Motherhood In Pieces

There’s an extraordinarily lively discussion in the comments of a recent post on surrogacy.   I confess I have actually lost track of the various threads as I haven’t had the time to keep up.   The parts I have read have made me think–again–about the ways in which technology challenges us to rethink established ideas.  Given the surrogacy discussion I’ve been thinking about the deconstruction of motherhood.

Once upon a time a woman who gave birth was always genetically related to the child.   And keeping track of who gives birth, while not always easy (witness the famous story of the judgment of Solomon) is a whole lot easier than keeping track of who might have provided the sperm.   Thus, the law around motherhood was easy–she who gave birth to a child was the legal mother–while the law around fatherhood was more complicated–he who was married to the mother was a legal father or he who held the child out as his for a period of time was a legal father or whatever.    The questions around legal motherhood were just questions of fact (who gave birth).

Of course the mother might agree to place the child for adoption and give up her rights.  And she might even make such an agreement during her pregnancy.   But even in those instances, it was and is clear that when she gives birth she is the legal mother of the child.  This means, of course, that she has no legal obligation to follow through with any adoption plan.  In fact, the time she has to revoke a plan may be very limited, but time there must be.

But then came IVF and the establishment (in the US and many other parts of the world) of ART as a business.    Most obviously this means the woman who is genetically related to the child need not be the woman who gives birth to the child.  In addition, a third (and even a fourth) person (male or female or any combination thereof) who intends to raise the child can put the whole enterprise in motion–obtaining (which often means paying for) both egg and surrogate.

This forces us to confront new questions.   Suppose everything falls apart and each of the players wants to claim legal parentage–who wins?   The woman who claims  genetic connection, the woman who provides gestation and birth or the person/people (male or female) with motivating intention?

There is no single answer to this question.   Different jurisdictions provide different answers (which is potentially a problem.)   The question I think about, however, is what the answer should be and (of course) why.

I don’t think this is a totally freestanding question.    What I mean is this:  suppose you pick genetics as all important in this instance.   This means that the people (one male, one female) who provided the gametes should be the legal parents.   Surely this means you should generally pick genetics in other contexts?   At the very least, you should be consistent unless you can justify a different choice based on circumstances.

In fact, the law in many places identifies ART as just such a circumstance–one that justifies choosing a different framework for parentage in ART vs. non-ART cases.  In some states, intention governs ART cases but not cases where conception is via intercourse.  While this can be justified on pragmatic grounds (too often no one intends conception via intercourse while in ART someone always intends for it to happen), it’s harder (for me, anyway) to think of a theoretical justification.  In particular, if a man engaged in intercourse has no intention of becoming a legal parent, why should he become one when if the same man provided sperm for insemination he would not become one?

Apart from intention and genetics, you can pick some sort of performance-based standard, which would favor assigning legal parentage to the pregnant woman, I think.   And here again the question is what happens, then to the non-ART cases?  There’s always a woman who gives birth so presumably she is always a legal mother.   (Notice that this is entirely consistent with historic practice for non-ART cases.)   I think the harder questions here are 1) is anyone else a legal parent to the child at the time the child is born? and 2) can you become a legal parent of a child not a newborn in some performance-based fashion?   (It seems to me that the answer to the second question could be “yes, see de facto parentage.)

I often think it is possible that I over-estimate the importance of consistency here.   But it seems to me that if there is a theoretical justification for any particular choice of legal test you ought to at least explain why you only use it some of the time.

I’ll close with this observation–Technology really lead us into this thicket and there’s no reason to think it is done.   Consider this development.     If life can be created from skin cells instead of gametes, do we need to rethink any of our rules?

I suspect that the above proposition seems unproblematic to most people, but perhaps this is because I chose genetics as my illustrative example.

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81 responses to “Motherhood In Pieces

  1. You do not over emphasize consistency. Consistency is lacking unless you look at the whole thing from the point of view of the tax payer – then all you care about is which option most immediately provides a dependent minor with two permanent sources of financial support for the government to go after before having its coffers tapped.

    The best interests of the child turns out to be the most expedient route away from public assistance. This approach is unfair to the minor of course leaving many with falsified birth records, useless for medical purposes. It frequently places the financial burden of raising a minor in the hands of a person that is not responsible for the child’s existence, creating a haphazzard sence of when a person is to be held accountable for their own reproductive actions and when a person has no accountability whatsoever.

  2. You know I believe that people should be held accountable to and for their own offspring. I think society has to and does expect individuals to provide physical and financial support for the children they reproduce to create regardless of their intentions in the matter and regardless of the intentions of others because intention creates imbalance for people’s offspring.

    Proof that we do expect people to be accountable to and for their own offspring is evident in the UPA requiring states to help look for the biological fathers of children, to give paternity tests and to name the men that prove to be fathers and hold them accountable for their own offspring. This makes sense to me. It makes no difference whether they intended to become fathers or not, they are fathers and should be held responsible. Their mothers are not allowed to waive their right to support from their fathers, not allowed to agree that the bio father is off the hook. Yet women skirt this law by keeping tight lipped and refusing to tell the state who the father is they do this with sperm donation. Why won’t the government requisition the donor’s information from doctors? Why are those men allowed to hide and not support their offspring? Why do their offspring not deserve the same protections as the offspring of any other man who did not intend to raise his child? Same goes for mothers who don’t intend to raise their offspring. This creates incredible imbalance and this is only the first level of imbalance.

  3. I do not see why we must pick only one criteria. Instead we should have an order of priorities.

    My preferred order of priorities goes like this:
    The genetic parents
    Next, the woman who gives birth
    Third, the spouse of the legal parent who will presumably be raising the child together- if and only if the preceding folk renounce their rights.

    having been party to a contract or having paid a lot of money, gives one absolutely no leverage in my book.

    This is at birth. Once the kid is older I agree we may also need to look at performance issues and who actually played the parental role, if the real parent was absent.

    • Yes but Ki think about this
      A child is born to an unrelated woman and she gets named mother
      Lets say genetic testing was mandated and the birth record accurately stated that she gave birth but was not the child’s mother
      Nobody knows who the mother really is the lady that gave birth says anonymous egg donor

      Your saying that this lady should automatically get custody in the absense of the genetic mother…why? Why should the child be forced to have this strange woman as their mother. She did after all BUY her pregnancy experience from the egg donor and BUY the egg donors baby. She is already of questionable character in my book as is the mother who did the selling.

      So why not still hold the mother responsible? Ask the lady that gave birth for the name of the egg donor. Get the doctor from the clinic to cough up the record with the lady’s name on it. Prove in court that she consented to allow her egg to be fertilized and gestated by this stranger. Prove that she agreed to let this stranger raise her child. Many many people are having their eggs stolen and sold Ki. They don’t give their consent and their children are lost forever. Don’t those women have a right to say hell no I did not give my consent? Every kid who is not related to the mother at birth ought to be kept at the hosptial until every patient of the doctor is tested and they find the real mother and get her consent.

      • and then she can give the baby up for adoption. that would be fair treatment. What we have now is disgusting financially motivated sale and humans theft of human tissue force its all force.

      • First of all; there should be no such thing as mandatory DNA testing. That is way overstepping the bounds of government.
        Second of all as long as selling gametes is legal this woman did nothing wrong so nothing that makes her parental fitness suspect.
        Thirdly I believe pregnancy is an essential aspect of motherhood.
        Last but not least, I don’t believe its beneficial for the government to seek out an anonymous person to pin parenthood on. If we do not know who they are, and nothing about them other than they distinctly did not want to care for this child, we have nothing to indicate that this action would be of benefit to anyone.
        It’s worth noting that when DNA paternity tests are performed its generally because the mother has requested the state’s assistance. If no one requests the states assistance they should butt out.

        • OK you know or should by now, that I hold your opinion in high regard. Let me get specific with you. Do you think minors deserve to be physically and financially supported by their biological mother and father or not? Should all minors enter this world with the legally protected expectation that, at the very least, the individuals who reproduced to create them owe them the duty of providing for them until they turn 18? Yes or no. It does not mean it will happen. But it should mean that when it does not happen that it either happens in a way that is respectful of their offspring’s vulnerability to exploitation – and so with recorded consent and court approval, or it’s a crime of abandonment. When someone commits a crime it does not mean the victim went from having the right not to be victimized to being a person who deserves to be taken advantage of. We have these laws currently that say you have a right to your biological parents support – but if they don’t meet their obligation, you cease to have that right and we simply assign you some other random person to take care of you without maintaining your origingal rights. Its like a parent abandon’s their kid and suddenly they owe their kid nothing and there is no criminal charges. You can pass in and out of obligation at will without any ramifications whatsoever.

          If you say no, minors should not have a protected right to support from their biological parents, then fine. But take that right away from every minor who now depends upon their biologcal parent’s support. Take it away so that no minor has the benefit of that right. No more paternity suits, no more chasing down biological fathers testing men and their relatives until we find the real father. None of that because its not fair that some minors are given that protection while other are not. There is no reason why a minor could not be assigned some other parent like person and receive support from them without ever wiping away the obligation of the original parent. Wether they ever pay or not is not the point, the point is that the duty should never be waived for if they ever surface the their offspring should have every right to inherit, every right to legal recognition as their genetic kin every right to an accurate birth record every right as intact and pure as it was the day of their birth and unfortunate abandonment

          How dare we insult these people by suggesting that just anyone will do anyone willing to pay the bill and do the work. Anyone will not do. Its not them that is responsible for making their life happen. Other’s can orchestrate and influence and push and prod and hope and intend but it was not them who reproduced and frankly making someone else play the roll of parent and make out like them fulfilling the obligations of parenthood is just as good is like sending the instigator for a murder to jail for murder and letting the butcher go free. Its just not satisfying to the victim’s family. They want the guy that did the deed. Well the person who reproduced owes their offspring a duty that can be assumed by others but the debt is not paid not by a long shot.

          So Ki. The woman who gives birth may be the next best choice but why disrespect a person by assigning the title of mother to her just because she gave birth? I accept that mandatory DNA testing is not going to happen, but something along the line of sworn statements of genetic parenthood could happen with the caviat that should it ever be discovered that the person who swore they were a genetic parent was in fact not, that the birth record would be corrected to reflect the truth and custody of the minor would be reassessed based on the facts and the needs of the minor. But the truth and the right to it should just be basic human rights Ki. Its not OK to say that if we don’t know the truth we will simply make them settle for living a lie. Is that fair is that justice is that the way we want to treat people?

          • No, with regard to financial support anyone who steps up to the plate is as good as the next one. A parent is irreplaceable for emotional reasons, not financial ones.

            • we differ in how we view pregnancy, i view it as an essential aspect of motherhood, at the time of the birth. Although I agree that its importance fades with time.

          • I understand I will probably get disagreed with by many here, but the main reason I think child support should generally be required is to ensure there is hopefully enough money that the child is taken care of. Now since it would be pretty hard to pass a law that says the other parent only has to pay support if the main custodial parent isn’t rich, for public policy reasons they all owe child support. If the custodial parent doesn’t request support and doesn’t need government assistance, correct me if I am wrong but I don’t believe the government attempts to hunt down the other parent? However if the parent requests the support or requests government assistance and the second parent wasn’t biologically related to the child but the legal parent I’m pretty sure they’d be looked for and required to pay support just the same as if they were the biological parent. My concern is more that the child isn’t left living in intolerable poverty.

            Hmm, anyone know what happens if a single parent that used an egg and/or sperm donor requests government assistance? I’d hope no one would go into that process expecting they would definitely need it, but sometimes things happen that are financially disastrous and completely unforeseeable in advance (such as an expected medical crisis). Perhaps they just have to show the paperwork? I have no idea, really.

            • that should be unexpected medical crisis, obviously

            • yes i know someone who this happens to, they do receive public assistance

              • I wonder if the government then required some proof there was no legal second parent? or did they attempt to find someone they would never find?

            • But every minor is entitled to both parent’s support. However little that may be and in fact it may be that they pay nothing at all, they are homeless and never pay a dime but then they inherit a bunch of money….does their child deserve their support or do they not deserve it because they went so long without it already that we just forgave the debt? There is no guarantee or right to be wealthybut whatever a parent does have should be availavble in support of his or her offspring.

        • My wife will tell you that not being the carrier for her daughter has made her any less of a mother than she is of her other two children.

          While she loves them all deeply and equally she appreciates our daughter the most because she had to walk through fire to get her.

          • How did she walk through fire? Do you mean by allowing another woman to gestate and deliver her offspring? I suppose that would be disconcerting.

  4. This is how I would apply it to the cases below.
    Mark Murray is a parent by virtue of his genetic status. Cindie Close is a parent by virtue of having given birth to the baby, AND because the genetic mother is absent.
    (I stick with 2 as the number of parents)
    Mark Murray’s partner can not assume parental status as long as Cindie retains it.
    (i also would not make the partner-spouse automatic- there would have to be some formal procedure).

    Regarding the Tag Romeny case.
    Suppose the child was discovered during pregnancy to have a severe disability, the surrogate was requested to abort but refused.
    Upon the birth, the genetic parents since they are both identified and available, remain the legal parents whether they like it or not and the surrogate is off the hook.
    If however, the surrogate was pregnant by donor egg and she refused to abort, she would be the mother. because the genetic parent is unidentified and unavailable.

  5. Countries and Nations have the responsibility to protect their citizens. First they must be able to feed their people. The second is from attacks and war. Somewhere further down the list would be the personal rights of it’s citizens.

    When you look at Countries that are for/against ART, I believe that you will find this trend in general terms and not a Country by Country breakdown.

    The countries that can’t feed or employee all of their people are against ART. Examples include, China, most of Africa, most of the Middle East.

    The Countries that don’t have to defend themselves militarily are against art. Examples include, France, Japan, Italy, and Germany.

    The Countries that go to war, but are not facing invasion allow for some ART. Examples include, Canada, Australia, UK and the USA.

    The Countries that are facing invasion and have hostile neighbors allow for the most ART. Examples include, Israel, Russia, Georgia, Ukraine and India.

    This is a very simple breakdown, but countries that have declining populations AND aggressive neighbors find that they need to defend against think that increasing the population is best for their country and ART is valuable to their citizens.

    • No sht. Thanks for playin again. I thought that I had this irrational fear of some great government bunker somewhere with hundreds of thousands of frozen embryos and eggs and sperm for the start of a new civilization after they blow us all to smitherines and now I know that I’m not all that far off base. I’ll go throw up now. I’ll never sleep again. Sheesh.

  6. Most of this is my opinion.

    Israel, is the one Country that has come out and said that where the population of Jewish is less than five million, having children is truly considered to be a national imperative.

    Nearly every health insurer may offer a woman free In Vitro Fertilization procedure for the first and second children.

    Russian expects to have 40 million LESS citizens in 2050 and basically begs their citizens to have sex because their population is in decline.

    In Russia, they have a State sponsored “family contact day.”

    The governor of Ulyanovsk region in Russia is offering prizes to couples who have babies in exactly nine months – on Russia’s national day on 12 June.

    Sergei Morozov wants couples to take the day off work to have sex. If a baby is born on national day, they will receive cars, TVs or other prizes.

    President Vladimir Putin has introduced a scheme to encourage more children.

    Women who have a second or third child are eligible to receive $9,000, which can be used to pay for education or home purchases.

    Russia fears that China will invade them and steal their oil.

    Georgia and the Ukraine have both been invaded by Russia recently and they have the same declining population problems. If they don’t grow their population Russia will invade them to grow.

    These are the FOUR Countries that support NATIONAL laws for Commercial Surrogacy, Egg Donors, and Sperm donors.

    Do you really wonder why? For each of these countries it’s a matter of survival.

  7. And look at us all tight assed putting a wall up between us and Mexico.

  8. Europe has done a study on their decline populations and how to combat the issue titled: International Union for the Scientific Study of Population.

    Problem:
    Long-term effects of mass migration – ethnic replacement.

    In the end, any level of net immigration into a country with below-replacement fertility will eventually replace the original population with one of immigrant origin. Even with the United States’ high fertility, white non-Hispanics are officially projected to become the minority shortly after 2050. Populations of immigrant origin of about 30% of the national total and
    rising are projected before that date in Denmark and in Germany. How far this ethnic replacement is thought to be a problem must reside with the electorates concerned. But on present trends that is the indicated outcome, and much sooner for some major cities with large immigrant settlement.

    The answer to solve the problem is:

    Changing conditions so that women will feel able to produce the number of children which they consistently say they want (at least two) is first priority on grounds of welfare, gender equity and the long-term future of the population.

    How do you think they will change the conditions?

    • Good maternity leave and cheaper childcare would be a start but I was under the impression those things were already generally better in Europe compared to the US.

      • I have a few ideas:

        How about through State sponsored IVF?

        How about by making PGD legal so that the parents can have healthy babies free of disease?

        How about by encouraging Egg Donations by not taxing the money earned?

        How about by using 3rd party DNA to allow a woman’s eggs that aren’t completely healthy to be combined with a healthy woman’s egg so that she can become a parent?

        How about by placing the Intended Parents names on the Birth certificates so the children born through Egg Donations, Sperm Donations, and Surrogacy are not treated as second class citizens?

        How about by allowing for anonymous and compensated Sperm and Egg donations so that more people will donate into the system which allows and encourages more infertile people the opportunity to become parents?

        • why do you think we are in such a population crisis that the end of increasing the population justifies the means by any which way????

          • I’ve got no problem with any of those things that involve people using their own sperm and eggs, not strangers

            • and I’ve got no problem with mexicans either

              • I do have a problem with women who land in their ninth month of prgnancy just so their kid can be born in the US, show up in hospital for all expenses paid birth and disappear, never contributing a thing to this society

                • If I had to climb over a fence or swim a river to give my child a better chance in life I would do it.

                  • Atta boy. And you would not deny your kid the opportunity to go through life with all the information she needs about who she is and is not related to either. Your playing for the wrong team. Go to team freedom of information’s side.

                • Ki if you were a poor pregnant woman living in Juarez just a few miles from ElPaso and you knew your child could get a decent education here you’d be scaling the wall in the middle of the night too. Luck of the draw being born on one side or the other of that wall. What have you or I ever done that would justify our greater right to the benefits we receive from being American?

                  I have never fought for my country or suffered so that anyone could have clean water and you know I’d be totally all over getting my kid here. I may not be Mexican but I understand women and motherhood.

                  • Interesting, I did work in El Paso in the past with exactly these mothers… but its the New York system that I’m upset about.
                    In El Paso I worked in a private facility and the Mexican women paid for themselves out of pocket (our fee was quite low), and scheduled their appointments responsibly.
                    In New York I worked for a public facility, we were required to accept them no matter what, man did not pay, and because they were so advanced inn pregnancy we were forced to accept them immediately no matter how many other women we had waiting to be seen.
                    I don’t blame them for taking advantage for the system I blame the system, and the health care workers as well as the financially struggling facilities that get crushed.

                  • point taken

          • My point is that we are arguing over checkers why other people are playing chess.

            My numbers below aren’t verified and are just used to keep things simple.

            You are a government official and the US needs 5 million new citizens per year to increase the GDP, support our elderly, and protect our borders. We have a birth rate of 4 million and are 1 million short.

            Do you open the border and let in 1 million Mexicans and grant them citizenship or do you increase the reproductive possibilities of your current citizens?

            One option is politically unpopular and could cost you your elected position. The second option doesn’t have as strong of opposition.

            If you allow Gay people to marry and have children does that help solve the problem? If 5% of the USA is gay that is 15 million people. If each of them got married and had just one child that would be an additional 7.5 million US citizens.

            If most Gay couples each wanted their own genetic child they would be just like your normal two child household and that allows the country to have 15 million new citizens without opening the border and still meet our population growth demands.

            • Getting married has nothing to do with reproducing.

              • I think that being married has changed how gay people are seen by society and was a required step to them being able to have children.

                Twenty-five years ago if a single gay man said he wanted to be a dad and have a child the majority of people would’ve said “no” you are a sexual deviant that will damage the child.

                Fast forward to gays being allowed to marry and having a family is a natural progression that the majority of people will accept.

                Everyone knows the song:
                First comes love,
                then comes marriage,
                then comes baby
                in a baby carriage!

                Now the gays are as boring as every other couple arguing over what color to paint the nursery walls.

                • I’m from a place where half the kids I went to school with had gay parents. I’m lucky that way.

                  • I’m the only girl I know whose father made their wedding dress and tought them how to cook I am probably the only girl I’ll ever meet that saw her father in drag as Mazeppa the stripper in Gypsy. I am about as progressive as a girl can be but I still know two women don’t reproduce together.

        • Egad its like he has the owners manual to my button pushing.

    • We are a country of entirely immigrant origin bro. White people are the immigrants, um we ran the native population and drew the border diverted the Colorado river….I’m just saying the irony here should not be lost on you. Your a smart fellow. If there’s a missile heading for LA were are we gonna go? Margaritaville.

      Problem is that we have created a massive public health crisis by reproducing anonymously and in massive numbers no less. I don’t know if you are aware of the real ASRM limit per sperm donor but its over 200,000 offspring per donor. Sperm banks are currently averaging about 100 offspring per donor in order to break even on their investment which is why men now make a year long commitment to donate in order to get paid. They have massive stock piles of each donors semen enough to keep reproducing him for 20 30 50 years certainly long after he is dead. Between the inbreeding that certainly goes on from donor to recipient (there is no dna testing to ensure that recipients are not reproducing with their own family members) and the inbreeding going on between siblings and more massively first cousins and soon 2nd cousins – we will be come a nation where nobody can tell if they are having sex with an immediate relative. 1 illegitimate child or two in every other family occurs tragically naturally and inadvertent inbreeding can occur and that is terrible but we have absolutely rendered ourselves helpless to prevent ourselves from inbreeding and we will get progressively sicker and dumber until we freaking die out.

      Its cutting off our nose despite our face or whatever the saying is. This approach has no respect for the compromised position we put families in. I find your analysis fascinating and I’ll have to contemplate it more. I’ve felt that it was financially motivated but had not thought about it in terms of global tactical maneuvering. Fascinating stuff.

      • I think that it’s funny that we took over took over California during the Gold Rush without a fight, simply by having more people here than they did and they are slowing taking it back using our own majority rules laws. They are slowly becoming us and will vote in easier immigration laws for their families in the future.

    • America has a problem. Non third world countries have a problem. See women are just as smart as men and over the last hundred years or so the chains came off and they let us go to school and work outside the home and even started giving us equal pay for equal work. We can work in male dominated fields like I do and nobody even flinches. You have daughters and I have a daughter and you know you expect nothing less of her than if she were a male. We want them to get an education, wait to settle down, see the world a little, pick the right guy get married around 30 or so then in their early to mid thirties start a family. Right around the time when its the absolute hardest for a woman to get pregnant right before its totally freaking impossible. If our daughters get pregnant as teenagers we want them to have abortions – no more shot gun weddings. Nope and we don’t want them getting married straight out of high school either. I’m guilty of being a sheep in this regard I wanted to fit the new standard for women and I’d like my daughter to as well. I want her to have my grandchild somewhere around the age of 33. Its almost as impossible a standard as expecting her to look like a stick thin fashion model. She does but will I get lucky in both regards? We put down women who get pregnant young and extol those who wait but the ones waiting are not even giving birth to their own children they are giving birth to the children of the younger women we put down. It is so ironic and tragic that women who were donors are unable to give birth on their own years later and they themselves turn to donors. At some point I bet we will just havest eggs of little girls into some giant social security system where we withdraw some eggs when we are deemed ready to be mothers. Our eggs will have gone to the women ready when we were still children. Its just twisted.

  9. Many Jewish Rabbi’s have already stared encouraging unmarried women starting around age 30 to freeze their eggs and preserve their fertility for a future husband.

    Also, if they use a sperm donor it must be from outside the Jewish religion so the will not be unknowingly inbreeding as a group.

    Personally, I am telling my daughter to get married and have children at 18 so that I can enjoy my Grand children for as long as possible.

    • I’m Jewish ( but not particularly religious) and I saw the same advice about the sperm donor, but that was more along the lines of increasing genetic diversity so there would be less Jewish people carrying genetic diseases like Tay Sachs.

      I’m choosing single motherhood at a relatively “young” age (will have just turned 28 probably at the time of first cycle) precisely because I am concerned about declining fertility. Since I’m pretty sure I want to remain unmarried, I see no point in waiting until I have lower fertility. Especially since my present circumstances would allow me to stay home until the child is no longer a baby, while later on I might not be able to do this.

      • You should consider doing a dna test to make sure that you are not related to the donor. It’s not standard, but you can see why this would be a problem since you won’t know him

        • I guess that isn’t my biggest worry just because the donor profiles are so detailed on background, siblings, ages of relatives at death, number and gender of siblings, number and gender of aunts/uncles, religion, ethnicity, etc that it seems SO unlikely. I do have a fairly small family that didn’t immigrate so many generations ago that maybe that’s why I am not terribly worried? I know the information my child will be given at age 18 (per a contract by the donor that cannot be revoked) is the donor’s full legal name date of birth, and all known contact information. I figure the full name and date of birth would at least be enough info to search should the contact information not be up to date for whatever reason.

          • Yeah but Ms Rebecca could it really hurt to just be sure? Really you don’t know for sure for sure what your relatives have been doing what if one of them was a donor or gave a child up for adoption or was never told they got some girl pregnant. It is the very reason we are all so concerned for the donor offspring running the risk of unintentional incest. Its because parental anonymity blinds and ties the entire family.

            • depending on which bank, donor profiles include age and place of birth, as well as age and country of birth of his parents, so you can probably weed out close relatives that way.

              • of course if the donors parents aren’t his biological parents that would throw a wrench in the whole thing…

                • Exercise your brain even more than that Kisarita, maybe the donor is not adopted but maybe one of his parents was and he does not know it or maybe one of his grandparents has an iligitimate child who is your parent. If it turns out the donor is your 2nd or even 3rd cousin pick another guy for crying out loud there is no emotional investment there to break off. Yes I am talking about the kind of relatedness that a person might not be able to detect even if they could see them in person and know their name. Might as well flush that out at the same time. A whole lot of separating and flushing gets done simply by being able to identify people within your own known family group. Remember also that some of this sperm is 20 or more years frozen. I helped one woman who had the year books and was just totally invested in the idea that the donor profile had been filled out at the time of her conception but I noticed that the letter head did not have the name of the university written the current way. I investigated and found out the university changed its name multiple times but that the name as printed on the letterhead was only the name for less than 1 year in the very early 1970′s over 10 years before she was coneived. Now that was fresh sperm, he actually filled the form out 12 years earlier and donated whenever they wanted him to whenever he wanted to. She was just devastated because it meant she’d been looking in the wrong place. It all has a happy ending but that just goes to show that fresh or frozen the information can be old, a woman might be getting inseminated by her unlcle or her grandfather heck her own father. Just sayin we have these tools our eyes and our ears and our memories. Gotta use em or we are being kind of reckless and careless. If your going to the trouble of screening the guy for disease anyway make sure he’s not a member of your family. Not a real mental leap. But that’s just me old-DNA-scare-monger-marilynn talkin to here herself talk.

              • Oh yeah you can do a lot with that information its my absolute favorite kind of donor – one with a birthday and some obscure facts that he’d put on a searchable resume. But the names are freaking worthless if he does not know that he’s adopted or if he does not know that he was born of an affair. Why would anyone take that risk when they are already running genetic tests on the guy your going to reroduce with just double check And no you never get the names of their close relatives. Point me to that sperm bank OK because I’m liberating all their spawn tomorrow. Just dates of birth and juicy family details is as much as I’ve ever gotten hold of. If you know where there is more at the time of conception. I’m all over it

          • I’d figure out who he was for you before your kid turns 18 just for the kick of it. That does not mean I think this is a good idea its just the sooner the kid could know the better waiting there is no point to waiting.

            • The bank will only release the information to the child, the parent cannot request it.

              • but you do get a profile don’t you and some of the profiles are rather detailed. You can try to find out the man’s identity without actually contacting him; unless the day arrives when you feel the kid needs it. the kid will probably at least want to know his father’s name or other information. Also what if the kid is ever ill and needs some sort of transplant. how about if the man dies before the kid is 18, what a missed opportunity.
                you can also order a second set of sperm and have the sperm itself genetically tested.

                • wow if i had realized all this was possible, i might have conceived by sperm donor myself….

                  • I think these identity release programs at sperm banks are somewhat new, I don’t think it was that common years ago. One of my cousins was born from donor sperm 19 years ago and I don’t think that option was offered.

                  • Rebecca was it you that was saying that you were all confident you knew who everyone in the family was related to – one of your cousins has a father that was a sperm donor? See just sit there long enough pondering the possibilities. What if you wound up giving your cousin a half sibling that was also their 1st cousin once removed? Eh? Not dangerous but a wee beet close for comfort

                  • It’s a 3rd or 4th cousin so we are barely related and the donors I am looking at were children at the time she was born.

                • oh that is brilliant order extra yes. yes extra just in case your kid does not turn out to be related to the guy associated with the donor number you were given you’ll have some proof.

                  Wait, hiccup. Your not allowed to send other people’s dna for testing without their consent. Extra vial and written consent. why not

                • Asked my mother – the cousin is my 3rd cousin so would be my child’s 4th cousin. So according to Professor Google, if my 3rd cousin and my child somehow had the same biological father (which I’m not too worried about due to ages of donors), there would be an additional 0.2% DNA shared compared to half siblings whose non-shared parents were not in any way related. The odds she would ever meet my child are pretty slim – I haven’t seen her mother in 3 years and I haven’t seen her in much longer.

    • They could just require that the recipient be checked against the donor for relatedness then they would not have to pick non-jewish donors. Why don’t they do that?
      Do you think that women that lie about being related to the children carried by surrogates worry that one day their child will Join FTDNA and locate maternal their relative? Cause I’m thinking of starting a charity to pay for that if a kid is suspicious. Its just a pipe dream. Sure would be awesome to help with that though.

      • its a convoluted thing- the rabbis are pickier about legitimate “lineage” with regards to Jews than non Jews, so if you pick a Jewish sperm donor, you might find out one day that your kid’s lineage is blemished…

        • This intrigues me for my current field of study I’m absolutely immersed in Jewish families at the moment. Heck I even found out that I am part Jewish or middle eastern anyway and I’m related to the people I’m helping hows that for a plot twist. I’m the blemish. I don’t even need to ask about that one.

  10. Julie,

    I’m sure you know my stance on the issue: the genetic parents should always be listed as the genetic parents – full stop. It is past time for the birth certificates to be upgraded and having a genetic vs legal parent section is the obvious solution.

    As to who is the legal parent – I do think that there needs to be a separation between sexual conception and ART in defining who the legal parents are at birth. In cases of surrogacy it gets more complicated between own eggs and donor eggs but I think the key is a contract signed and delivered to court (yes court) prior to conception – primarily to stop the bad actors trying to do an end run around a legal adoption AND to protect all parties and detail the agreement.

    I do think that unlike the mess of laws by state for adoption this should become a federal/universal law. Adoption laws by state also included and still include foster care, and in the old days people weren’t as mobile so it seemed okay to do by state. Today – adoption also needs to be federal/universal rules.

    I do believe that all non-genetic births should have court records for the best interests of the child. I don’t think there needs to be any adjudication (right word?) done to legitimatize the birth, but a legal court record should be required. In the best interests of the child – both access to genealogical information and for the long-term health implications of living without access to your genetic family health history, (however limited you may think yours is – just by getting the death certificate of your closest relatives gives you a massive leg up on no information at all). Not to mention that marrying a half-sibling or first cousin by accident will become more and more common and needs to be recognised as a risk factor for the child that could be aleviated by having the genetic parents on the birth certificate.

    Right now the CDC requires detailed pre-natal, birth, delivery, conception details including: fertility drugs used and whether ART is used – both are listed as Risk factors. Link below and info on fertility drugs and ART is on the last page. As non-genetic pregnancies grow that section will be broadened I would imagine.

    http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/dvs/200XNAT_web_with%20clearance%20revisions-acc.pdf

    • TAO you rock there is nothing in what you said that anyone should feel confident in arguing against none if it is opinion every drop a hard core fact.

  11. Every country that doesn’t allow for anonymous Egg and Sperm donations has a shortage of available donors.

    All this law does is require the Intended Parents to Country shop and find one that allows for anonymous donors.

    Now instead of people being able to get a donor nearby, they would be flying to Spain, Cyprus, Ukraine, or the Czech Republic.

    IVF clinics in Cyprus work hand in hand with doctors in the UK to do remote monitoring on the Intended Parents at home so that they can fly into Cyprus for a weekend for their transfer.

    This is required because there are not enough donors in the UK.

    • It’s interesting because I’ve been looking at donor profiles (Haven’t made a final selection yet) but I want to use an ID option donor – at the bank I will probably use that means the donor agreed (and cannot revoke the agreement) that the child will at age 18 be able to learn the donor’s full legal name, date of birth, and all contact information on file. I’ve noticed the ID option donors tend to already have children they are raising while the other donors tend to be younger without kids they are raising. Just an interesting observation I made.

    • Why would we want to allow anonymous donation of genetic material. Responsible reproductive behavior is good. Don’t make babies if you don’t plan to care for them yourself. That is the ideal situation and only when tragedy happens when a mistake results in familial separation do we have children that require being raised outside their own family. That is the best thing. We don’t want people going and manufacturing their young to be raised by strangers do we? That would be commodification that would be a crime against humanity that would be monsterous. It would be abusive it would be careless reckless and self serving no matter how nice the consumer group is that wants to purchase the parental rights.

  12. I think people who donate/sell their gametes are probably more hard-hearted than they realize, participating in human trafficking as they do.

  13. since they aren’t humans at the time of the sale I don’t think you can call it trafficking. and since most of them are never forced to become aware of the existence of their offspring, i don’t think you can draw conclusions about their character.
    Somewhat related, I was reading a blog recently by a woman who donated an egg, non-anonymously, to an infertile woman and the woman’s husband. Well afterwards she got so excited about having reproduced with this man that she actually had sex with him.

    • As a gay man I can assure you that I didn’t have sex with our egg donor. Icky.

      • Icky is in the eyes of the beholder.

        • I actually understand her emotions- it seems when she donated the egg she probably didn’t realize 100% that she was actually reproducing her own genetic child, but she got it as time went on….. nothing icky about having sex with the person you reproduce with, thats how the vast majority of human beings are born actually even in today’s world of ART. It’s 100% natural to associate reproduction with sex. While I still think she should have controlled herself, I get why she felt that way. She had already bonded in a very fundamental biological way with this man.
          Bet if you took a poll you’d find alot of people think masturbation in a doctors office injected into a petrie dish is icky by the way.

          • of course most egg donations are anonymous so most egg donors will not develop that awareness- they don’t see the pregnant woman walking down the street; don’t get news of the birth of a 7 pound baby girl at 6:35 am or whatever.

            • well this what you point out Ki is the key to getting women to agree…it is a promise to not raise a child that does not even exist in reality and won’t exist for some time. By the time their children are born and the become mothers to them in at least the biological sense, they very likely will have spent their reimbursement checks and the physical trauma will hopefully have subsided – it will be off their radar which is exactly what the people raising their children want. They don’t want the child they are raising to be important to their biological family. If they must acknowledge their existence at all they want to be able to prove the point that the child they are raising should not miss what they never had they want to be able to say “see those people don’t love you they don’t care if you exist or not they did not want you we wanted you” They want to keep it to where they are not important to the bio family they don’t want to share. If you have the chance to see the Disney movie Tangled the adoptive mother in the movie embodies all of the characteristics that people take on when they reproduce with donors its almost like they have to put on the hair shirt as part of going through with it

      • See now that cracked me up your funny. ha

    • Ki have you ever bought the extended warranty on a major appliance? Oh or medical insurance is an even better analogy. You pay now for a service you may or may not need in the future if and when you become sick or injured right? Pay now for services you might not ever need them to perform. Same with any kind of insurance. Well the person who donates their gametes agrees to do other stuff in addition to donating gametes; they agree to conceive offspring that they will allow another woman to gestate and deliver and that they will agree not to raise if and when they are born. That part of their agreement that service that clause does not kick in if no offspring are born but does kick in if they are born. So the donor has agreed to be absent from their offspring’s life and not seek any contact for a minimum of 18 years. Now I don’t know if you could get a judge to enforce the terms of a contract where someone promised not to talk to someone for 18 years or promised to keep something secrete. Maybe secrete cause of trade secrets? But I think it qualifies as human trafficking because these written agreements actually state that they agree not to raise their own offspring once they are born they agree not to challenge false claims of maternity or paternity to allow the incorrect statement to stand. So is it trafficking I think so they have just promised to abandon their responsibilities to their offspring in exchange for being reimbursed for the time it took them to donate an egg.

      See in contract law you need three things to have a contract object time and consideration. Well the if the object is the egg then the reimbursement is the consideration and the time is outlined as the time it takes to harvest the eggs. But these agreements change the object from the egg to the embryo and then from the embryo to the born child and then from the born child to parental title. Time is pretty specifically addressed but consideration is not included in exchange for those other objects not the embryo, not the child and not the title of parent so either you have to take it to mean that the only consideration for all the things covered in the agreement is that money paid as a reimbursement for the giving up the egg or the rest of the things promised in the agreement are not part of the enforceable terms of the contract because there was nothing in it for the person who was giving up the child and the parental title and all that. I think it’s possible to be guilty of trafficking without receiving money your just moving goods helping things change hands off the public record. Like trafficking drugs you can just be a mule you don’t necessarily have to profit from the transfer in order to be guilty of the act. They do know full well that they are transferring title to their offspring when they are born because that is the bulk of what is addressed in these contracts parental rights. Julie knows it. She’s not inclined to get in there and talk about it. I don’t think she’s formulated a good response to the fact that her legal colleagues have built an entire industry out of convincing people that they need iron clad contracts to secure parental rights over a donor’s offspring. And you would not need to do that if the donor was not in reality someone who was not responsible for the child in question. You can’t make out like they have no parental responsibilities like you’d have this big fat agreement with everyone walking down the street no you have this agreement with the child’s mother where she promises to let you get to be the mother and she won’t bother you. I think their hearts are a bit hard but everything is set up to isolate them from recognizing that they are giving up their offspring. Its built to harden them and $500 is enough money sometimes to put a person over the edge. The act of abandonment is too far off in the future and the child is still just an abstract concept. It’s the old sell your soul to the devil deal.

  14. @ Kisarita. You wrote “she got so excited about having reproduced with this man that she actually had sex with him” – reproduced what? a human being! human trafficking it is

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