able to see photographs of them, and read more extensive biographies.  

While many of the men I was able to knock off my list of candidates for finding information that led me to believe that they did not fit the profile, there are still a handful of men who I have no excluded - and of course it is likely that my biological father is not a member of and therefore I would not find him this way.  BUT, it is another tool for us to use to try and decipher who we are.

Monday, November 17, 2008

'I could have 300 siblings'

By Jo Rose
The Guardian
November 14, 2008

As a child, Jo Rose discovered her father was a sperm donor.  At 36, she still hasn't found him.  She describes the battle to have her rights recognized and find her identity...

One day, when I was about seven or eight, my dad started crying.

I wanted to know what was the matter, and he told me I had been conceived by donor insemination. I remember thinking that teaspoons were somehow involved, because he'd used the phrase medical treatment, and teaspoons were what medicine came on, but I didn't really understand what he meant. I grasped that he wasn't my father, but I didn't understand who was. I remember feeling it was my responsibility to make him feel better though, so I wiped away his tears and said, "Don't worry, I love you and you're the only dad I know."

Throughout my childhood, my family would use phrases such as "donor conception" quite openly, but they never acted as if this meant I had a genetic father, or a different paternal family out there, even as I got older.

I didn't tell friends I was donor-conceived until I was a teenager, and even then I didn't think about what it meant.

By my mid-teens, I felt uncomfortable and confused about who I was, but I didn't have the words to verbalise it all. I started suffering from bulimia and bouts of depression - it was like a cauldron of black stuff that would bubble up every so often - but I couldn't have told you what it was about.

Then, in my early 20s, I happened to attend a conference where adoptees talked about their feelings of "genealogical bewilderment". That night, I had a dream where two fathers appeared. One was talking to me on the phone and the other was looking at me through a hospital glass window. I woke up in a sweat, with heart palpitations. It was as though I suddenly realised that I did have two fathers. I ran to the mirror, grabbed my long hair and put it where a moustache or beard would be to see what he might look like.

I felt huge relief, but I found myself with more and more unanswered questions. What would it be like to look my genetic father in the eyes? What colour were they? Were they gentle? Would I like him and would he like me? I felt incensed about not knowing who my siblings were either. What did we have in common? Were they funny, or tall, or nice?

Around the same time, I started to experience grief and loss at not being related to the dad who raised me. I grieved that I was not Jewish, like him; I was not part of that rich, familiar and beautiful heritage.

Like many adopted people, I wanted to trace my genetic relatives to find out who I really was. But while it's accepted that a lot of adopted people feel this way, I came up against a complete denial about the long-term consequences for those who have been donor-conceived.

A few years after I started looking, some friends rang to say they had seen a man called Dr Beeney on TV. He had written a book, in which he claimed that a small number of medical students from Bart's - now high-profile doctors - had donated sperm time and time again up and down Harley Street. They had treated the clinics as a "wank bank", he said, and he estimated that he and his friends must have fathered between 100 and 300 children each. He had written the book because he had re-evaluated his actions and had been really troubled by the biological and moral consequences of what he had done.

I was shocked. That meant that I could have up to 300 brothers and sisters out there. But I was also incredibly excited, and longed for him to be my father. I contacted him and we both took blood tests. Our blood types were compatible, but when a DNA test came back negative I wept. I was desolate.

Not only was he not my father, but it was dehumanising and deeply upsetting to know that I was bred with plastic gloves, and without any thought or understanding of the long-term significance of my genetic kinship.

In 1998, I went to the high court with a case against the government. I argued that, like adopted people, I should be given access to my genetic identity. Finally, in 2002, my case helped to lead to a ban on anonymity for sperm donors, which came into force in 2005. I would like to have taken it further - to include making it mandatory to state on your birth certificate if you are donor conceived (at the moment unless you're told by your parents - and it is currently estimated that more than 85% are not -your birth certificate gives misleading information). I also wanted to pursue the mandatory safeguarding of our records, which are currently being destroyed, and the retrospective rights of access that adoptees gained in 1975. But after a seven-year battle, I had lost a lot of money.

Beeney is not my father, but I have reason to believe someone else in his group is.

Unfortunately, however, that man threatened legal action when I politely requested access to what could be my medical history. I have not lost hope about meeting some half-siblings, though, especially as there are probably so many of them. In fact, I frequently receive messages from other donor offspring, who send their photos and ask if I look like them.

Given the number of half-siblings I most likely have, I do have concerns that I might wind up having a relationship with one of them unwittingly. I know of other donor offspring who share that worry. In adoption, the issue of genetic sexual attraction is recognised - you are more likely to be attracted to someone you have some genetic commonality with. For us, it's not, despite the fact that so many people do not realise they are donor conceived.

Despite my sense of injustice, I love and am loyal to my family. But it is still a very sensitive and prickly issue, and relationships can feel deeply strained at times. My mum and dad - who are now divorced - have made massive efforts to understand how I feel, but it can still be very difficult. I think that like many people who go through donor insemination, they were naive and deeply focused on themselves and their infertility.

It's not that I don't feel for people who have fertility issues. If people genuinely want to have a child and can't, that is tragic. But on the other hand, should you have a right to access somebody else's reproductive capacity without even knowing them, and with no thought for the identity of the human being who is produced?

Today, UK regulations stipulate that the maximum number of families that can use sperm from the same donor is 10, but this week the British Fertility Society is pushing for more. It says there is a shortage of sperm donors, as if this were a serious public concern. Radical reform of the current system is needed, it says, preferably [the removal of] donor anonymity in light of the fact that currently 35% of potential donors drop out after their first inquiry. But I see this dropout rate as good. I think those men who decide, upon reflection, that it's not for them are to be supported and admired. If you compare donor insemination to giving your child up for adoption, you see it for what it is.

One of the most upsetting things for me about the way I was brought into the world is the blatant double standard involved. My mother's need to have a genetic link to her child was valued, while my need to know, love and understand the father with whom I have a genetic link was not.

• Jo Rose was talking to Kate Hilpern. For information about UK Donor Link call 0113 278 3217 or visit

***** [the removal of] = typo, should be "to reinstate"

Sunday, November 16, 2008

More from Anti-Adoption Adoptees

Sorry I deleted this post a few days ago...I was having some difficulties with blogger and it wouldn't display correctly, despite my tweaking - so here it is once again!!

Some new links of interest in the adoption community:

Children of Corn - a new blog from Marley Greiner of The Daily Bastardette and Lauren Sabina Kneisly of Baby Love Child which has been documenting the recent atrocity of "big kid dumping" in Nebraska since July when their baby safe haven law went into effect without an age limit.  A memorial to the over 30 teenagers who have been legally abandoned by their parents or guardians so they may never be forgotten, the blog also is complete with information, recent events, and updates regarding this tragedy.

Anti-Adoption Confusion - a blog from Michelle which expounds the reasoning behind adoptees being anti-adoption...a beautiful read which parallels donor conceived people who are demanding accountability from the reckless actions of the infertility industry.  

Some of her points are that adoption:

1) changed her name and legally denied her access to her original birth certificate
2) gave her non-identifying information and told her to be grateful for it
3) legally denied her mother, father and siblings to know her identity or whereabouts
4) assumes that adoptees will cause harm if they receive their original birth certificate
5) gives no reason why her birth certificate is sealed
6) sells humans
7) only allows mothers 24-48 hours (in some places) to revoke the relinquishment
8) does not require mandatory child advocates representing the best interests of the child

Please go and read this post, because it is so true, and relates to donor conception on so many levels.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

New blog!!

Kathleen LaBounty has started a blog called "Child of a Stranger", about her personal search - tracking down donors from the early 1980s at Baylor College of Medicine, and have gone through 16 negative DNA tests on her quest to find her biological father.

She has been featured on the Oprah Show, The Today Show, Cosmopolitan Magazine, and various newspaper and local news stations.  She is also the co-author of the recently published research, Voices of Adult Offspring of Sperm Donation.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Voices of Adult Offspring of Sperm Donation

The Voices of Adult Offspring of Sperm Donation: Forces for Change within Assisted Reproductive Technology in the United States
Patricia P. Mahlstedt, Ed.D., Kathleen LaBounty, B.A., William T. Kennedy, Ed.D.
Presented at the American Society of Reproductive Medicine Conference, November 8-12, San Francisco


To provide an in-depth analysis of offspring attitudes toward their means of conception and the practice of sperm donation in the United States.

Materials & Methods: 

Eighty-five (85) offspring between the ages of 20 and 65 voluntarily completed a 46-item questionnaire created by the authors, which was provided through a link to an online site.


I. Attitude toward means of conception

A majority...

1. learned of their donor conception over the age of 18 in a planned conversation with their mothers
2. had little to no information on their donor
3. wanted to meet or obtain identifying information on their donors
4. referred to their donor as 'biological father'
5. had searched for their donor
6. wanted to meet half-siblings
7. would like donor's name on birth certificate

II. Attitudes toward the practice of sperm donation

A. Would you use sperm donation as a means of conception?
1. no, would not use sperm donation - 52.7%
2. yes, identity release sperm donation - 15.3%
3. yes, anonymous sperm donation - 8.3%
4. don't know

B. Would you be an egg or sperm donor?
1. no - 62.4%
2. yes - 14.4%
3. don't know - 23.2%


Though conception is the end of treatment for physicians and patients, it is the beginning of life for donor offspring.  As our respondents have communicated, they want to know the truth.  They want their parents to feel safe in their donor choice and confident in their abilities to share it with them.  

The emphasize that decisions made prior to conception concerning the choice of sperm donation impact many aspects of their future lives:

A. Their attitudes toward the donor conception itself
B. Their attitudes toward their parents
C. Their accurate identity development
D. Their abilities to make informed medical decisions throughout their lives
E. Their opinions for locating the donor if they so need or desire

The adult offspring in this study encouraged providers of third-party reproduction to:

A. View donor conception as a position option in which there is no need for anonymity or secrecy
B. Encourage the use of donors who provide identifying information for offspring future needs
C. Understand and acknowledge the importance of the donor to most offspring
D. Integrate counseling into the sperm donation treatment plan in order for potential parents to...

1. address the losses that proceed this choice
2. learn more about the lifelong challenges of having non-genetic offspring
3. create parental confidence for addressing those challenges

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Adoption and Donor Conception Parallels


Via Gershom on Anti-Adoption:
"Adoption is not a band-aid for infertility and it never should be. It doesn’t heal someones infertility and putting that responsibility onto a child grieving the loss of their mother is dismissive and not honoring the emotional well being of the child."
"There are many ways to care for children, but i do not support in the ownership of them and that is what adoption is to me. It is buying, selling, renaming and falsifying their documents to make the sale legal. It is exploiting and profiting off of the adoptee with no intention of helping them in any way shape or form."
Why would anybody who was raised in a loving home be unhappy about being adopted?


I'm currently in the middle of reading the book "Family Matters: Secrecy and Disclosure in the History of Adoption" by Wayne Carp, and it first discusses the early days of adoption - where it was no secret, adoption records were open, and adoptees were always told, then the age of secrecy - where adoption records were sealed and the adoptees were unable to ever see their original birth certificate, and social workers advocated a-parents never to their their children, and finally the emergence of the adoption rights movement and the move towards open records and open adoptions.

While I have always been one to acknowledge the similarities between us and adoptees in regards to the grief and loss, I never realized how negatively adoptees were treated at the birth of the adoption rights movement in the early 1970s - almost identically to how donor conceived adults are treated today by a society that scorns us for disagreeing with the method of our conception, and tells us we should be grateful to be alive, etc.  Carp explains that the ignorant society saw adoption and adoption agencies as "good and altruistic" without regard to what was really going on within them...thus discounting the adult adoptees who were accusing the industry of denying them these rights.  The words "good" and "altruistic" in regards to helping people have children are oftentimes synonymous with donor conception, and the tragic losses brought to the children are never fully accepted. 

When I finish the book (probably tonight), I will try to write up a nice little summary with some fantastic quotes I found and post that later.

ADDENDUM: After finishing Carp's book I found it interesting in the historical contexts of adoption in the past century, however his ultimate conclusions (which I hadn't gotten to yet when I last posted) were ultimately troubling.  I will post more comments in a later post when I get some free time.  I was reading this book for an archives class, so now I must write a book review, but focus on the interest to archivists/archives.....oh dear, how can I not make this too personal?!?!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Waiting on the World to Change

Now we see everything that's going wrong
With the world and those who lead it
We just feel like we don't have the means
To rise above and beat it

It's hard to beat the system
When we're standing at a distance
So we keep waiting
Waiting on the world to change

It's not that we don't care,
We just know that the fight ain't fair
So we keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change

One day our generation
Is gonna rule the population
So we keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change
~John Mayer

I felt "Waiting on the World to Change" was an appropriate start to what I like to see as a historic moment for donor conceived people on this side of the Atlantic.

First and foremost, congratulations to Olivia Pratten for taking on the British Columbia Supreme Court in what will [hopefully] set a legal precedent for the rest of Canada and possibly even the US!!  I had the opportunity to meet this amazing young woman in 2005 while at the Infertility Network's Donor Conception Symposium in Toronto.  There were a handful of us offspring present at the conference - Joanna Rose, Becca Hamilton, myself, Olivia, and several others.  In the middle of the conference Olivia gave an impromptu speech from the a former "poster-child" she stood up and told the entire conference, for the first time ever, that she disagreed with donor conception, and that she felt it was her right to know her biological father and that no one has the right to deny someone that.  I don't think there was a dry eye in the house (at least for those of us offspring present, who understood just how hard that was).  To see her then and be proud of her for being so frank and heart-felt, and to see her now taking on the government - I am SOOOO unbelievably proud of her!!!

Secondly, this week an interesting conversation has ensued on PCVAI.  We offspring in the US are finally realizing that our futures should not be dependent on the hands of the DI mothers who put us in this situation, with their registries that do little for older offspring without donor numbers or information.  A registry is only as good as it's database (as is CaBRI), and these registries are not targeting the people that we, as adult offspring, need to target.  Donors aren't stay-at-home moms that spend their days watching Oprah and morning syndicated talk shows, so they're not going to hear about these registries.  Local papers may attract some people, but again, they're not targeting the right people.  What we, as adult offspring need, is a better way to target and advertise the registries to the people who were past donors.  Our idea is to write a story and ask Alumni magazines of colleges and universities (which have/are affiliated with or recruit donors for major sperm banks and clinics) to publish the story in their quarterly/monthly magazine for past donors to see.  It is our duty to stand up and start fighting for attention, rather than sit back and wait for our donors to accidentally stumble across the registries themselves.  

Well, I was going to write more here, but being that it's midnight I think I will retire for the evening.  I will keep updates posted about both Olivia's court hearing and PCVAI's alumni magazine advertising.