' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Does it matter who your father is?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Does it matter who your father is?

When Lorena Thompson Madrone of Oceanside, Oregon decided to have a baby, it was strictly a DIY affair. Becase she was concerned about having to "legally share" the child with the biological father, Lorena and her partner, Karah Gretchen Madrone, came up with a lamebrain scheme to obscure the father's identity by having two sperm donors. Of course one of two gives the child pretty decent odds of figuring which man had the cojones.

As far as avoiding legal issues around paternity, the scheme wouldn't have worked anyway. While it may have kept true dad at bay, if Lorena had applied for welfare, the state would have been after both men with a DNA kit in a flash.

Lorena wanted Karah to be biologically related to the child, so she suggested asking Karah's two brothers if they would donate sperm. Only one brother agreed so Lorena used his sperm and that of a friend. Kara helped with the first insemination procedure; Lorena did the second all by herself. News reports don't say how, although a turkey baster seems likely.

Lorena gave birth to a daughter in January, 2008, identified in court records as R. The parties filed a "declaration of domestic partnership" (same sex marriage was not then legal in Oregon) a few months later. But by 2012 domestic bliss had fled, Karah sued to dissolve the partnership, and have herself declared one of R's legal parents. While Lorena denied she ever intended that, a lower court ruled for Karah that she was indeed a parent of R. However, last week the Court of Appeals sent the case back to the lower court for another hearing.

Figuring out father is a staple of soap operas, serial dramas like Dallas, and Hollywood comedies. In Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell, Gina Lollobrigida plays an Italian mother who has affairs with three American GI's during World War II. Finding herself pregnant, she takes the name Mrs. Campbell from a soup can, claiming that her husband Eddie Campbell was killed in the war. She write to her lovers who have returned to the US and asks for support for their daughter, Gia. All comply and all goes well until their army unit holds a reunion and they come to Italy, anxious to meet their daughter. The would be dads are played by Phil Silvers, Peter Lawford, and Telly Savalas, none of whom look remotely alike. The paternity issue in never resolved but Gia goes off with the one man who was unable to have children.

In Mamma Mia made 40 years later, a young woman in Greece, Sophie, learns that three men played by Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, and Stellen Skarsgard could be her father. Unbeknownst to her mother, played by Meryl Streep, she invites the men to her wedding. Although DNA testing is available, the film never resolves the paternity question. The underlying premise of both comedies and the Madrone's scheme, that the identity of fathers is irrelevant, is flat out wrong. Who your father is matters. It's not simply a cheap joke. In some countries, anonymous sperm donors are outlawed, so that the individual conceived through modern methods can know who he real parent is--not just some phantom donor picked out of an album. Children conceived of anonymous donors finding each other and some, the father, through the internet. We are adamantly opposed to anonymous donors to conceive children, whether the donor gives sperm--or an egg.

Doctors use family health histories to help them diagnose diseases. Our personalities, talents, and interests are shaped by our DNA. Knowing birth relatives helps us understand why we like what we like and do what we do. Learning about our ancestors gives us a perspective on how we came to be. We may learn things we have a hard time accepting. This was actor Ben Affleck's experience who learned on Finding Your Roots that an ancestor owned slaves.  Still, it's better to know the truth even if it is not pretty.

We have no problem with women having babies without a sex partner--but we oppose to treating fathers as irrelevant. Children have a right to know their biological origins and have a relationship with those who provide their DNA--jane

Lesbian partner isn't 'parent' of baby born through artificial-insemination
In the Matter of the Registered Domestic Partnership of Madrone v. Madrone
Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell
Mamma Mia

Gay moms want sperm limits in The Kids Are All Right


  1. This is a sensitive subject for me. I know who the fathers of my two surrendered children are/were (one is dead) and I shared that information with my reunited children but I asked to be left out of any interactions with them. I was betrayed, lied about and left to deal with my first pregnancy alone by my first love who turned out to be a total jerk as a man. I was raped by my son's sire and, back then, since it was a date rape, I had no legal recourse. The man is dead and I am glad. I hated sharing air with him. The reunion brings with it a lot of conflicted feelings when it comes to the fathers. Too many of us had cowardly guys, out for one thing, who managed to cut and run with a wink and a nudge and no responsibility for the life THEY were 50% responsible for creating. But yes..the knowledge of their heritage is important for adopted people and that is why I gave them all the info I had with the "no involvement for me" caveat. I have forgiven the father of my daughter. He can't help being a jerk and I don't have to have any contact with him. I no longer blame myself for being raped and that is a relief. My son did take the death of his natural father badly, even though the man refused any contact with him. Things get odd as time goes on in adoption-land.

    1. I named my son's father. We'd had a 5 month affair and I, being the romantic, believed he would stand by me. He didn't. When my son asked who I was I told hi and my son came knocking at his door. I spoke to him briefly after reunion. He never told his wife about me or our son and then he lied to her about me. She made a couple of ugly calls to me. I hung up on her. The man is dead. The only good thing I can say about him is he acknowledged our son before he died. I doubt I will ever be able to forgive him because I blame him for causing me to lose our son.

  2. I have no idea who my father is. He was not mentioned at all on my non-id. Fathers got away with a lot back then, and the mother was left with the responsibility of what to do with the baby. DNA testing is catching up with a lot of these men. Sadly, DNA is not working for me.

    One would think that we as a society may have learned something from the secret adoptions of the BSE. But I think things nowadays are just as bad and much more complicated. We are not moving forward at all.

    1. Fathers go away with just about everything! As my story and Jane's shows. But it's odd that no connective DNA from either side showed up. Maybe it will, right? Because your DNA will stay in the data base?

    2. @Julia Emily, you can also say that many father's were left with absolutely nothing. Not even a memory of awareness...

  3. There are many countries where the system is different, and anonymous donation is outlawed. Among them are Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.


    These two women went out of their way to make it difficult for the child to know who her father is. Clouding the child's paternity took priority for them over making sure that she was biologically related to both parents. At the end of the day, it is their daughter who they are really trying to hide that information from.

    I wonder how they will react if their 12 year old daughter asks for a DNA test. What if she wants a relationship? What if she wants to know her siblings or grandparents? Will she be told to "get over it" or to "be grateful for what she has?"

    1. Steve, thank you for the list of the countries were anonymous sperm donors are outlawed. In this case, the US is way behind common sense and everyday ethics.

  4. It is unusual that no relatives have shown up on either side from the DNA test. I suppose I will wait it out.

    This adoption was a massive secret. That has always been the case. I honestly don't think my father even knew about me.

  5. I am sorry, JE. Not knowing is painful. I did manage to find out my father's identity through DNA, after my mother had lied to me about him. His name was in my file, but of course I had no access to identifying information, thanks to a world that sees us as perpetual children/criminals.

    It turned out that the information that my mother had originally shared with the social worker about my father was all true, despite her telling *me* that she had made it up. As JE suspects in her case, my mother never informed my father about me. I have very little idea what happened between my parents; my mother won't share, and my father is deceased. I do know that he would have been able to care for me with his family's support; he was well educated, in his late 20's, and had a job. He left on an extended trip to South Asia before he knew my mother was pregnant, and he never was told, never knew. Whatever the circumstance of their breakup, I find that unfair to him and to me. I can also tell you--and this is from my mother--that it was not rape. My paternal relatives and many of my father's friends believe he would have been committed to raising me. That hurts to think about; I am very much like him on so many levels. His friends said that it would have broken his heart to know I was kept from him.

    I feel very strongly that yes, it does matter who my father and mother are. Families matter. Knowing where I fit into family history matters. I felt that I floated, that I was unreal, until I discovered the tribe I was born into. My reunions have not been rosy, but I hold the knowledge I have gathered very dear.

  6. The DNA expert from Ancestry.com who spoke at the AAC suggested that adoptees register with all three big DNA analyzers, his Ancestry group, 23 and Me, and I forgot the name of the other. I also heard somewhere that very few people living in Europe sign up for DNA testing, and you are only matched with others who have signed up The more you put your DNA out there, the more likely a match. I think you can get some kind of audio of the keynotes from AAC through their website. This guy explained the different kinds of DNA testing very well, and it may be worth it to anyone wanting to try it as a means of search.

  7. Hannah: you are fortunate that you were able to find your missing puzzle pieces, so to speak. It has to help just to know the info about where you came from. That's what's killing me.... I know nothing but my mother's name, age and occupation. I have never seen anything so shrouded in secrecy as this adoption. In this day and age there is no reason for it, but we adoptees are still expected to just deal with all the lies. At least you know some of your truth. Someday I suppose I will know mine.

    1. Julia Emily,
      There is a site where you can upload your DNA results, for free, and they will search for matches. Here is the link to the web site -https://www.familytreedna.com/AutosomalTransfer.
      I was able to find more relatives here besides what I found through ancestry.com.

  8. Correction of my previous comment, the man who spoke at AAC was Bennett Greenspan of Family Tree DNA, not Ancestry. He was a good speaker, explained things clearly, and spent a lot of time talking to individual adoptees who had questions about their searches.

  9. Thanks for the info and the link. I never heard of this site but it's worth a try.

    So far it appears that no one is looking for me. Or no one knows about me. I imagine most of those involved in any way are long gone. But... I will try.

    1. I hope you give it a try Julia Emily. Everyone should know where they come from. I wish you the best of luck.

  10. It took me 15+ years of searching, Julia Emily, from the time I first began. It was a long, slow process. I am sorry. I understand the pain and brick walls. The world is not set up to help us at all.

    Your mother does know about you, or did. Whether anyone else knows is a huge question, but there might be. And you know some tiny facts. Tenacity and luck can make the big difference. All we can do is try.

    It is terrible that as adults we are considered unfit guardians of our own information. I find it frustrating on a good day and seriously fury inducing on the worst.

  11. I would like to see a movement started that birth certificates must contain the names of the actual woman and man who supplied the egg and sperm, and no other; and that these birth certificates become the permanent identification documents, unaltered, unamended even by "adoption," which can be done with a certificate of adoption, not an amended birth certificate.

  12. My advice on DNA testing is in this article: http://www.womensvoicesmagazine.com/2014/12/01/what-you-need-to-know-to-start-your-family-member-search/#.VWH6YGAXJtc

  13. Here is a look at the limits of DNA testing for general knowlege, and the fact that while all of us of European heritage are related to Charlemagne, we probably no longer carry his DNA nor that of many of our biological ancestors:



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