While doctors and fertility experts insist that the lab mix-up that impregnated a Sylvania Township (Ohio) woman with a Michigan couple's embryos was a rare occurrence in reproductive medicine, an attorney who has represented several women in similar circumstances believes otherwise. Nancy Hersh of San Francisco said she has or continues to be involved in four cases in three states against fertility clinics that botched or were allegedly negligent with in vitro fertilization procedures. From The Blade:
I think it's a pretty common occurrence and that it's covered up a lot," said Nancy Hersh, a San Francisco personal injury attorney who specializes in women's health issues.
Ms. Hersh said she has or continues to be involved in four cases in three states against fertility clinics that botched or were allegedly negligent with in vitro fertilization procedures.How did the case of the mistaken embryo occur? Human error. It's always something, isn't it? Both families used the same (and so far, unnamed) fertility clinic, probably located in the Detroit metropolitan area.
One California case resulted in a $1 million settlement from the fertility doctor in 2004, and later, the shared custody of the child between two sets of parents who have never met.
The Ohio woman (Carolyn Savage) was implanted with the fertilized embryo of a woman (Shannon Morrell) whose maiden name is Savage also. Carolyn Savage gave birth to a healthy boy last Thursday, September 24, 2009, and presumably has already turned over the boy to the Morrells, his genetic/biological parents. The Savages did consult an attorney who told them that in court DNA usually rules, and they graciously and simply went along with that, saying that they put themselves in the shoes of the other couple. Kudos to them for doing the right thing. Presumably there was or will be a healthy financial settlement from the fertility clinic for Mrs. Morrell's and her husband's pain and suffering.
In another botched fertility case that attorney Hersh was involved in, a 48-year-old woman was wrongfully implanted with a donor egg and the sperm of a married man who happened to be at the clinic with his wife at the same time as the woman seeking a fertilized embryo. The doctor--the evil doctor--who did the procedure knew about the mistake within minutes but did not tell the woman who had the child until ten months after the child was born. The man whose sperm was used later sued for joint custody and won. So now the father has a relationship with a child whose genetic mother is presumably unknown. However, there is some blessing for the child involved, for he at least has one link to his true past and heritage--he knows his father.
Given the way such sperm is typically anonymous today, the child planned by his "mother" would not know the identity of either set of his true parents. Sick, sick, sick. Who are these people who think it is permissible to create a child who has no knowledge of his or her biological heritage, medical history, cultural background? Or only half of it? They make me crazy.
“Anonymous sperm donation should be illegal,” said Kathleen LaBounty, 27, last year in Parade magazine. Ms. LaBounty has been searching for her donor dad for 10 years. “Couples choose sperm donation because they want a genetic link between mother and child, but children care about genetics too. They want information about their biological fathers.”
We need laws in this country as in England where anonymous sperm-for-hire (I refuse to call that a "donation") is no longer available. Without anonymous sperm sellers, England is experiencing a sperm-for-hire drought.
Yes, this is not about adoption per se, but related nonetheless because we are living in a brave new world that approves and encourages creating children whose real parentage will be unknown. You can call one's real, biological mother and real father "reproductive agents," as I, a reunited first/birth mother has been called to my face, but that does not help the individual who would has a need to know his or her real, biological, cultural origins. I am not against single mothers by choice or lesbian mothers, but I am adamantly opposed to willfully creating children who can never have full and complete knowledge of both of their actual, real, whatever-you-want-to-call-them parents. Anyone considering it who stumbles upon this blog ought to read the story that appeared last year in The Washington Post by a daughter who found her biological father: My father was an anonymous sperm donor.
Children of sperm donors have reunited through a website , www.donorsiblingregistry.com, which has more than 25,000 people registered--donors (biological parents), children, and their other parents. According to Wendy, who left a comment, more than 7,000 people have been connected. (See comment below.)
The lawyer who commented above, Hersh, goes on to say in The Blade that sometimes the stories don't make news because the financial settlements from the clinics preclude the parties involved from talking about the paternity/maternity issue publicly...but hey! What about the person cooked up in a Petri dish? Is this not akin to the laws that deny an individual the truth of his origins because someone else agreed to that dubious contract? In the kinds of cases involving--"wrongful births"--the person would presumably be told the truth of his or her origins by his parents, but I can't see how the individual so born could be coerced from suing the clinic--if it is still in business, sixteen or eighteen years later. He or she did not agree not to sue.
This kind of settlement contract (and the loophole that I hope someone someday walks through) shows how completely out of kilter, how unjust, how utterly inhumane are any contracts that seal an individual's birth record against his or her will. Forever and all time. Because someone might be embarrassed. Because someone has not told their husband. Because some social worker told a woman her motherhood would be a state secret permanently. But that individual who was born was not part of that diabolical agreement.
Sealed adoption records, as well as creating babies who can not have full and complete knowledge of their true identities, are crimes against humanity.Someday, even we in America, will come to realize the truth of this.--lorraine