Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Got baby? - The no strings attached policy

A recent child support battle in New Mexico ruled that some sperm donors should be liable to their offspring.  A piece of legislation in Virginia to ban donor anonymity was recently voted down.  With this hearing and recent media attention towards donor conception a new debate has escalated in here in the US, about whether or not donor conceived children and adults should know the identity of their sperm donor.  Last week’s Parade Magazine had an online poll which asked readers the question “Should children of sperm donors be able to learn their fathers’ identities?”  As of this posting (8/26 @ 10pm) with 1,000 votes, 73% said yes, and 27% said no.  While this is an unscientific poll, the results are surprising supportive.  So why on earth is anonymity still the norm in the United States?  The answer lies in the multi-billion dollar infertility industry.

The biggest retort from the infertility industry and thus the government (since the government is just a puppet of big business anyways…) is that banning anonymous donations means fewer men donate and therefore fewer women can have children.  My response is that first of all I would rather have a few donors who actually care about what they’re doing and the children they’re creating than lots of donors who are only doing it for the money and want nothing to do with their own children they are selling.  And as for less women who are able to have a baby with a donor, I think it would force the United States to begin regulating a currently laissez-faire industry and determining who can and cannot use a donor.

In adoption, would-be adoptive parents must go through home visits, mental and medical health screenings, counseling, as well as background checks for red flags.  The system is far from perfect, and many pedophiles, abusers, and mentally unstable parents are granted adoptions – just take a look at the 19 ENTRIES on Marley’s The Daily Bastardette under the label “dead russian adoptees”.  These stories are only some of the thousands of tragic endings to adoptees lives at the hands of their “forever families”.

However, in donor conception there isn’t even the beginning of any assessments of would-be parents.  Now wanna-be parents just have to go online and look through catalogues of hundreds of donors and pick one and have it shipped to their front door in time for home inseminations.  No doctor required!!  Several DI moms have even told me that they know they should not have been allowed to use a donor for a variety of reasons, but not a single person mentioned to them that it might not be a good idea.  More than a few recipient parents are highly mentally unstable, abusive, financially unable, or downright unfit parents.  None of these women should have had access to a donor to have a baby, but alas – not a single person cared about the children created and what their lives might be like

The industry needs to take responsibility and prioritize the needs of the children that it produces.  The rights of the infertile and the rights of the donors do not override or negate the rights of the children and adults conceived through assisted reproduction.  Until the day that our government steps up and acknowledges the rights of children as set out in the UN Charter on the Rights of the Child, I cannot see it as a civilized and humane society.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Who Am I?

The Tennessee Center for Bioethics and Culture has produced a YouTube video called 'Who Am I: A poignant exploration of what it means to be a donor-conceived child'.  A slightly melodramatic and extreme story, but the bottom line is the emotions that donor conceived children and adults feel in regards to their conception and the missing blanks in their identity.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Late discovery of genetic origins project

Helen Riley is a late discovery adoptee from Australia.  She has set up this site in order to gather more information and data about 'late discovery' experiences.  She's very interested in raising awareness about the effects and implications of discovering the truth of one's genetic origins later in life.  She's currently doing her PhD at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia into the ethical implications involved for both late discovery adoptees and donor conceived adults.

If you are a late discovery (adolescence thru adulthood) donor conceived adult or adoptee, PLEASE submit your experience to the website via email.  It is all confidential and will be used only as collated data which will be added to the site.  You can also provide your experiences in the comments section, at which it will not be confidential.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

'Cos I know what it means to walk along the lonely street of dreams

Are you confused at where to start your search??  Are you pressed for cash and don't want to shell out $50/year for the Donor Sibling Registry??  Here's a bunch of sites that I recommend as alternatives.

AmFOR Donor Offspring Registry (http://www.amfor.net/DonorOffspring/) -- under the group Americans for Open Records and Bastard Nation, it's the second best registry for US offspring, but is somewhat user-unfriendly to search and find matches....approximately 1,000 offspring/parents and donors listed.....FREE

Donor Offspring Health Registry (http://www.donoroffspringhealth.com/default.aspx?tabId=home) -- new and small registry where you can list donor information as well as health conditions which may or may not have been inherited from the donor....FREE

Donor Offspring Matches (http://www.donoroffspringmatches.com/) -- yet another new and small registry.....FREE

Searching for my sperm donor father (http://www.searchingformyspermdonorfather.org) -- site organized by Tom Ellis featuring several donor offspring's stories and pictures...any adult offspring can be featured, simply email Tom

California Cryobank Sibling Registry (http://www.cryobank.com/sibling_registry2/howtoregister.cfm)  -- for offspring/parents (and donors!) of CCB, I don't know much else about it but I don't see a cost involved...must have Internet Explorer to use registry (sorry Mac people!)

Single Mothers By Choice Sibling Registry (http://singlemothersbychoice.com/sibling.html)  -- not sure if it's free and it looks like one must actually be a SMC to join??

Australian Donor Conception Registry (http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/AustralianDonorConceptionRegistry/) -- yahoo group for Aussies....FREE

DonorKind (http://www.donorkind.nl/) -- Dutch DC group/registry....unsure if it costs money or what it's exactly about since I don't read Dutch!

SpenderKinder (http://www.spenderkinder.de)  -- German DC group and registry…..new group that is slowly growing ----- DC adults in Germany have to deal with extreme secrecy so this group is cutting edge trying to make people aware

And here's some other resources (some which cost money) for DNA testing and other related databases:

CaBRI: Donor Gamete Archive (http://www.cabrimed.org/donorgametearchive.jsp;jsessionid=6410E1F5D8F023B1E2E1BFB3484AF1A1)  --  Donor X and Donor Y Projects for males and females respectively....non-profit organization founded by former donor Kirk Maxey

Donor Y Project -- males submit DNA sample for $25 and get their Y-STR marker values and those are placed in their database and any male sibling or donor can be matched since the Y chromosome passes through generations of males virtually unchanged

Donor X Project -- females must submit their DNA sample as well as their mother's and one other relative from mother's side (ideally a brother - even different donor)...this can cost $50-$75 depending on if a 3rd person is tested or not...the X chromosome that she inherited from her mother can then be determined and by process of elimination which was inherited from the donor - from there female siblings and the donor can be matched if they are on their database

As for finding siblings of opposite sexes, they also do a autosomal (genome-wide) STR test which is $100 per individual

UKDonorLink (http://www.ukdonorlink.org.uk/) -- DNA registry for British offspring and donors to find matches with or without any non-identifying information....£88.13 for DNA test, entry into DonorLink database for life (or as long as registrant wishes) and cross-searches for potential matches on the database at least monthly

Y-Search (http://www.ysearch.org/)  --  FREE public Y-DNA database service from FamilyTree DNA....can use Y-STR results from FamilyTree, CaBRI, and any other testing company which uses the Y chromosome for genealogical testing, can find people who may not be the donor but like FamilyTree could be relatives which carry the same surname (see How to identify your anonymous sperm donor)  ----- for MALES only!!

FamilyTree DNA (http://www.familytreedna.com/)  -- largest DNA and genealogical database in the world.....$149 for Y12-STR marker test and $259 for Y37-STR marker test -- MALES ONLY.....loads of other cool tests, but can get quite pricey

Genetic Testing Laboratories (http://www.gtldna.com/) -- $99 paternity tests (have a sale $89 test for limited time!) and $150 full/half-sibling tests....keep DNA samples/records for 6 months for additional testing of another potential match  ---- cheap, reliable, and fully accredited

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Why do you build me up, buttercup baby, just to let me down??

Last week I was contacted out of the blue by a producer of a national morning show wanting me to come on the show.  My initial reaction was “oh my god!!” because I realized that going on national TV might be the only way I could draw attention to siblings and possibly my biological father.  But then I realized that I would have a heck of a lot of explaining to do to my parents, who already disagreed with the several instances I was featured in the media for my search, but I figured I was going to do it because it was a once in a lifetime chance.  So the producer called me later that evening and in the middle of discussing my story she asked if I had a close relationship with my donor……….shit!!!!

Apparently she was under the impression that I had already found the donor, and that’s what she wanted the show to be about.  So when she realized I still hadn’t found anyone she started changing the subject, asking me if I knew of any offspring and donors who would go on the show, etc.  I was quite disheartened to say the least, but unfortunately it’s not uncommon for those of us less “sensationalized” offspring who haven’t got any matches. 

So why is it that the media has a preoccupation with the “success stories” of donor conception?!  I was watching another episode of this morning show which featured a sibling reunion, and the way it was portrayed was that everybody found siblings on the DSR!!!  The media in general focuses on all the happy happy joy joy aspects of donor conception and rarely if ever even mention the losses involved, or the ethical issues concerned. 

I think it’s about time for the media to wake up and realize that our stories are just as important, if not more important than all the feel good stories!!  For one, it gives the impression that all offspring are happy, and have no ill feelings, and that everybody gets what they want.  Not once do the talk about the reunions and the siblings and parent-child relationships that have been lost for years – time that cannot ever be made up.

So to the media who only wants to see the fairytale happy endings, shame on you!!!  Why don’t you step up and do your job as journalists and actually report the TRUTH?!?!?