Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A WikiLeaks project I would support

According to Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, the purpose of the organization was to expose corruption within the government and among government officials and to provide a means for transparency in our government.  Now, I'm not going to get into what's going on in the news currently, you all have access to CNN's coverage and heck, maybe you've even sought after the supposed classified reports that are being leaked.  That's neither here nor there, though I believe that Assanage's current stunts are drifting from his purported mission.

However, the whole concept of the need for transparency in our government makes me think of one thing.

The fact that vital government documents about who I am are fraudulent and that our government not only supports these fraudulent documents, but sides with the industries that destroy any meaningful records that do exist.  My birth certificate is a fake.  It's a legally-instituted falsified identification form.

My original birth certificate stated that I only had a mother, no father whatsoever.  Now I have an "amended" birth certificate similar to adoptees which identifies my step/adopted dad as my biological father.  Both of these documents were created intentionally false.  Why wasn't my mother charged with a felony for falsifying vital information?!  Because apparently it's all fine to falsify birth records if the biological father commissioned his children to be sold.  Adoptees also have falsified birth records that claim that are the children of said adopted parents, and our wonderful government hides their true birth certificates under lock and key for eternity.

However, as donor-conceived adults, we do not even have the luxury of knowing that somewhere deep in a filing cabinet is a document that identifies our biological parent.  Olivia Pratten is currently suing the gov't of British Columbia for such damages...she claims that the doctors are destroying records that contain vital information about the biological parents of those created from third-party gametes, and that it is wrongful to destroy such records.  She is also claiming discrimination, because in BC adoptees are able to have access to their birth certificates at age 18, and she says that by denying donor-conceived adults the same rights is unjust.

Some doctors do keep decent records of what/whose sperm is used, but often that information is not privy to the donor-conceived adult.

Those conceived from sperm banks have even less hope as these banks do not keep records of what individuals order/use what sperm.  Some banks do keep records of all of their donors, but without the information identifying which donor it's up a creek without a paddle.

The bottom line is that there is no standard procedure, and there are no regulations about what information needs to be kept, for how long, and what information donor-conceived adults are legally able to have.  Some doctors/banks will give offspring a donor number, others will flip out and say that the said offspring should never even have been told of their conception to begin with and that they won't ever know anything.  Some play games with donor-conceived adults, sending them on wild goose chases, telling them that the donor was a medical student or resident, so the offspring is now paging through yearbooks hoping for one man to jump out.

There is also no regulation about what parents need to disclose.  Obviously for children created in same-sex relationships or to SMCs, they're going to be upfront with their kids about their conception.  However, in same-sex couples, the non-biological parent can adopt the child and be listed on the amended birth certificate.  In states that have legalized same-sex marriage, the non-biological parent can be listed on the original birth certificate!!  Talk about ridiculous!!  For children conceived to SMCs, we are truly fatherless.  Where it gets sticky is with heterosexual couples.  You see, they don't even have to tell anyone.  No government official ever knows that they are lying on government documents.  Some of these parents not only lie to their children but everyone else!  Heck, I've even heard of a woman who used a donor and didn't even tell her husband!!!

There is no notation on the birth certificate that signifies that the child was conceived from a third party.  Nothing.  So the lies continue....

With the new "embryo donations", or adoption as they should be rightfully called, these poor children are not related to either of their parents and yet unlike adoptees they do not have an original birth certificate (either sealed or not) that identifies their true origins.  This is a real tragedy, as these kids have no connection to ANY of their biological kin and have no government document that they know will provide them with those answers.

It is unethical that our government, that society as a whole, is supporting a system that denies its citizens the right to truthful identification and perpetuating the lies and secrecy that the infertility industry thrives on.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

What it means to be a Clevelander...

"Believeland."  That's what Wright Thompson is calling us in his ESPN story - BELIEVELAND: A proud city forgets "The Player Who Left" and remembers what it used to be.

I saw a link to this story from like 30 of my FB friends (all in a row on my news feed this afternoon), and my first impression was it was going to be another one of those articles that makes Cleveland and Clevelanders out to be whiny, jersey-burning, lunatics.  However, I got hooked.

This is probably one of the greatest sports-related articles I've ever read, and Thompson truly did his research.  Yes, it was about LeBron.  But it was also about this city and those of us who call the North Coast home.  Thompson traveled throughout the city and suburbs of Cleveland, talking with natives about our city, its history, and our never-ending devotion to our teams.    It's nostalgia.  It's our past, our present.  But most importantly, it's our future.

No matter what happens when "he who must not be named" returns tonight, we must remember that he does not stand for Cleveland, and we will stand long after he is gone.

CLEVELAND -- There is a burly, angry man with a Chief Wahoo tattoo on the inside of his left forearm, and he knows I work for ESPN. That makes me the devil. We are standing inside the Cleveland Cavaliers locker room not long after their first game without LeBron James. The guy's name is Scott Raab, and besides being a native Clevelander, he's also one of America's best writers. His current project? A book that is part recount of James' breakup with the town and part meditation on the misery that comes with loving this place and its teams. Except he doesn't call him James. He calls him The Whore of Akron. You obviously see what's coming next.

He accosts me for my company's role in "The Decision" -- I actually understand his anger, though I won't say that to his face -- and I tell him what he can do to himself. He likes this answer, which is as Cleveland as his rage at the four letters on my press pass. Raab motions me over to the side of the locker room and digs around in his backpack until he finds it, safe in a plastic bag: a ticket stub. It's from the 1964 NFL Championship Game -- the last title the city won. He passes it to me carefully. Section 7, Row Z, Seat 19. Carrying this stub doesn't make him strange. It makes him a Cleveland sports fan.

Later that night, we head to a downtown bar. There, he begins telling a story. It was the day of Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. The Cleveland Indians were favored to finally end the Curse of Rocky Colavito, to bring a title back to northeast Ohio. Raab's friend wanted to make sure all the forces of the universe were aligned with them, so he formulated a plan. A crazy, unhinged plan. Only in Cleveland could one demented citizen come up with something so desperate and strange. He'd visit the grave of Ray Chapman -- the only major league player ever killed by a pitched ball and, naturally, a Cleveland Indian -- and on the tombstone, he'd place a coin.

This is where Raab begins sobbing, wiping his eyes with a red bandanna, embarrassed, trying to get himself under control so he can finish the story. He changes the subject, composes himself and, 15 or so minutes later, continues.

When his friend got to Chapman's grave, he found it covered in coins.

That is Cleveland.

Then the Indians lost in the bottom of the 11th.

That is Cleveland, too.

[Read More]

Friday, November 19, 2010

The ignorant "experts" and the damage they cause

A discussion has been building this week in response to a post on Family Scholar blog last Friday.  The post was not the spark, new guest blogger Ralph was discussing him and his partner using a surrogate to have their young twins.  It was the comments below that sparked such heated debate that I had to blog about it.  Mainly because of a single person who posted.  Eleanor, a social worker and self-proclaimed "expert" in donor conception, commented on several occasions (here and here) and made some VERY lofty conclusions.

Here's some comments I found most disturbing/frustrating:
"Love and respect makes the difference in outcome more than structure does." 
"I would rather see a disucssion [sic] about how to respond to the difficulties, complexities and complications of raising children who are strong enough, relational enough, adaptible enough and loving enough to cope with life and the odd cards life gives all of us at times." 
"The children I know who were conceived using donars [sic] are all doing well. The assumption somehow that they are damaged by the process simply doesn’t match my experience."
 "Male donars [sic] have been used for decades, and many MDs have put themselves through school using the money they earned, and felt good about it." 
"The children of these kinds of arrangements often seem to be better cared for than the average child — especially those who were unplanned."
"The clients who I have worked with who have children who had both sperm and egg donars [sic] now have wonderful children. One set of twins in particular are two of the happiest kids I know." 
"I would love to see any research indicating that there is some huge discrepancy in how they turn out as adults as opposed to those who are born “the normal” way."

Now, I responded to Eleanor's two comments, here and here, so you can see what I wrote to her in response.  But I am going to reiterate what my feelings are on these comments, and add some more thoughts to this situation that need to be addressed.

(1) "Love and respect makes the difference in outcome more than structure does." 
Wow, this one is so basic I'm not even sure if I can bring myself to actually talk about it!  But, for the sake of the post, here it goes.  Love has nothing to do with donor-conceived individuals desire to know his or her biological parent.  Parents need to get over their own emotions and fears and acknowledge that this primal need to know one's roots is not an attack on their child-rearing practices or their capacity as a parent.  It's not about you.  It's about us and our need to know.

(2) "I would rather see a disucssion [sic] about how to respond to the difficulties, complexities and complications of raising children who are strong enough, relational enough, adaptible enough and loving enough to cope with life and the odd cards life gives all of us at times." 
I responded to Eleanor with the following: You say that you would rather see discussion about the complexities of raising children strong enough to cope with what life throws at them. The problem is, why does it have to be the children conceived in these manners who must adapt and cope with their situation? What about the commissioning parent(s) who chose to use a donor/surrogate because they are infertile (medically or socially)? Why should they not be strong enough and adaptable enough to cope with this loss?? Why must we perpetuate that loss onto the child? It floors me that it is the offspring who are forced to adapt to a situation that was created intentionally, to make them cope with that situation! Adopted persons, those born to unfit parents who do raise them (abusive, alcoholics, etc), those who live with parents who fight, are divorced, etc. Any of life’s curve balls that are thrown in a person’s direction that we cannot control, however donor conception IS something that can be controlled and not resorted to. Yet it is, and the offspring are the ones who are left to pick up the pieces and suffer the losses.

(3) "The children I know who were conceived using donars [sic] are all doing well. The assumption somehow that they are damaged by the process simply doesn’t match my experience."

WHOA, hold the phone!!!  Key word here: CHILDREN.  Okay, so this woman knows a few donor-conceived kids and they're all perfectly happy.  What "assumption" is she referring to here?  The one that ADULT donor-conceived persons are TELLING her directly how they feel?!?!

(4) "Male donars [sic] have been used for decades, and many MDs have put themselves through school using the money they earned, and felt good about it." 

And...might I add, many former donors are now realizing the consequences of those decisions they made so long ago and are seeking their biological children.  Also, how does she know they feel good about it? Most donors don't feel anything about it - on purpose.  Sperm donation is so medicinalized that these donors are not even really thinking about the outcomes.  Also, many medical students in particular, especially in decades past, were pressured or even coerced into donating by their professors.  It's akin to young single women coerced into relinquishing their children to adoption...put on the spot and in many cases not even given a choice.  Same went for many of these donors.  I've spent time talking with former donors who while the professors and department chairs were not holding guns to their head, in a much more subliminal way, they knew that if they wanted to do well they better be supplying.

It's also extremely offensive to donor-conceived adults to have someone with such "expertise" and someone who is supposedly a social worker, putting it so bluntly.  She might as well have said that 'many college students filled their fridges with beer from the money they earned'.  While most of us do realize the bullshit about altruism is just that - BS, having it spelled out so blatantly from someone who considers herself a professional in the mental health field, is just downright tactless.

(5) "The children of these kinds of arrangements often seem to be better cared for than the average child — especially those who were unplanned."

Says who??  Is she claiming that the majority of parents are unfit?  I know of plenty of donor conceived adults who were not well cared for.  If not not well cared for, many social fathers are distant with their donor-conceived children, and just based on discussion on PCVAI, it seems that there is a much higher probability of divorce in donor-conceived families and mental illness among recipient mothers.

Just as there are many terrible adoptive parents, there are many terrible donor conception recipient parents.  Lets be honest, there are just terrible parents out there in general, regardless of whether they are biological or not.  However, studies have shown that, in particular, children raised by non-biological father-figures are more often physically and/or sexually abused than children reared by their biological fathers.

For example, this 2005 study found that:
"The findings also make it clear that male perpetrators who are not biological fathers were more commonly associated with physical abuse and sexual abuse, older children, and female children. Similarly, when acting alone, biological fathers and father surrogates were more often perpetrators of physical and sexual abuse, but when acting with the mother were more often associated with neglect. The relatively large proportion of stepfathers and adoptive fathers associated with sexual abuse, as well as with older, female children, suggests the need for prevention efforts in blended and adoptive families."

(6) "The clients who I have worked with who have children who had both sperm and egg donars [sic] now have wonderful children. One set of twins in particular are two of the happiest kids I know." 
That's great, I'm glad to know there's one set of young donor conceived kids out there who are happy! .  Sorry, I hate to break it to you Eleanor, but your logic is severely flawed.  Most of us offspring had very happy childhoods.  Children are not able to comprehend higher level thinking and emotions.  Even though I've known all my life I was donor-conceived it was not until I was a late teen that I really fully understood what it meant and how unethical it is.  I was curious about my biological father before that, but it was not the burning desire that I experienced later.  Childhood happiness is not an accurate predictor of adult compliance with donor conception issues.  Many offspring are well into their 20s or 30s before it dawns on them.  Often it's a life-changing event that triggers it....marriage, birth of their own children, death of a parent, etc.

(7) "I would love to see any research indicating that there is some huge discrepancy in how they turn out as adults as opposed to those who are born “the normal” way."
Karen quickly referred Eleanor to the "My Daddy's Name Is Donor" report.  Obviously this woman couldn't be that much of a donor-conception expert if she didn't even KNOW about this report!!  Whether or not she agrees, the fact that she has no idea that this study has been completed and actually FOUND that yes there was a discrepancy between donor-conceived adults and adults who were raised in traditional nuclear families.

So now, why did I spend so much time attacking this woman, and what was my point?  Well, it's the fact that this woman claims she is an expert and for recipient parents, those trying to conceive, and anyone else who is interested in the psychological implications of donor conception might seek this woman out and actually listen to her!!  These types of people are poisoning minds with their false claims and uneducated conclusions.  They undermine the voices of adult offspring who are speaking out, because as a society we believe that we should be able to trust an expert.  We trust our doctors to accurately diagnose us and prescribe the best medicine - not the medicine that they were most wined-and-dined for by the drug reps.  We trust therapists and social workers to provide us with accurate information regarding such important  decisions as using a donor to conceive a child, and we trust that what they say is true, because of course they are a professional.

These so-called "experts" will tell their clients what they WANT to hear, but not necessarily the truth.  Why?  Because people do not want to be told bad news.  These "experts" are more concerned about their paychecks than they are about the people they are supposedly trying to assist.  A couple looking to use a donor, if you tell them that they need to really think about this decision because many adults conceived via donors have been damaged...that therapist knows that that couple is just going to go find a second opinion and tell all their friends that they are a bad therapist.

But isn't it unethical, as a medical professional, to lie to your clients/patients?  YES.  But in the mental health field, it's very easy.  Especially when these professionals are intertwined with the infertility industry.  I doubt there is any counselor employed by an infertility clinic that would actually tell their clients about the POVs of adult offspring.  Nope, they filter what is provided and only the "good" results are given.  Counselors are not advising their clients to read the MDND report, or my blog, or any of the other opinions out there.  Most counselors are still advising their clients to LIE to their children!!!!  If that doesn't tell you something....I don't know what would.

To recipient parents, individuals trying to conceive, and those who are looking to use a donor - please educate yourself beyond what you are told by your doctor or any infertility counselor.  Do your homework.  Listen to what adult offspring have to say.  Write to us with questions.  Learn as much as you can now to prepare yourself.

Friday, November 12, 2010

November changes

So it's November again, and it's another November that I've found myself entirely too busy with my life (outside the DC community) to participate in NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) -- November is National Blog Posting Month, where bloggers around the world attempt to blog once a day for 30 days.  However, in the spirit of the month I've decided to reinvent Cryokid with some major updates to a variety of sections.

A New Look!
Obviously the most noticeable change you can't help but notice!  Yes, I've designed a new template for Cryokid, feeling I'd outgrown the ultra-bold color scheme I originally designed back in 2008 when HTML was less advanced.  A play on "cryo", I went with an ice cube pattern...yet after my post last week, I do hope no one finds this offensive!  I find it sardonically funny, but some say I have a twisted sense of humor :o)

I've also added a newer feature to be fully implemented into blogger, and that is static pages.  You'll see at the top of my blog, there are tabs listing several pages.  Right now I am busy working on the DNA can check out what I've done so far here.

I am interested in hearing about what you, the readers, would want me to put up on these pages.  Are there topics or old posts that you want to have easily accessible and long-term?  

Newspaper Articles
I also moved the newspaper article links that used to reside midway down in the right column to their own page.  As you can see, they are in dire need of updating, but it's a matter of going back through my emails and locating all the articles that  have been published in the past two years!  This is not a top priority, as I've realized that the old drop-down menus were rarely used anyways, and the recent articles are easily found on Google.

Old Donor Lists
I have also added a considerable number of old donor lists, but would greatly appreciate any others that people may have!  What I am looking for are a scanned copy of old donor lists that the clinic/sperm bank/doctor provided for you (recipient moms) to choose a donor from.  This is a great resource for offspring and parents who were not given donor numbers and/or records were destroyed.  I am in dire need of pre-1990 donor lists, so if anyone has lists from sperm banks or clinics from the 1970s and 1980s especially, please email me!

And more!!!
I'm hoping to continue making changes to the look and feel of the blog, but don't worry I will still be the honest outspoken advice-giving activist that you love!!

I'm going to be laying out some major topics I want to tackle in 2011, so if there is something I have not touched on, or you want me to reiterate, let me know!

Friday, November 5, 2010

A rose by any other name...

Diane Allen posed a question the other day to many of us about terminology.  A friend of Diane's and supporter of donor conceived people asked her, in response to the recent article "Generation of cryokids crying out to know their dads" by Denise Ryan in the Vancouver Sun (10/28), about the term "cryokid", wondering where it came from because she believed it to be demeaning.

Now, being that I am THE cryokid I suppose I personally can't see it offensive in the raw.  I picked the name Cryokid because it was unique/catchy and sounded good with Confessions of..., easy to remember, and reflected the way in which I was conceived (frozen sperm).  In all honesty, I was more offended by the use of the term cryokid in her article without any reference to my blog!!!

However, similar to many in the African American community using the "n-word" amongst themselves as a term almost of near endearment, cryokid is something that I can call myself (and any other offspring who wants to), but when someone from the outside uses the term to put us in a box, it becomes something that is insulting.  One reason being the ending..."kid".  We are adults, we are not children, and when the media uses terms like "donor babies", "cryokids", or any other combination that uses child/baby/kid within, it gives the illusion that we are helpless and infantile, and not equal to other adults.

Secondly, the term "cryokid" is only is applicable to the most recently conceived donor offspring, those born after the mid-1970s, when cryogenics was first introduced into the infertility industry.  Those conceived previously, and many conceived concurrently from the 1970s through the mid-1980s, of fresh non-frozen sperm, this is not an accurate word, and diminishes the fact that there are persons conceived through anonymous sperm donation who are much older. 

Like many other terms in the donor conception world, it's demeaning to be categorized as such by someone from the outside.  We typically consider ourselves "donor conceived people" because it's the most simple way to refer to us, however the fact is, most of us consider our biological father as such, not as a donor.  He was our parent(s) donor, but he is and always will be our biological father.  Therefore, even the basic term "donor conceived" seems to not accurately convey who we truly are.  

****Updated 11/9/10****

I've decided to attempt a list of some of the most common terms and try to explain how they are offensive or inaccurate, and if applicable, more politically correct terms, as well as what we adult individuals conceived from third-party gametes, believe to be a more acceptable term.

1. Sperm/Egg Donor
As I mentioned early and many other times before, donor is an inaccurate term to use for the man or woman who sold their gametes.  First off, donor is misleading (at least in the USA), where donors are paid exuberant prices.  Sperm donors are paid per shot, usually around $100 each "donation".  Most donors supply their sperm 3-5 times a week for a year or more....this turns out to be between $15,000 and $26,000 a year!!  Now, if we take into account college students schedules of 30 weeks on campus, that is still a range of $9,000 to $15,000 per year!!  Try to make that waiting tables.  Egg donors make considerable more, closer in the range of $20,000 for each cycle --- mainly because extracting eggs is a much more invasive (and less fun) medical procedure that includes weeks of giving yourself injections, and can actually cause significant damage leaving some egg donors infertile after the procedure!
PC term: Sperm/Egg seller, Sperm/Egg supplier, Sperm/Egg vendor
What we think: Biological father/mother, Genetic father/mother

2. Donor Conceived
So the issue with the term donor conceived are fairly obvious.  Our biological father, not OUR donor (he was our parent(s) donor/vendor), so saying that we are "donor" conceived makes it sound like we do not have a biological father.  This is exactly what the company that sells the shirts, bibs, etc with "My Daddy's Name Is Donor" is trying to portray, and why that company is offensive to anyone conceived using third-party gametes.  No amount of sugar-coating can hide the fact that we do have a biological father.  He's not just a nice man that helped our parents, he just didn't give them a "seed" so we could grow.  All of this dehumanizes us to a point where we were conceived immaculately! Hiding the fact that we have a biological father by referring to him as a donor makes us feel as though we are not equal to others who were conceived by their mother and father.  We were too, except our mother and father never met.  But that does not make him any less of a biological father.
PC term: Persons conceived via third-party gametes
What we think: Donor conceived is acceptable, only because there is no other term that is convenient to be using that is more appropriate.  However, we still do not like the term.

3. Offspring
No, I'm not referring to that 90s band or a litter of kittens (or the mice I bred while working in the lab).  This ridiculously demeaning word describes human beings.  No one else in their right mind would ever call a "normal" person an offspring.  I suppose in the most curt language, we are all offspring, however it is not something that is typically referring to human beings.  It's meant for lower orders of animals.  So by referring to people conceived via third-party gametes as "offspring" is highly offensive.  The term artificial insemination comes from cow breeding, does this mean that we are seen on the same level as farm animals??
PC term: Persons conceived via third-party gametes
What we think: If we had to chose between donor conceived persons and offspring, most would chose donor conceived, because it is more descriptive of who we are (I mean, "offspring" that could mean we are the offspring of apes or cows or aliens), and somewhat less offensive.

4. "Cryokids", "Donor Babies", "Donor Kids", and the list goes on....
Since this is what brought this list about, I figured I should add it, but by now at least you should understand the problem here.  Just as adopted persons have fought against perpetually living as infants/children, donor conceived adults struggle with the same thing.  This is mainly the fault of the media, who thinks it's cute to call us "Donor Babies", even when many of us have children and grandchildren of our own!  We might have been cute and complacent as infants, however, we grow up.  And to assume that we have the same maturity level that we did at age 3 or 7 is ridiculous and degrading.  Many parents claim that their donor conceived children are perfectly fine and that we the donor conceived adults speaking out are emotionally unstable and ungrateful to be alive, etc...I should hope that I have gained a much greater understanding in 20 years for morality humanity.  Most of us as children did not think much about being donor conceived, it was not something that bothered us.  But we also at that age have a very limited sense of self and of the greater world.  We are physically and emotionally incapable of higher levels of thinking.  Some individuals never progress past this and never are able to reach this level of thinking.  However, for those that can and do, we begin to understand our conception in a different light than we did as small children.  To forever place us in the mold of being children, without comprehension and maturity, it diminishes the fact that we are adults with the same rights as other adults, and that our views and our opinions are just as important and just as relevant.
PC term: Donor conceived adults/persons
What we think: We're adults here, just like you, at least give us that much!!

Question for the readers: What terms would you add to this list?  What are more politically correct terms?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Misconceived Conceptions

Lately a hot topic among many of us adult offspring has been the "misconceptions" of donor conception.  Much of this discussion is stemming from the fact that donor conception has recently made it's debut into mainstream society.  In the 20th century donor conception was taboo.  It was not discussed, it was considered "bedroom talk", and the private business of the parents who sought these procedures.  They were told by their doctors never to tell their family, their friends, and most importantly, their child.

Today, there is still some sense that it is a taboo subject, but more and more it is becoming a topic of sitcoms, drama, movies, talk shows, and discussion.  The sheer fact that in 2010 there were three blockbuster films released that all had a central focus on donor conception speaks volumes to how it has entered into the collective mainstream.

However, in all of these instances they are portraying donor conception and donor offspring in a way that is not accurate and feeds into the stereotypes that we are constantly battling from the DC community, the infertility industry, and society.

Stephanie Blessing wrote a fantastic post on the FamilyScholars blog last month, "Misconceived: Misconceptions About Donor Conception".  She lays out 11 misconceptions that people assume about donor conception and/or donor offspring, most of which stem from the views and opinions of what recipient parents assume that we should feel.

And while I think we need to address and attempt to reform the opinions of those recipient parents and individuals trying to conceive or thinking of using a donor, ultimately it is not these persons who are our biggest hurdle.  I've come to the conclusion over the many years that I have been involved in the donor conception community and been a forerunner in advocacy for donor conception issues in the US, that we may be able to enlighten a small handful of recipient parents and those thinking of using a donor, but the majority will only try to hurt us, to silence us, to disarm us from our mission by any means necessary.  All it takes is a few minutes of reading some of the Yahoo Groups where DI mommies congregate.  Look where an adult offspring has made a comment or stated their personal opinion, and watch the nasty claws come out from the mommies.  It's like being surrounded by a herd of werewolves and a full-moon comes out......

I DO get emails from women in the process of trying to get pregnant or weighing their options, seeking my advice for their situation.  Most of these women have some sort of "sob-story" they tell me, often TMI, that they believe gives them a valid reason to use a donor.  Some have done their research and are attempting to see past the initial "baby" phase and try to acknowledge what their child may or may not feel in the future, and most of these women are the ones looking towards ID-release or some form of open donation.  Others are unsure what they want and are coming to me for advice, but in most cases I think these women want some reason to discredit me and my views so they can continue on their journey, use an anonymous donor, and not feel any guilt later on.

Yet, the main thing is, these women are all so deeply entrenched in their own emotions, fears, and loss to do anything for the greater good of the offspring.  Even if they do chose to use an ID-release donor, that will be the end of it for 99% of them.  These will not be women who will be stepping out of their comfort zones and publicly decrying anonymity, nor will they be the women who stand along side us fighting for our rights.  To them, simply creating their own child with in their eyes a "more humane" method (because apparently that's what were advocating???) of donor conception is enough.

But it's not.  And it won't be until we can successfully gain enough support among ourselves to fight on our own.

What we really need is to gain the support of society...something we fail to do in most cases.  Yes, we do get occasional media airtime.  Yes, sometimes our opinions on such deep issues are confronted.  But in most cases they are lost in a sea of sob stories and happy endings.  There are two types of donor conception articles published/broadcast.

1) the sob story: the story of the offspring who has spent a decade searching for their biological father to no avail, the story of the offspring seeking a change in legislation because they feel it is unethical for records to be destroyed, the story of the offspring who just wants more answers about who they are.  These are the stories that people disregard, call us ungrateful, and make fun of our situation with derogatory and demeaning humor because they are idiots who do not know any better and cannot grasp a deep issue within their shallow ignorant minds.
2) the happy ending: the stories that end up on the TODAY show or GMA about two (or more) siblings finding one another or finding their donor, and often the reunion is broadcast right then and there so all that is seen is the initial happiness, nobody focuses on the difficulties associated with finding your kin in adulthood (b/c honestly, most of the reunions in donor conception occur with small children through mid-teens).  These are the stories that give the general public the allusion that any donor-conceived child who wants to find a sibling or their donor can and will and all it costs is $50/year to join the DSR and VOILA a sibling will appear!!!

Okay, so maybe I'm a bit bitter, but this is the reality of it all.  These are the two types of stories, and both of these stories portray a very harmful and wrong depiction of what donor conception is and how it affects the offspring.

Therefore, it is not the DI mommies or the infertility industry we need to focus on to make change.  These two groups of people will fight against us until the very end, viciously.  We already know they are the inherent enemy of human rights and dignities of donor conceived offspring.  They do not want to hear what we say, they do not want us to air our "dirty laundry" because it makes them look bad.  They want to continue to live in their deluded worlds where everybody is happy and vocal adult offspring do not exist.

We need to focus on society at large.  Which means, in order to convert the minds of the ignorant masses, we must change the way we are portrayed to them.  Alana Stewart's AnonymousUs Project might accomplish just that.  When a single offspring speaks out to the public it is easy to disregard and discredit us, insulting us and chiding us for our views.  When a hundred offspring speak out it is much harder to ignore.

If we can begin to change the way society views us and our plight, we may begin to be a force to be reckoned with.  Just as adoptees have changed their image and society is beginning to understand and accept their need to know their birth parents, I hope that society will begin to learn to see the parallels between adoption and donor conception and see that our need to know our biological kin is just as great and just as necessary.

The biggest hurdle is the fact that we are the underdog.  Lets face it, it's been estimated that 20% of Americans today experience some form of infertility ( I do not know if this number includes those who are socially infertile or not).  This means that most adults today know someone who is or has struggled with infertility.  Whether it is a sibling, a child, a best friend, a colleague, or simply a "friend of a friend".  These connections to those on the other side of the scale hurt us.  Most adults have never met an adult donor-conceived person before.  Many donor-conceived adults have never met another donor-conceived person before!!

The odds are against us, because it's obvious that if someone has a friend or relative who struggled with infertility, that is going to be their first impression.  And, the fact that most people "see" donor-conceived offspring as small children and not adults, it's much easier to feel empathy for adults struggling with infertility.  It is something that most adults can comprehend.  The losses associated with donor conception are not.

The biggest misconception of donor conception, therefore, is that we are not simply a cure for infertility. We are human beings with our own minds, our own opinions, our own feelings, and our own losses.  And this is the misconception that needs to be overcome before anything else is going to change.

Friday, October 15, 2010

NEWS FLASH: "Woman's suit seeking info on sperm donor will proceed"

A huge congratulations to Olivia Pratten this evening.....a judge ruled today at 5pm PDT that her case will not be dismissed and will continue on to trial!!!


By: The Canadian Press
Date: Friday Oct. 15, 2010 5:26 PM PT

A 28-year-old woman conceived through sperm donation has won the right to proceed with a lawsuit aimed getting information about the donor.

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has rejected a bid by the provincial government to block a lawsuit filed by Olivia Pratten, who was born in B.C. but now lives in Toronto.

She wants the court to order the province to create a system that ensures sperm donor records are kept indefinitely and to prevent existing records from being destroyed, making it virtually impossible for donors to remain anonymous.

Pratten, who says she's thrilled the suit will proceed, has been fighting for more than a decade to obtain records about her conception, arguing such information is vital to her own health.

The doctor who performed the procedure for Pratten's mother insists he destroyed the documents in the 1990s because physicians aren't required to keep patient records for more than six years.

Pratten and her mother don't believe the documents were actually destroyed, pointing to what they believe are inconsistencies in what the now-retired doctor has told them.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

AnonymousUS Project

Introduction from Anonymous Us on Vimeo.

The Anonymous Us Project is a safety zone for real and honest opinions about reproductive technologies and family fragmentation. We aim to share the experiences of voluntary and involuntary participants in these technologies, while preserving the dignity and privacy for story-tellers and their loved ones.

The idea was inspired by, a Maryland based art project that allows anyone, anywhere to create a postcard with a secret written on it, and mail it in anonymously for publication. Members of the donor community have some serious stories and opinions regarding their family structure that they'd like to add to the discussion, but feel they cannot because of shame and a need for privacy. This project gives them an opportunity to be heard without having to reveal their identity and potentially hurt their loved ones. And it kind of turns the concept of anonymity inside out.

We hope that The Anonymous Us Project will fill out the conversation on reproductive technologies.

We hope it will inspire more truth and transparency.

We hope it will help shape healthier families and happier people.


Open letter from creator, Alana Stewart:
Dear Donor-Conceived Persons, Adoptees, Donors, Parents, and Fertility Industry Professionals,

I am writing to tell you about and seek your participation in a story collective endeavor called "The Anonymous Us Project". This is an opportunity for everyone involved in reproductive technologies to tell the world what they really think about donor conception: the good, the bad, and the ugly – all in the atmosphere of, you guessed it, anonymity.

I, Alana Stewart, Founder of The Anonymous Us Project and self-proclaimed Donor Kid, viscerally understand the potential conflict of vocalizing relevant truths concerning donor conception. There are loved ones we risk offending, family well-being we risk upsetting and maybe livelihoods we risk sabotaging if the whole truth were to be told concerning donor conception and parent-child separation. The Anonymous Us Project wishes for all parties the opportunity to tell their stories without fear.

In the upcoming weeks we need to collect stories and build content in preparation for press outreach and the launch of [NOTE: This is the *future* website that will be launched in a few weeks....not the project to submit stories to]. Our website is still being built, but the submit form is ready to go. You do not have to – and in fact you cannot – provide your name when you submit your story. When you're done writing and have successfully submitted your story, you will receive a confirmation number you may use to contact us about your story and remove the story should you wish to. We are looking for submissions of 750 words or less. Please feel free to write anything you'd like relating to donor conception, surrogacy and adoption. Feel free to make multiple submissions on relevant, but different ideas. Stories will be selected to be read aloud on the Anonymous Us podcast, which anyone will be able to subscribe to for free through iTunes or an RSS feed.

Send us your essays and thoughts:

Submit a Story

Help us grow this project.

We can't judge the health of these practices without understanding the journey of the affected.

Thank you everyone for your involvement and contributions.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Best donor/sibling searching tools

By popular demand, I am updating/re-evaluating an old post on the best research tools I've found to search for ones donor and half-siblings.  I've broken the list down into several categories: General (Donors/Half-siblings), Donor w/ non-identifying information, and Donor w/out non-identifying information.  For each category I have listed my favorite resources and how to use them/what you need (or how they can be used for our purposes).

General (Donors & Half-siblings):

Registries -- Most useful for younger offspring with donor numbers from sperm banks.
  1. Donor Sibling Registry
    • Pro: Largest registry with most donor and offspring matches
    • Con: $50/year registration fee to post information, see others information, read messages, and contact other members
  2. AmFOR Donor Offspring Registry
    • Pro: Free registry with visible email/contact information of all members
    • Con: Difficult to search (use COMMAND-F = "Find" in browser to search donor number/sperm bank/etc) and smaller than DSR

DNA Databases -- Most useful for older offspring who may or may not have a donor number.
  1. UKDonorLink (MALE and FEMALE) -- autosomal DNA
    • Pro: Connects half-siblings/donors of offspring born pre-1991 in the United Kingdom
    • Con: Only matches with 99% probability are informed, meaning many true matches never know they have a sibling
  2. CaBRI Donor Gamete Archive (MALE and FEMALE) -- X/Y chromosome DNA
    • Pro: Connects half-siblings/donors for any offspring using X and Y chromosome testing
    • Con: Only can connect siblings of the same sex, and females must have mother tested
  3. YSearch: Y-DNA Public Database (MALE only) -- Y chromosome DNA
    • Pro: Can identify paternal genetic surname, giving male offspring an idea as to their biological father's possible last name
    • Con: Because of infidelity/secret adoption/donor-conception in direct line, genetic surname may not be same as biological father's surname


Donors with significant non-identifying information:

If university and/or graduation year is known...
  1. Yearbooks -- E-Yearbook ($5/month; $20/year), University Libraries (best bet if you can get to the University as there is often many other resources as well), or Ebay ($ variable)
    • Pro: Provides a fairly complete list of all men who fit that criteria -- narrow down from here; Seniors often have extra information listed such as hometown, major, Clubs/Interests, etc
    • Con: Appearance is not a good indicator of relatedness and should not be relied on solely for identification; Some yearbooks can be very hard to come by or are extremely expensive (i.e. if there was an important event --- ex: Kent State University's 1971 yearbook is extremely rare and very coveted by collectors for it's memorial to the May 4th shootings)
  2. Alumni Lists/Associations -- University Alumni Associations,,
    • Pro: If yearbook is unavailable, can provide an incomplete list of men who attended that university during that year/years
    • Con: Usually only a very small minority of alumni are active in associations or members of online communities like; Many university alumni associations' information is only available to alumni

If birthday is known...
  1. ($) -- Public Records Index can be searched for individuals born on a certain date, works best if a location where the donor lived in the during the 1980s/1990s is known
    • Pro: Can be used in conjunction with Yearbooks to find men listed in the yearbook who are born that date
    • Con: Donors born post-1970 are less likely (or not at all) going to be listed; Not all public records have birthdays; Subscriptions are quite costly
  2. Free Birthday Database -- Names of men found in yearbooks/alumni lists can be searched to find their birthday (works best for less common names)
    • Pro: No registration or cost involved
    • Con: Not all names retrieve records

If city of residence and time/years of donation is known...
  1. ($) -- Public Records Index can be searched for a specific location, identifying individuals who lived in a city/town during mid-to-late 1980s to the early-to-mid 1990s
    • Pro: Helpful when used in conjunction with university yearbooks and/or birthdays
    • Con: Cost; Not exhaustive (of individuals and years); Only older donors
  2. -- Can be useful for donors who likely still reside in the same city/town today, Used in conjunction with yearbooks/alumni lists
    • Pro: The obvious - Address/Phone number; Age group can help narrow down names
    • Con: Need a name and current location; Common names could prove to return huge numbers of individuals
If a physical description is known...
  1. MySpace -- Recently an offspring found her donor by entering his physical traits, occupation, and location into MySpace
    • Pro: It obviously can work, however offspring typically need several/many non-identifying characteristics to search with
    • Con: How many adults over the age of 30 are on MySpace and not a pedophile??
  2. Dating websites ($) -- I'm not advocating this choice, but I suppose it could work........
    • Pro: Men put way too much personal/physical information about themselves online when they're trying to find a date...the same information that they would put in a donor profile (physical characteristics, occupation, hobbies, location, etc)
    • Con: It's really creepy....and expensive

    If other random tidbits about his life are known...

    1. EMAIL ME -- I might know of a resource/database that might be just want you need!


    Donors with no significant non-identifying information:

    Genetic trait calculators --- Identify and exclude traits of your donor based on you and your mom's traits
    1. ABO Blood Type Test -- ABO Blood type paternity test that either excludes or doesn't exclude an "alleged father" based on the blood types of child, mom, and alleged father
      • Pro: Can sometimes at least exclude one possible blood type for the donor (Blood Type Chart)
      • Con: Need to have offspring and mother blood type
    2. Eye Color Test -- An eye color paternity test that assumes that lighter-eyed parents cannot have darker-eyed children
      • Pro: Can give an idea as to the possibilities of donor's eye color
      • Con: Need to go through each eye color for the alleged father and see which are excluded and not excluded (time consuming)
    3. Mendelian Trait Fact Sheet -- Information about Mendelian inheritance and a list of common traits
      • Pro: Can be helpful to compare with possible half-siblings
      • Con: If you do not have a picture of the donor or have a potential donor in mind many of these cannot be determined
    4. Single Gene Disorders - Mostly congenital disorders that are inherited either dominantly or recessively from a single gene (not mutations)
      • Pro: Very useful if offspring has inherited a genetic disorder and wants to determine if it came from the donor or not
      • Con: Very few offspring suffer from these conditions
    5. List of Mendelian Traits (Cryokid Post)
      • Pro: Old post giving examples of Mendelian traits and how they can help identify traits or eliminate possible donors; Also can be used to compare with possible half-siblings
      • Con: If you don't have a picture or have a potential donor in mind many of these cannot be determined

    This is the short list of resources.  Of course there are others, and depending on each individual situation, some may be better suited than others.  If you have any questions or want me to do a consultation to determine the best route and what resources may be helpful, please email me.  

    A note for younger offspring:

    For offspring who have extensive donor profiles (those born typically post-1990), I have worked with several offspring and recipient mothers to identify resources both publicly available and those through paid subscriptions that have shown to be successful in narrowing down the search, often based on a specific piece of information given in the donor profile that is helpful in identifying him.  

    Such bits of information could be:
    • Age/year of death of a parent/grandparent/sibling --- if cause of death is known that is even better!
    • Age of parents/grandparents/siblings at time of donation
    • Marital status
    • Number of children (year of birth and sex of all children is even better)
    • Occupation
    • Hobbies
    • Personal essays

        Tuesday, September 21, 2010

        Another DNA database update

        For those of you anxiously awaiting the release of the Donor Offspring DNA Database....good news!!  The actual database is nearing completion.  John, our amazing donor-conceived CS professor, spent many many hours this summer putting together the framework that will be able to take the equations Damian and I determined and do the math for us.

        If you are new to reading Cryokid (or want a refresher), here are some other posts that will explain the DNA database and DNA tests in general:

        While it is not yet complete, I am going to discuss what we have so far and what it means for you, the offspring.  What we are creating is a free online database capable of determining varying degrees of potential relatedness among all members.  Offspring can register and then upload their own DNA results from a previous test/profile.  They can also upload the results from their biological mother, if available. 

        A short comment about DNA results:
        There are many types of DNA tests on the market today.  Currently we only have the capabilities to look at one type of test.  That is what is called the CODIS markers.  Most commonly these tests are used in paternity, maternity, siblingship, and avuncular (grandparent or aunt/uncle) DNA tests, as well as DNA profiles.  CODIS markers are 15 of the most common DNA markers used throughout the world, and they rely on what are called STRs (short tandem repeats).  A person inherits at a specific marker, two sets of "alleles", one from each parent.  The alleles are different in the number of repeats of nucleotides (the bases that make up DNA) in that location.  The "alleles" that are inherited from each parent appear in a DNA test as a number, that being the number of times a specific sequence is repeated.

        What we cannot do, as of now, is analyze a DNA test that looks at the X or the Y chromsome.  That would be any test used for genealogy purposes, such as Y-STR or X-STR tests, tests done through CaBRI's Donor Gamete Archive, and those from FTDNA's FamilyFinder test.  

        We hope to be able to provide this service to offspring in the future, but for now we simply do not have the capabilities.  For males who have done a Y-STR test, please take a look at Y-Search for a database of all Y-chromosome results from various companies. 

        Upon registering and uploading either just your DNA results or those of both you and your mother, you will be able to "scan" the database.  By scanning the database it will return to you a list of other members who have a Combined Siblingship Index (CSI) that is over our threshold.  While most countries hold a threshold of 90% (a CSI of about 10.0) probability of relatedness as being conclusive, we understand that often those inconclusive results may be pushed either direction with more information, and we are planning to set our threshold significantly lower to catch as many potential matches as possible.  We can then advise members of how to get the most of their DNA tests.  Sometimes having one or both mother's tested can raise a CSI through the roof!  Other times, if the mother's are not available to be tested, we can suggest other types of DNA tests (such as X or Y chromosome tests) or a second panel or markers on what has already been tested. 

        Besides a list of members with CSI's over our threshold (we will provide the CSI and probability of relatedness for each potential match), we will also provide you their name, contact information (email), year of conception, place of conception, and any other relevant information (i.e. sperm bank/clinic, donor number, etc), that may or may not be of use in determing the likelihood of relatedness beyond a number.  These members will be listed in descending order so you will be able to quickly identify your most likely siblings.

        We strongly suggest that if a potential match is made, no matter how high of a probability, that you proceed with a professional DNA test for more conclusive results.  We will be happy to recommend what companies we feel are the best to work with and the most economical. 

        BUT FOR NOW....

        John, Damian and I have discussed where we want to be with this database in the near future and we have decided that to begin providing information to offspring as soon as possible, we will be manually entering the first 100 members.  That means, you will be entered into our database as it is now (not available to the public yet), and we will return to you by email any list of potential matches.  Once we have reached around 100 members we will move over to having the members upload their own results and having the database function automatically.

        Understand that as we get this up and running the chances of finding matches are small, but as we grow and the more members involved, the higher the chances of finding a potential sibling!

        Please email me if you would like to be a part of this database!!

        Lastly....if you have not yet done a DNA test in the past, please check out Genetic Testing Laboratories DNASafe DNA Profile.  For $90USD you will get your CODIS markers that can be uploaded into our DNA database. 

        If you are looking to have you and your mom tested I'd suggest Genetic Testing Laboratories Maternity Test.  This test is only $110USD and both you and your mother will be tested.  I would hope that it come back conclusive (otherwise you might have a bigger issue to deal with....), but we are not looking at maternity here.  This is simply a cheaper way for you to get both DNA profiles (yeah, I know it's sort of deceitful, but it gets the job done!!).

        And as always, paternity and siblingship tests done in the USA and abroad are always acceptable!!  Remember, these tests do not need to be a "match".  If you've done ANY negative DNA test in the past, that will work!!

        Wednesday, September 8, 2010

        BEWARE of Fairfax Cryobank (and Cryogenic Laboratories, Inc)!!!

        Fairfax Cryobank (as well as CLI, which was bought out by Fairfax recently), one of the nation's largest sperm banks, has a nasty little secret.....they hate donors.  That's right, they hate them.  

        You see, most sperm banks today acknowledge that many donors who may have signed one of those elusive "confidentiality agreements" when they were 18 year old boys often change their minds and become curious about the children they sired and sold later on down the road - often after the birth of their own children they raise.  And many clinics/banks will be helpful and sometimes overly ambitious to help these donors make contact with their genetic children.  In most cases this is providing retired donors with their correct donor number (that is, the donor number that is used in the catalogs and provided to recipients, and not some "other" number).  Some will even give them information about the DonorSiblingRegistry, or even reach out to recipients in some rare instances.

        However, Fairfax Cryobank does none of that.  Actually, they completely forbid it.

        According to their website:
        We stand by our policy of not releasing specific donor numbers to the donors themselves. We believe that if we were to allow donors to have their donor numbers, we would in essence be facilitating their ability to make contact with recipient families and their offspring. Providing donors their numbers would clearly undermine our privacy policy and could possibly cause families and donors, unaware of the outcomes of sharing identifying information publicly, permanent and unwelcome consequences.
        I'm sorry, but this just makes me physically ill reading.  There are MANY donors who have tried contacting Fairfax on multiple occasions to get their donor numbers.  These men are willing and WANT to find their offspring!!  They understand the "consequences" and accept them wholeheartedly!  Most men who join the DSR (or other registries) are fully aware of the possibilities.

        It is completely unethical for an institution to deny the men they recruited to keep their business alive something that is so vital for all parties involved.  They are not giving donor numbers to men who do not ask and do not want contact with offspring.  They are not giving the name and address of donors to recipient parents.  All that they are doing is denying retired donors any chance at knowing their own children.

        I am truly at a loss for words at how outraged I am about this.  While Fairfax might play god in creating children, apparently they also believe they ARE GOD!!!  Denying this information to consenting retired donors is a gross exaggeration of their own power and self-importance.

        Fairfax is a prime example why legislation MUST be forthcoming in the US to regulate the infertility industry, since they do not have the decency or integrity to do it themselves.

        To make matters worse, Fairfax also gets a big fat F for honesty as well.  Numerous Fairfax clients have pointed out that they were told that the donor they chose met certain educational criteria (i.e. having a PhD and/or MD degree for example) and when the recipient later finds the donor without the aid of FC they discover the donor did not in fact have such an educational background, and often were completely UNEDUCATED!!  Not to say that many doctors offices and clinics don't do the same thing, but that is changing information from a 3rd party - such as telling a patient the donor was a medical student when they doctor really has no clue because he bought the sperm from a sperm bank.  That is very different from the sperm bank lying on the donor's profile to make him sound better than he is.

        Does this also mean that Fairfax hides other vital pieces of information about their donors from clients??? I'd bet if they are lying about something as mundane as education, they're sure as hell lying about medical histories as well!!  Oh, so your donor had 20/20 vision and all his parents and grandparents are alive and kicking??  Maybe, maybe not.  I'm sure if Fairfax had their way (which they do, apparently), that said profile might come from a donor who is legally blind and both his parents died young of heart attacks or cancer.  How are you going to find out???  Right, you're NOT.  Because Fairfax refuses to even let their donors seek out their own children.

        So any lies are just a few dirty little secrets......

        I think it's about time that we, as adult offspring, recipient parents, and former and current donors --- the DC triad --- make a stand and demand that Fairfax Cryobank air out their dirty laundry and come clean about these appalling accusations.  We must demand that the infertility industry can no longer "regulate themselves" and continually lie and cheat their way to a multi-billion dollar a year income on the tears and pain of those most directly affected by their unethical business practices.

        Tuesday, August 31, 2010

        Was your clinic lying to you??

        Many clinics are keeping vital information from their clients, information that is crucial for the offspring to connect with genetic relatives.  One of the most common is clinics that fail to disclose to their patients that the sperm did not in fact come from one of the hospital's residents or interns, or the university's medical student.

        Many patients, even well in to the 1990s were told their sperm was fresh from a local donor.  This is highly unlikely, as after 1988, sperm was required by the CDC to be frozen and quarantined for at least 2-6 months - due to the discovery and fear of HIV/AIDS.

        Other clinics and doctor's offices buy sperm in large quantities from large sperm banks.  Some of these clinics tell their patients were the sperm came from.  Some do not.  Some offices tell their patients exactly what they know the patient wants to hear, and not what the truth is.  Hence why so many offspring and parents believe their donors were medical students....the doctors know that saying the donor was a medical student sounds much better than say he was a mechanic or whatever.

        One of the world's largest sperm banks is Xytex.  While their headquarters are in Augusta, Georgia, they also have offices in Atlanta, Georgia, and throughout the years in various other cities/towns throughout Georgia.  They also have many affiliates.  That is, clinics that use their sperm for their patients.  

        The following clinics are official Xytex affiliate clinics, meaning their sperm are Xytex donors.  Some of these clinics change the donor numbers to their own system.

        Florida Institute for Reproductive Medicine (Jacksonville, FL)
        LaVista Reproductive Services (Atlanta, GA)
        North Carolina Center for Reproductive Medicine (Cary, NC)
        Pacific Reproductive Services (San Francisco and Pasadena, CA)
        Reproductive Health Associates (Clearwater, FL)
        Southeastern Fertility Center (Mt. Pleasant, SC)
        University of Connecticut Health Center (Farmington, CT)
        Xytex Corporation at Syncor (Woburn, MA)

        Genesis Fertility Centre (Vancouver, BC)
        Outreach Health Services (Toronto, ON)
        Regional Fertility Programme (Calgary, AB)

        Queensland Fertility Group (various offices throughout QLD)

        ***As always, please let me know if you know of any other clinics or doctor's offices that were affiliated or used Xytex donors exclusively!!  I am in the process of compiling a list of private doctor's offices that used Xytex as well.


        Here is a list of all USA Sperm Banks/Clinics, including their affiliates and alternate locations.  I have listed dates in service for as many as I could find.  Please feel free to email to make corrections or add facilities.

        Sadly though, offspring and recipients are not the only ones being lied to by clinics!  As discussed on the DSR, two notable (or better yet, notorious) sperm banks: Fairfax Cryobank and Cryogenic Laboratories Inc (CLI) have been publicly denounced for their refusal to provide former retired donors with their donor numbers.  These two banks are attempting to interfere with willing and consensual contact between former donors and their offspring by deliberately denying donors their numbers.  Other clinics have been known to give donors and recipients different numbers so that future reunions are nearly impossible.  

        All of these tactics by the infertility industry show how deeply fearful they are of the idea of reunion, and the lengths that they will go to stop it.  They are trying to stop it, not because they think it's unhealthy or against some mysterious and non-legally binding "contract of anonymity", but because they know that every successful reunion proves the exact opposite....that anonymity is wrong and that even many of the donors have had enough!!  

        Saturday, August 28, 2010

        Are the Kids Really Are Right?

        Are the Kids Really All Right?
        The interests and rights of people conceived by donor sperm

        Psychology Today
        Published on August 27, 2010
        By: Vardit Ravitsky and Joanna E. Scheib

        In the recently released film The Kids Are All Right, two siblings track down their sperm donor and introduce him to their lesbian mothers. What ensues is a plausible unfolding of events when genetically related strangers meet. The film's portrayal of the desire to meet the donor is empathetic. It shows in a positive way how donors and offspring might interact, take interest in and learn about each other, and form a new kind of relationship -- not that of a father-child, but clearly one that matters to both parties. The film also does a good job of helping those of us who have always known our origins to understand why some donor-conceived people want to find their donor.

        Disappointingly, however, the film fails real donor-conceived people, and even damages their likelihood of being able to find their donors. The film's portrayal of the interactions between the donor and the two parents play on prospective parents' fears that supporting their child's interest in exploring their identity and donor origins will wreak havoc with their family. The message seems to be that the only way a donor-conceived family can survive is to exclude all contact with the donor. Donor-offspring contact can be good, but ultimately everyone's best interests are served by not encouraging such contact and, in fact, perhaps even selecting an anonymous, never-knowable donor with whom contact is unlikely.

        Does Hollywood reflect -- in the case of this film -- the emotional and social reality of donor-conceived individuals? The experience of contact between donors and parents? No research to date provides evidence that donor-conceived families are at risk for disruption due to donor-offspring contact. Evidence is accumulating, however, to support the idea that offspring interest in their donor origins is a normal, and not a pathological, part of psychological development. Evidence also shows that problems can result from avoiding talking about the donor origins of one's family and denying individuals access to their donor's information.

        Yet the system is not designed to provide access to such information. In the United States, disclosure of donor identity is regulated by neither state nor by federal law. Donor anonymity is legally permissible and still predominates. No central registry exists to record and safely retain information that would allow possible future linkage of donors and offspring or offspring related through the same donor (and raised in different families). As a result, many individuals with donor origins will never have access to information about their donors (either detailed nonidentifying information or identifying information subject to donor's consent to release).

        Does this reality raise serious ethical concerns? Do donor-conceived individuals really want to have access to information about donors, as depicted in the film? To answer this question we need empirical data about their needs, interests, and life experiences. Unfortunately, the collection of such data is particularly challenging for a few reasons. For example, most parents do not tell their children that they were conceived using donor-sperm and confidentiality issues make it difficult to recruit this population.
        Despite such challenges data have been accumulating over the past decade from small studies conducted in different countries indicating that indeed donor-conceived individuals have a strong interest in having access to information about their donors. For example, in 2005 Scheib and colleagues asked 29 donor offspring, ages 12 to 17 years old, from a program that allows adult offspring to identify their donors whether they were planning to ask for their donor's identity. The majority said they were moderately to very likely to request this information.

        Three recent surveys with relatively large samples offer additional insight. A survey, published last spring in Reproductive BioMedicine Online, of 165 individuals who are members of an organization that connects donors and donor-conceived families is the first study to obtain systematic data from individuals conceived using anonymous sperm donation about their experiences searching for and contacting their donor and others who have the same donor. The findings indicate that the main reasons individuals searched were curiosity about the characteristics of the donor and the desire to gain a better understanding of their genetic identity. Wanting to meet the donor and medical reasons were also commonly cited. In the open-ended questions, many wrote about "the importance of knowing their genetic or ancestral history, and the sense of frustration they felt at not being able to access this information."

        About a third said that the search was prompted by a change in their personal circumstance or by reaching a developmental milestone, such as becoming a teenager, an adult, getting married, or having children. For those who had their own children, searching was a way of providing them with an ancestral history.

        The second recent survey is of 485 adults conceived through sperm donation that was designed to "probe the identity, kinship, well-being, and social justice experiences of donor conceived adults." It is the largest reported sample to date and its methodology of random sampling reduces sample bias. Data from this survey show that donor offspring indeed believe that being told the truth about their conception and having access to information about donors is important to their well-being.

        Eighty percent felt that "donor conception is fine as long as parents tell children the truth about their conception from an early age" or that telling early on "makes it easier for the children." In addition, 68 percent felt that they had the right to nonidentifying information about their donor, 67 percent that they had the right to know his identity, and 63 percent that they should have the right to have the opportunity to form some kind of relationship with him (although only 34 percent actually wanted some relationship).

        It is important that these findings be replicated, however, as the study had both ethical and methodological problems. And indeed another study of adult offspring published last spring (but without the problems) in the journal Fertility & Sterility also found that offspring benefit from and value both donor information and being told the truth, suggesting that at least this finding is grounded in reality.
        What clearly emerges from these surveys is the urgent need to secure at least the possibility of future access to information about donors. The current situation in the U.S. therefore raises serious ethical concerns. The human need to know where we come from includes knowing our genetic origins.

        Vardit Ravitsky is an assistant professor in the bioethics program, faculty of medicine at the University of Montreal. Joanna E. Scheib is an associate adjunct professor in the department of psychology at the University of California, Davis, and research director of The Sperm Bank of California in Berkeley. An earlier version of this essay appeared in The Hastings Center's Bioethics Forum.

        Thursday, August 19, 2010

        Why do I do it?

        It's exciting that the summer of 2010 is turning into the summer of donor conception entering the mainstream.  Elizabeth's study was only the start.  With 3 (yes THREE) Hollywood films out this summer that deal with donor conception: "The Back-Up Plan", "The Kids Are Alright", and most recently, Jennifer Aniston's controversial "The Switch".......with all these movies and our plight hitting the news due to MDND, suddenly everyone wants to talk to us sperm donor kids!!

        Not that I'm complaining's just being in the media is very emotionally draining.  The stress of talking to complete strangers about very personal things, only to know that what you say is going to be published/broadcast across the country --- well, lets just say it's very intimidating!!!  So having had so many media interviews in the past month, I feel like I've told and retold my story over and over again, only to have it usually "modified" for sensationalism by America's mass media market.  Unless you're on live television, there is no way to control what you're saying and what will be published/broadcast.  Of course, points that I make because I feel that they are paramount are ignored, whereas comments made rashly or when emotionally-charged are usually used.  The rational responses that provide arguments for why donor anonymity is unethical and why donor conception practices in America need to be changed.....these comments are sadly often lost in favor of the dramatic or emotional or controversial.

        Since the release of the AP wire article last week my email inbox has been inundated with responses from new-found fans, from recipient parents, from many adoptees across the globe, former donors, and those who had a bone to pick with me about my POV.  Some emails even bordered on stalkerish!  Of the handful of emails from those who disagreed with my views there was one that sticks out in my mind.  Mainly because this gentleman gave me a rational reason to disagree and when I responded he attentively listened to what I had to say and wrote back further more rational arguments.  We carried on an interesting back-and-forth conversation and while we agreed to disagree for the most part, by the end I actually won over his respect, and his mine.  For me, to be able to voice my rational responses to those on the other side, without being disregarded and violently attacked was a great experience and I thank him for the conversation.

        So why do I do all of this?

        I do it because I want my story (and views) heard by more than just my regular readers here on Cryokid that are most often affiliated with the donor conception or adoption triads.  I do it because there are so few of us in the USA who are willing to go out there and talk.  I do it because I hope that one day changes will be made to the practice here in America that will make things better and easier for future donor conceived children, and so they do not have to go through the pain that many of us adult offspring feel.

        I don't do it to make others feel sorry for me, or to make recipient parents feel badly about themselves and the decisions they made.  I try to educate anyone who will listen, but I don't judge.  It's not my place.    I also don't do it because I hate my life or my family.  I don't do it because I only focus my energies on negatives and dwell on them.  I agree, there are many others who have it much worse than I do (for whatever reason).  I am not here to start a contest about whose life is I admit in most cases I would lose.

        However, I do feel that any unnecessary harm done to another human being is considered unethical.  Yes there are children who grow up in abusive and neglectful families and my hearts go out to these kids.  It's not fair the life they have been dealt and our justice system sadly has its problems.  Yes there are children conceived in maybe worse-off circumstances, and that is not right either.  However, these are not intentional government-supported practices.  Donor conception is.  And while not every donor conceived child is "harmed", if there is any evidence that any donor conceived children feel this way the practice needs to be re-evaluated.

        I believe in destiny, and I also believe that maybe my destiny is just this.  That I was put here to live through this circumstance to be a voice of reason, a voice for change, a voice for the offspring.  Yes, some of my blog posts can be emotional - this is an emotional topic.  Yes, sometimes I say things here which are fueled from anger or emotion are not rational.  Sometimes there are things I post that I wish I hadn't because people like to take them out of context (and accuse me of wishing I had never been born, for example), but to say that I regret them I cannot.  They are my words and my feelings, however I am feeling at that place and time.  Like any normal person I have times in my life where I am more emotional and dwell more on the negatives.  I also have times where I'm very happy and donor conception are not on the fore-front of my mind.  I DO in fact have a life :o)  Before I started Cryokid I was known for disappearing from the DC community for months at a time (at one point an entire year!), especially as a college student.  Being active in the community lends itself to constant rumination on all things DC and it's not always healthy.  Since blogging here I feel compelled to write frequently, however there are times when it is much easier to simply repost something from someone else (newspaper article, commentary, blog post, etc).   This is my emotional downtime.  It's when I focus my life on other things - friends, family, work, and other pursuits.

        So, that is why I do this....this being Cryokid, talking to the media, searching, and giving advice.  This is what I am about, this is what my blog is about, and this is why I do it.

        Sunday, August 15, 2010

        AP wire article and loads of other updates!

        Wheee, I've been super busy the past few weeks.  Interviews left and right - David Crary's AP article "Sperm-donors' kids seek more rights, want end to anonymous sperm donation" was originally published on Thursday and hit the AP wire today - several other articles should be coming out in the next few weeks.

        I swear, as the saying goes, when it rains it pours!!

        I would like to clarify ONE thing that was mentioned in the article.  "If I had to choose between being conceived with half my identity and half my kinship deliberately denied from me for eternity - or never being born - I'd choose never being born".  This comment was taken very much out of context from a blog post for last year.  In the rest of the post I elaborated on the fact that if I had never been born there would be no loss as I would have never existed.  And there is a difference between never being born and never having existed - the former assumes that a loss would occur, whereas the latter assumes none of that.

        Also, as I pointed out during my interview (which sadly was not mentioned) is that while blogging that I may have over-exaggerated.  To say that I am not grateful or happy with my current life is a terribly untrue.  My point is that the loss associated with being donor conceived is something that I will carry for the rest of my life, and that to deliberately create a human being with that loss is unethical.  It does not mean I'm suicidal or hate my parents or my life.


        In other news....

        The DNA database (future home will be at that Damian Adams and I are creating is nearing completion!!  Thanks to the amazing talents of John Avitabile (a CS professor and donor conceived adult), who is creating the framework database that will store and analyze member's results and compare their DNA to all other members of the database - our dream is becoming a reality!  We couldn't have done this project without you John!!!

        For more information about the DNA database please refer to: "Donor Offspring DNA Database - UPDATE!"


        The Federal Inquiry into Donor Conception in Australia (attempting to get retrospective access to donor records for ALL offspring) is still accepting submissions - I believe the date has been extended until August 30th.  You do NOT have to be an Australian citizen or donor-conceived to submit!!  A plea for submissions by Christine Whipp was posted to PCVAI:

         I would just like to add that at first glance, Caroline Lorbach's request for members of the PCVAI to send a submission on donor conception to a Federal Inquiry in another country sounds like quite a tall order, especially for anyone who is unaccustomed to writing about their feelings and experiences of donor conception, or on the topic in general.
        By the same token it is all too easy to dismiss what happens elsewhere, under the auspices of foreign governments, as irrelevant to our own lives but what is happening in Australia today could be happening in our own back yards in a few years time. With enough support, Australia might just be able to pass a law giving retrospective access to donor information to all Australian donor offspring, regardless of which State they were conceived or when they were born. This would set a hugely important legal precedent to give leverage to the voices of donor conceived people and their supporters in other countries.
        Making a submission to the Federal Inquiry is no where near as onerous as it first sounds. In the time it takes to pop into Starbucks and drink a coffee, any PCVAI member could visit the Donor Conception Support Group Website (, follow the links and make a submission to the Federal Inquiry using a pro forma letter that can be altered to suit individual experiences. [You might want to change the word 'donor' to biological father, for example and add a personal sentence or two.] It can be as simple and painless as that, or you could start from scratch and write whatever you felt appropriate if you had the time and inclination. You can even submit your response to the Inquiry in complete anonymity.
        Anyone here can make a short submission supporting retrospectivity. It will only take five minutes of your time, but in the long run it could prove to be five minutes very well spent.
        If you've got time for a coffee this weekend, give it a go.
        This is the first legislation in the WORLD that is dealing with records and anonymity of donor conceived persons ALREADY conceived!!!  Please help the Aussies to begin the daunting task of changing these laws so that the rest of the world may eventually follow!