Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The unconstitutionality of anonymous sperm donation

This post was inspired by Whosedaughter's entry "Perclusion of the sex act=less than=discrimination".  It is also a part of the IDOA Yearly Report for the United States that I wrote, which will be formally released soon.

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

In 1868, the United States Congress ratified the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which in that held the Equal Protection Clause.  This clause states that:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.  No State shall make or enforce any law, which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.   - Section 1 of the 14th Amendment
Now lets fast-forward to the 1970's.  Prior to the 1970's, children born out-of-wedlock were denied many of the same rights of inheritance as "legitimate" persons.  But then a series of Supreme Court decisions abolished the previous common law disabilities of illegitimacy (bastard), as being in violation of the equal-protection clause.

This is in direct conflict with how any other child is treated in the eyes of the courts.  Fathers who abandon other children are forced by court of law to pay child support, because even if the parents were never married that child is still genetically related to him and he must pay for that child.  DNA tests are even used to establish paternity, so genetics must play a role.  If a woman was sleeping around and got pregnant and her boyfriend or husband was not the father, a DNA test would prove that and he would not have to pay child support.  In these cases the fathers are forced by the law to take responsibility and parental obligations for the children they sire.

Sperm donors do not.

And it is not necessary for there to even be a "social" father to take over that sperm donors responsibility.  Therefore, donor conceived children are the only children in the world who legally do not have a biological father.  This is discrimination.
Discrimination: "involves treating someone less favorably because of their possession of an attribute (e.g. sex, age, race, religion, family status, national origin, military status, sexual orientation, disability, body shape/size) compared with someone without that attribute in the same circumstance"
If we consider our situations to be of similar circumstances to those born out-of-wedlock (we are not from our biological/genetic parents marriage, therefore we are not welcome, and not a part of that family), then based on the definition of discrimination, this is surely grounds for a lawsuit.

Bill Cordray points out in his article "Is Anonymity Constitutional?" that (paraphrasing): While we may see the contracts our parents and the donor signed to anonymity as legally binding, some courts have actually held such contracts as invalid (see "A Case Against Sperm Donor Anonymity").  The donor's so-called 'right to anonymity' has no legal backing and was simply invented by the infertility industry as a means to gain donors trust.  

Bill also argues that: Society believes that having children is a right, including having children by donor insemination, however this right does not trump children's rights.  These confidentiality agreements are not viewed by the State as reason to deny us information about who we are, but rather to assure the parents and the donor that a) the donor will not come in and take the child away from the legal parents, and b) that the donor is not financially responsible for that child.  However, these two reasons disappear upon the child reaching adulthood, and therefore these contracts have no use to the adult offspring who was not a part of the agreement.  If these contracts cannot meet substantive due process under the 14th Amendment, then the agreement is simply to protect the identity of the man who fathered the child, and this cannot be defended and is unconstitutional.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Under construction

I'm currently reworking the HTML of my template, so please be patient as I readjust and return all the old functions.  I should be done by middle of this week.  Thanks everyone for your cooperation.  

Also, if you find any links that are now dead or other things that are weird, please let me know!!  I'm still a beginner at HTML, so going from a easy layout format to a classic HTML template is new for me, and I've already found mistakes!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The four stages of the donor conceived person

I often get comments from parents that my views are "extreme" and that most donor conceived individuals do not feel the way I do about our conception.  While I agree that there is a huge spectrum of attitudes, ranging from very good to very bad, I would not call my opinion extreme, but rather enlightened and free of guilt and manipulation.

One thing I have not talked a lot about is how these attitudes change over the course of ones life.  Most young DC children will tell you they are happily content with who they are, and show little regard for their donor.  For some individuals this continues on for decades - for others it changes early on - and for yet another group (presumably) it never changes.  

As I have mentioned many times, I have known all my life that I was donor conceived, and early on it didn't phase me much...not really understanding the concept, or realizing what a father really was (my mom was single), I lived in happy ignorant bliss.  After my mother married and I suddenly had  a "dad", I began questioning the fact that I was denied the ability to know my real father.

My "dad" legally adopting me was the spark that ignited the confusion, anger, and loss associated with being donor conceived.  It took several more years, and finally interactions with other donor conceived adults to understand that I was not alone in my feelings.

For others it's being in a committed relationship or getting married, for some it's after the birth of their first child, for others its the death of a parent, often its after their parents each of these cases there is a turning point.

The idea of existential debt is often the primary reason that offspring are hesitant or even aggressive towards the position that myself and many others take to our conception.  This need to be grateful for our lives is in direct conflict with the losses involved in donor conception, and they cannot be felt simultaneously.  These offspring, while they may seem "well-adjusted" to most parents (who believe that their lack of interest is good), simply have not been able to distinguish this vital aspect of their livelihood and separate their loss and their identity from their parents infertility and pain and need for a child.

During recent discussion with Damian Adams, he brought up a four stage process of donor conception comprehension.  He permitted me to post his comments here.  

To understand the following we probably have to see that there were many stages that I have been through (probably about 4).  Those being:

1. A naive child

2. Mild curiosity - wanting some non-identifying information, but happy with DC

3. Increased curiosity - wanting identifying information, the first stages of mild loss (repressed), but still grateful to be alive

4. Acknowledgment of loss and the profound effects that it has

1. I used to be proud about being DC.  I was grateful, because otherwise I wouldn't have existed.  Even though I would have liked to have had some non-identifying information, it did not affect me greatly.  Perhaps I was preventing myself from feeling loss about that - I don't know (a self-defence mechanism perhaps).  I had my dad who to me at the time was my "father".

2. There was no sense of loss otherwise there would have been no way I would have even contemplated donating myself which I was pretty close to doing.  By being happy with my mode of conception (proud and grateful), there is no way that that position could coexist with a sense of loss.  

3. For a period of time when I wanted to find out non-identifying info and also identifying info (prior to the birth of -------), I had to accept that I would not even find out that info as a consequence of being alive.  So while there may have been some mild loss at that stage it was repressed because I still had to feel gratitude to the procedure that created me.  

4. It was only when I realized the true nature of my loss could I see that I did not have to be grateful and happy about being DC, and that in-fact that the losses forcibly imposed on me should be treated with contempt and anger.  

I think some people may have another stages between 3 and 4 above, but for me it was a monumental leap from mild loss that was repressed to full blow loss and anguish.

Cliches follow:
But for me and I think that it would have to apply to most others is that if you feel grateful and therefore happy that you parents who wanted you so much were given this wonderful gift by a truly altruistic man, then how can you feel loss.  

To feel any kind of loss is an acknowledgement that something is wrong with the process and that the process has caused some form of harm which does not coincide with the cliche above.  Any form of loss is a form of suffering, suffering is not the goal of altruism.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Adoptee Rights Demonstration 2009

July 21, 2009
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

From Theresa of Ungrateful Little Bastard and Mia of Mia's Saving Grace:
We propose a one day Adoptee Rights Demonstration at the National Conference of State Legislature's Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, PA, on Tuesday, July 21, 2009.

The National Conference of State Legislatures is the largest group of its kind, the national organization of STATE LAWMAKERS, the people who DECIDE whether or not you may access your original birth certificate...OR NOT.

We propose a gathering of adoptees and all supporters of the rights of adoptees to unrestricted access to their own records of birth, representing all fifty states, a one-day rally that will be an opportunity for adoptees to demonstrate their commitment adoptee rights and to meet their state delegation.

I urge any donor conceived individuals who are in or near Philly to attend this event, first of all, because some of the greatest adoptee rights activists will be in attendance (and who wouldn't want to meet a celebrity bastard?!?! ;o)), and because the sooner adoptees are granted unconditional access to their Original Birth Certificates, the easier it will be for donor-conceived adults to fight for a ban on anonymity and eventually retroactive access of records!  

In every location that has banned anonymous sperm donations - beginning with Sweden in 1984 - the retroactive opening of adoptee's birth certificates was granted first.  This is a pivotal fight for us, and we need to stand behind the adoptees, so that we can hope for their support when our turn comes.  

Please mark this date on your calendars!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Surrogate motherhood raises troubling issues

Thank you Thomas Frank for saying what so many of us were thinking after reading Alex Kuczynski's story in the NYT two weeks ago.  It is utterly disgusting how pregnancy, children, childbirth, and parentage has become so commodified, and this woman just make me want to vomit, how conceited and arrogant she is, how she treats the surrogate as a human incubator, giving her little presents and treating her like you would a puppy, and probably doesn't even want to have anything to do with her baby now because all these people care about is their money.  I bet money she has a nanny, and only has this baby as a status symbol she can dress in baby armani and brag about.  People like this make me sick.....

Alex Kuczynski should be ashamed of herself.


Rent-a-Womb is where market logic leads
By Thomas Frank
Wall Street Journal
December 10, 2008

At long last, our national love affair with the rich is coming to a close. The moguls whose exploits we used to follow with such fascination, it now seems, plowed the country into the ground precisely because of the fabulous rewards that were showered on them.

Massive inequality, we have learned, isn't the best way to run an economy after all. And when you think about it, it's also profoundly ugly.

Some people haven't received the memo, though. Take Alex Kuczynski, author of the New York Times Magazine cover story for Nov. 30, which tells how she went about hiring another woman to bear her child.

For years Ms. Kuczynski worked the plutocracy beat for the New York Times, and in her whimsical way she described the travails of the world's supermodels, the scene-making that went on at this or that high-end restaurant, and the feeling on the hard streets of Greenwich and the Hamptons.

Somewhere along the way, Ms. Kuczynski went from observer to observed. She married a hedge-fund billionaire and in 2005 was the subject of a memorable bit of plute-worship in W magazine. Here we learned about her four homes (including one on Park Avenue and one in Southampton) but mainly about her really inaccessible spread in Idaho, where everything has to be flown in: the masseuses, the meat, the guests, the yoga instructor, the chefs, and the logs that were required to restore the property's log cabins to her husband's exacting standards.

Now Ms. Kuczynski's trademark concern for the moneyed becomes memoir as she relates to us, in last week's Times Magazine, her "adventures with a surrogate mom." The story starts with Ms. Kuczynski's infertility, which is genuinely piteous, but quickly goes wrong, as she and her husband decide to hire a woman to carry their child and review applications from women with available wombs.

Surrogate motherhood has been the subject of much philosophical and political dispute over the years. To summarize briefly, it is a class-and-gender minefield. When money is exchanged for pregnancy, some believe, surrogacy comes close to organ-selling, or even baby-selling. It threatens to commodify not only babies, but women as well, putting their biological functions up for sale like so many Jimmy Choos. If surrogacy ever becomes a widely practiced market transaction, it will probably make pregnancy into just another dirty task for the working class, with wages driven down and wealthy couples hiring the work out because it's such a hassle to be pregnant.

Ms. Kuczynski is not entirely oblivious to these issues; indeed, she considers them for several poignant paragraphs before inevitably brushing them off.

It's "organ rental," Ms. Kuczynski decides; nothing worse. She is taken with the surrogate's reference to herself as an "Easy-Bake oven" -- a toy appliance -- and further describes her as "a vessel, the carrier, the biological baby sitter, for my baby." And, yes, the surrogate applicants could all use the money, if not desperately; the one who gets the job plans to use it to help pay her kids' way through college. Additionally, one of the surrogate's children, Ms. Kuczynski notes, "had been an egg donor to help pay her college tuition."

Maybe if this young woman had been donating her eggs to buy groceries Ms. Kuczynski would have understood that all this reproduction-for-hire was a product of her billionaire-centric world as surely as the Blahniks and Versace she used to trill about -- that college and surrogacy are available to people like Ms. Kuczynski and not to others because that's how our system works.

Instead she tells us, very sincerely, how much she enjoyed spending the last few months before the child arrived "by white-water rafting down Level 10 rapids on the Colorado River" -- presumably Level 10 rapids are really quality rapids -- "racing down a mountain at 60 miles per hour at ski-racing camp, drinking bourbon and going to the Super Bowl." She also does a lot of "Bikram yoga," which is presumably a really quality form of yoga.

What she doesn't tell us is even more revealing. Of the story's nearly 8,000 words, there are only three quotations from the surrogate mother. Ms. Kuczynski does not describe this remarkable woman's clothes or, really, tell us her thoughts about much of anything. About Ms. Kuczynski's own feelings and fears and cravings we get paragraph after maudlin paragraph. The one who does the labor is almost completely silent.

Then there are the photographs, already infamous: Ms. Kuczynski in a black sleeveless sheath and stiletto-heel pumps, posing next to the pregnant surrogate in khakis and a tousled pink flannel shirt. Ms. Kuczynski holding the baby on the lawn of her Southampton estate, with columns, topiary and servant. The surrogate sitting, barefoot and alone, on a beat-up porch of her house in Pennsylvania.

According to the Times's "Public Editor" column, Ms. Kuczynski objected to the pictures before the article was published. And who knows? Maybe the photographers and art directors were out to subvert her story all along. If so, they understood market relations far better than the author herself.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Philosophical argument against sperm donation

I found this on Whosedaughter's blog.  It's an entry from Alexander Pruss's blog.  Pruss is a philosopher from Baylor University, and here's what he had to say on June 5th regarding sperm donation:

Here is a valid argument:

1. At least barring commensurate reasons, it is wrong to act in such a way that one will acquire a basic and serious human responsibility that one does not plan on fulfilling. (Premise)

2. If one consensually reproduces, then one acquires a basic and serious human responsibility of parenthood for the offspring. (Premise)

3. Anonymous sperm donors consensually reproduce the offspring that comes from their donated sperm. (Premise)

4. Therefore, anonymous sperm donors acquire the basic and serious human responsibility of parenthood for the offspring. (By 2 and 3)

5. Anonymous sperm donors typically do not plan to fulfill their parental responsibilities towards the offspring coming from their donated sperm. (Premise)

6. Anonymous sperm donors typically lack reasons for the donation commensurate with the acquiring of unfulfilled parental responsibilities. (Premise)

7. Therefore, typically, sperm donors act wrongly. (By 1, 4, 5, and 6)

I suspect it's sound, too.

Please also read the discussion that followed this entry.  Alexander Pruss raises some very good points, and argues them very well.  

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Familybuilder Y-DNA Testing!

Y-DNA testing can be helpful for male DC offspring who want an idea what ancestry their donor came from.  While it discovers the ancestral origins (which may or may not be accurately portrayed in the paternal lineage due to adoption, infidelity, illegitimacy, etc), it can be a last choice resort for offspring who are at a dead end in their search.  There have been documented cases of male offspring finding their biological fathers by doing Y-DNA testing, and using the surname to find the donor --- usually they know a location and profession, say a doctor in a certain city, and then search that surname for doctors in that city. Please refer to the post "Whatcha gonna do with all that junk, all that junk in your...DNA?" for a more in-depth explanation of the science behind genealogical DNA tests.

The Genetic Genealogist: Familybuilder Announces DNA Testing
December 9, 2008

Similar to a move made by myHeritage a few weeks ago, Familybuilder has announced that it will offer genetic genealogy testing to its customers.  As a part of a launch of this new product, Familybuiler is offering both Y-DNA and mtDNA tests for only $59.95 until January 1.  After that, the price will be $89.95.

Based on the demo account, it looks like the Y-DNA test includes 17 markers.  Although this isn't many markers, $3.52 per marker is a great price.  

Familybuilder is planning to continue to develop their genetic genealogy offering: "Currently in development is the ability to create Groups around surnames, families, and other criteria as well as the ability to Compare DNA."  From the press release:

"Up to now, genealogical DNA testing for the masses has been cost-prohibitive," said David Rheins, CMO of Familybuilder.  "We are excited about the launch of Familybuilder DNA, and believe that this tool will help millions of customers better understand the origins of their heritage and ancestry.  We are very focused on developing the Familybuilder DNA product line, and have plans to roll out additional tests and future functionality, including the ability to search our DNA database to identify living relatives with whom you share DNA."

Interestingly, Familybuilder is one of the top 50 Facebook applications.  Will this motivate Facebook genealogists to enter the field of genetic genealogy?  And, if they do, will those results be available to others to compare with without using Familybuilder?

By Blaine Bettinger

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I'm still here!

Just letting everyone know that it's finals week, and I'm an elf on the Cuyahoga Valley National Park's Polar Express train...and I must say, I think I'm a pretty damn cute elf!!  hehe.   

Sooo, that means you probably won't be hearing from me until at the earliest next weekend!!

I have some things I will try to update ASAP when I have some free time - including my reactions to Wayne Carp's Family Matters, and some things that have been in the media recently that I'd like to comment on.  

Sunday, November 30, 2008's a Secret

My friend Kelly brought my attention to this Post Secret from today...

I don't know who sent this in, but whoever you are - thank you, thank you for being so painfully honest to speak the truth.   I don't agree completely with this individual -- I am not envious of adoptees, but the rationale nonetheless, is powerful.  We were commodified long before we were conceived (unlike adoptees), and the perception that we were so "loved" and "wanted" does not make up for our loss.  

To know that our biological fathers were handed $40 after jacking off and left to buy beer or textbooks without a second thought of the children they are so carelessly creating is horrifying.  I know not all donors have this frame of mind, but many do, and the ones who so foolishly believe that they are "helping" people have become just as brainwashed as the rest of society who only sees one side of the story...that the pain of infertility is superior to the pain of the loss of one's biological family.    

This is not totally their fault.  Most of the donors are young and naive, and are never exposed to our side of the story.  They are never told that they are creating children that they will never be able to meet.  Their sperm is medicinalized and its true purpose is skewed with words like "helping people" --- not once does the infertility industry say that these donors are creating THEIR OWN BIOLOGICAL CHILDREN!!  And that those children will be equally like the children that they may later father in a committed relationship, and that those children will be forever missing siblings.  

The problem is, most everyone can relate to infertility.  The majority of the population either knows someone who is infertile, or has suffered from infertility personally.  On the other hand, the majority of the population has NEVER met anyone donor-conceived, and most people do not want to admit that there are adults who are donor-conceived.  It is much easier to see them as cute little babies, rather than angry adults.  This leads to an unbalanced number of people that only want to see one side of the story, because the other side conflicts with what they previously have been exposed to.  When they hear donor-conceived adults speaking out, they want to put us in a box and continue to argue that we are troubled and that what we are demanding is wrong because we should be grateful and we are so loved and wanted, etc etc.  

All it takes is sympathy and understanding people!!  Even if you're not infertile, you can sympathize with the why can't you sympathize with us?!?  What is so absolutely reprehensible about our feelings that you must degrade us and insult us??  Why are we continued to be treated as second-class citizens --- first we are denied any knowledge of half of our identity, and then after that we are spit in the face by society for saying that we want it back!!

ADDENDUM: An interesting conversation is going on right now on the Post Secret forums about this secret.  Many donor-conceived individuals are coming out of the woodwork with a variety of different viewpoints.

Friday, November 21, 2008

How to search for your sperm donor father - Part III

Bay area girl finds Sperm Donor Father on Myspace
November 20, 2008
CBS 5 - San Francisco
By Dr. Kim Mulvihill, MD

She didn't know his name, or what he looked like.  But a Bay Area girl born from a sperm donor was determined to find her biological father.  

Seventeen years ago, before medical school and a move to Los Angeles, Dr. Todd Whitehurst studied electrical engineering in the Bay Area.  The bright young grad student saw an ad for a local sperm bank and thought "Why not?"

Fast forward to January 2007, this time the bright young student is a 14-year-old Bay Area girl named Virginia.  She was conceived with the help of an anonymous sperm donor, a fact her mother never hid from her.  Even so, Virginia had questions.

Our video has more.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How to search for your sperm donor father - Part II

I recently discovered a new tool for people searching for their biological fathers....all you need to know is that your 'donor' was a student (college, medical school etc...) at the time of donation, which many donors were.  If you know the exact college/university that's the best - often a clinic/bank is connected to a specific school, but if not check out what schools are nearby.  Do a google search for the school in quotations and alumni.  Ex: "Augusta State University" and alumni and 1983.  

For most medium-large schools they have a listing, and it normally comes up as a hit, sometimes on the second or third page.  This is a way to bypass needing to be a paid member of to access information.  Here's the listing for Augusta State University on and the Medical College of Georgia on

If is a hit, there should be a list of every member who listed that school as attended.  It should also list the years they attended.  For me, I was looking at Augusta State University and the Medical College of Georgia (because I have a hunch he was in science/medicine based on my own interests), and I was looking for men who attended one or both of these schools anywhere from 1979 to 1989.

I wrote down every male who attended either of those schools during the 10 years that I assume they were in college/graduate school (since he was a senior in 1982, but didn't stop donating until 1989 - leads me to assume he was short on money for about 7 years post-college, and most graduate (PhD or medical/residency programs) are 6-7 years in length).  I also checked that they graduated from high school around 1978, so that I was not looking at non-traditional students who may have been older and in school at that time.  

Then, I went to the Free Birthday Database and entered their name in to see if anyone came up as being born 2/12/61.  Since I tested the site to see how accurate it was, and many people I entered weren't in the database, I assumed it was not a perfect system, so I also googled these names, and for many of the men from the Medical College of Georgia who are now doctors, I was able to see photographs of them, and read more extensive biographies.  

While many of the men I was able to knock off my list of candidates for finding information that led me to believe that they did not fit the profile, there are still a handful of men who I have no excluded - and of course it is likely that my biological father is not a member of and therefore I would not find him this way.  BUT, it is another tool for us to use to try and decipher who we are.

Monday, November 17, 2008

'I could have 300 siblings'

By Jo Rose
The Guardian
November 14, 2008

As a child, Jo Rose discovered her father was a sperm donor.  At 36, she still hasn't found him.  She describes the battle to have her rights recognized and find her identity...

One day, when I was about seven or eight, my dad started crying.

I wanted to know what was the matter, and he told me I had been conceived by donor insemination. I remember thinking that teaspoons were somehow involved, because he'd used the phrase medical treatment, and teaspoons were what medicine came on, but I didn't really understand what he meant. I grasped that he wasn't my father, but I didn't understand who was. I remember feeling it was my responsibility to make him feel better though, so I wiped away his tears and said, "Don't worry, I love you and you're the only dad I know."

Throughout my childhood, my family would use phrases such as "donor conception" quite openly, but they never acted as if this meant I had a genetic father, or a different paternal family out there, even as I got older.

I didn't tell friends I was donor-conceived until I was a teenager, and even then I didn't think about what it meant.

By my mid-teens, I felt uncomfortable and confused about who I was, but I didn't have the words to verbalise it all. I started suffering from bulimia and bouts of depression - it was like a cauldron of black stuff that would bubble up every so often - but I couldn't have told you what it was about.

Then, in my early 20s, I happened to attend a conference where adoptees talked about their feelings of "genealogical bewilderment". That night, I had a dream where two fathers appeared. One was talking to me on the phone and the other was looking at me through a hospital glass window. I woke up in a sweat, with heart palpitations. It was as though I suddenly realised that I did have two fathers. I ran to the mirror, grabbed my long hair and put it where a moustache or beard would be to see what he might look like.

I felt huge relief, but I found myself with more and more unanswered questions. What would it be like to look my genetic father in the eyes? What colour were they? Were they gentle? Would I like him and would he like me? I felt incensed about not knowing who my siblings were either. What did we have in common? Were they funny, or tall, or nice?

Around the same time, I started to experience grief and loss at not being related to the dad who raised me. I grieved that I was not Jewish, like him; I was not part of that rich, familiar and beautiful heritage.

Like many adopted people, I wanted to trace my genetic relatives to find out who I really was. But while it's accepted that a lot of adopted people feel this way, I came up against a complete denial about the long-term consequences for those who have been donor-conceived.

A few years after I started looking, some friends rang to say they had seen a man called Dr Beeney on TV. He had written a book, in which he claimed that a small number of medical students from Bart's - now high-profile doctors - had donated sperm time and time again up and down Harley Street. They had treated the clinics as a "wank bank", he said, and he estimated that he and his friends must have fathered between 100 and 300 children each. He had written the book because he had re-evaluated his actions and had been really troubled by the biological and moral consequences of what he had done.

I was shocked. That meant that I could have up to 300 brothers and sisters out there. But I was also incredibly excited, and longed for him to be my father. I contacted him and we both took blood tests. Our blood types were compatible, but when a DNA test came back negative I wept. I was desolate.

Not only was he not my father, but it was dehumanising and deeply upsetting to know that I was bred with plastic gloves, and without any thought or understanding of the long-term significance of my genetic kinship.

In 1998, I went to the high court with a case against the government. I argued that, like adopted people, I should be given access to my genetic identity. Finally, in 2002, my case helped to lead to a ban on anonymity for sperm donors, which came into force in 2005. I would like to have taken it further - to include making it mandatory to state on your birth certificate if you are donor conceived (at the moment unless you're told by your parents - and it is currently estimated that more than 85% are not -your birth certificate gives misleading information). I also wanted to pursue the mandatory safeguarding of our records, which are currently being destroyed, and the retrospective rights of access that adoptees gained in 1975. But after a seven-year battle, I had lost a lot of money.

Beeney is not my father, but I have reason to believe someone else in his group is.

Unfortunately, however, that man threatened legal action when I politely requested access to what could be my medical history. I have not lost hope about meeting some half-siblings, though, especially as there are probably so many of them. In fact, I frequently receive messages from other donor offspring, who send their photos and ask if I look like them.

Given the number of half-siblings I most likely have, I do have concerns that I might wind up having a relationship with one of them unwittingly. I know of other donor offspring who share that worry. In adoption, the issue of genetic sexual attraction is recognised - you are more likely to be attracted to someone you have some genetic commonality with. For us, it's not, despite the fact that so many people do not realise they are donor conceived.

Despite my sense of injustice, I love and am loyal to my family. But it is still a very sensitive and prickly issue, and relationships can feel deeply strained at times. My mum and dad - who are now divorced - have made massive efforts to understand how I feel, but it can still be very difficult. I think that like many people who go through donor insemination, they were naive and deeply focused on themselves and their infertility.

It's not that I don't feel for people who have fertility issues. If people genuinely want to have a child and can't, that is tragic. But on the other hand, should you have a right to access somebody else's reproductive capacity without even knowing them, and with no thought for the identity of the human being who is produced?

Today, UK regulations stipulate that the maximum number of families that can use sperm from the same donor is 10, but this week the British Fertility Society is pushing for more. It says there is a shortage of sperm donors, as if this were a serious public concern. Radical reform of the current system is needed, it says, preferably [the removal of] donor anonymity in light of the fact that currently 35% of potential donors drop out after their first inquiry. But I see this dropout rate as good. I think those men who decide, upon reflection, that it's not for them are to be supported and admired. If you compare donor insemination to giving your child up for adoption, you see it for what it is.

One of the most upsetting things for me about the way I was brought into the world is the blatant double standard involved. My mother's need to have a genetic link to her child was valued, while my need to know, love and understand the father with whom I have a genetic link was not.

• Jo Rose was talking to Kate Hilpern. For information about UK Donor Link call 0113 278 3217 or visit

***** [the removal of] = typo, should be "to reinstate"

Sunday, November 16, 2008

More from Anti-Adoption Adoptees

Sorry I deleted this post a few days ago...I was having some difficulties with blogger and it wouldn't display correctly, despite my tweaking - so here it is once again!!

Some new links of interest in the adoption community:

Children of Corn - a new blog from Marley Greiner of The Daily Bastardette and Lauren Sabina Kneisly of Baby Love Child which has been documenting the recent atrocity of "big kid dumping" in Nebraska since July when their baby safe haven law went into effect without an age limit.  A memorial to the over 30 teenagers who have been legally abandoned by their parents or guardians so they may never be forgotten, the blog also is complete with information, recent events, and updates regarding this tragedy.

Anti-Adoption Confusion - a blog from Michelle which expounds the reasoning behind adoptees being anti-adoption...a beautiful read which parallels donor conceived people who are demanding accountability from the reckless actions of the infertility industry.  

Some of her points are that adoption:

1) changed her name and legally denied her access to her original birth certificate
2) gave her non-identifying information and told her to be grateful for it
3) legally denied her mother, father and siblings to know her identity or whereabouts
4) assumes that adoptees will cause harm if they receive their original birth certificate
5) gives no reason why her birth certificate is sealed
6) sells humans
7) only allows mothers 24-48 hours (in some places) to revoke the relinquishment
8) does not require mandatory child advocates representing the best interests of the child

Please go and read this post, because it is so true, and relates to donor conception on so many levels.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

New blog!!

Kathleen LaBounty has started a blog called "Child of a Stranger", about her personal search - tracking down donors from the early 1980s at Baylor College of Medicine, and have gone through 16 negative DNA tests on her quest to find her biological father.

She has been featured on the Oprah Show, The Today Show, Cosmopolitan Magazine, and various newspaper and local news stations.  She is also the co-author of the recently published research, Voices of Adult Offspring of Sperm Donation.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Voices of Adult Offspring of Sperm Donation

The Voices of Adult Offspring of Sperm Donation: Forces for Change within Assisted Reproductive Technology in the United States
Patricia P. Mahlstedt, Ed.D., Kathleen LaBounty, B.A., William T. Kennedy, Ed.D.
Presented at the American Society of Reproductive Medicine Conference, November 8-12, San Francisco


To provide an in-depth analysis of offspring attitudes toward their means of conception and the practice of sperm donation in the United States.

Materials & Methods: 

Eighty-five (85) offspring between the ages of 20 and 65 voluntarily completed a 46-item questionnaire created by the authors, which was provided through a link to an online site.


I. Attitude toward means of conception

A majority...

1. learned of their donor conception over the age of 18 in a planned conversation with their mothers
2. had little to no information on their donor
3. wanted to meet or obtain identifying information on their donors
4. referred to their donor as 'biological father'
5. had searched for their donor
6. wanted to meet half-siblings
7. would like donor's name on birth certificate

II. Attitudes toward the practice of sperm donation

A. Would you use sperm donation as a means of conception?
1. no, would not use sperm donation - 52.7%
2. yes, identity release sperm donation - 15.3%
3. yes, anonymous sperm donation - 8.3%
4. don't know

B. Would you be an egg or sperm donor?
1. no - 62.4%
2. yes - 14.4%
3. don't know - 23.2%


Though conception is the end of treatment for physicians and patients, it is the beginning of life for donor offspring.  As our respondents have communicated, they want to know the truth.  They want their parents to feel safe in their donor choice and confident in their abilities to share it with them.  

The emphasize that decisions made prior to conception concerning the choice of sperm donation impact many aspects of their future lives:

A. Their attitudes toward the donor conception itself
B. Their attitudes toward their parents
C. Their accurate identity development
D. Their abilities to make informed medical decisions throughout their lives
E. Their opinions for locating the donor if they so need or desire

The adult offspring in this study encouraged providers of third-party reproduction to:

A. View donor conception as a position option in which there is no need for anonymity or secrecy
B. Encourage the use of donors who provide identifying information for offspring future needs
C. Understand and acknowledge the importance of the donor to most offspring
D. Integrate counseling into the sperm donation treatment plan in order for potential parents to...

1. address the losses that proceed this choice
2. learn more about the lifelong challenges of having non-genetic offspring
3. create parental confidence for addressing those challenges

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Adoption and Donor Conception Parallels


Via Gershom on Anti-Adoption:
"Adoption is not a band-aid for infertility and it never should be. It doesn’t heal someones infertility and putting that responsibility onto a child grieving the loss of their mother is dismissive and not honoring the emotional well being of the child."
"There are many ways to care for children, but i do not support in the ownership of them and that is what adoption is to me. It is buying, selling, renaming and falsifying their documents to make the sale legal. It is exploiting and profiting off of the adoptee with no intention of helping them in any way shape or form."
Why would anybody who was raised in a loving home be unhappy about being adopted?


I'm currently in the middle of reading the book "Family Matters: Secrecy and Disclosure in the History of Adoption" by Wayne Carp, and it first discusses the early days of adoption - where it was no secret, adoption records were open, and adoptees were always told, then the age of secrecy - where adoption records were sealed and the adoptees were unable to ever see their original birth certificate, and social workers advocated a-parents never to their their children, and finally the emergence of the adoption rights movement and the move towards open records and open adoptions.

While I have always been one to acknowledge the similarities between us and adoptees in regards to the grief and loss, I never realized how negatively adoptees were treated at the birth of the adoption rights movement in the early 1970s - almost identically to how donor conceived adults are treated today by a society that scorns us for disagreeing with the method of our conception, and tells us we should be grateful to be alive, etc.  Carp explains that the ignorant society saw adoption and adoption agencies as "good and altruistic" without regard to what was really going on within them...thus discounting the adult adoptees who were accusing the industry of denying them these rights.  The words "good" and "altruistic" in regards to helping people have children are oftentimes synonymous with donor conception, and the tragic losses brought to the children are never fully accepted. 

When I finish the book (probably tonight), I will try to write up a nice little summary with some fantastic quotes I found and post that later.

ADDENDUM: After finishing Carp's book I found it interesting in the historical contexts of adoption in the past century, however his ultimate conclusions (which I hadn't gotten to yet when I last posted) were ultimately troubling.  I will post more comments in a later post when I get some free time.  I was reading this book for an archives class, so now I must write a book review, but focus on the interest to archivists/archives.....oh dear, how can I not make this too personal?!?!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Waiting on the World to Change

Now we see everything that's going wrong
With the world and those who lead it
We just feel like we don't have the means
To rise above and beat it

It's hard to beat the system
When we're standing at a distance
So we keep waiting
Waiting on the world to change

It's not that we don't care,
We just know that the fight ain't fair
So we keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change

One day our generation
Is gonna rule the population
So we keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change
~John Mayer

I felt "Waiting on the World to Change" was an appropriate start to what I like to see as a historic moment for donor conceived people on this side of the Atlantic.

First and foremost, congratulations to Olivia Pratten for taking on the British Columbia Supreme Court in what will [hopefully] set a legal precedent for the rest of Canada and possibly even the US!!  I had the opportunity to meet this amazing young woman in 2005 while at the Infertility Network's Donor Conception Symposium in Toronto.  There were a handful of us offspring present at the conference - Joanna Rose, Becca Hamilton, myself, Olivia, and several others.  In the middle of the conference Olivia gave an impromptu speech from the a former "poster-child" she stood up and told the entire conference, for the first time ever, that she disagreed with donor conception, and that she felt it was her right to know her biological father and that no one has the right to deny someone that.  I don't think there was a dry eye in the house (at least for those of us offspring present, who understood just how hard that was).  To see her then and be proud of her for being so frank and heart-felt, and to see her now taking on the government - I am SOOOO unbelievably proud of her!!!

Secondly, this week an interesting conversation has ensued on PCVAI.  We offspring in the US are finally realizing that our futures should not be dependent on the hands of the DI mothers who put us in this situation, with their registries that do little for older offspring without donor numbers or information.  A registry is only as good as it's database (as is CaBRI), and these registries are not targeting the people that we, as adult offspring, need to target.  Donors aren't stay-at-home moms that spend their days watching Oprah and morning syndicated talk shows, so they're not going to hear about these registries.  Local papers may attract some people, but again, they're not targeting the right people.  What we, as adult offspring need, is a better way to target and advertise the registries to the people who were past donors.  Our idea is to write a story and ask Alumni magazines of colleges and universities (which have/are affiliated with or recruit donors for major sperm banks and clinics) to publish the story in their quarterly/monthly magazine for past donors to see.  It is our duty to stand up and start fighting for attention, rather than sit back and wait for our donors to accidentally stumble across the registries themselves.  

Well, I was going to write more here, but being that it's midnight I think I will retire for the evening.  I will keep updates posted about both Olivia's court hearing and PCVAI's alumni magazine advertising.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Finding old donor numbers

For any parent who is trying to remember the donor number, if your child was conceived AFTER 1997-1998, use the Internet Archive to locate the donor catalogue/lists at that time.  Simple go to the IA's Wayback Machine (link above), type in the sperm bank's website: for example, and click "Take Me Back."  The Internet Archive will give you a list of every time the Wayback Machine took a snapshot of the website over the past decade.  Most major sperm bank's had websites by 1998, so after that it should be fairly easy to access the catalogue or a list from that time. 

Here's some examples:

Please let me know if you need any help using this resource.  There are of course several obvious problems...anyone conceived before the Internet Age is out of luck (~pre-1997), and if a sperm bank's domain name has changed it may be more difficult to find their archives.

For anyone conceived from Xytex in the mid-to-late 1980s (and even potentially the early 1990s), I have FINALLY posted the list of donors from 1983-1984 I received from Xytex back in 2005 in an Excel file under the new section I just created "Old Donor Lists".  Please feel free to check it out.  Donors numbers that are in bold type have either the donor or offspring listed on a registry.  If you think you may have been conceived from Xytex around this time and a bolded donor looks like a possible match I can put you in contact with that individual; or if know you were conceived from Xytex and would like to add your information, please email me.  Not all donor numbers from that time are listed, so again, if you're a Xytex Baby from the 80s and would like to be added please let me know!

Also, if anyone has donor lists from anytime or any sperm bank - preferably those lists from before 1997, and would like to donate them (no pun intended) to my blog for others to access, please email me!!  I'm slowly uploading these lists I have in PDFs to spreadsheets in Google Docs and publishing them, so please be patient!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

First ever class action lawsuit filed by sperm donor offspring in Canada

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (October 28, 2008)



A class action lawsuit was filed on October 24, 2008, by Olivia Pratten, the
representative plaintiff, on behalf of all people in the province of BC
conceived via anonymous sperm, egg and embryo donation or what is called
“gamete donation”. It is believed to be the first time a case of this sort
has been brought forward by donor offspring in Canada. The lawsuit is
against the Attorney General of British Columbia and the College of
Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia.

Today the British Columbia Supreme Court issued an injunction which orders
all persons who have records of gamete donation not to destroy such records
or redact them or transfer them out of the Province pending a further
hearing in the Supreme Court, at which time Ms. Pratten on behalf of the
class will seek a more permanent injunction to be in force until the trial
of this lawsuit is heard and decided. For further details of this
injunction the public is urged to refer to

The lawsuit claims that the present law discriminates against persons who
were conceived as a result of gamete donation. By contrast, adopted
children have, by law, certain legal rights and opportunities to know about
their biological parents that children conceived by way of gamete donation
simply do not enjoy. The lawsuit is based on the guarantees of equality and
security of the person in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The lawsuit seeks the immediate and ultimately the permanent protection and
preservation of all files related to the practice of gamete donation in the
province of British Columbia. Currently all information from health to
identifying information about the gamete donor, can be destroyed at whim by
the practicing physician after six years. One woman included in the suit
already had her files destroyed.

“Farmers have kept better records on the artificial insemination of cattle
than the physicians in BC have kept on people like myself,” said Pratten,
now 26 years old.

In 2001, she was told that her biological father was healthy and that a
“verbal medical check had been done.” The physician, Dr. Korn, gave the
minimal information of height, weight and hair color on a piece of hotel

“The issue of protecting the files and having my right to access their full
and complete information is one of principle to me. I’m tired of having to
explain or defend my desire and my right to know this information,” said

Olivia, along with others in the suit, have attempted to gain information
and access of vital health information from various physicians in BC who
practiced donor insemination. No one has managed to obtain information and
many have been told that the files are destroyed or will be destroyed if
further action was taken.

“It is completely unacceptable, if not outrageous, that the medical
establishment threatens to destroy medical files,” said Pratten.

In 2004, she was told by the Deputy Registrar of Ethics at the College that
her health files could be “shredded and incinerated” after six years from
the last medical contact with the patient. In this case, the patient was
not Olivia, but her mother Shirley, who received the inseminations.

Ms. Pratten expects a positive response from at least some of the men who
were sperm donors at Dr. Korn’s clinic. One such donor is Dwight Jones at
Dr. Korn’s clinic during the 1970s and 1980s who said, “It’s our obligation
to the offspring, and the perception that most donors are seeking anonymity
is not correct and certainly no reason to withhold their content decades

“Every Canadian adult has the right to truthful information about his or her
origins. We all need to know who we are and where we come from. It does
not matter whether we are adopted or conceived by gamete donation; we all
have the right to this information. The Adoption Council of Canada supports
the right of all adults conceived by gamete donation to truthful information
about their origins,” said Wendy Rowney, vice‑president of the Adoption
Council of Canada.

“Our clients seek information that might be said to be of the most basic and
fundamental to the human condition. Knowing about one’s biological origin
and thus their biological parent’s medical history, may be vital to our
client’s present and future health. Nor is it any longer beyond the realm
of the probable that this information may be needed to ensure that they do
not inadvertently marry one of their siblings. But perhaps, most important,
is that knowing about one’s ancestry, one’s very roots, is central to a
person’s self‑ identity,” says Joseph Arvay, who with Sean Hern, is counsel
for Ms. Pratten and the class once the action is certified as a class

On October 28, 2008, Chief Justice Donald Brenner of the British Columbia
Supreme Court issued an injunction directed to all persons in BC, whether
medical personnel or otherwise, preventing the destruction or transfer of
any records that have been created or maintained by persons who administered
artificial insemination. For the exact terms see

For Media Inquiries and Contact Information for Interviews, please call
Olivia Pratten at 1.646.300.5068, or by email at

Or contact Joseph Arvay, Q.C. at 604.689.4421

Daughter of sperm donor seeks to know identity of biological father

Neal Hall, Vancouver Sun

VANCOUVER - The daughter of an anonymous sperm donor has filed a legal action against the attorney general of B.C., seeking to change the rules that currently deprive children born by way of "gamete donation" the identity and history of one of their biological parents.

Olivia Pratten filed the proposed class action in B.C. Supreme Court, claiming that the records relating to the identity of the biological parents of an adopted person are preserved, but the records relating to a gamete donor are only required to be preserved for six years.

Once destroyed, a person born by way of a donor cannot get the medical or social history of a donor, and cannot learn crucial components of their identity such as racial, cultural, religious and linguistic history, which may cause psychological distress, the legal action claims.

"The information in the donor records could one day be vital to Olivia's health," the court document says.

"If the donor records are lost or destroyed, that information will be lost for all time and Olivia's health and safety could be compromised as a result."

Pratten, who seeks to have donor records preserved permanently, also seeks to know the identity of her biological father.

"That knowledge would alleviate the psychological distress that Olivia experiences in not knowing her biological origins," the legal action states.

"The differential treatment imposes a disadvantage on the plaintiff and class members, in comparison with those people who are adopted," the court document says.

"Many of the members of the class were conceived by gamete donation because of the physical disability of one of their parents which resulted in his or her infertility," the statement of claim says.

The legal action states those conceived by gamete donation are discriminated against, violating protections enshrined under Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Vancouver lawyer Joe Arvay, a constitutional specialist, is handling the lawsuit on behalf of Pratten and other potential class members.

For more than a decade, Pratten has advocated change in the area of reproductive technologies and was featured in the CBC documentary "Genetic Orphans."

In 1981, Pratten's mother visited a Vancouver doctor, Gerald Korn, now retired, because her mother's husband was infertile; her mother was impregnated with donor sperm through insemination.

The mother informed her daughter from an early age that she was conceived by way of donor insemination.

Pratten says the only information about her biological father disclosed by Korn was that he was a healthy Caucasian medical student who had a stocky build, brown hair, blue eyes and type A blood.