' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Creating children, no matter how, in the quest to have a family

Monday, June 7, 2010

Creating children, no matter how, in the quest to have a family

A Family, No Matter How It's Created. Hmm, well, that sucks if you are the one who is created in a petrie dish to make someone else's life "complete; or spirited away from your native land in Malawi because what Madonna wants Madonna will have....

Today the next chapter in the saga of my "missing" granddaughter will have to wait, as the letters in the New York Times in response to Ross Douthat's column, The Birds and the Bees (via the Fertility Clinic) that we wrote about last week garnered a number of letters in the Times today, under that headline: A Family, No Matter How It's Created.

Well, that sums it up because that is certainly the attitude of the loudest voices out there in society. We want children! We want a family! We aren't having any the normal way! WAAAH! (forgetting to add that most of the people with conception issues are past the age when fertility is at its peak). Yes, I know there will be commenters who will write and say, You are too cold, what about pollution, my mother was 46, disease, etc., but folks, look at the statistics. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine says it well:
"As women delay childbearing, there is now an unrealistic expectation that medical science can undo the effects of aging." 
Every individual and couple is unique and could be more fertile or less fertile as compared to the average for their age. Some 30 year-olds already have significantly diminished egg quality and dwindling supplies of eggs, and some 43 year-olds can be fertile. There are no guarantees that an individual woman will have a slow and smooth drop in her fertility potential as she ages. Although rare, it is possible to have a rapid decline in egg quantity and quality as early as the teens or twenties.

One letter--the first one!--in the Times today is from the medical director of Princeton IVF, Seth G. Derman, whose job obviously depends on supplying what infertile couples are buying. Derman writes that to deny the people who pay his salary the right to create babies with anonymous donor eggs and sperm "would indeed be cruel." Already I've got a bad taste in my mouth. But what made the hair on the back of my neck stand up was this statement:
"Restrictions would also lead to an increase in directed family donations (like sister to sister). As a fertility specialist, I have done a number of these types of egg donations and am far more concerned with the emotional health of these families than those who use anonymous donation."
So he admits that he is ONLY concerned with the adults in the room, not the child being created. At least if it is a sister-to-sister egg donation and maybe gestation surrogacy, that child is at least going to grow up among people who look like him and, say, have the same aversion to Brussels sprouts (which is genetic, by the way). Apparently, too bad for you if you happen to be a kid put together there from bought parts.You are not the client, not his problem 15 or 20 years later when you are burning with questions of identity.

And there is the usual, we created our child this way, but we LOVE that child, so there, letter. Really, folks, we expect that if you go to the trouble of having a child through sperm or egg donation, you are probably going to love that child, but does that love, Jeannie Lorenz, of Bethesda, MD., also include having answers for them when they want to know whose egg they are a product of or whose sperm? Why they can curl their tongues, hate the taste of caffeine, or constantly question authority, are good in math, all inherited traits? When you can't curl your tongue, love all things caffeine, believe in rules and are terrible in math?

However, adoptee, therapist and author, Betty Jean Lifton, as well as a professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Paul Brinich, held up our side of the argument: that not knowing who you were at birth is the cause of much anxiety for a great many adopted people. Betty Jean wrote:
"However, he [Douthat] quotes a Web-based survey that says offspring of sperm donors are more likely than adoptees to have identity confusion.

"My in-depth work and that of other adoption specialists show that the adopted are just as much the victims of the “webs of secrecy” that surround them as the biological children of sperm donors.

"Adoptees wonder just as much about their origins, envy peers who know their biological parents, worry that their parents have lied to them about important matters, and wonder if someone who looks like them might be related.

Adoptees have worked for decades to end the secrecy and restore the rights of the adopted to their original birth certificates and knowledge of their heritage. The movement has already helped raise the important questions that donor-conceived adults are now asking."
Betty Jean Lifton
Cambridge, Mass., May 31, 2010
And Brinich adds:
"Gametes obtained from donors — paid or not — carry in their wake a host of emotional complications. Surrogacy adds further twists.

"The perennial question of childhood — “Where do babies come from?” — has always challenged parents. Likewise, every adolescent has wrestled with “Who am I?”

"As the answers to these very normal questions become more and more complicated, it’s clear that technology has leapt ahead of society. Assisted reproductive technology requires thoughtful, psychologically attuned responses by parents, professionals and our society"

Paul Brinich
Chapel Hill, N.C., May 31, 2010

To which we add: Amen. Anyone considering having a child with anonymous sperm or an anonymous egg, ought to attend a session with the children of sperm donors who wish to be able to answer natural basic questions about their identities. The U.S. Declaration of Independence, based on what might be called the laws of nature as men and women perceive them, (."..the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them"), guarantees all of the citizens of the United States the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Stripping an infant of its identity, as well as  telling a mother that she has no right to know what happened to that child once he or she is adopted, denies both of the parties the right to any normal "pursuit of happiness" that all others enjoy.

Personally, I've made myself a good life, more or less; I live in a beautiful place in a nice home that right now is being reshingled with red cedar, and the workers are pounding against the east wall of the house as I write today. It will be fresh and new within the week; then we start on the deck that is falling apart. I've had work and I've had love, but my life has been so indelibly marred by not only the loss of my daughter to adoption, but also by the 1935 New York law that took away the right for her and I to ever know each other. And that denied me whatever comfort I might have knowing she was alive, and well, until I went around the law, paid a searcher, and found her. She was the adopted daughter of two other people, but she was also my natural daughter and I had every right in the cosmos to know where she is.--lorraine
Before anyone starts going crazy over what is "natural" in the order of things, and how that natural can be interpreted to many misfortunes, I understand, but if you are going to bitch about my interpretation  here, bitch elsewhere. It just wears us all out.


  1. As a donor offspring I couldn't agree with you more.
    It is easy for those who "have" to attack the emotions and and thoughts of the "have nots" and belittle their experiences. It would be far better and constructive to accept that there is possibly an alternative position whereby some people (but as the study shows - not all), are adversely affected by this mode of conception and try and do something to prevent others from going through such pain.

  2. What an excellent post!!!I will post a link if I may, for my own benefit as much as a wider readership.Good wishes, hope the noise levels tail off quickly!

  3. "Well, that sums it up because that is certainly the attitude of the loudest voices out there in society. We want children! We want a family! We aren't having any the normal way! WAAAH!"

    LoL, Lorraine, I love the way you put that and how you ended it relaying what babies these couples really are. No child wants to be a Frankenbaby and this is exactly what they are making. No person wants to feel that they came into the world in such unatural way either to satisfy the needs of people so insensative that they would not think for one minute that this human being needs to know what bloodline they came from, like they know what bloodline they came from. It turns my stomach that women who have waited too long to conceive or can't seem to think that they should be accomodated by being able to place an order for a baby like one orders for convienance a # 6 at a fast food drive-thru. I am releived though that in light of all the sperm/egg donor articles appearing everywhere lately, that some professionals are seeing the whole picture and that getting barren women pregnant ISN'T the only issue. Madonna needs to read this post due to Adoptee idenity issues and all the problems we are having getting the records open, while listening to me sing in the background, Madonna don't preach, we're in trouble deep......

  4. I support your opinions Lorraine. I share them too.

    I was extremely disapointed at some of the letters sent in. I am astounded at the ignorance of those helping people become parents (e.g. the doctor who wrote in) and the people desiring to become parents by either adoption on gamete sales, who wrote in, thinking only of themselves or the best-interests of adults.

    I am sick of the whining that adoption is too "hard" or takes too "long" as if more safeguards need to be removed from children in the adoption process just so COUPLES don't have to wait. The consequences of laxed protection on children puts many, many children abroad in horrible (horrible does not even describe it) situations. Adoption needs more safeguards, not less.

    I am also sick of people speaking on behalf of the products of egg/sperm donorship, surrogacy, or adoption saying that all we need is "love" and good parenting. So if their adoptee or descendent producted from gamete sales isn't the ideal child/adult and has problems....will they follow their own logic and say it's because they were bad parents or didn't "love" enough? The fact of the matter is love and good parenting do not cure the primal wound or adoption issues. This is why we need to reduce the amount of such wounds on children--not demand services that cause the wound and then pretend like it's the lesser evil to everything else that's involved, simply because COUPLES get the chance to parent.

    And then there's the doctor speaking for the best interest of...COUPLES...stating that anonymity is necessary so that there will be enough eggs/sperm to go around to all of the COUPLES that want children. Refusal to anticipate the rights of the human being that will created and ignoring the future and impending adulthood and said human beings' future Constitutional rights is grossly unethical. These created individuals are being created to provide babies to homes that want them. They will not, however, be babies forever. Is this not a part of the thought process at all??

    Is parenting about children? Or about adults getting exactly what they want? I wait (but won't hold my breath) for someone...anyone to support gamete sales (and heck, infant adoption too) SOLEY based on irrefutable benefits provided to the CHILDREN involved. Not the COUPLES. Not the doctors. Not the American "maketplace." I am tired of those who these issues directly impact being told "be quiet, think of all of the adults."

    What about the CHILDREN??

  5. http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles

    June 3, 2010
    When Daddy's Name is "Donor"
    By Maggie Gallagher

    What is it like to be a child conceived using the sperm of a man whom the law says has no obligations to you at all, that you don't even have a right to know his name?

    As many as 1 percent of all children born in America are created by reproductive technology, and yet few people have bothered to ask that question.

    Until now. Thanks to an extraordinary new report just released by the Institute for American Values, "My Daddy's Name Is Donor," we can now begin to look for answers. The groundbreaking study by Elizabeth Marquardt, Norval Glenn and Karen Clark looks at almost 500 young adults created by donor insemination.

    To read more, use link.

  6. It’s long overdue: an offspring responds to “My Daddy’s Name is Donor”


  7. The self-entitlement of the child-creators/takers never ceases to amaze me. Good blog, Lorraine. Reminds me of the plea to God, "Give me a child lest I die," and no one worries about what the child might think when they mature.

  8. What are the lasting psychological affects of children who were came into the world as a result of birth control mistakes? That is, a man and woman who were too selfish to care about bringing an unwanted child into the world, then dumping that child on someone else to raise.

  9. I am wondering how you feel about known gamete donation/conception Lorraine.

    I agree and disagree with a lot of what you wrote. It is a natural human urge to want to procreate. The question you seem to be posing is, "is it a right"?

    Several years ago, at the request of some lesbian friends, I decided to donate sperm to them so they can have a baby. My experience with them lead me to offer my "services" to a number of others. I do not play a role in their lives but I do agree to meet them at a time they feel is right to meet the child. I think it is important and responsible to offer this as a donor for the child's psyche. These donations are handled privately - no clinic, doctor, or agent is involved.

    I have to say that so far everything is working out very well, and everyone seems to be happy. The children are not old enough yet to have developed feelings on the matter, but I have to believe the maturity of those involved will allow them to have some peace about their lineage.

    I am curious if you are against known donorship or is this just a grip you have about anonymous donorship.

  10. I agree that children of different DNA than the people who raise them have a right to know who their natural parents are. However, your mockery of those couples undergoing fertility treatment is PATHETIC. (And elsewhere on this blog "...men and women who delayed conception past their most fecund years...") And implying the infertility is their fault somehow by waiting too long in age is off-base in many cases. I had been trying since my 20s and fortunately we were blessed with our little girl (ours in ever sense of the word) at the age of 33, however even though my child is my own I had to seek out the service of one of these clinics due to a rare disorder. At a YOUNG age I had to deal with infertility. And I resent the undercurrent of mocking and putting-down of women who have had fertility issues on this blog. Even though I agree with some of your points, until the anti-adoption movement (and yes you are that) educates its members as to the causes of infertility (not all of them age-related), you'll continue to draw ire.

  11. ...and ignoring dissent is even more pathetic.



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