While at the show to watch Splice over the weekend we saw the trailer for The Kids Are All Right, about a lesbian couple whose children conceived via sperm donation become inquisitive to find their father. FYI, the trailer should be rated PG-13...
About the movie and topic Slate reports today...
Finally, we have an exploration of how children born from such procedures feel, because in fact it turns out that their feelings about their origins are a lot more complicated than people think.
Each year an estimated 30k-60k children are born in this country via artificial insemination, but the number is only an educated guess. Neither the fertility industry nor any other entity is required to report on these statistics. The practice is not regulated, and the children's health and well-being are not tracked.
Co-authors of a new report released last week, "My daddy's name is Donor: A new study of young adults conceived through sperm donation." wrote in Slate of their disturbing findings, many of which, when you think about it, make perfect sense...
The results are surprising. While adoption is often the center of controversy, it turns out that sperm donation raises a host of different but equally complex - and sometimes troubling - issues. 2/3 of adult donor offspring agree with the statement "My sperm donor is half of who I am." Nearly half are disturbed that money was involved in their conception. More than half say that when they see someone who resembles them, they wonder if they are related. About 2/3 affirm the right of donor offspring to know the truth about their origins.
Regardless of socioeconomic status, donor offspring are twice as likely as those raised by biological parents to report problems with the law before age 25. They are more than twice as likely to report having struggled with substance abuse. And they are about 1.5 times as likely to report depression or other mental health problems.
As a group, the donor offspring in our study are suffering more than those who were adopted: hurting more, feeling more confused, and feeling more isolated from their families....
The donor offspring are more likely than the adopted to have struggled with addiction and delinquency and, similar to the adopted, a significant number have confronted depression or other mental illness. Nearly half of donor offspring, and more than half of adoptees, agree, "It is better to adopt than to use donated sperm or eggs to have a child."
The stories that donor offspring tell about their confusion help to illustrate why they might be, as a group, faring so much worse. Christine Whipp, a British author conceived by anonymous sperm donation more than four decades ago, gives voice to the feelings some donor offspring have of being a "freak of nature" or a "lab experiment":
My existence owed almost nothing to the serendipitous nature of normal human reproduction, where babies are the natural progression of mutually fulfilling adult relationships, but rather represented a verbal contract, a financial transaction and a cold, clinical harnessing of medical technology....
Others speak of the searching for their biological father in crowds, wondering if a man who resembles them could be "the one." One donor-conceived adult responded to an open-ended question on our survey by writing: "Sometimes I wonder if my father is standing right in front of me." Still others speak of complicated emotional journeys and lost or damaged relationships with their families when they grow up....
Listening to the stories of donor-conceived adults, you begin to realize there's really no such thing as a "donor." Every child has a biological father. To claim otherwise is simply to compound the pain, first as these young people struggle with the original, deliberate loss of their biological father, and second as they do so within a culture that insists some guy who went into a room with a dirty magazine isn't a father.
CatholicNewsAgency.com also has an insightful story on this study.
[HT: Ed B.]
Hopefully, there will come a day when these kids will be given a true platform to express how they feel about the way they were created. There should be more of a regard for their dignity, than the commodity that they have become to fill a void in a woman's desire to be a mother.Posted by: muriel at June 14, 2010 2:04 PM
Sadly, I know women who *would have* adopted but because the cost is SO HIGH, opted for artificial insemination instead.
Coming from perhaps a different point of view: I'd think it could be more difficult growing up knowing you have a father who knows who you are, your birthday, and phone number and STILL never bothered to try to know you as a person. At least these children don't have to wonder "why doesn't Daddy want me in his life?" Because trust me... THAT is pain that never goes away on this earth.Posted by: Kelli at June 14, 2010 2:15 PM
"There should be more of a regard for their dignity, than the commodity that they have become to fill a void in a woman's desire to be a mother.
Posted by: muriel at June 14, 2010 2:04 PM"
But..but..aren't these kids "wanted" babies??Posted by: RSD at June 14, 2010 2:36 PM
Yeah and how many of these donor kids are going to end up married to a sibling???Frightening to think about!Posted by: Mary at June 14, 2010 2:45 PM
That would be a concern! How about just simple dating? That could be awkward, not knowing if you both might be related. It might put a damper on one night stands. Ugh.
The CNA article is good; it mentions the story of a donor-conceived woman that can be found at FamilyScholars.org.
I have to say the line about the wine and micro-managing was truly funny and I love Mark Ruffalo but I wont be seeing this movie.
Being a kid is hard enough without this issue being added to the mix.Posted by: Kristen at June 14, 2010 3:27 PM
"Each year an estimated 30k-60k children are born in this country via artificial insemination, but the number is only an educated guess. Neither the fertility industry nor any other entity is required to report on these statistics. The practice is not regulated, and the children's health and well-being are not tracked."
This is disconcerting. Wouldn't the industry want to know the success/fail rate of inseminations for various reasons?
But then, the medical profession doesn't keep good statistics on the abortion business either....
Posted by: Janet
at June 14, 2010 3:30 PM
Who did I come from? The children of donor dads grow up
A revealing new study shows that, for donor offspring at least, being wanted isn't everything.
Sorry, above is an article for Mercator.net , worth reading. It's interesting to note the latest study of these children reveals significant problems they face and the timing of this movie release are coinciding. I think this movie is trying to make it appear normal and everyone just gets along, but sadly this is just not normal. And if you consider the IVF practice, how many babies are aborted through this procedure? You just shouldn't mess with Mother Nature, Natural Order or Gods Plan... whatever you want to call it.
I have wondered why these babies are not given genetic DNA cards at birth to rule out marriage to a half sibling later on. Unfortunately, there are no standards in place as this industry sprung up so quickly to look out for the welfare of the children down the road is merely an after thought.
Reminds me of an episode of Glee where the main character, whose parents are gay fathers, desperately seeks out who her birth mother is.Posted by: Stephanie at June 14, 2010 5:44 PM
For those of you who are afraid of siblings "coupling" - what about the possibility of "illegitimate" children (who don't know their paternity) getting together? And if they do somehow meet and greet and a child is conceived what's your problem? I thought that you welcome any birth under any circumstances, regardless of the health of the child. Otherwise, you're getting into eugenics land!!! I suspect that the reason that you folks are against this is because it totally disrupts the paradigm of the patriarchal society. With available sperm, who needs daddies? This brings us back to the good old days of the matriarchy - very threatening to those who believe in nasty, warrior sky gods. Just saying...Posted by: Vanessa at June 14, 2010 5:48 PM
Vanessa, of COURSE we wouldn't want any child conceived through incest to be aborted. But if you had been conceived through donor sperm, would you want to find out that you'd accidentally married your half-brother?
And while we seem to have a mix of Christians, Jews, agnostics and atheists on this site, I don't think we've got anyone who believes in "nasty warrior sky gods" at the moment.
I can definitely understand the longing some gay people have to be parents. I'm bisexual and I'm glad I fell in love with a man I'm going to marry, because I've always wanted to be pregnant and have children and I would definitely not be okay with giving birth to children whose biological father was a total stranger.
If you're adopted, you can accurately believe that your biological parents - or at least your mother - wanted you to have a better life than they/she could give you. You're adopted because your biological mother loved you enough to want you to have a good life, even if she couldn't be the one to give it to you. If you were conceived from donor sperm, you know that one of your biological parents agreed to your conception knowing that he would never have any part in your life. If the donor sperm came from someone known to the family, it can get even weirder - "'Joe' is my biological dad, but I can't expect him to act like my dad because he didn't agree to that."
Regardless of their family situation, I think it's important for kids to be close to caring, loving, responsible adults of both genders. If my boyfriend dropped dead tomorrow, I fell in love with a woman, and someday we decided to adopt children, I'd want there to be a man in the picture who would be devoted to our children's well-being and happiness, and who would see them on a regular basis.
Kelli: Good points about the cost of adoption.Posted by: Marauder at June 14, 2010 6:37 PM
Coming from perhaps a different point of view: I'd think it could be more difficult growing up knowing you have a father who knows who you are, your birthday, and phone number and STILL never bothered to try to know you as a person. At least these children don't have to wonder "why doesn't Daddy want me in his life?" Because trust me... THAT is pain that never goes away on this earth.
Posted by: Kelli June 14, 2010 2:15 PM
Been there, Kelli. You're exactly right.
The topic is selling sperm, not illegitimacy- but you would find we oppose that too. Nothing is more matriarchal that a woman doing the job of both a mother and father, but I oppose that on behalf of abandoned women and children. You condemn the supposed patriarchy, but your matriarchy has failure women WORSE. Such attempts to redefine everything in women's favor has done nothing but harm women.
And as for your statement, "With available sperm, who needs daddies?" Did you not read the article? EVERYONE NEEDS THEIR DADDY! Children abandoned by men masturbating into a cup they leave behind or copulating into a woman who they abandon both have children that are rightfully hurt by the absence of their father.Posted by: Jacqueline at June 14, 2010 9:35 PM
When were the "good old days" of the matriarchy? Some Asian and African societies were and are matrilineal, but not matriarchal.
Nobody I know worships a "nasty warrior sky god", but Norse pagans worship Odin. Would he be the god in question?
Oh, and if children conceived with sperm from the same donor somehow found one another and had babies, the babies would be the result of incest. Not sure how this relates to eugenics.Posted by: sabella at June 14, 2010 10:18 PM
Kind of looks Interesting :)Posted by: B at June 15, 2010 1:28 PM
Nobody saw Satan handwriting on this long time ago?
"To destroy the family unit ordained by God.."
Last weekend I attended "Healing your family tree" presented by Fr. John Hampsch. I was astounded how the sins of our ancestors have consequences on us and our sins have consequences that affect future generations. The statistics are there. God decided that children were to be born of a married man and woman. No other arrangement is natural. We are to cooperate with HIM not replace HIM with science. That's why there's 10 Commandments, not suggestions. When we sin, we do not receive blessings but instead reap the consequences of disobedience. We must reconcile with God and procreate the way he wanted us to, not in a petrie dish or iv no matter how much we want a child. The data is there and we reap what we sow.Posted by: kat at June 16, 2010 5:31 PM
this topic is now showing up in books for young adults:
Finding Cassidy by Laura Langston is one such book and the character deals with exactly all the issues mentioned in the Slate article.Posted by: angel at June 16, 2010 8:53 PM
Kat I agree with you. No amount of twists and turns, manipulations, and ramming down our throats of alternative life-styles (pun intended) will change what God created to be the best, healthiest, safest, stablest environment for men, women and children-heterosexual, stable marriages. Excellent book by Glenn T. Stanton "Why Marriage Matters" over 50 years of research (giving 24 pages of documented research works cited at the end of the book) still shows that married people are happier, wealthier, healthier (physically, mentally and emotionally), live longer, less disease, (including heart disease, cancer, strokes, and every other disease known to man) less depression, alcoholism, drug abuse, and suicide, less domestic violence than cohabitation and any other life-style arrangement, divorced, separated, never married or widowed. Children of married, stable, heterosexual, 2 parent homes with their biological parents are healthier, wealthier, do better in school, less likely to be involved with risky behaviors (alcohol, drug abuse, sexual activity, criminal activity, truentcy(sp?), dropping out of school and behavioral problems). This is not putting other people down, I know life is not perfect and I have dear friends and relatives who were and some still are in single parent homes but they wish they could have had a stable 2 parent family, they admit how much harder it has been for them. No one should stay in an abusive relationship but that is not what God intended marriage to be. We are destroying God's original plan at the expense of our children. May God help our children, our families and our nation.Posted by: Prolifer L at June 16, 2010 11:24 PM
This gives a whole new meaning to "honor thy father and thy mother". I wonder how many of these children will grow up so conflicted that they grow to dispise their parents for doing this to them. It is one thing for such things to happened "accidentally", but another for it to be totally done on purpose without thought for the child's feelings.Posted by: Therese at June 20, 2010 1:03 AM
Is it necessary to turn to lies to support a pro-life agenda?
Jack Drescher wrote in a letter published in today’s NY Times,
Ross Douthat cites the Institute for American Values’ recently released “study” of children conceived by reproductive technology. But advocacy-group reports like this one are rarely subject to blind peer review, a minimum requirement for scientific objectivity.
Without critical feedback from scientific peers, such reports usually support the pre-existing prejudices and assumptions of the authors or the organization financing the work. These “studies” offer little scientific understanding of the complex issues involved.
New York, May 31, 2010
The writer, a psychiatrist, is a past president of the New York County district branch of the American Psychiatric Association.