Wednesday, November 12, 2008

She Wants to Know Who Her Donor Father Is. No.

A women in British Columbia is suing under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that she has a right to know who her sperm-donor father is. She claims she is entitled to valuable health information, since all she has been told is that her father was a healthy medical student with type A blood. I can see that other physical health information, such as a family history of heart attack, cancer, or genetic disease, should also be passed on to her, if it had been collected in the first place.

The BC woman is also claiming that she suffers from psychological distress from not knowing who her father is. I agree that this is a real problem. Elizabeth Marquardt is studying this very subject, and I look forward to the publication of her research.

Nonetheless, when the donation was made and accepted, the rule was that that was the end of it. You can debate whether that should be the rule in the future, or whether sperm donor or mother should have accepted those terms. But they did. So to this questing woman I say "No." You can try to change the rules for other people in the future. But there is a larger principle of being able to trust the rule of law that trumps even your psychological distress.

In sperm-donor court, I would be a hanging judge.

55 comments:

halifax said...

This is just a further example of irresponsible behavior on the part of those wacky Canadians.

Gruntled said...

And I thought you went up there to straighten them out...

Chairm said...

Unfortunately, the law enabled this practice.

It cannot treat infertility. It is a runaround.

The use of "donor" gametes is not the equivalent of adoption, even if the mother's husband has, in effect, adopted this child subsequent to the adult choices and actions that created the child.

But it is another way in which the segregation of the motherhood and fatherhood is advanced and integration is setback. In this case, it is enabled at the cost of this young woman.

Lindsay said...

As an adult conceived by an anonymous sperm donor, I would like to point out that it is not just the "psychological distress" to this one individual, but to hundreds of thousands of AMERICANS created each and every year. Not only are we denied a right that everyone else in the world takes for granted, but we are ridiculed by persons such as yourself for even attempting to voice the injustice.

It should not be "old white men" in Congress or some judge that can decide if we can know our ancestors. We deserve to be treated the same as everyone else and not seen as small children that cannot make a decision for him or herself.

My blog "Confessions of a Cryokid" discusses many of the issues that confront donor conceived people, and brings to light to voices of donor conceived adults, who in the past may have been forced to stay quiet.

Gruntled said...

If it is an injustice, you can rightly try to change it for future "cryokids." Changing past legal contracts retroactively is a very dangerous idea.

And, come to that, I don't think people have a right to know who their fathers are, even if nearly everyone does, in fact, know.

billdiadoptee2001 said...

Who says that this is a legal contract? In adoption, children are stripped of their right to know their original parents through the family courts that seal their records and create falsified birth certificates and artificial identities. Many countries have changed such unjust practices and declared that not only future adopted people may not be disenfranchised from their original parents but have retrospectively declared prior contracts to be null and void. This is based on the principle that all parents have a responsibility to the children they create and cannot deprive these people of their natural right to know their parents. There is no inherent right of parents to deny their children information about their true identity, especially those who become parents via socially controlled institutions like adoption agencies and state licensed doctors. A child conceived naturally through an affair does not fall under the jurisdiction of the state unlike those conceived through donor insemination or those surrendered through adoption. Those social institutions are subject to the evolving laws of various jurisdictions and can be made to comply with the will of society even to the point of prior legal contracts. In donor insemination no court is involved in declaring that the original father is free from obligations to those people he creates. It is simply a private contract under the rules of individual doctors who want to protect themselves from liability. The validity of those contracts is not established by legislation and is subject to judicial review. These questionable contracts have not been challenged in Canada until Olivia Pratten sued Dr. Korn. Currently in donor insemination practice,.the potential parents and even the original father have to submit themselves to the doctor’s presumed right to deprive third parties, who have no say in the contract, of their natural rights to a clear knowledge of their genetic truth and their genealogy. I believe that it is entirely appropriate for Olivia Pratten to challenge Doctor Korn’s claim to a right to keep her full identity from her. As far as I can tell from my research, there has been no established law granting a mere doctor the authority to act as if he were a judge with the power to deny any future person of the right that everyone else has to know its origins. To be just, the courts should declare that all donor insemination contracts, past and future, would require that the donor conceived people have unrestricted knowledge of their original fathers. Without retrospectivity, two classes of donor conceived persons would be created, solely based on when they were conceived. It is unfair to deprive those created before a judicial recognition of these rights if it were limited to future children only. A sperm donor has no inherent right to anonymity even if a doctor grants it without judicial authority. A sperm donor has no right to have his privacy protected from his children. His children do have an obligation to honor his privacy with respect to his wishes to be left alone but not to be protected from his child knowing who he is or even being contacted by his child.

Chairm said...

I dunno, Gruntled.

When the changed divorce laws were changed with No-Fault, all marriage contracts were altered, retroactively.

Likewise the judicary's alteration of the de facto parent doctrines.

I guess that might buttress the general point you made about caution.

But, at the same time, it also gives credence to the plausibility of the reform that Lindsay would hope to accomplish.

What would be the gruntled middle way?

- Chairm Ohn

Anonymous said...

Here's a novel idea - how about if we just leave the creation of children to a married couple (and God)? It seems to me that whenever we decide we HAVE to have a child and cannot because of infertility, no spouse, homosexuality, etc., that our interest always trumps that of the child. Lindsay is a perfect example. Because her parent(s) had to have a child and it was all about them, she suffers for their of judgment.

Gruntled said...

Donor + Doctor make a contract under the laws at that time. Doctor + Mother make a contract under the laws at that time. = Legal Contract.

Sure there would be two classes of kids created by a change in the law. This happens just about every time we change any law.

I don't think the No-Fault Divorce analogy holds. The change in law did not require anyone to divorce. The analogy would be something like giving children the right to force their parents to divorce.

nick.carraway said...

I'm completely ignorant on the subject, but a few questions/comments arose as I read the comments (one not serious, the followers are):

1) billdiadoptee2001: You have some insightful comments, but please use paragraphs next time. My eyes are still crossed.

2) Are there any financial questions when a donor child finds the donor parent (egg or sperm). If those anonymity contracts are voided, does that not open the door to financial responsibility through child support? I'm guessing most donate for the money and/or god complex, so that would at least negate the financial gains.

3) I certainly agree that current laws might be ammended, but will we still have any available donors if they then suspect that they will be found/accept responsibility for the child in the future?

These are devil's advocate statements. I'm not a donor nor plan to be, but it seems that I would hesitate to do so if such concerns were made viable.

Virginia said...

Anonymous, would Lindsay exist if her mother hadn't chosen to have a child using that particular sperm donor?

I can't speak for her, but I would rather be alive and frustrated with a legal situation than never born at all.

Lindsay said...

Bill brings up a very sound point, whatever was signed was not a legal contract like that of adoption. Our mothers and our biological fathers, while they may have signed some form of confidentiality (however my mother did not, as it was her OB who actually ordered the sperm from the bank - she never had contact with the bank), we were not present when these were signed, therefore theoretically we should not be held under this assumption.

As for Virginia's comment about me wanting to be alive versus wanting to know my biological father - no, I would chose to not be alive. It's not all that atrocious once you realize what you're saying....if I was never born, I would never know I wasn't born, so therefore why would it be so bad?? HOWEVER, that does NOT mean I'm not grateful for my life.

Nick, about financial considerations...if you're wondering if offspring are looking for child support, college money, etc - we're not. Most of us are just looking for answers, and at best a relationship (but we would not push that if the donor did not want that).

Everyone wants to make donor conceived adults who are speaking out seem like these horrible creatures who hate their parents and are not grateful for what they have and think they deserve more than we're entitled to. I'm sorry, but I don't buy that. We're asking for what is rightfully ours, and for someone who is not in our shoes, they should have NO RIGHT to decide for us or make judgement about us.

Sandra said...

I am a person conceived by donor insemination over 50 years ago and support Olivia Pratten’s pursuit to change BC’s current law.

From its infancy (no pun intended), the practice of artificial insemination was shrouded in secrecy and deception. Parents were encouraged to never disclose to their children the truth of their conception, and donors were promised anonymity. Since then, however, these children have grown into adults and we are hearing first-hand how this social experiment has faired. Current research is finding, time and time again, that while these offspring are living happy and productive lives, there remains a gaping hole with regard to their identity, heritage, and medical information. These issues are similar to those of adopted individuals, and should be treated as such.

Fortunately for adoptees, BC law recognizes the importance of preserving the identity of adoptee’s birth parents permanently – thereby validating the point that this information is crucially important to the medical and psychological well being of these offspring. To deny similar recognition to the offspring of people conceived through sperm/egg donation would be morally and ethically irresponsible, regardless of a “contract” created by a doctor, parent, and donor.

There is another side to this coin that may not have been considered. We are finding that there is also a large population of sperm donors who are now in search of the offspring they have created. No longer the young college student merely looking for quick income, these adults now recognize the magnitude of their “contribution” and are actively searching to make contact with their progeny. By denying their right to an agreeable means of making contact with their offspring, they, too, are left with a void in their lives.

In your blog, Mr. Weston, you describe yourself as a centrist – as one who “wants to promote what is best for society, tolerate what is good enough, and prevent what is harmful.” (Oct 1, 2005). I urge you to reexamine your response to Ms. Pratten’s efforts, and be open to the possibility that the practice of donor anonymity is affecting our current society more than you had imagined.

nick.carraway said...

"Nick, about financial considerations...if you're wondering if offspring are looking for child support, college money, etc - we're not. Most of us are just looking for answers, and at best a relationship (but we would not push that if the donor did not want that)" (Lindsay).

I completely understand your motivation, but you really can't use the pronoun "we" in this instance. I agree that "most" (the term that immediately followed your sentence with "we") is appropriate as I expect that to be the case, but my question/comment was regarding those select few who have ulterior motives. I think that consideration needs to be made in any discussion of policy ammendments.

Gruntled said...

Chairm had asked earlier what I thought a centrist solution might be. Sandra points the way: SOME donors and SOME donor-created kids want to find one another. I am all for helping them do so through private (non-governmental) means. This does not entail, though, that the contracts of all should be invalidated to serve the desires of some -- especially since the internet now makes it relatively easy for both groups to find one another.

Lindsay said...

Nick, I used the term "we" because I have been in contact with several hundred donor conceived offspring, and this is the consensus from that group. I do not speak for ALL offspring, but I do speak for those who I am in contact with.

Please see my blog and notice my latest post - "Voices of Adult Offspring of Sperm Donation". It is the results of a study done that is currently being presented at the American Society of Reproductive Medicine this week, which provides an understanding as to how donor conceived adults feel about their conception, and what they want to know.

Lindsay said...

Also, as for ulterior motives....if we are not able to access this information until the age of 18, where child support is no long valid, it would make such a consideration irrelevant. In my experiences, the only people out there who may want to take advantage of the donor after finding one another is a single mother by choice who may feel it is HER right to the donor's child support. But adult offspring, we have parents, we are not looking for new parents, and we are not looking for money - we are looking for answers about who we are.


And yes, I will use the pronoun "we" b/c at least in my experiences, adult offspring feel this way.

Gruntled said...

Nonetheless, Lindsay, Nick is right. A legal change would open the door to all donor children -- the nice ones you know, and the other ones, too. Not to mention the possible venal donors. This is a problem we often encounter in sociology; "everyone I know" is not the same as "everyone."

A private clearinghouse would serve you and yours without opening the door to bad outcomes that you don't intend.

Lindsay said...

I agree with you that there could be an offspring who would abuse the system, but that doesn't mean that the system as we know it is ethical, nor does it say we cannot change it. A change now would likely not allow for retrospective access anyways, so any changes to legislation would state than any future children created in this manner would be able to learn the identity of their biological father upon turning 18.

However, if adoption records can be unsealed retrospectively, how is our situation any different?? If adoptees in many countries, and even several states here in the US are allowed to gain access to their OBC and find their birth parents, why are we denied this even in those countries and states? How are we an inferior human commodity that we are still routinely denied this right and ostracized when we try to voice our opinions?

This conversation would not be occurring right now if Olivia Pratten was an adoptee who was demanding this information, b/c society now acknowledges that loss. But our loss, since we were created intentionally to be the "cure" for someone's infertility or selfishness, we are denied this and told to be grateful???

Chairm said...

This discussion is fascinating.

The point about no-fault divorce laws is that these laws did indeed change every marriage contract. Retroactively.

Likewise, when people blended their families under status quo rules but later in life are subject to changes in judicial doctrines of de facto and/or social parenting, their understanding or agreements have been changed, retroactively.

Consider the unwed marriage of presumption that has been written into the statutes of some states. These do reach backward to the extent that even if someone immediately dissolved a relationship the day before the statutes were enacted, they'd still be subject to the new rules as if those rules had existed during the now-dissolved relationship.

I do think that Gruntled has proposed a centrist way, which cannot by definition please everyone, and may not please most people. But it would help some in a more focussed way.

However, rules should be changed for going forward, certainly, and Lindsay's story and example might help make that happen.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the earlier anonymous comment -- this just shows what a can of worms we open up when we meddle with what God ordained.

Just wait until we clone people. Clones have rights too!!!!!

Anonymous said...

For the other Anon comments:

I think you would agree that there are a number of things that happen and exist in the world that believers in God don't agree with, or rather don't think it is something that God intended.

To say that something should or should not be on based on religious belief alone is not sufficient unless you are dealing with people only within your faith. We leave ethical practices to be judged by society through government, I'm sure with religious influence, but with the goal of making as many people happy as possible.

That said, gamete donation happened and continues to today with little to no regulation and consequences showing up in the children that the practice produced. This is something that needs to be dealt with carefully by society and blanket statements about God's will or lack of doesn't solve the existing problem.

And yes, if clones were produced, they would have rights too (and additionally, similar emotional issues that arise in the adopted and donor conceived I imagine).

Anonymous said...

Gruntled said: "Donor + Doctor make a contract under the laws at that time. Doctor + Mother make a contract under the laws at that time. = Legal Contract.

Sure there would be two classes of kids created by a change in the law. This happens just about every time we change any law."

You presume that there is a law when in fact there are no laws regulating doctors who practice donor insemination, only in the sense that they are subject to FDA rules governing the safety of sperm, but none protecting the anonymity of donors nor any requirements that infertility doctors be held accountable for record keeping.

If there were to be such laws protecting doctors, their validity would not be established through legislation itself but through judicial review of the constitutionality of the laws. I believe that these contracts are invalid due to their discriminatory nature against the identity interests of the people created by donor insemination. Our natural rights, not just our civil rights, have been arbitrarily denied without our consent.

Identity is as much of a natural right as the denied natural rights of slaves, as Lincoln argued in his debates with Senator Douglas. In the same sense that the Dred Scott decison was unjust, not because it reflected the beliefs of the slave powers who created laws disenfranchising slaves through majority rule but because such natural rights are guaranteed by the Declaration of Independence and transcend the majority rule of legislatures. Denial of identity must be seen as fundamentally wrong.

The history of the Supreme Court is filled with cases that demonstrate that contracts and laws which favored big business over the social welfare of the people are often struck down as unjust. The sanctity of contracts lost its constitutional power during the Roosevelt era and remain so today.

I admit that I am a moral entrepeneur making a claim that this system creates a social problem for those of us who have been subjected to the indignity of no voice in our interests under donor insemination. It does not require a majority of donor conceived adults proclaiming this right to our personal identity to make this issue a legitimate social problem. In reality, the majority of donor conceived adults have never been told about their conception so any statement that we are only a small vocal minority holds no weight against the arguments we put forward in our claims. We are the only ones who can truly attest to the injustice we feel about the withholding of our genealogy.

Anonymous said...

"Donor + Doctor make a contract under the laws at that time. Doctor + Mother make a contract under the laws at that time. = Legal Contract.

Sure there would be two classes of kids created by a change in the law. This happens just about every time we change any law."

You presume that there is a law when in fact there are no laws regulating doctors who practice donor insemination, only in the sense that they are subject to FDA rules governing the safety of sperm, but none protecting the anonymity of donors nor any requirements for infertility doctors to be held accountable for record keeping.

If there were such laws, their validity is not established through legislation but through judicial review of the constitutionality of the laws. I believe that these contracts are invalid due to their discriminatory nature against the identity interests of the people created by donor insemination. Their natural rights, not just their civil rights, have been arbitrarily denied without their consent.
Identity is as much of a natural right as the denied natural rights of slaves, as Lincoln argued in his debates with Senator Douglas. In the same sense that the Dred Scott decison was unjust, not because it reflected the beliefs of the slave powers who created laws disenfranchising slaves through majority rule but because such natural rights are guaranteed by the Declaration of Independence and transcend the majority rule of legislatures. Denial of identity must be seen as fundamentally wrong.

The history of the Supreme Court is filled with cases that demonstrate that contracts and laws which favored big business over the social welfare of the people are often struck down as unjust. The sanctity of contracts lost its constitutional power during the Roosevelt era and remain so today.

I admit that I am a moral entrepeneur making a claim that this system creates a social problem for those of us who have been subjected to the indignity of no voice in our interests under donor insemination. It does not require a majority of donor conceived adults proclaiming this right to our personal identity to make this issue a legitimate social problem. In reality, the majority of donor conceived adults have never been told about their conception so any statement that we are only a small vocal minority holds no weight against the arguments we put forward in our claims. We are the only ones who can truly attest to the injustice we feel about the withholding of our genealogy. Billdiadoptee

Anonymous said...

Billdiadoptee response continued:
(Sorry for the double post)
It is certainly a poor argument that many make against our claims that many donors would no longer be willing to help create children for infertile couples. It is a sad comment on this system if the issues we raise are trumped by the perceived need to maintain a certain number of donors. This is not simply a matter of maintaining the lucrative business of sperm banks and keeping up with the market demands for sperm to supply any woman who wants to conceive in this manner.

The transcendant issue is whether the people conceived by DI believe that they too have a stake in these decisions and that their perceived need for a full identity is justified. I have known over three hundred other donor-conceived adults who want to know their origins. I do not know any donor-conceived adult who feels that this deprivation is justifiable. Some DI children seem to accept their fate but I sincerely doubt that they will feel that way as they reach maturity and have children of their own.

Some DI adults may behave irresponsibly if they had their information. However, that is a separate issue from the actual right to know the information. Existing laws against stalking, publicly exposing the identity of donors, and harrassment would control most of this. I also sincerely doubt that any court would agree to hear any suit against sperm donors for financial support for DI adults. The limited damage resulting from such behavior is far less than emotional damage that we have experienced as disenfranchised adults. Bill

Tom said...

Donor + Offspring: no contract. Mother + Offspring: no contract. Doctor + Offspring: no contract.

The offspring have not been party to any contract. Good on Olivia for fighting for her rights, denied her by a "contract" she was not a party too.

Tom

Kelli said...

Lindsay,
A sperm cell is not a parent.
Your parent is the person who took care of you, fed you, changed your diapers etc. Forget about the sperm cell. Just my opinion.

Virginia said...

Lindsay, you really would rather not have been born? Have you told that to your mother? Wow.

Anonymous said...

Dear Virginia and Kelli,
You might want to read Lindsay's blog a bit before you make such ignorant, misinformed comments. They are not even worth explaining. Educate yourself.

Anonymous said...

Kelli:
I don't think you will find one donor conceived person that is searching for a parent or a replacement for the ones that nurtured them to the person they have become. To assume so shows that you are working with assumptions and don't understand the topic.

Virginia:
I'm not speaking for Lindsay, but her answer was clearly on a philosophical level considering HER feelings on the subject that she is entitled to have. Asking if she told her mother seems like an attempt to force acceptance of the entire situation based purely on the the pain that you assume this revelation would cause her mother. Guilt, deception, and the complex relationships between the donor conceived (with knowledge of their origins) and their parents are very evident in this industry and throughout a society that currently fails to recognize how emotionally painful it is to have half of your origins and identity deliberately hidden.

Perhaps you both should explore how donor conceived people feel and consider how much of the information in your life you take for granted.

Marty said...

Gruntled: " I don't think people have a right to know who their fathers are, even if nearly everyone does, in fact, know."

I would love to hear you explain that in some detail. Perhaps here, or better still, in a separate post.

kelli said...

I am always impressed with name calling because it tells me lots about the name caller.

Lindsay said...

Kelli -- You say a "sperm cell is not a parent" and a "parent is the one who changed you diapers...". Your comment exemplifies something that donor conceived offspring often have to deal with - the duel rules of 'parents'.

On one hand we have our biological parents - they gave us their genes and we are connected to them irreplaceably in a bond that has been acknowledged for centuries. On the other hand we have our 'social' parents - those who raised us, loved us, changed our diapers, took care of us when we were sick, etc.

Neither 'parent' role is more important or less important than the other, and for the majority of the population you do not grasp these two different roles b/c they are one and the same for you...but for donor conceived offspring (as well as adoptees), these are not the same person.

For many of us, we use different language to define these differences. Our father and our dad. Our father gave us life, his history and his lineage. Our dad raised us. My biological father will never be my dad b/c he was not there to see me grow up, and he never did the "dad" things. My dad will never be my father, as I am not and never will be truly his child.

But both of these terms: dad and father - are important to donor conceived offspring to distinguish between these two roles.


Virginia -- You have no right to tell me how I should view my conception, and my mothers feelings have no relevance to this discussion. I'm disgusted that the immediate side taken is the parents, and accuse us of hurting them with our emotions. Well maybe they should have thought about their decision a little harder if they're so scared of their child feeling like this!!

She chose to use a sperm donor to have a baby, and I can chose to decide for myself how I feel about that. I refuse to carry her conscious on my shoulders, because this is MY life.

kelli said...

Of course the social role is the most important one.And to think otherwise will keep you from getting on with life to your fullest potential. Seriously.

Lindsay said...

I did NOT and would never say that the social role is the MOST important one. They are equally important and someone who has not "walked a mile in our shoes" should have no reason to make judgments on our feelings. They are our feelings and we are entitled to these feelings without having to validate them to people who have no idea what it's like. You obviously have refused to take a look at my blog, so until you decide to educate yourself on the issues do NOT make such ignorant assumptions!!

kelli said...

Why can't people disagree with you without being called names? So now we have to visit your blog, walk in your shoes and agree with you or we are ignorant? You have tough rules there Lindsay.

Anonymous said...

Kelli,

The problem is that you are telling donor conceived people what they should be doing without giving reasons why you believe such. It is understandable that people assume you're ignorant to the subject because you have yet to actually share anything of substance on it. From a standpoint of exploring the topic, why do you feel the way you do?

Just like any social issue, yes you should educate yourself before you make a broad call for action. These aren't tough rules but rather common sense. Some ways that you can achieve this have been suggested - visiting Lindsay's blog, considering what donor conceived people experience and thinking about how your life might be different if you were in the same situation. For sure these aren't the only ways to do so, you could do research on your own too.

Your arguments, despite there lack of substance, are nothing new to the donor conceived community. I'm sure that if you think about it and educate yourself you can understand how it can be frustrating. Even in the end you might not agree with what Olivia and other donor conceived people are trying to achieve. Not everyone will agree with our argument and that's acceptable as long as those involved have taken the time to understand the topic. Until then, please refrain from telling us what we should and should not be doing.

Marty said...

"Until then, please refrain from telling us what we should and should not be doing."

Heh. Am I the only one laughing at the irony here?

A simple "shut up" would have sufficed.

Anonymous said...

Marty,

Is it too much to expect people to do research on unfamiliar topics before forming an opinion and proclaiming to know what's best? No one is stopping Kelli or anyone else from stating their opinions, but don't expect that others won't tell them they're wrong, especially when it's pretty obvious that their grasp of the topic is weak.

Also, "shut up" implies that I don't care for her opinion or thoughts on the subject. While that is certainly true so long as she brushes off the idea of educating herself on it, I think that her return to the post suggests some interest doing so. So, "Until then..."

kelli said...

Thanks Marty,
And by the way I did visit Lindsay's blog.

Chairm said...

Each of us, as part of a procreative duo, is responsible to and responsible for the children we create, barring dire circumstances or tragedy.

The "sperm donor" is a man who has pre-emptively relinquished parental status without the caveat.

He is a father who decided not to stick around to become the dad of his child(ren).

But that decision was not made for the child's sake. Because, the child did not exist before parental status was relinquished.

I get it that some people may believe that sperm is just stuff that can be used any old way.

Sperm is not a father, sure, but being a father entails sperm AND sticking around to be the dad of your offspring.

Why should enabling legislation shield the father; if the father had not deposited his sperm with a lab, but rather impregnated a woman in a one-night stand, the presumption of full fatherhood would apply. Even at that he might not want to be a dad (or social father, to use Lindsay's terms) but he would not be shielded from his children -- least of all his adult children. So why the enabling legislation, then?

While I understand and empathize with those who experience infertility (which is a disabiity of procreative powers), I don't discount the experience of people whose father pre-emtpively relinquished the dad part of being a father. If anything, their experience ought to be amplified since it must be so difficult for the rest of us to "walk in their shoes". It is hard enough for many people to walk in the shoes of the adults who experience infertility. I don't think the default position ought to be full consideration for the adults first, their children second -- or later -- if at all.

For some perspective, here is something I put together on this topic:

Obligations to Children: the Re-Mixed edition.

Anonymous said...

Chairm,
Yes. You nailed it on the head. Thank you.

Virginia said...

Lindsay, I'm not trying to be insulting. I'm just taken aback. How would your life change if you met your biological father? What if he turned out to be a deadbeat, or a criminal, or not at all like you or like you imagined? What if he were a successful lawyer or CEO with another family, but completely uninterested in you? I understand that your anxieties are real, but would meeting your bio. dad solve them?

Anonymous said...

Virginia,
I am not Lindsay and cannot speak for her but as a donor conceived person I can say that the questions you pose just do not matter. No one can speak for us. It is only up to us to decide whether or not we want to know who our bio/genetic father/mother is/are. It should be our choice, and the laws need to reflect this, for better or worse. It's just not for you to judge or anyone else for that matter. It is ours to make sense of. Ultimately, I think there might be something important to learn from it. There will be a windfall of DCP speaking up about this in the years ahead. Don't say we didn't warn you.

Gruntled said...

DCP?

Anonymous said...

DCP = Donor Conceived Person

Anonymous said...

This is seriously getting out of hand. The time for change is NOW!

"Donor Babies Search for Their Anonymous Fathers"
http://www.houstonpress.com/2008-11-06/news/donor-babies-search-for-their-anonymous-fathers/

'I could have 300 siblings'
http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2008/nov/14/family-genetics

Lindsay said...

Virginia, to answer your question, if I met my biological father it would give me answers to the questions of my own identity. As for him possibly being a deadbeat, criminal, or want nothing to do with me - he's still my father and I still have a right to know who he is and know these things about myself, and if the situation leads to that then I will have my time to grieve that, but at least I will not have to live my life with a big question.

I don't think we see finding our biological father as solving all of our problems, nor would someone who has met theirs have no problems. For the offspring I know who have met and have relationships with their biological fathers, it's not all wonderful - it's a difficult situation for everyone involved, and it takes time and patience to build a relationship (and several offspring their fathers did NOT want anything to do with them!). BUT, despite it all, there is some closure, some answers, some sense of identity.

It comes down to the matter of our RIGHT to know WHO WE ARE and WHERE we came from, and as anonymous said, the law should reflect this, regardless of how individual offspring feel. It's been shown in the adoption community that not EVERY adoptee in a state/county which has unsealed records goes to find their birth families, but for the adoptees who DO want this information and DO want to find their families, the option is available to them if they so choose.

We could spend all day talking about offspring who don't want to know their donors, or donors who don't want to know their offspring, or offspring who take advantage of the system, or donors who are deadbeats........HOWEVER, that DOES NOT make our argument any less valid or any less worthy.

e said...

lindsay. rock on. that people would disagree with you on terms of--it's going to hurt your feelings--is sort of ridiculous.

you have their DNA, what more do you need to establish a right?

privacy trumps inherited genes?

Anonymous said...

There will be a windfall of DCP speaking up about this in the years ahead. Don't say we didn't warn you.


This has to be the silliest "rights group" I have ever heard of. Is it April 1st?

Lindsay said...

I don't know where you get the idea that our rights are a joke, but before you make such ridiculously outlandish statements do some research on who we are and what we're fighting for.

There ARE going to be thousands of donor conceived children (born since the mid-90s) who are going to be coming of age in the next decade who have known they were conceived by donors, and they are going to begin demanding accountability. Us "older" offspring are setting the stage, but it WILL be the mass number of children of single mothers and lesbians who will make the changes.

And we ARE warning you, if you don't want to believe us then why did you even bother posting that comment??

Lindsay said...

Check out the following organizations if you don't believe us:

Tangled Webs, Inc. -- http://www.tangledwebs.org.au

Tangled Webs UK -- http://www.tangledwebs.org.uk

International Donor Offspring Alliance --http://www.idoalliance.org

International Network of Donor Conception Organizations -- http://inodco.com

Donor Sibling Registry -- http://www.donorsiblingregistry.com

Anonymous said...

There will be a windfall of DCP speaking up about this in the years ahead. Don't say we didn't warn you.

This is extremely counterproductive. While it is true that there is expected to be a very large population of donor conceived people coming forward in the very near future, what exactly are we warning people of? While an incredible amount of donor conceived people that are aware of their origins believe that their rights have been infringed upon, not everyone will. If we expect people to take us seriously and to accomplish our goals of eliminating anonymity, retroactive or not, then a more civil tone is needed whether we encounter it in return or not.

This has to be the silliest "rights group" I have ever heard of. Is it April 1st?

For the Anon that wrote this,
I can understand your amusement at the above comment, but I hope that your opinion of this “rights group” doesn't end there. This is a very real issue with a community that is growing everyday. The changes we wish to make in the gamete donation industry are quite intertwined with the ability for others to understand how and why our lives are different because of it.

Anonymous said...

"what exactly are we warning people of?"

I simply meant that anonymity and accountability are issues that need to be addressed now. Wendy Kramer discusses this further in a recent article in the Houston Press.

"Donor babies search for their anonymous fathers"

http://www.houstonpress.com/2008-11-06/news/donor-babies-search-for-their-anonymous-fathers/3

Kramer says, "I think the question we need to ask in this industry is, 'What's the best interest of the child being born?' Now, I think it's a really obvious answer. But I think, publicly, we need to ask that question, like they have in other countries. And when they've asked that in other countries, what they end up doing is banning anonymous sperm donation."

She says the donor-conceived kids of Kathleen's generation are just the tip of the iceberg.

"About ten years from now, we're going to have this...huge tidal wave of donor-conceived kids who are going to demand accountability [and] want to know where they come from, and I think this industry is not going to know what hit them."

Anonymous said...

This is worth listening to (forwarded from http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/DonorSiblingRegistry/message/11371)

"The Point", CBC Radio. Nov 18, 2008

Host: Aamer Haleem
Panelists: Joan Crockett (journalist) & Nicholas Hirst (filmmaker, producer) [neither of whom showed any understanding of the points Olivia was making, although the host was more supportive]

Topics include:
* story #1: Whither Alberta [Canada]? An oil-tied economy teeters.
* story #2: Meeting personalities: office psychology.
* story #3: Who's your daddy? Identifying sperm donors.

Download podcast: http://podcast.cbc.ca/mp3/thepoint_20081118_9308.mp3 & fast forward to Story #3.

NB. Comments can be read & posted at the website, http://www.cbc.ca/thepoint/MT/2008/11/on_the_point_november_18th.html