Thursday, January 29, 2009

Shame on you Cheryl Miller!!!

The February 2009 issue of Reason Magazine features an article entitled "Who's Your Daddy?: Children of sperm donors are seeking more information about their once-anonymous fathers, sometimes at the risk of the infertility industry itself." written by Cheryl Miller.  

Not only is this article very poorly researched, and most of the "facts" are downright lies, but Cheryl Miller had once written articles such as "Donated Generation" for the New Atlantis that was very well written and very supportive of our cause.  Now, however it seems that that was all a lie, she was not a supporter but rather a hater of donor conceived adults!!

Cheryl is delusional and apparently under the assumption that "we" as donor conceived adults are a threat to her libertarian laissez-faire sperm vendor market, because if we ban anonymous donors then all the donors are going to stop donating, and all those poor infertile couples, lesbians and single moms are going to have to live without a baby like they have since the beginning of time!!

MAYBE Cheryl, the reason is that the donors are realizing what they are doing and DO NOT want to sell their children to strangers!!!  Ever think of that?!?!  

This is absolute bullshit Cheryl, and I am pissed that we ever trusted you to be on our side because it's obvious that you just write what people pay you to write and you have no conscious whatsoever!!  

If you feel up to it, please comment on the article here.  Pay particular attention to Bill Cordray's and Donorconceived's comments.  The discussion makes me way too angry to even begin to comment there, but check it out!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

IDOA 2008 Report: United States

IDOA 2008 Report: United States

While anonymous donors are still the status quo across the US, current trends in American sperm banks are seeing a significant increase in individuals and couples (primarily in the GLBT community) choosing open ID donors rather than anonymous.  This move to open-identity donors gives many offspring the peace of mind upon turning 18 to have contact with their biological father, but it actually creates two distinct classes of donor conceived persons – those who are fortunate to have been conceived from a donor who chose to be open and those who will forever be lost to half of their identity.  

The only way to resolve this two class system is to eradicate anonymous donors altogether, as many other states and countries have begun doing in the last two decades.  The year 2008 has brought significant light on donor conception and the issues surrounding gamete donation and reproductive technologies as a whole, but the United States still has a very long way to go to even begin to catch up to the rest of the world.


There have been several significant research studies completed or currently in process on donor conception and the views of adult offspring, which are slowly changing the perception of the American society to a more neutral or negative view of anonymous donors, and the impact of gamete donation on those created by these practices.

Voices of Adult Donor Offspring of Sperm Donation: Forces for Change Within Assisted Reproductive Technology in the United States

Patricia P. Mahlstedt, Kathleen R. LaBounty, and William T. Kennedy

Offspring Searching for Their ‘Donor Siblings’ and Donors: Motivations and Experiences

Vasanti Jadva, Tabitha Freeman, Wendy Kramer, and Susan Golombok

“My Daddy’s Name is Donor”: Adults Rights, Children’s Needs, and the New Meaning of Parenthood 

Elizabeth Marquardt (Upcoming – 2009)


The American news media has been very influential in assisting the movement and helping our voices be heard.  In 2008, hundreds of newspaper, magazine, and television stories across the country have featured donor conceived individuals (adults and children), sperm donors, half-sibling reunions, and searches.  Several syndicated talk shows, such as Oprah, Dr. Phil, The Today Show, and the Morning Show with Mike & Juliet, have also discussed donor conception, though often with a sugar-coated message.

Many American donor-conceived adults (and even some parents) have become more vocal, not only in both the national and local media, but also on the Internet, with several noteworthy blogs discussing the issues surrounding donor conception.  These voices are quickly becoming an integral part for educating the general public and those within the community about these issues.

Confessions of a Cryokid - 

Whosedaughter – 

Child of a Stranger – 

Life as a Dad to Donor Insemination Kids – 

Legal Discrimination Concerns:

With Olivia Pratten’s case in British Columbia looming, the legal perspective of the unconstitutionality of current donor conception practice is knocking on America’s door.  In order to establish that anonymous donations are unconstitutional, we must first defend that the so-called confidentiality agreements are of questionable constitutionality, because they are directly discriminating against individuals created by such contracts, and then we must convey that persons created by gamete donations are discriminated against by the United States under the equal-protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

Persons created from gamete donations are considered an exception to standard law of parental obligations, where children born via donor sperm are generally not considered legally entitled to a father unless their mother is married to a man who consents to their conception.  Children born from donor sperm are considered to be not related at all to their genetic father, and courts generally regard donor-conceived children to have no legal rights of support from parents except for the support that parents agree to supply (See:

In the 1970’s, a series of Supreme Court decisions abolished common law disabilities of illegitimacy, as being in violation of the equal-protection clause of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution.  However, those of us conceived from a ‘sperm vendor’ are considered an exception to this law and are still legally discriminated against.  

If we consider our situations to be of similar circumstances to those born out of wedlock (we are not from our biological/genetic parents marriage, therefore not welcome, and not a part of that family), then based on the definition of discrimination (“involves treating someone less favorably because of their possession of an attribute – e.g. sex, age, race, religion, family status, national origins, military status, sexual orientation, disability, body size/shape – compared with someone without that attribute in the same circumstances” – See:, this is surely grounds for a lawsuit.

According to Bill Cordray, in his article “Is Anonymity Constitutional” (See:

“We are often told we should accept the fact that clinics are not obligated to release identifying information to us. The presumption is that the contracts drawn up by clinics or doctors are legally binding and guarantee a donor’s right to anonymity. In fact, some courts have held such contracts as invalid, as cited by Tom [Sylvester] in the Johnson v. Superior Court case (See: “A Case Against Sperm Donor Anonymity” The donor’s right to anonymity is not codified anywhere and is simply an untested privilege invented by the infertility industry. 

Although there is an assumption of a right to the use of donor insemination, this does not mean that this right has priority over children’s rights. These contracts are not seen by individual state laws as a means to deny our access to information. At best they ensure that there will be no interference from the donor into the parental autonomy and familial privacy interests while children are under the authority of their family’s protection as minors. However, such interests disappear when a child reaches adulthood and attains individual autonomy. There is nothing in these contracts that would hold DI adults to the terms of anonymity, particularly since they were not a party to the agreement.  

The constitutionality of DI contracts is definitely questionable. This is the core of my belief in the case for abolition of anonymity.  If the contracts cannot meet the substantive due process clause of the 14th amendment, then the terms are designed to protect the identity of the man who fathers a DI child are not defensible and are therefore could be ruled “unconstitutional.”

Section 1 of the 14th Amendment:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law, which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Adoption Rights Movement:

Lastly, the adoption rights movement in the United States is a growing community of adoptees, first parents, adoptive parents, human rights activists, legislators, and now donor conceived individuals.  Only five states [six after January 1st, when Maine unseals their records] in the US have unsealed records, but the growing amount of dissent among adoptees is helping to pave the road for better access.  As donor conceived individuals, we need to stand with our fellow adoptees, because the faster adoptees gain these rights, the faster donor conceived individuals will follow.  

The American Adoption Congress’s 2008 Conference in Portland, Oregon discussed donor conception, and Bill Cordray presented a talk on the parallel issues between donor-conceived adults and adoptees.  In 2009, the AAC will be held from April 22-26th in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Adoptee Rights Demonstration will be held on July 21st in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  We must attend these events and network with the adoption rights movement in order to gain assistance in our own movement in the United States.  

Monday, January 26, 2009

Ode to 2009, and other random meanderings

Lets see, 2009 is really shaping up to be.....ehm, interesting, to say the least!! 

1.  President Barack Obama was inaugurated last Tuesday.  It truly was a historic moment.  It was amazing at school the entire campus stopped and people were clustered around TVs in hallways, in the campus center, the bookstore, the bars, the classrooms.  Even my mom said that at her school every teacher stopped teaching and all the kids in the elementary school watched this historic moment.  As I was watching President Obama's speech, and watching the crowds of college/graduate students, professors, administrators, and staff crammed in the Kent State student center, it strangely enough reminded me of the last great historic moment in my lifetime.  September 11, 2001.  Then, I was a junior in high school, and against the wishes of our school admins, all the teachers continued to show the CNN coverage of that fateful day.  I spent the entire day worried that our speech tournament that weekend at Wake Forest University was going to be cancelled (which it was b/c most of the teams fly and since the airlines stopped, the national invitational was cancelled).  I suppose by not really acknowledging it was my coping mechanism...I'm really not that insensitive!!  While last Tuesday was a historic moment of hope and not of tragedy, the way the world stopped, and all eyes turned to the United States, it amazes me.  It really amazes me.  I hope that President Obama can accomplish all that he promised during the election, so that America and the world really will be a better place to live.

2.  The job market is looking bleak, as today (so-called "Bloody Monday") 71,400 jobs were lost, and over 200,000 have been lost since the start of the year.  Apparently I won't be finding a job in the near future! :o(  I have a possible interview for a substitute research assistant position at a local library, but I haven't heard back, so who knows.  In the meantime, I'm going to annoy the blogosphere with even more posts here on Cryokid (and possibly some commentary on Donor Conceived as well), because I have entirely too much time on my hands.

3.  Everyone in my family has been sick already and I've been in and out of the ER and doctor's and neurologists for the past three weeks trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with me.  Apparently I've been having migraines frequently for years, but never realized that what I called "sinus headaches" and probably ODed several times on Sudafed over years, were actually migraines.  When people tell me it's all in my head now I can proudly admit that they're right!  I also have an enlarged pituitary (don't get as alarmed as I did when I heard that....I predicted my death to some rare tumor the day after I got home from the hospital), but my neurologist doesn't seem super concerned.  I did have an MRI on Friday, and all I can say is Ritalin or Valium needs to be administered before an individual is forced to lie still for an hour on a board inside a tube that makes horrible piercing loud ticking sounds -- and no, the ear plugs don't do squat!  Also, as the troublesome little patient that I've always been, the poor radiologist couldn't find my veins (no one really can, basically they stab me in the arm a dozen or so times until they strike oil), so I ended up with one of those IVs in my hand, and I gotta say, it hurt like a MFer!!

4.  I'm really pissed that every doctor I go to I have to put down "N/A" for father's medical history.  Who knows, it could be that these migraines are from something more severe.  It's said that migraine headaches are very genetically based, in that if one of your parents had migraines it's likely that you will too, and if both parents had migraines, you're SOL.  My mom used to get migraines during that time of the month, but definitely not several times a week like me.  So who knows, maybe my bio father suffered from migraine headaches as well...if he was a med student, he might have written them off to be the over-inhalation of formaldehyde during those long sessions huddled over their cadavers with scalpels.  Nonetheless, nothing on the PATHETIC medical history form that Xytex gave me last February mentions anything of any medical/physical problem with him.  Apparently his parents were the picture of health (at ages 40 and 41 at the time), and all but one grandparent was alive (the dead one died of a heart attack ---- which I'm a walking time bomb on my mom's side already with HBP, heart failure, coronary heart disease, high cholesterol, etc).  How many 20 year old boys do you know that know their extensive family medical history anyways?!?!  And to top it off, the clinics/sperm banks do absolutely NO checking of the rubbish that these little boys put down as fact, and that their children and grandchildren have to believe as fact for they have nothing else to believe.

5.  So school started back last week, but I only had one class - this week I have 2, and next week I finally have my first full week of all 3 classes this semester!  I'm taking a genealogy class, a health literacy class and another core LIS class (foundations).  I'm also the official writing center for my two little sisters ---- hey, they pay me to do their writing assignments, and I'm too poor to turn down financial incentives!  Unfortunately they're both taking some freshman writing class at their universities, so I'm going to be a bit busy!

6.  In 5 days I turn

7.  And last, but definitely not least ---- I may have found a half-sister!!!  I'm not going to write much on this right now, because I don't want to jinx myself, but I'm currently waiting for the results of a DNA test with a possible sibling.  I would like to thank Kate Styer and Identigene for their exceptional generosity.  Please visit Identigene's two blogs: My Story Related (finding families with DNA tests) and Ask Kate (DNA and DNA tests)  Cross your fingers for me please!!  We should know in the next month what the results are!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

To test or not to test...DNA half-siblingship tests

Please see 11/16/09 update about siblingship DNA tests here: "Even more about DNA half-siblingship tests"


In response to several questions over the last few weeks from some distraught donor conceived adults, I'm going to discuss DNA testing, specifically half-siblingship DNA tests, and how they can help donor conceived persons find paternal relatives.

In short, a siblingship DNA test is an autosomal (across the entire genome) test of typically 15 markers [see: Whatcha gonna do with all that junk, all that junk in your...DNA?? for more information about these markers] that two potential siblings do to determine HOW LIKELY it is that they are siblings. There is also half-siblingship tests that determine how likely it is that both individuals share one common parent. The latter is quite handy for donor conceived offspring to test whether or not they have found a sibling, especially if neither individual has a donor number.

Typically, at least one mother must be tested as well for this to be accurate. Since siblings only share 50% of their DNA, half-siblings only share about 25% of their DNA, which means that often many of the markers do not match. The mother can determine which allele at a certain marker the child inherited from her, and thus by process of elimination, which allele came from the father. If one mother is tested, this is usually enough information to determine if two individuals are related or not, but for a more conclusive result both mothers can be tested.

Siblingship DNA tests are inherently very different from paternity tests. Paternity tests are cut-and-dry. Either he's the father or he's not, with 99.999% accuracy (this has some exceptions, but not for today's discussion), because for each marker one of the child's MUST match one of his. Half-siblings are different, because for a given marker, child #1 could have alleles A and B and child #2 could have alleles C and D. While this looks like they couldn't be siblings, in reality they very well could be. The father, in fact, could have carried alleles A and C, and each child inherited a different allele.

Here's another example, which shows the importance of testing mom. Suppose child #1 carried alleles A and B, and child #2 carried alleles A and D. If child #1's mom was tested and they found that she carried alleles B and C, then these two children could be siblings. If both moms were tested and found that child #2's mom carried alleles D and E, then the possibility of the children being siblings is greatly increased (because it shows that allele A MUST have come from the father).

If mom carried alleles A and C though, then the A allele from child #1 must have come from mom, and therefore the two children do not share a match at that marker. It does not mean, though, that they're not siblings, since the father could have had alleles A and B, thus accounting for both children, even though it's not apparent on the DNA test.

This leads me to my next point. Siblingship DNA tests are not 100% for sure. For each marker, matches between the two children are analyzed with high-tech mathematical equations by professionals, using the frequency of the allele in the general population. That is, for each allele at a marker, millions of individuals in the world also carry that same allele, but some alleles are much more rare than others. If it is one of those rare alleles, the points assigned to that match are significantly higher than if the allele is a common on in the population. The more points that accumulate the higher the relationship index.

A relationship index that is below 1.0 means that these two individuals are not related at all - this is a very conclusive (but not 100%) answer that the two people are not siblings. A relationship index that is between 1.0 and 50 generally means that it is more likely that the two individuals are siblings, but that the test was inconclusive (this can especially be the case if neither or only 1 mother is tested). A relationship index between 50 and 100 means that it's not conclusive but that it's somewhat supported, and a relationship index above 100 is considered conclusive. Most half-siblingship tests (where at least 1 mom was tested) end up somewhere between 50 and 70, but I know of several donor conceived adults who found siblings that tested well into the 90s.

For older female offspring who may be unable to test one or both mothers, testing services at CaBRI are unable to determine siblingship status, because they look solely at the X chromosome, and in order to determine which X chromosome was inherited by the donor (and thus shared with a female sibling), mom needs to be tested to eliminate her X chromosome. However, all is not lost. Most DNA testing companies can do a half-siblingship DNA test with only one mom's DNA, and it's possible, but not recommended that they could do a test of only the two alleged siblings. However, the likelihood of getting anything above a somewhat supported relationship index is practically impossible, thus it would only give you an idea. It would tell you that there's "no way in hell" that you could be siblings, but it could not tell you with much accuracy that you are siblings.

For males who have found a potential male sibling, CaBRI is the easiest and cheapest solution (but it takes quite a few weeks to get results).

For offspring of opposite sexes a DNA testing company must be used to determine siblingship status.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Religion isn't the answer (or even the question)

A debate has ensued on Mercatornet after the publication of Lea Singh's "A Creation Myth for the 21st Century", over the role of religion (primarily the Catholic Church) in donor conception views.  Several of the comments posted were of obvious religious content, and after a DI dad called out that Lea is Catholic, it must be that she has ulterior motives in writing her article, because no one would disagree with donor conception unless they're of the religious right, and are bigoted, pro-life, and conservative.  

I find it very insulting that society feels that the only people who are anti-ART are also anti-abortion and anti-gay, and that we must be using God as a reason, because otherwise we'd be hypocritical.  Lets set one thing straight here...I am, and never have been, homophobic or religious.  My views on abortion have changed over the years, but I consider myself to be pro-choice (even if it's a choice I personally would not make).  I consider myself fiscally and socially liberal, but am a registered Independent.  Whew!  Now that all those questions are cleared up for everyone, let me explain my rationale of being opposed to donor conception.

Donor conception is an illusion.  It is an illusive medical treatment for infertility, but it is not and never will be a CURE.  It's also not a cure for women who can't find Mr. Right, or for lesbians who would rather have a child with their partner but cannot.  Therefore, the infertility industry has society under a spell.  They propagate the illusion that donor conception/ART is all of these things and more.  They tell everyone that "love makes a family" and "love is all you need", and that everyone is happy after treatment.  It's a LIE.

I hope that with the help of my new blog Donor Conceived Perspectives, that some of the horror stories that offspring have endured from the infertility industry will be highlighted.  Almost every offspring has a story that includes being told that their records were destroyed, or lost, or that the individual who works at the clinic/sperm bank is looking at their records right now but they tell the offspring that s/he has no right to access any information whatsoever about who they are.  An even more haunting story is of an adult offspring who was told by researchers who were doing research on the doctor, that they found her records but burned them so no offspring will ever find their identity.

One of the comments by Caroline Lorbach (an Australian DI mom) on Mercatornet was this: 
What I have concluded from my mediations on this issue is that if I was donor conceived I would be damn angry that there are people out there who hold personal information about my genetic relations including a parent & possible half siblings.  They hold this information but choose not to let me know.  I would be angry that a doctor knows who I am related to but chooses not to tell me!  Medical professionals & governments (after all in some countries they provide the money for these services to continue & in other countries they gives licenses for clinics to operate) have allowed the secrecy to go on for far too long.

I want to thank Caroline for this comment, because as a mother of three DC teens, she understands that the blame is not on herself but on the infertility industry.

So back to the religious myth of anti-ART people.  While the Catholic Church may be outspoken against donor-conception, I always avoid this coincidence because I feel that religion is not and should not be the cornerstone of human rights.  Each and every one of us should be concerned about human rights, regardless if we're Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Hindi, Buddhist, Muslim, or Atheist, because we are ALL human.  I once wrote an essay in school that was supporting pro-life, and I did not use a single religious reference in the 2,000 word essay.  I got an A+ on that paper, mainly because I succeeded in proving my point without religion, which my teacher didn't think was possible.  It is possible.  And it's possible to prove that donor conception is unethical without the using any religious references as well.  

I have not met a single offspring who blames their parents for conceiving them with a donor.  Most say that they feel like their parents didn't understand the consequences and were told by a doctor that this was what to do.  For those of us older offspring, this was surely the case.  However, now there are a multitude of voices speaking out across the world, and parents need to be making more informed decisions, and not only take advice from a single doctor or clinic.

One of the main problems with our situation is that politically, it's not a liberal OR a conservative issue.  People need to stop looking at the issues of donor conception from their prospective political angle and start looking at it from the offspring's angle.  The conservatives don't want to look at it from our side because they don't even want to acknowledge that it happens and simply continue the era of secrecy, non-disclosure, and deception.  The liberals don't want to see our side because they see it as being anti-gay rights and anti-reproductive rights.  No one wants to take responsibility for the children created from the $3 billion dollar a year (in the US alone) infertility industry because that sounds "un-American", and that the laissez-faire policy currently in tact is acceptable behavior.

It's not.  It has never been acceptable behavior, but the infertility industry advocates secrecy and they subsist secrecy in their entire operation.  They don't advertise that all the statistics out there are ones they created.  They don't say that the so-called regulations on sperm banks and clinics were developed by them!  The US government has little to no say (except that the sperm must be tested for things like HIV) in how many offspring a donor can create, what information can be given, and how long the records must be kept.  There are no checks and balances whatsoever.  So obviously they are going to deny that there are offspring out there who are unhappy when a patient asks.  

Most clinics won't even point offspring or parents to registries like the DSR, because they fear that knowledge breeds rebellion.  They fear that the more people who find donor families, the more people are going to demand open-ID donors, and they know full-well that the more demand for open-ID donors means a possible ban on donor anonymity, which subsequently often leads to less donors (as seen in the UK and Australia).  Once there's a ban on anonymity, the infertility industry can no longer deny that these men (and women) are creating biological children that may in fact want to know their bio parents, and thus, many donors are turned away because either they don't want to meet the offspring one day or they realize what they're really doing and chose not to sell their biological children.  But obviously, the infertility industry doesn't want to hurt their business.  The problem is, all other businesses must be accountable for their actions, why is the infertility industry removed from this vital aspect of the free market economy?

This is the time to rebel.  This is the time for us to tell the infertility industry that they are wrong.  This is the time that parents  need to speak up and demand such accountability (if not for themselves, for their children).  The infertility industry must become responsible for their actions!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Just get over it

I had one of those 30 second lectures from my mother this afternoon, after a slightly lengthier lecture about getting a job.  Yes, I'm talking about the "you need to spend less time with all the DI junk because your life isn't that bad, so just get over it" lecture.  This coming at a point where I needed to tell her something very important, a discovery, a possible lead in my search (I promise I will write more later on this, but I don't want to jinx myself!).  I desperately needed to tell her today before she finds out directly, but she brought out the big guns, as she usually does, and slapped me in the face, saying to be grateful to be alive and stop searching.

I really do love my mom, but after nearly six years of searching she has yet to be able to accept how I feel.  When I was living in Australia, I had 10,000 miles between us and suddenly, for the first time I was able to start to tell her what I had been secretly doing for two years - she was furious, and I don't even want to get into the situations that ensued when I returned home in late 2005, after a negative DNA test - but for the time being when I was in Melbourne, she was unable to emotionally break me.  

Then, after graduation I moved to Cincinnati for a year.  While I was still in the same state (barely), those 250 glorious miles between us made so that I could tell her something and not see her for another month or so, where by then she cooled off.  I got even gutsier and told her of some of my friends, such as Kathleen, and their stories.  I thought if she could see that I wasn't the only one who was searching, that she would understand that it was nothing against her, it was nothing wrong with me, it was just something that I had to do.

So now, I'm living at home.  I did not like wasn't home, it wasn't Cleveland (despite the horrible weather, the shitty post-industrial economy, and our river that caught on fire - twice!'s home).  But at least I was free to do what I wanted.  Now I'm back here, living with my constantly fighting, never loved one another a single second of their marriage, everyone wishes they'd get a divorce, parents.  And I feel like I'm in prison.  

I ended up in the Emergency Room the day after New Years with a severe migraine (which ended up lasting a week).  I had blood work, I was drugged with heavy narcotics, I had CAT scans --- the works (I even have an appointment with a neurologist to get an MRI on Tuesday).  They couldn't find the cause of my migraine, and when asked about my stress level, the response from my parents was "she doesn't work and she's not in school right now, she can't have any stress".  RIGHT.

I really just needed to vent here.  I don't even know what the point of this post is really, other than I'm frustrated and angry because my mother still does not acknowledge my loss...let alone that her decisions caused this loss.  I'm not looking for her to go fighting to ban donor anonymity with me or anything - I'm just looking for her to say, if this is what I need to do that she supports me.

I hate that I'm terrified to tell her some good news about my search, for fear of being accused of being obsessive and told that it's not important.  I hate that I have to hide my true feelings and beliefs from her because she goes on the defensive and calls me selfish and self-centered, that I don't care about anyone else but myself.  I have never once said it's her fault, or accused her of doing wrong.  She went through with it because she truly believed she could be a good parent and wanted a child and wasn't in a relationship.  I understand that!  

What I don't understand is that after 24 years, she can't get over her own feelings and accept that I have feelings of my own.  Getting married and my dad legally adopting me doesn't change that my father is someone else!!  It's like she wants to live in this fantasy, where her decision almost 25 years ago is erased.  Sometimes I feel like she wishes she never told me, because it would be so much easier for HER.  Changing my last name did want she wanted it made things easier for her, no longer did she have to deal with my teachers calling her Mrs. Manzoian, and other awkward situations that arose.  However, it didn't change me - I didn't suddenly morph into the biological child of my dad.  I was still a stranger in my own family...I was still the black sheep, the one who stuck out like a sore thumb.

Friday, January 9, 2009

A Creation Myth for the 21st Century

By Lea Singh
January 9, 2009

Did anyone ever ask IVF children whether they wanted to go through life as genetic orphans?

This month, a court in British Columbia, Canada is expected to certify an important class action that was launched near the end of last year by a gutsy 26-year-old journalist. Her name is Olivia Pratten, and her lawsuit is likely to become a major thorn in the side of the booming fertility industry. Olivia was conceived with the sperm of an anonymous donor, and she is supposed to not care about her genetic origins -- after all, she was wanted and loved by her "intended" parents. But Olivia compares herself to adopted children, and like them, she wants the law to recognize her right to information about her biological parent.

Many people are still surprised to learn of the scale of the donor-gamete business. Louise Brown, the first test tube baby, was only born in 1978. How much could have happened in just 30 years? Let's put it this way – the growth of reproductive technologies has been not linear, but exponential. In 2006, Harvard Business School Professor Deborah Spar estimated the worth of the fertility industry at US$3 billion in the US alone.

IVF has become a beacon of hope for many infertile couples who could not otherwise have their own biological children. What can compete with the powerful pain of infertility, combined with the desperate desire for parenthood? Regardless of its cost, and despite a success rate of only about 30 percent, couples have been willing to pay for IVF, even if it means remortgaging the house or racking up credit card debt. And IVF has opened the door to still other possibilities, especially the use of egg donors and surrogate mothers, the genetic screening of embryos, and recently, the creation of embryos with the sperm of infertile men (ICSI, a technique known to transfer infertility to the resulting male children).

The use of donor sperm was of course possible before IVF, and artificial insemination was practised to some extent even before Louise Brown came along -– but the practice really took off with the IVF boom. It has now become a gigantic industry, where profit-driven sperm banks compete in marketing paid "donors" -– and not just to infertile couples: the world's largest sperm bank, the California Cryobank, reports that over 30 percent of its clients are single women and a growing proportion are lesbian couples. Just visit their website to order from an incredible selection of donors described by physical features, occupation and education, sports inclinations, interests and personality tests, baby photos, personal essays, and even handwriting analysis and audio interviews. And for many fertility businesses, the higher the caliber of the donors, the higher the price.

Like a religion, the whole donor-conception industry is undergirded by a central creation myth. The industry cannot stand without faith in this central tenet: that biological parenthood is irrelevant, and that "social" parenthood is what matters for children's full emotional and psychological development. The theme of every sperm bank and egg donor agency is effectively the Beatles song "All you need is love." Needless to say, many infertile couples are only too happy to sing along and accept this claim at face value. Few reflect on the paradox that they clearly want a biological connection while denying its importance for their children. In effect, the industry heals the parents at the children's expense, by giving them their own genetic children while depriving these children of a biological parent.

Back to Olivia Pratten. According to the creation myth of the fertility industry, Olivia should not give a hoot about her anonymous sperm donor. She is one of those very special donor-conception children who was very deeply wanted and loved by her "intended" parents. For her, the anonymous donor should be on par with a nice blood donor who once donated blood to her parents – barely anything to do with her, right?

And yet, Olivia is disturbing the peace and challenging the creation myth. She insists that her sperm donor is important to her, and she speaks of the "psychological distress" she has suffered at not knowing her biological history, including what race, culture, and religion her biological father may have come from. In 2001, she went to the Canadian Parliament and told the Standing Committee on Health: "the genetic tie that I share with my biological father cannot be minimized or made to disappear. I carry it with me. It is visible in who I am and what I will be…. I'm always left pondering, trying to put the pieces together of who this man was and how this relates to who I am today. If I could somehow know who he was…everything I already know about myself would be put into a different context, and I believe my perception of things would be altered."

[read more]

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Offspring Blog is HERE!!!


My new blog is up and running so please wander over to Donor Conceived Perspectives and check it out!!

If you are donor conceived and would be interested in contributing, as always send me an email and I'll send you more information!  We are looking for offspring over the age of 15 (under 18, make sure your parents are okay with it please!) who would be willing to share their story, as well as write periodically - every couple months - on anything that strikes your fancy in the DC world.  We are looking for offspring with varying views, ages, locations, and DC stories so there is a well-rounded resource for people looking for the views of donor conceived individuals.

DCP is a public blog, so anyone can post comments, but we will be moderating comments, so please be respectful to everyone.  I will not tolerate abusive comments towards anyone, as many of our authors are just now going public with their stories.

Please feel free to ask the entire group or any individual author questions via blog entries or email.  I will be creating a "Mailbox" soon, so private messages can be sent with questions to the group.  Several of our authors wish to remain semi-anonymous (for a variety of reasons), so there will be a single email inbox for the whole group.  If you wish to contact an individual, please put their name in the subject line.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Shenoraavor Nor Dari yev Pari Gaghand ("Merry Christmas")

Shenoraavor Nor Dari yev Pari Gaghand

Happy Armenian Christmas!!  

Many of my friends ask why my family celebrates Christmas twice, and the reason is we celebrate Christmas on December 25th, like all other Christians, but we also celebrate Armenian Christmas on January 6th.  

Armenians both in the homeland and throughout the Diaspora traditionally celebrate Christmas on January 6th, as we have for over 1,700 years.  Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as it's official religion in 301 A.D.  During that time all Christians celebrated Christmas on January the same time that they celebrated the 'adoration of the magi' = Epiphany.  However, the early Roman church decided to move Christmas to December 25th, a day of a Roman Pagan holiday that the early Roman empire wished to eradicate.  The Armenians had no such Pagan holiday and we still continue to follow our ancient tradition of celebrating all three of the "Christmastime events" (birth, adoration, and baptism) at the same time on January 6th.

For my family, and most other Diasporian families, we celebrate Christmas on both days.  Mainly because the cultural dictations that Christmas is in December is very overwhelming and the spirit of the holidays is hard to ignore.  Most Armenian families do the typical gathering of family and friends, exchanging of gifts, and eating a large meal on December 25th.  Then on January 6th it is more serious and more spiritual or religious.  

Since my family is not a member of the Armenian Church...I was raised Methodist, and we're ethnically diverse as well (Bohemian, and my dad and sisters have German blood too - and I guess I'm half English??), Armenian Christmas for us is mainly about the food!!

My absolute favorite Armenian holiday food is paklava (baklava).  For anyone who has not tried this famous middle eastern pastry, let me just describe it as heaven!  While my family has a "secret" recipe that had been handed down since my great-grandparents traveled to America in 1910, I put a link to a common version often used.

Now I must confess (haha, this blog is my "confessions".......sorry, lame joke!), I'm not really religious at all.  I was brought up in a Christian family, but have since strayed from the faith.  I consider myself a spiritual agnostic, or just undecided.  I do however, love the traditions that come with it ---- no, not just getting presents, chocolate, and eating lots and lots of yummy food (but they are a perk!) --- but the Christmas carols, the meeting with family and friends, the traditions that have passed down from my family for years.  That's what I love.

So Merry Christmas to all (and to all a good night ;o))

Thursday, January 1, 2009


I hope everyone had a safe and happy New Years, and I wish each and every one of you a wonderful 2009!!

My 2009 New Years Resolution (aside from going to the gym everyday..........) is to start a blog for the group People Conceived Via Artificial Insemination (PCVAI).

It has been a concern of mine for some time that there is no public place for donor conceived people, parents, potential parents, and donors to go to talk to many adult offspring at once.  There are the registries (and their forums/groups), but the majority of the people there are parents with little babies, and many offspring feel very uncomfortable being honest in those places because of some of the severe backlash by others.

Adult offspring looking for others like them are often lost in the dark, and parents and potential parents only are able to communicate directly with a few select offspring who make themselves available from blogs or online forums, since the message boards for PCVAI (the ONLY group created by, for, and restricted to donor conceived persons) are closed to the public.

There are currently over 200 members in PCVAI (213 as of today), and the majority of those individuals' stories have never been told.  That is why I want to create a blog, with many donor conceived adults as contributing authors (I already have over a dozen who want to contribute).  Not only will you hear many of the untold stories, but you will get a sense for what is going on around the world in the eyes of the donor conceived, from legislation and advocacy to issues and controversies, and how different individuals react differently to similar (and different) situations.

Please keep your eyes peeled for this new blog in the near future!


The new blog is Donor Conceived Perspectives: Voices of the Sperm Donor Conceived.  We are still in our infancy (obviously) and I am still inviting offspring to participate and the ones who have signed on so far are busy at home writing their introductions to share with the world!  So far we have 7 offspring for sure (and another 15 who are interested), and they range in age from 17 to 65, male and female, and come from 3 continents.  Please continue to check us out at and see how we grow!!