Thursday, March 6, 2008

DI is wrong and I'm not an ungrateful little brat!!

When I first discovered the online donor conception community in 2003 I was completely in awe that there were others out there created the same way I was.  I learned that there were sperm banks and clinics and there was a huge continuum of information which people had or didn’t have in regards to their paternal side.  I was shocked to find there were some children who had the luxury of meeting their biological father when he or she turned 18!! 

This revelation, however, came with the consequential reaction of the injustices being played out to the thousands of children each year who were the products of an anonymous donor.  Yet, the most shocking of all information I ingested in those first few weeks of “enlightenment” was that no one seemed to care that they were intentionally creating children who had severed biological ties and seemed to have little empathy or remorse for their choices.

On the infertility industry:
In the United States, they have taken a rather laissez faire frame of mind when it comes to the infertility industry.  Recent estimates state that the infertility industry jackpot is a whopping $2 billion dollar annually, with approximately 10% of couples facing fertility issues; not to mention the astronomical rise in single mothers and gays and lesbians taking advantage of the numerous assisted reproduction technologies.

The trouble with this laissez faire mentality is that the United States government is leaving the industry to regulate itself on matters based on record keeping, number of donations/successful pregnancies a single donor can have, advising clients, and long-term effects of the third-party “product” formed through these different transactions. 

Donor conceived persons have become one of the most sought after human commodities in modern times, as the infertile, the single, and the homosexual will risk any price to create that “miracle baby”.  The price tag on human life has skyrocketed to astronomical amounts as people become more and more desperate to have that coveted prize. 

The infertility industry has the ultimate authority over donor-conceived individuals; an authority that has absolutely no checks and balances and governs in a dictatorial and oftentimes tyrannical manner.  The infertility industry has set a standard for society, and has placed such a huge emphasis on having children, and primarily having genetically related children.  The multi-billion dollar fertility industry’s primary goal is to make money, full stop.  It is not to make people happy, although they may disguise their motives as trying to “help” the infertile.  They are not trying to help, only pry on these unsuspecting and most definitely distraught individuals, and con them out of money with the false belief that their miracle baby is a “cure” for their infertility.  Nowhere do they mention how these children may feel later on, and they divert questioning parents by saying that all donor-conceived children are happy.   

The infertility industry has ruined a great many people lives, and there seems to be no stopping the biggest baby-making business on earth.  They harbor on human insecurities for their own financial gain, not concerned about those lives they ruin the process.  They have most definitely ruined a great many donor-conceived individuals lives by tearing apart their family and denying them records.  They have destroyed marriages by placing such a huge emphasis on creating children and then advocating for parents to lie to their children about their conception.  Couples who continually refuse to disclose the conception are destroying their marriage from the core.  The rate of divorce in donor conceived families seem significantly higher, even among those who eventually disclose, however no conclusive research has been done in this.  The divorce rates of those families who do not disclose may not ever be known. 

Even the unsuspecting donors have been brainwashed by this unstoppable force.  The industry’s recruiting process encourages men (and women) to donate because they are “helping” people have children.  Yet they medicinalize sperm and egg so much that they never acknowledge to these men and women that they are actually creating biological children whom they will never know. 

Comparing it to the likes of blood donation, where you can HELP create a life for someone else.  They are not "helping" to create a life, they ARE creating a life.  And I'm sorry, but this is no blood donation!!  On the contrary these men and women are paid for their "donation", and human life is not something which deserves to be bought and sold or be degraded to simply a financial transaction between two consenting parties.  The industry takes no responsibility for the "third party" created in this manner, and reduce us to common commodities.  They make it sound like the sperm is only a function of creating life and these children created are someone else’s children.  The donors are never told that their donations are creating children who are as biologically related to them as the children they rear, nor that their own children they raise could have upwards of a hundred half-siblings running around!

On lies:
We shouldn’t have to be demoralized and ridiculed by sperm banks and doctors offices each and every time we ask for answers.  We shouldn’t have to make tens of phone calls, mail hundreds of letters, and spend endless hours “googgling” names to find who we are.  Even our birth certificates are false, without the fact that we are donor conceived, let alone the name of our biological father, documented.  Our entire existence is comprised of lies.  The government and the infertility industry have made the ability for parents to continually lie to their children an art form.  There are no loopholes involved, and everyone but the child is protected in a shroud of confidentiality.  Women can not only lie to the public and their child about the child’s paternity, but also thanks to online sperm banks and home inseminations they can also lie to their doctors, extended family, and even their own husbands!!  Most DI offspring (about 80%) have no clue that they were conceived this way, and probably never will.  Their parents will take that secret to their grave, and generations of these children’s successors will be living a lie of who they truly are.

On existential debt*:
To make matters even worse, this predicament has been instigated deliberately by the very people who should have our best interests at heart – our parents.  The difference between our genetic disattachment and that of adoptees and others who are denied the opportunity to know a genesis parent is that our situation was intentional.  Our parent(s) made a conscious decision in which they knew we would be disconnected from our biological father, yet out of their greed to have a baby continued anyways.

One model that donor conceived individuals have had to succumb to is that of being grateful for their lives.  Children conceived in traditional methods are not expected to feel indebted to their parents for having them, yet donor offspring are told that because they were so desperately wanted that in order to validate their lives they must feel grateful to be alive because without that “generous donor” we would not be.  This existential debt is unheard of in any other situation.  Children conceived in taboo circumstances, such as rape, are not instructed by society that they have to confirm their righteousness of their conception because it gave them life.  In fact, a child who thought that way would most likely be sent straight to a therapist to be assessed!  Yet donor offspring are constantly drilled by everyone that they must be grateful.  Even complete strangers will argue that it’s such a wonderful thing to be so wanted, and discount you the second you say you’re not as happy as they think you should be.

When I disagree with the practice of donor conception around recipient mothers, it becomes commonplace for me to constantly validate that I do not hate my mother for having me and that I’m not ungrateful to be alive.  This constant reassurance is simply expected from me.  To the infertility industry and the DI mothers it seems impossible for someone to appreciate their life yet at the same time disagree with the method of their conception.  It becomes a Catch-22, where donor offspring are sent into this constant cycle of their existence versus their emotional wellbeing.  To search for our biological history gives rise to many different emotions.  Offspring many times feel obliged to not search because of the fear of hurting their parents, like their need to know their roots is overridden by their parents’ insecurities.

On genetics:
One tries to argue that having a social father makes up for the lack of genetic attachment, but it doesn’t.  While our social fathers might have raised us, we are not and never will be truly their children.  We will always have this mysterious man in the back of our minds that got paid to masturbate in a cup, and his services were then frozen in small vials to later be thawed out and injected into our mothers.  This man has no face, except for some indistinguishable characteristics that couldn’t tell him apart from “Jack”.  He may be an ambiguous number that seems to be pulled out of a hat.  Yet, this number or these features are all we have to console our inquiring minds, at least for the time being.

*term first published - R. Rushbrooke, Donor Insemination: The secret experiment, Bulletin of Medical Ethics (2004), 196, 13-22.


Anonymous said...

Hi Lindsay
What a great job you have done here. It was so interesting reading your story about "you". I'm so glad your mum has realised its not a personal attack but that you are just a human being like the rest of us and need to know about yourself and should have a right to do so. I wish you so much luck with your search and dearly hope that your "donor" (for want of a better word) - hey lets call him what he actually is - your biological father - actually gets to read all this and show a sense of repsonsibility in the way of giving you the information you need to become and feel "whole". I hope that he will realise that these are your issues and NOT his estate as is "imagined" over and over again.
Lots of Love and Best Wishes to you.
Sue (Jethro's Mum)
ps. To Lindsays Mum - doing a great job Mum - Jethro is donor conceived from donor eggs. We have contacted our donor - found her through the media. We need not fear our relationships will suffer because our children get the truth - the opposite I firmly believe. There is always enough love to go around from a child no matter how old they are. All the best to you.

Anonymous said...

FANTASTIC!!! a knockout blog, very informative and impressive, its so well set out and researched. you have done an awesome job linds. its really good. keep it up.

Val said...

Hello again Lindsay...
Another great post! & now I have a little more time to explain my interest: one of my best friends conceived twin boys via donor eggs & they are already off to a rocky start [only 8 mos old now w/developmental delays (premature births) & 2-wk hosp over Xmas holidays w/RSV]. Incubate/surrogate mom (better term available?) is vehemently against EVER letting these babies' true origins be know -- we almost came to a permanent falling-out bcz I told my own mother, while she has NOT told her own parents! It sounds like a trainwreck slowly building up through the generations, & although it probably WILL permanently sever our friendship, I do plan on informing my godchildren when they reach legal adulthood... I think it's my duty as a responsible scientifically-trained health worker!

Val said...

& Sue (anon above) -- my hat's off to you; how do you propose to inform your children -- wait until adulthood or through a slow steady process throughout their childhood?

Lindsay said...

Val, thank you for sharing your story. I am so sorry that you have been put in such a predicament, and donor conception leaves everyone in a complicated predicament regardless of how you're connected. As you stated, it's a train-wreck waiting to happen. It definitely worries me that she has not told her own parents yet, and opposes telling her boys. I agree with you that if they are your godchildren and if when they are 18 you feel it's right to disclose to them I would say go for it (disclosure earlier in life is definitely better, but that could be complicated in your situation not being a social parent). Hopefully though, your best friend will come to terms with her own infertility and realize that these boys deserve the right to know who they are. Maybe in time you can start talking to your friend about some of the issues you are learning about, or direct her to some of the newspaper articles or blogs from donor conceived adults. I wish I had better advice, but there are so many reasons why parents don't disclose that it's hard to know.

Good luck, and I hope that in time your friend can see not only what a joy her boys bring to her life but that they are human beings who deserve to be respected as much as everyone else and know their true origins, and I hope that you continue to try and support these boys as if/when they find out they will most likely need someone to be there for them.

Sarah said...

I haven't read your entire site, but I think it's terrific that you are advocating and conducting so much research. It's interesting to read your side, because I am TTC with an open anonymous donor.

Interestingly enough, OHSU does make sure that the donors are aware that they are creating human life with their "donations" (I think they're counseled). And, while they are paid, the donors are never paid up front. In fact, it takes almost a year before they see a dime. I can't speak for every cryobank, but OHSU does require that donors now be open to keeping health information up to date and be open to meeting their offspring in the future. So, changes are being made, if slowly.

Do you feel that couples who face infertility or single women wanting families should just not have children, rather than use donated sperm?

I do agree with full disclosure. I have no intention of hiding my child's paternal history.

Lindsay said...

Hi Sarah,

Sorry for the late reply. I just realized there was a comment here!

I realize that you are trying to be proactive in finding a donor that is willing to be known in the future (typically called ID-release), and you are right that some banks ARE changing --- but it's not because of the offspring demanding it. It's often single mothers who are advocating for the child to know his or her biological father at age 18. If it weren't for SMC's I can assure you that the infertility industry would not be changing their current status quo.

As for what I think SMC's and infertile couples are supposed to do....I am not in your shoes so I do not know how it feels, but I have to point out that the point of having children is to continue our lineage and pass along our genes to the next generation (in a very anthropological and evolutionary aspect), and that we want to do everything humanly possible for our children so they have the greatest chance of success and happiness in their lives. Having children should NOT be about fulfilling some internal desire - we have that need so we DO procreate, but there are also reasons why people cannot.

There are hundreds and thousands of children in foster care in America that are desperate for love and a family. THESE are the children we should be catering to, rather than intentionally creating genetic orphans, and stealing foreign babies away from their mothers.

My question to you is this. If adoption is not an option, is it because you want to be genetically related to the child? If so, explain to me this: how is it okay for you to want to be genetically related to your child, but it is unacceptable when the child wants to be raised by his or her genetic father??

Anonymous said...

I want to tell you about my family to show that ALL types of reproductive choices have consequences.
My parents had seven natural children (consequence: they contributed to overpopulation by having more than I think can now be justified)Another consequence was that the last baby died after one week. Therefore they adopted another boy to "replace" my natural younger brother. He is mentally disturbed and nearly killed us all on many occasions as a disturbed and violent teen. He has never been told that he's adopted even though he bears no resemblance to the rest of us. Certainly, as a teen, I did not think adoption was a good idea because all I could think of is that my real brother wouldn't have been so violent and maybe I could have grown up without PTSD and panic attacks. You don't know what you're getting with any baby, but especially with someone else's baby (I think he has FASD, but we weren't told that). Then my sister got pregnant by an airline pilot, twice. He has kids in every port. Really. So my sister had a sperm donor in the sense that he has no involvement in his children's lives and far more kids than he ever cares to have a responsible relationship with, otherwise known as "parenting". But at least his kids have met him, such as he is, and know there are half siblings all over the world by this man. Then my transgendered ftm brother got married and his wife had two kids by AI, since he has no sperm. They do not intend to tell them their "father" is neither their bio-dad, nor originally even a man. Whatever qualities he has a father, one of them is not honesty. I think this is a ticking time bomb as his kids will find out someday and when they do, I can't see them looking upon these lies favorably. And now, me. I'm a lesbian who wanted to have children, but never could get around the problem of who the father would be. I don't consider intentionally conceiving a child by anonymous donation to be moral. I need to know and respect the father of my child and I don't respect guys who give or sell their sperm and not really care what happens to all the lives they created - that is the last kind of person I think should be allowed to procreate. We genetically select for height, race, eye color, IQ, etc. but what about the more important human qualities such as the capacity to take responsibility, to love, to act morally? Many sperm donors just don't give a shit. They actually just get off on the idea that they managed to"father" 100's of kids just by jacking off into a cup. That makes me sick. So i didn't have any kids. Instead, I helped to raise my partner's natural kids from her previous straight marriage. They're as close to offspring as I'm going to have.

The kicker is, I have natural parents that raised me and know me,
"good Catholic people", but they rejected me when they found out I was a lesbian (when I was very young). They will have nothing to do with me now, won't return a phone call or letter. They may or may not be alive. I doubt my siblings would even tell me. So I know my bio-family and was raised in the normal Catholic (homophobic) way and now I have no family except my partner and whatever relationship I have with her kids. But as bad as it hurts to be rejected by my family, I'm still glad I know who my bio family is, even if there is no love or relationship there. I know whose nose I have, where I get my personality traits from, have some idea of my ancestry, etc. But they aren't a family at all to me; they were my torturers who happen to share my DNA profile.
My heart goes out to all the kids who are lied to about their true origins. There have always been kids who didn't know who one or both of their parents were, but now we are creating them deliberately and I believe this is immoral. We all yearn to know the truth of where we came from, even if it isn't a dream family.

Anonymous said...

I agree this person spend too much time in WHO WRONGED ME WOE IS ME I WAS BOUGHT INTO THE WORLD. Too much crying, your mother WANTED you, be grateful.

Girl Concevied said...

I think some of the negative comments here, the one's telling Lindsay to "be grateful" or "stop complaining" illustrate a huge double standard in the world of infertility. Lindsay's are the genuine sentiments of the majority of children of anonymous sperm donors and she is coping with great loss by sharing them here.

If I were to go on an infertility blog and tell a mother or father suffering great loss and anger at their inability to have a child to "get over it" I would be lambasted. If I told that mother or father to "stop boohooing" and start enjoying life, that would be unacceptable. But alas, a child, who has effectively had their genetic heritage stripped from them, is considered selfish in expressing this tremendous loss.

Donor conceived children without access to their genetic heritage deserve just as much kindness and respect as those struggling to conceive. Just as those who easily conceive can never truly understand the deep pain and loss of those who struggle with infertility, anyone who has seen the face of each of their biological parents cannot truly understand the carnal level of loss adoptees and donor conceived children feel.

If you understood this pain, you would understand why we aren't grateful.

Anonymous said...

I am sure that there a lot of children conceived traditionally, however not involving the father, maybe everyone needs a DNA test with their parents so everyone knows who their true parents are!

Anonymous said...

Hi Lindsay, I would like to know why do you use "we", "us" to describe your experience? Do you think your experience is quite universal to all donor conceived person or the post is made out of what you gathered from different donor conceived voices?

Minority of one said...

wonderful honest post. Thank you Lindsay for your open hearted honesty, it is a breath of fresh air in an industry full of lies.
It is so obvious to me that with donor conception the parents gain whilst the child looses. Donor conception stinks so bad I cant understand why there is still a debate!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Lindsay! This is an amazing post and it does reflect the feeling of most DC adults. And to all the people telling her that she is ungrateful and to stop complaining, if you are not the product of sperm donor conception you have absolutely NO right to speak! Like someone else said, why don't you go to infertile people and tell them to get over it? Or why don't you to SMC with one kid who are trying to have more to be grateful for the one they have and to get over it? Everything Lindsey points out is the truth. To bad so many of you can't handle it.

Another grown child concieved by Sperm Donor

Anonymous said...

There is a lot of insight here, on both sides. While I'm not "Donor Conceived," I don't know my "genetic heritage" either. In fact, I think most people don't have much access to information about their origins. It used to be that only nobility or royalty had this info. ;) It's kind of normal for most people to only know a little, as in very little, about their "lineage," if you can even call it that.
Also, many men abandon their children - women, too, so there is a lot of this type of angst everywhere. It's nearly universal. The title of "father" is widely recognized as the man who raised you, not the man or biological material that contributes to your DNA. I hope you had a father in your home. He is always the only one who matters. (And if you did have one and he is still alive, let him know he matters to you. Men are so sensitive.)
I am wondering, though, why your mother isn't mentioned. In your profile description, you state that you were conceived by a donor, but there is no mention of a mother at all. It would be nice to have your mother mentioned in every post about your conception, since it was she who did all of the work. I haven't read a lot of your posts, so I don't know if you fully disclose this, but how do you feel towards your mother for her choice to have a family by having you by what was, presumably, the only real recourse available to her? Was she a good mom to you or did you end up in foster care or raised by a grandmother or distant relative like so many other children? Do you still speak to her?

Anonymous said...

Dear Lindsay

Your post is truly amazing. I really believe that donor egg/sperm/embryos are just wrong. It's very important for people who are thinking of using a donor/donors in order to become pregnant to read your blog.

A poster (Minority One) wrote 'With donor conception the parents gain while the child loses'. I think everyone involved loses in the long run.

Thank you for sharing.

Kind regards