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October 10, 2008 •
- Is it wrong to want a deaf baby?
- Oregon court sees frozen embryos as property rights issue.
- The hidden health risks for the children of sperm donors.
- India: It’s time we had a law on surrogacy.
- How test tube babies changed the world.
- A new, safer test for Down syndrome.
- “Human evolution is only at the beginning!”
- Incest fears down under?
- Families in the making.
October 3, 2008 •
- “Women: Have your babies yesterday.”
- Looking for cheap IVF? 13 questions and answers about medical tourism. And just how expensive is IVF anyway?
- Biologists describe how an embryo attaches to the womb.
- The Bronx is the place to be for gay families.
- Feminism or folly? Women who conceive accidentally on purpose.
- Mothers may not tell after donor egg, sperm birth.
- Having a half-sibling on the other side of Europe.
- Men without children.
October 2, 2008 • Part Two of my interview with Damian Adams. See Part One here.
Have you been involved with any campaigns to fight for the rights of DC people?
DA: I have been constantly writing to state and federal politicians. I have been in contact with the state regulatory authority. I have met with the federal attorney general. I have had articles published in the media highlighting the cause and also appeared on a few television shows. I have presented a talk at the national DCSG conference and talked at a seminar attended by clinicians and persons involved in the fertility industry in South Australia.
What do you hope for from a meeting with your donor? What would be your best-case scenario? The worst?
DA: Anything, everything, and nothing. That probably doesn’t make much sense, but I would be willing to accept anything, just so long as I know the truth about who I am and my heritage.
Best-case scenario would be a relationship of sorts—not necessarily a father-type relationship. (I am a realist.) A medical history should be mandatory.
Worst-case: What I am currently in. I am in limbo with no way forward.
What do you think of open-donor programs (i.e., where the donor is identified to the offspring when they come of age)? Do you think they are a workable compromise? Is it simply enough for a person to have the chance to meet and know their biological parent?
DA: This is where a lot of people have trouble understanding my argument. I am not saying that non-biological parents can’t make good parents. There are good and bad biologicals and non-biologicals. The thing is people need to take off their “glasses” and look through a child’s eyes and not through those of an adult.
Being raised by both biologicals is preferable, because it is who we are, our flesh and blood. We see ourselves in our parents and them in us. It is the continuance of kinship and heritage. This is the best-case scenario and to deliberately do otherwise is to deprive the child.
There is no way to ensure that those conceived in DC families will ever know of their origins. (A recent study in Australia showed only 33 percent intended to tell—even less do.) So immediately there is a problem with the majority of families deceiving their child. Deception is not a foundation to build a family on—truth is.
Then there is the issue of kinship separation, loss of identity, heritage—these cannot necessarily be fully retrieved in an open-donor situation as the constant contact and interaction is not there. It is well known in adoption circles that these things are harmful to a child yet we are unable to acknowledge them in the DC community. It is a double standard.
What misconceptions do people have about donor-conceived people?
DA: Some people have argued against views such as mine saying that [such views] are from children raised in a dysfunctional family. However, I was raised in a very loving home, and I love my social father and respect him very much.
They then also try and dismiss my views as being from a disgruntled and ungrateful minority, yet they fail to understand that at one point in my life, I was very grateful and even proud of being DC. But after the epiphany I experienced [when] my daughter was born and realizing that we cannot arbitrarily choose which genetic connection is to be important to children, I had to completely reverse my stance.
October 2, 2008 •
Damian Adams was conceived through donor insemination in 1973 at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Adelaide, South Australia. He has been searching for his biological father for over five years, and keeps a blog, Donated Generation, on donor conception ethics and practices.
An advocate for the rights of DC offspring, he has worked with the Donor Conception Support Group of Australia and TangledWebs. He has made numerous media appearances to discuss the unique challenges faced by other “half-adopted” people. You can learn more about his search here.
In this interview, we discuss his search for his biological father, children’s rights, and the donor anonymity debate.
For more on donor-conceived offspring, see my latest article in The New Atlantis.
[Interview edited, condensed, and hyperlinked by Cheryl Miller. Part Two to follow.]
When did you start your blog? Do your friends and family know about the blog? How have people reacted?
DA: I started the blog in July 2006. My wife knows about it as do some of my DC community friends on the Web. No one else does. To be honest, I haven’t had much reaction about it apart from my DC friends who appreciate and agree with what I have written.
When and how did you find out that you are donor-conceived?
DA: From the very beginning. I would have been about three or so.
I imagine if I had found out later in life that I would have taken it very badly and harbored bad feelings towards my parents for deceiving me. Many people use the argument of early disclosure to say that if it occurs then the person would be happy with being DC. I guess I am evidence to the contrary.
You say on your blog that it wasn’t until you were 28 and had children of your own that you began to question your origins. What changed for you?
DA: While I started off searching for non-identifying information (as I at one time agreed with anonymity), I have now changed my perspective, and I wish to know who this person is. This view changed after the birth of my daughter. It was a moment not too dissimilar to the moment that parents often report experiencing when they hold their child for the first time and stare into their baby’s eyes. It was an acceptance and knowledge of a biological connection. That no matter what might happen in the world, we would always be father and daughter. No one or no thing would ever be able to change this.
This biological connection made me think about how I would feel if my daughter grew up not knowing who I was. I need to complete the picture of who I am not only for myself but also for my children. My search is just as much for them as it is for me. The implications of being donor-conceived do not end with me but continue on into the following generations.
How long have you been searching for your donor?
DA: The initial search for non-identifying information started when I was 16. My family is aware of my search and is fully supportive. My mother even assisted in the early stages, and obtained her treatment records for me. Searches for identifying information started in earnest when my daughter was born.
What have you done in searching for your father/siblings? Are you on any donor/sibling registries?
DA: I have been in contact with the hospital and the clinic that obtained the records when the hospital stopped conducting fertility treatment. I have also spoken to the clinicians involved at the time. Through some strange coincidence, my wife’s obstetrician, who delivered our children, was one of the registrars who conducted the procedure (although I was not aware of this when he first became her obs). These clinicians have tried to help in locating records. I have searched through university records of medical students. I have appeared in print, televised, and spoken (radio) media.
I have also joined/registered on a couple of online registries. While there has been a South Aussie donor who has since listed on one of those registries, he is not from my era. There are no other South Australian offspring on them as yet. I decided to finally put my name on them to cross all the boxes and leave no stoned unturned.
I believe that I know who my father is. However, he has denied it. This has been extremely traumatic, and I cannot obtain closure. I cannot get a definitive answer either way.
Have you met any potential half-siblings? If you haven’t, would you want to meet any?
DA: I have not met any potential half siblings. But I would like to. To me the issue of half-siblings, whether through other donations or from a normalized relationship with my father, is of equal importance as finding my father.
September 29, 2008 •
If you're in the Toronto area, I will be speaking about my latest New Atlantis article, "Donated Generation," at a symposium hosted by the Infertility Network. The event is this Saturday, October 4, 2008, at the Michener Institute. (Map and directions here.)
There will be some great speakers: Olivia Montuschi, co-founder of the Donor Conception Network; Kathleen LaBounty and Karen Clark, two donor-conceived adults; and Eric Schwartzman, a DI-dad.
A brief description of the seminar:
Symposium: Getting It Right – Putting Ethics At The Core Of Gamete Donation Practice
Saturday, October 4, 2008. 9:00am - 5:00pm. Open to all.
Michener Institute, 222 Saint Patrick St., Toronto (near University Ave. & Dundas St.)
Explore the complex ethical issues of egg and sperm donation from the perspectives of adult offspring, recipients and donors, as well as the LGBT and adoption communities, with input from support group leaders, researchers, ethicists, counsellors and medical professionals. The discussion will focus on the importance of education and support, along with the need for accurate, complete, accessible records, protected against loss or destruction. It will also highlight shortcomings in the current system and the need for more accountability.
Discover the similarities and differences among systems in countries that enable a donor-conceived person to learn their donor’s identity and the challenges posed by the abolition of anonymity. Listen to personal stories from offspring who want to learn more about their genetic kin. Learn how similar past practices in adoption (e.g. secrecy and sealed records) are giving way to openness and information sharing.
Hear up-to-date research on the long term medical and emotional ramifications of egg donation; the expected changes in the United Kingdom following implementation of the new legislation (e.g. provisions for offspring to access information about their half-siblings and donors about their offspring).
To learn more about the conference and to register, see the Infertility Network's website.
September 26, 2008 •
- Pregnancy on the rise, abortion rates lowest in 30 years.
- How to stay sane with multiples.
- Designing the $100,000 baby.
- Remote control male birth control.
- Clay Aiken has a gayby.
- Israeli women are coming to the U.S. to donate eggs.
- "I've become more conservative since carrying a baby to term, but not so conservative as to assume that a ball of cells is a person."
- Teen pregnancy Barbie.
- India's global surrogacy business: "Come as Couple ... Leave as Family."
September 23, 2008 •
- Australia issues its first license to clone human embryos.
- On the Today show: Looking for sperm, egg donor roots.
- An artist’s journey to 21st-century motherhood.
- Are celebrities giving IVF patients false hopes?
- “I’m a dad by deception.”
- Two healthy babies miscarried for every three Down sydrome babies detected.
- From Gene Expression: Who would abort a defective fetus?
- “I wanted a child more than a man.”
- India pulls gender selection ads on Google and Microsoft.
- Dad with cystic fibrosis beats infertility.
- Can cellphones cause infertility?
September 15, 2008 •
- Is Sarah Palin a “moral snob?” Gene Expression looks at Down syndrome and abortion rates. The New York Times reports on the birth of Trig Palin. More from the Washington Post.
- David Frum: Are designer babies the solution to the inequality problem?
- The 66 Club: Some women belong to book clubs. These women all share the same sperm donor.
- Should parents tell a donor child about his origins?
- Matthew Miller’s Maybe Baby is now out. An interview with the author.
- Are natural fertility methods better than IVF?
- “Babies are cute. Who could blame you for wanting one? And nothing can stop you. Not even time.”
- The newest Hollywood accesory: the gaybie.
- Dead men reproducing and afterdeath children.
September 2, 2008 •
Still more on the plight of donor-conceived people. First, from the Walrus, a fascinating piece on “frontier families” by a “dumped” sperm donor. Matthew Hayes, a gay man living in Canada, gives an inside look at the life of known donors:
Suzy, one of my closest and oldest friends, was phoning from her Toronto home. “Matt, I don’t really know how to say this to you. But we’ve decided to go in another direction. I don’t feel like this is working out.”
It was a few sentences that were both simple and entirely complex. But the essence of it was easy enough to summarize: I was being dumped as a sperm donor.
[...] I was hardly alone. In fact, I was caught in the gears of the various new machinations emerging from the burgeoning number of queer families, and one particular decision faced by many lesbians aspiring to parenthood. They have the means, but they still need sperm to get the job done. There are two options at this fork in the road: do they go the anonymous sperm donor route, or do they harvest the sperm of a close friend (usually gay)? We might call it the plan A (anonymous donor) or plan B (close gay friend) conundrum.
Second, from Choice Moms, Mikki Morrisette talks with a potential sperm donor and a reproductive law attorney about the pros and cons of using a known donor.
September 2, 2008 •
- Secondary infertility: the “loneliest kind” of infertility.
- Two takes on genetic screening: “I regretted taking the test.” “For me, if I wanted another child, there was no other choice.”
- Would you go to extremes to choose the sex of your baby? Babble wants to know.
- Dara Torres: Infertility hero.
- No more Viking donors? FDA mad cow rules go into effect at sperm banks.
- Are Indian surrogates being exploited?
- Pete Shanks wants more regulation of ART in the U.S.
- Australia’s lucrative IVF industry.
- News of the weird: Brit grows marijauana to pay for IVF.
- Blinded by science: EPPC’s Yuval Levin eviscerates Diana DeGette’s Sex, Science, and Stem Cells.
- Donor-conceived children are looking for their “Y-guy.” Should they have the right to know their biological father’s identity?