This essay is from today’s Motherlode blog. It’s by David Dodge, a gay man who lives in NYC. He’s provided sperm so that a lesbian couple he knows can have a child. He did this as an act of friendship and so, I think, is rightly described as a sperm donor.
The essay recounts all the things he thought about as he considered his friends’ request for his sperm. I think it gives a great sense of the issues that anyone contemplating providing gametes for third-party reproduction ought to think about. Indeed, I think it’s a list of considerations that women considering being surrogates ought to read and think about, too.
For those who are worried about the identity issues that might arise with a sperm donor, I’ll note at the beginning that it is clearly the plan that he will be known to and, to an as yet undefined degree, involved with the child. At the very least this ought to allay concerns about family medical history questions. Should a question come up the people to ask will be available. Continue reading
I’ve been meaning to get back to this thread I started so confidently with “part I.” Without a “part II” it seems sort of silly. This post will make more sense if you go back and read that other one first.
Just the same I’m doing a brief recap. Maybe it’s like a running start. Maybe I’ll say something slightly different. I’ll try to summarize some principles and then go forward.
I generally support the legal recognition of functional/de facto parents. What I mean is that I think the law should recognize the people who actually function as the social/psychological parents of a child as the child’s legal parents. My primary reason for endorsing this approach is that it is, in a general way, good for children. I believe that children need stability in those primary relationships. (I think I could back this up with a lot of studies, by the way. ) So the law should protect them.
Now there is another thing about the functional/de facto approach. Continue reading
There’s a case out of Kansas I have been following for some time. William Marotta served as a sperm donor for two women in 2008 or 2009. The women found him via Craig’s list. The three people entered into a contract saying that Mayotte would only be a donor and would have no rights or obligations as a parent. The parties to the contract have, apparently, abided by its terms even as the two women split up.
The problem is that after the women split up the legal mother (I think in Kansas only one of the women could be a legal parent) obtained public assistance to support herself and her child. The state then sought reimbursement from Mayotte, asserting that contract or not, he was the legal father and obliged to pay child support.
Now a court has ruled that the state’s position is correct. Continue reading
I know there’s a lot of discussion in the comments to the last post, and of course I’m quite happy about that. Discussion is good, right? But there’s a point where the comments become cluttered and it’s hard (for me, coming late anyway) to follow it all. So I wanted to try a new post, restating some but then moving along.
At the outset, I want to highlight what I think is the critical question here: “Is being raised by people who are not your genetic parents necessarily bad?” To me the inclusion of the word “necessarily” is critical.
If you leave out “necessarily” and just ask “Is being raised by people who are not your genetic parents bad?” then I think the answer has to be sometimes yes and sometimes no. Continue reading
There’s a story that’s been making the rounds that began (at least from my point of view) in an improbable forum: A law prof blog called “The Faculty Lounge.” Here’s the original story that I saw. The Faculty Lounge did not originate the story–you can see that it’s linked to a blog called “Your Genetic Genealogist.” Since I saw it the story has also cropped up places like the Huffington Post and various more traditional news sources.
Now there are probably some differences in the ways these various outlets are playing things. While that would (in my view) be interesting to look at, I don’t have the time to take the required care. Instead I want to go over the basic facts and offer some comments.
IN 1991 a straight couple sought ART services from a fertility clinic associated with the University of Utah. In time, the woman gave birth to a child that the couple believed was conceived with the husband’s sperm via assisted insemination. But this was actually not the case. In fact, the child was conceived using the sperm of a receptionist at the clinic whose name was Thomas Lippert. Continue reading
There’s a recent story from an Australian newspaper that raises (for me anyway) some interesting questions. There’s a slightly expanded version of the story here, too. But still, I feel like the facts are pretty threadbare. Some of these are simply questions about Australian law–which maybe someone from Australia could answer. But there are also larger issues here.
A lesbian couple wanted to have a child. An identified man provided sperm so that they could do that. I cannot quite tell whether he was someone they knew in passing or someone they knew well or someone they didn’t know at all. Continue reading
[My thanks to Karen Clark who provided a link to the actual study. (But alas, a 2011 version of the study. Still interesting, though.) Of course, it is an academic paper and as such is difficult for me to work through, so for the moment, all I have to add here is this link. The remainder of the post is as before.]
There are many things we disagree about here but I think there is one thing about which there may actually be consensus: We all agree that the well-being of children is of central importance in our discussions. (Of course, as soon as we turn to discuss what exactly “the well-being of children means” our consensus probably shatters.)
Anyway, with that broad consensus in mind, a recent paper written by Susan Golombok and others should be of interest to all of us. The paper was published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. I have not linked to the actual paper, but instead to press coverage of it because I haven’t found a way to read the actual paper yet from my current location and so this is the best I have.
Anyway, Golombok and her team did a comparative study of children conceived via third-party gametes, children born to a surrogate and children who were the product of natural conception. Continue reading
I wanted to add a very brief coda to the last post on what it might mean to be a Jewish Mother. (The discussion in the comments is quite extensive and I confess that, in this week in which my kids graduated from middle school and high school, I have lost track of them.)
Anyway, there was a letter in yesterday’s Science section of the NYT commenting on the article. (There were two letters, actually. The second is the one I’m referring to.) Perry Dane made a great point that I’d like to echo here.
“Jewishness,” as a matter of Jewish law, is a technical legal construct much like citizenship, not a biological or psychological category.
I’ve been following a case brought by Christa Dias for a long time now. Dias was a computer science teacher in a Catholic school in Cleveland. She was single and used assisted insemination to become pregnant. She was fired and sued.
The archdiocese–defendant in the case–asserted that she was fired because violated Catholic teachings and she had agreed to abide by those teachings when she was hired. (It’s agreed that using AI violates those teachings.) But Dias made two claims–first, that the firing amounted to pregnancy discrimination and second, that the diocese didn’t fire men who used AI, but only women who did so. Continue reading
This essay will, I think, be in print in tomorrow’s NYT but it’s been on the web for a bit. It’s from Modern Love–a Sunday column that often deals with complexities of modern family life. In the essay Lisa Schlesinger writes about her experience as the wife of a man who provided sperm to a lesbian couple who were friends of theirs. The husband, Ben, was to be a known sperm donor, of course. The essay shows us some of the complexity of that role and the web of relationships that are affected.
There are three different aspects of the story that I find striking. First is the chain of consultation. When Maggie (one of the lesbians) asked Ben (the husband) his response was to ask Lisa, his wife. Lisa and Ben have three children–a daughter genetically related to both of them and two sons who are from a relationship Lisa had before Ben and thus are genetically unrelated to them. The sons are in the 20s, the daughter 14. Continue reading