Friday, October 16, 2009

Jane Doe Now Wants to Know Anonymous Sperm Donor's Name. Too Bad.

A woman who conceived through an anonymous sperm donor is now suing to get his identity. She says "I don’t think it right that any person should be forbidden from knowing their fathers’ identities or family health information."

Hard cheese.

I support the movement to spell out more explicitly what the duties of sperm donors are, and just exactly how secure their anonymity is. But I think it wrong to try to get the court to break a contract or invent a rule. Making rules is what the legislature is for.


whosedaughter said...

"I support the movement to spell out more explicitly what the duties of sperm donors are, and just exactly how secure their anonymity is. But I think it wrong to try to get the court to break a contract or invent a rule. Making rules is what the legislature is for."

I don't know all the details so I don't have an opinion on this particular case but it does raise awareness for the need for regulations and begs the question if anonymity rules are even moral or ethical.

American Adoption Congress

International Network of Donor Conception Organizations

Old Lessons for a New World

International Donor Offspring Alliance

Tangled Webs International

Tangled Webs UK

Donor conceived perpectives

Confessions of a Cryo-kid

Who do you you think you are

Child of a stranger

Donated generation

Searching for my sperm donor father

Donorconceived's blog on Intent

Donor Conceived's blog on Proud Parenting


Journey into the bubble

whosedaughter said...

More FYI:

Jane Doe's Full Statement

Jane Doe spells out daddy issues

An anonymous opinion piece printed in the Boston Globe (supporting the industry - not addressing the issues)

One of Wendy Kramer's, of the donor sibling registry, posts to Boston Globe article:
User Image
DSRWendy wrote:
1. Yes, the fertility system has worked for many, and brought joy into many parents’ lives, but it has also created thousands of donor conceived people who yearn to know their genetic, ancestral and medical backgrounds.
2. We have more than 25,000 such people signed up with our organization (more than 1000 in MA alone)- parents, donor conceived people and the donors (who were not given any choice but to be anonymous) who wish to connect with each other. Not all donors wish to stay anonymous!
3. We have successfully connected more than 7000 donors with their offspring and half siblings with each other.
4. Currently, there are insufficient studies on the welfare of people conceived via gamete donation.
5. This Fertility system has not worked for many- especially the many families on our site, who like Jane Doe, have children with medical issues.
6. In this day and age of DNA testing and Google, there is no such thing as donor anonymity! Sperm banks should not be promising this to any donor.
7. People should be aware that the sperm banks do not keep track of how many kids are born to any one given donor. Many donors are shocked when they come to our website and find that they have 20, 50 or more than a hundred offspring. And limits are still promised by many sperm banks. When medical and genetic issues are passed along with a high number of children, the results can be devastating. And in some cases, the sperm just continues to be sold.
8. Ethics has little place in the sperm/egg donation industry to date. Sperm banks have had three goals: to provide parents with a child, to keep donors anonymous, and to make money. Never has the welfare of the child been considered in making decisions. Can't EVERYONE'S best interests be considered?
9. There is currently NO regulation within this industry. No one is counting births, very few are updating medical records, and very few are sharing medical information amongst families. (Certainly not the particular sperm bank in this case).
10. Moving forward we need to be asking the industry and ourselves: What is in the best interests of the child being born? This is something that has never been considered.
Donor Sibling Registry

Gruntled said...

I agree with all of the above. Elizabeth Marquardt has been studying the effects of "parent hunger" on donor-conceived children. The time is ripe for some kind of regulation. BUT unilaterally changing the rules after they have been agreed to is bad, and using the courts to make laws is bad.

whosedaughter said...

Yes, many of us in the donor conception community have been working with Elizabeth. Her study is groundbreaking but in the meantime there really seems to be a sense of desperateness over the situation/lack of law to support/enforce these changes. I have the feeling that no one really knows quite how to go about changing the law. I agree that this case does little to help but it does at least bring attention and awareness to the wild west nature of repro-tech. Any lawyers reading who might be willing to share their advice?

SPWeston said...

The children do not owe the parents silence.

The children do not owe the parents secrecy.

No piece of paper signed by other people decades back binds those who want to know their biological connection to other people.

Thomas M. Cothran said...

From the article it doesn't appear that there is any statute that governs the situation, so of course the courts will have to either make law or appeal to established common law. The common law may not distinguish between ordinary, unmarried biological parents and sperm donors. And I'm not convinced that distinction should be made.

Gruntled said...

I think that until there is a clearer statute (which there definitely should be) the courts should uphold the contract. My lawyer wife disagrees, but I really don't like the courts making law that the legislature is perfectly capable of fixing. This is not a hugely divisive political or economic issue - they just haven't gotten around to it.

Thomas M. Cothran said...

If the claim is that a child has a right to know the identity of their parents, then it's hard to see why a contract would be relevant. One person can't give away the future rights of another, and any clause in a contract that says that information would be withheld in the event of a court order would simply be unenforceable.

That said, it does not follow simply that children wish to know their parents that they have a legal right to.

What I think is objectionable isn't really the legal issue, but the moral/philosophical issue. A donor parent is still a parent, regardless of the technological apparatus that stands the parent and the child. The desire to allow technology to fundamentally alter biological and social relationships. The attempt to distinguish legally between a biological and a donor parent seems to be just one aspect of the problem of allowing technological relations to substitute for organic relations.

Anonymous said...

I am an adopted child, born back in the day when all adoption records were sealed. (I'm a few years older than you, Beau.) Aside from not knowing possible health issues, I have only fleetingly had the desire to find my biological parents. My "real parents" were the parents who actually raised me, who invested their lives in loving me and giving me what used to be called "a good home".

I can sympathize with people who want to find their biological parents, however they were conceived. I think most people are interested in knowing everything that has contributed to their identities. I think genetics is significant, but it's not the only thing and may not be the most important thing about a person's identity.

What I see in such situations is a perceived lack of something, and people think that when they have the information about, or a relationship with, biological parents, that lack will somehow be filled. Reality is often something else. Everyone I personally know who found their biological parents has been disappointed and has not continued the relationship.

Current technology gives the illusion that everyone can have a child "of their own", but that is not necessarily the case. I am greatly saddened that more people who want to be parents don't choose adoption. At least there are procedures in place with adoption that keep the types of problems in the situation referenced to a minimum. Yes, it's harder with most available children in this country being older and usually with problems. Why does one want to be a parent in the first place? Is it about *me* and what I get from it, or the child and what I can give?

Dana Ames