Flipping channels several weeks ago, I stumbled on a deeply disturbing Style channel special, “Sperm donor: 74 kids and more on the way.”
It told the story of 33-yr-old Ben Seisler, pictured right, whose sperm donations (why do they call them that? he made $150 per deposit) to date have spawned over 70 children – half-siblings unknown to each other and spread all around the country and perhaps the world.
Here is a clip from the program. It shows Ben essentially bragging about his virility to his best friend…
If you haven’t seen enough, here’s another clip of Ben’s fiancée grappling with this twisted reality.
The program was heartbreaking in many ways, foremost because it exploited two of Ben’s young children by showing them meet Ben, fall quickly in love with Ben like little puppy dogs, and then be abandoned by Ben. Compounding the heartbreak was the fact that the little boy and little girl looked just like their sperm donor.
Now, a brand new documentary by The Center for Bioethics and Culture and award-winning “Eggsploitation” director Jennifer Lahl gives voice to adult children of sperm donors.
“Anonymous Father’s Day” was prereleased today. For the next 1-1/2 days you can pay $4 to rent the film and watch it online for 60 days after that.
The 45-minute documentary was so absorbing I watched it twice. It featured compelling interviews with three adult children of sperm donors.
Today 30-60,000 children are conceived annually in the U.S. through sperm donation. There are hundreds of thousands of children of sperm donors around the world.
How does it feel to know one is in part a commodity – bought and sold? Not good. Children of sperm donors carry the same sense of genealogical bewilderment that many adoptees feel, except theirs is a different story. Whereas adopted children are always told how special and wanted they are by their adoptive parents, children of sperm donors know it was only their mother who wanted them.
“But if that were true, then anyone who is the product of rape would have to endorse rape,” said Barry Stevens (pictured above, next to a photo of his biological father), one of those interviewed for the film. “It is quite possible to be grateful for your life and question aspects of your conception.”
And so they search for their fathers… and their half-siblings. The Donor Sibling Registry was established just for that purpose.
One reason: A concern about “accidental incest.”
Stevens thinks he has anywhere from 500-1,000 half-siblings. His biological father was the husband of a pioneering fertility doctor who provided sperm for her patients from the early 1940s into the late 1960s. As Stevens quipped, “There was no sexual act which produced me, except masturbation.”
There is a growing call to regulate the U.S. sperm donor industry, which is currently “the Wild West of the reproductive world,” as one interviewee said.
But the problem is money. Alana from AnonymousUs.org explained in “Anonymous Father’s Day”:
There is a huge monster of money and people desperate for children who don’t want me to make it harder for them to buy and sell children.
It is a $3.3 billion industry, so I have people’s livelihoods that I’m threatening when I try to regulate the industry.
You have gay rights activists who love sperm and egg donation and surrogacy because it’s the cleanest method for them to have children, and you have older couples with money and the fact that they’re willing to spend $100,000 for a kid. Money talks, and I can’t compete with that as well as I thought I could.
So it all goes back to the sexual revolution, the feminist movement (career first, kids later), and homosexuality.
Reformers of the reproductive industry in the U.S. wish for regulations such as in Sweden, where:
- There are no anonymous donations of sperm or eggs.
- There is a central place where children of sperm or egg donors can find out who their mother or father is. The information will never be destroyed.
- One has to be married and in a stable relationship to get sperm or eggs.
- The infertile spouse must sign a letter of consent.
- The maximum number of sperm/egg donations allowed: six
I don’t see that happening on the federal level, but perhaps it can start in the states.
Here’s the trailer for “Anonymous Father’s Day,” a profound documentary…