Children of anonymous sperm donors "are hurting more, are more confused, and feel more isolatedSome have argued that the phrasing of the questions asked led to this kind of response. Respondents were not given neutral statements such as “I’m glad I was born to the parents I have," but instead, “I feel confused about who is a member of my family, and who is not.” Actually in looking that over, the second statement does not obviate the first; both are valid statements for study.
from their families. They fare worse than their peers raised by biological parents on important outcomes such as depression, delinquency and substance abuse. Nearly two-thirds agree, 'My sperm donor is half of who I am.'"
But what is truly amazing is what the authors* chose not to report. The study group was composed of 485 adults between the ages of 18 and 45 years old who said their mother used a sperm donor to conceive them. Comparison groups of 562 young adults who were adopted as infants and 563 young adults who were raised by their biological parents were also included in the study. Where are the results from the adopted cohort? Where are the results that would indicate the report was not pushing an agenda that included the tenet that adoption is a "good," pure and simple? Instead, here is number 14 out of 15 findings:
"Donor conception is not 'just like' adoption. Adoption is a good, vital, and positive institution that finds parents for children who need families."Well, I would argue with that supposition, and how did that obviously biased statement find its way into the report? And what the f#@! is it doing there? Oh yeah, the Institute for American Values....
Adoption in some cases finds parents for children who need families--see the UN quote at the sidebar--but the pressure today to find children for families who want them has led to incredible abuse and corruption, to the point where young unmarried women in Western countries are made to feel "selfish" if they keep their own children, families in poor countries are coerced into giving up their children, and in extreme cases such as has occurred in India, China and Guatemala, babies are kidnapped and mothers have been killed in order to obtain the children who were then made available for adoption to wealthy westerners. Even the Guatemalan government agrees, and thus the glut of babies from that country who found their way to America. I remember trying to talk one university professor out of adopting from Guatemala, but to no avail. She wanted what she wanted and without a man or marriage on the horizon, she was determined to get a child, period. Back to the report...the authors continue:
"There are some similarities between donor conception and adoption, but our study reveals there are also many differences."But there is pure gold in the findings, if the authors are reluctant to tell us more:
"And, if anything, the similarities between the struggles that adopted people and donor conceived people might share should prompt caution about intentionally denying children the possibility of growing up with their biological father or mother, as happens in donor conception."Bingo! ...the similarities between the struggles that adopted people and donor conceived people "might" share....but they are so smitten with adoption as a good outcome that they do not concede that all efforts to keep children with their natural parents** ought to be encouraged.
Just how big is the fertility industry? Plenty big, according to the report:
"The United States alone has a fertility industry that brings in $3.3 billion annually. Meanwhile, 'fertility tourism' has taken off as a booming global trade. A number of nations bill themselves as destinations for couples who wish to circumvent stricter laws and greater expense in their own countries in order to become pregnant using reproductive technologies. The largest sperm bank in the world, Cryos, is in Denmark and ships three-quarters of its sperm overseas.Don't you just love free-market capitalism, no matter who it hurts? Other findings include:
"In the U.S., an estimated 30,000-60,000 children are born each year through sperm donation, but this number is only an educated guess. Neither the industry nor any other entity in the U.S. is required to report on these vital statistics. Most strikingly, there is almost no reliable evidence, in any nation, about the experience of young adults who were conceived in this way."
"Nearly half are disturbed that money was involved in their conception. [LD: Ditto for adoption.] More than half say that when they see someone who resembles them they wonder if they are related. Almost as many say they have feared being attracted to or having sexual relations with someone to whom they are unknowingly related. Approximately two-thirds affirm the right of donor offspring to know the truth about their origins. And about half of donor offspring have concerns about or serious objections to donor conception itself, even when parents tell their children the truth."Whoa! that sounds a lot like what we know about adoption, from adopted people themselves. Wouldn't it be nice if the Institute for American Values also decided to publish their findings on adopted people? I wouldn't hold my breath.
One finding appears to be an anomaly with the confusion and disassociation reported by sperm-donor children: that they are more likely to participate in creating children through artificial means than the rest of us:
"Adults conceived through sperm donation are far more likely than others to become sperm or egg donors or surrogates themselves. In another startling finding, a full 20 percent of donor offspring in our study said that, as adults, they themselves had already donated their own sperm or eggs or been a surrogate mother. That’s compared to 0 percent of the adopted adults and just 1 percent of those raised by their biological parents – an extraordinary difference."That is despite the fact that:
"About half of donor offspring have concerns about or serious objections to donor conception itself, even when parents tell the children the truth about their origins..."As for finding out who daddy is?
"Donor offspring broadly affirm a right to know the truth about their origins. Depending on which question is asked, approximately two-thirds of grown donor offspring support the right of offspring to have non-identifying information about the sperm donor biological father, to know his identity, to know about the existence and number of half-siblings conceived with the same donor, to know the identity of half-siblings conceived with the same donor, and to have the opportunity as children to form some kind of relationship with half-siblings conceived with the same donor."If anything the report screams out for is more regulation of the fertility industry in the United States, where it largely operates under the misguided protection of "medicine," and this has a sacrosanct aura.
"In recent years Britain, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and some parts of Australia, and New Zealand have banned anonymous donation of sperm and eggs. Croatia has recently considered such a law. In Canada, a class-action suit has been launched seeking a similar outcome. This study affirms that a majority of donor offspring support such legal reforms."
The question that hangs in the air is of course, would you rather not be born? Than be born as a child of a sperm donor? It's an impossible question to answer because it's like asking an adoptee:Would You Have Preferred To Grow Up In An Orphanage? A question answered beautifully at this blog: Shadow Between Two Worlds. The first link takes you to the specific post I mean; the second to the current posting.
As for the companion question: Would you rather be a regular mother or a first/birth mother? The answer is so obvious no one even asks.--lorraine
* Elizabeth Marquardt, Institute for American Values, co-investigator and lead author of the report; Norval D. Glenn, University of Texas at Austin, co-investigator, and Karen Clark, also listed as a co-investigator at the Institute.
** We often hesitate to use the word "natural" here, but boy, if there was ever a place where it is fitting, it is here.
For an interesting unbiased look at the report see David Crary's AP story: Sperm-donors' kids seek more rights and respect.
And one last post script: Reading in Harper's Bazaar the other day I came upon this nugget: Lisa Cholodenko, the co-screen writer and director of The Kids Are All Right, is in a committed lesbian relationship, and she and her partner, Wendy Melvoin, have a sperm-donor baby. Cholodenko is the one who had the child. They chose the donor because of his disarming toddler face. "His eyes were piercing but soulful...he seemed creative, athletic, in good physical health and emotionally stable." We'll have to wait and see about Calder, the child. See our review here: Gay Moms Want Sperm Limits in The Kids Are All Right.