A Thoughtful Sperm Donor

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.   

Does it also allay broader concerns about identity and using third-party sperm?   Since these aren’t concerns I share, particularly, it’s really not my place to say where it does or does not allay them.   It seems to me that it must do so at least partially–there will be no need for this child to search for her/his sperm provider.   She/he will know from the outset that such a person exists and they’ll know who he is.   And if he is known to the child, then it seems to me many of the questions I’ve seen raised can be asked and discussed.  I’m sure there’s more to say here, but I’ll let others who have the concern take the lead.

Two things are really striking to me here.  One is the range of issues Dodge raises.    Everything from the responses of his extended family to speculations about what might happen in the future given different eventualities.    I think he’s quite right to think about all these questions.    Far better to do so in advance, even if some of them (some of the “what happens if” questions) don’t ever become relevant.

The second thing is that to a large degree he cannot have answers–and he seems to see that.   Now I don’t mean to say that all things are unknowable.  You can, for example, know the law.  And you can plan for the law.   What happened in Kansas with the sperm donor (discussed a bit here), should not happen.   If you consult a lawyer a good lawyer you can control some of the issues he raises.  (If the KS sperm donor and the lesbian parents had entered into a written agreement, for example, the outcome in that case would be quite different.)

But where a sperm provider will be involved with the child and her/his family there are many things you cannot know–what will the child call him, for instance?  There aren’t guarantees about that.   And so you can think about them, you can talk about them, but in the end you have to live with the uncertainty.   And before you provide the sperm you’d better decide you are okay living with the uncertainty.

This essay struck me at a good time.  As I said in the last post, I’ve been thinking about surrogacy.   Here, too, it seems to me that it is critical that people really think things through.  Not everyone can be a surrogate (either gestational or traditional).  It’s the same thing here:  Not everyone can provide sperm for friends (or eggs).   (By the way, I think this works both ways:  Not everyone can happily use third-party gametes and not everyone can feel okay about using a surrogate.)

One real danger with all the new technologies that ART brings us, it seems to me, is that you don’t take enough time to really know yourself, your own desires and your own capacities.    You use technology because you can–it’s very tempting.   It’s good to see an essay demonstrating a more studied approach, for I really tink this is the way we have to go.


126 responses to “A Thoughtful Sperm Donor

  1. Why do you phrase things that are not hetero or bio using bio and hetero terms? If you reject those things as essential to family formation and parenthood in general why not use terminology that clearly describes the situation as not bio and be proud of it.

    For instance you say “He’s provided sperm so that a lesbian couple he knows can have a child.”

    It is not possible for a “lesbian couple” to “have a child”. It’s possible for them to raise a child together and even both be legally granted parental authority but it is not possible for them to have a child together as a couple. They can adopt a child together but not have one together. Having children is like having offspring and the two people with the offspring in that situation are the ones that have the child together. He had to reproduce and she had to reproduce, they reproduced together. Not only that but it was thoughtful and deliberate and consensual – a person simply does not become a sperm donor if they don’t want to have children/offspring. What they don’t want to do typically is raise their offspring, but they have to want to have them or nobody would want their sperm or eggs or embryos. So there is the scientific fact of the matter that he and one of the women actually have a child together, point blank they have offspring together. Then there is the psychological aspect of them both planning and desiring to have offspring as individuals and even the most anonymous of sperm donors does make that decision for himself. Whoever they reproduce with also makes that decision for themselves, their partner never has any control or authority over whether or not they reproduce; they are at best a supportive influencing factor. Their partner won’t have a child with them, they’ll raise one with them. Why not just say that? Why try to usurp language that describes something that you reject as being a basis for parental authority anyway? Sounds like talk out both sides of the mouth.

    Also honestly he did not provide sperm so they could have a child. He provided a child so they could raise a child. That is what he did. Tell me now if all he was willing to provide was sperm and no child would they have bothered with his sperm? Its such double talk. He provided sperm so they could have a child as if. He agreed to not raise his child. He agreed to allow the mother of his child raise their child with her partner. And frankly that would be fine and dandy so long as he was named father, paid support shared in the caregiving and the mother’s partner were the child’s legal step mother. That is good reason to allow same sex marriage because of the considerable advantage the child would gain with a legal step parent.

    Instead these arrangements short change their kids from having the support of both parents and the added benefit of the step parent’s involvement. The kid looses still even if they have access to their father and they know him as a cool uncle. He ditched out on his parental responsibilities and its negligent and shameful to try and play that off as a gift of friendship. His wants needs and desires take a back seat to his off springs needs. The crap about them not intending to be parents is so frustrating, Offspring are not theirs to market and distribute they are theirs to raise and care for.

    • Not to be pedantic, but if we are going to make a big deal about word choice: it seems unambiguously wrong to say that the sperm donor here “provided a child.” He did not; he provided sperm. Sperm is not a child. To get a child from sperm, you need (at least) an egg and a gestational mother, and he did not provide either of those. To be sure, the significance of his sperm was its role in creating a child, but that’s what Julie said: “He’s provided sperm SO THAT a lesbian couple he knows can have a child” (my emphasis).

      Obscuring this distinction matters. You appear to want to suggest that the sperm donor here is engaging in a kind of abandonment of his child. But of course the child at no point is “his” child in a prima facie sense; he does not give an already-existing child to the couple, his act of donation occurs before the child is even conceived, let alone born.

      • JHW I think its just great that you make the argument that donors are not abandoning an already existing child. In black market adoptions that do not involve kidnapping, there is collusion between the would be adopter and bio parent prior to the existence of an actual child so that when the child does exist the identity of the bio parent will be concealed, which allows the adopters to be named as parents on the child’s birth record thereby circumventing the court process intended to protect the child as well as time and expense associated with legal adoption. This pre-child collusion has the added benefit of concealing the adoption from everyone even the department of health, no original records to be unsealed and also allows money (if it is a commercial exchange) to reach, not just the middle man but also the bio parent who agrees to abandon their parental responsibilities.

        All you have to do is read any cryo bank donor consent forms or other donor agreements and you will see that the biggest part of what they agree to is not giving up their gametes – they have to agree to give up their children when and if any are born; they agree to abandon any and all claims to their children and abandon their parental responsibilities to them or they won’t even get to be sperm or egg donors. There are situations where people do donate their eggs and sperm for research only with the express provision that the research will not result in the donor having any offspring for them or anyone to raise. There are also situations where they consent to the harvesting of their eggs and sperm and also consent to fertility treatment intended to result in that person having offspring but not giving any sort of consent to abandon their children at birth. What these particular type of gamete donors agree to is the donation of their gametes AND they also agree to abandon their parental responsibilities to their offspring when and if any are born. So the whole agreement in these cases hinges on their willingness to have offspring that they won’t raise. It’s entirely up to them what happens to their own offspring. They don’t have to have offspring at all if they don’t want. A person who does not want offspring won’t donate their sperm or their eggs AND agree to fertility treatments that might result in them having offspring. A person that wants to raise all the offspring they ever have certainly won’t agree to abandon parental responsibilities for some of them in these types of agreements.

        These are service contracts where they are promising to do something after their children are born, not raise them and not advance their parental claim to them. If, and only if, they agree to those terms, then it becomes necessary to harvest their sperm to produce the child that they agreed in advance to abandon. The actual abandonment does not happen until the kid is born and they follow through with their agreed upon promise not to take care of their kid. It’s easy to follow through on that promise, clinics make sure of it – not so easy in private agreements which is why they get lawyers involved and lots of real specific clauses about them not assuming parental responsibility. Like buying an extended warranty on a washer, you pay now and the washer company agrees to provide a service if and when their washer breaks. Well the donor is the washer company paid now, promising to be absent from his children’s lives if and when they are born.

        It’s crystal clear. A sperm donor becomes a bio parent the same time any other man does – after his kid is born. So agreeing not to be there in advance is super tacky, taking money is even tackier but they could conceivably pull the plug on the whole deal or try to anyway once their kid is actually born. Courts don’t enforce written promises to give kids up for adoption signed prior to birth, cause there was no kid yet.

        • But ceding parental rights also isn’t the same as abandoning a child.

          One case: you have a child (rightly in your custody), and you give that child to a couple, bypassing the adoption process.

          Another case: you provide sperm to contribute to a child’s creation by a couple, and you waive any legal rights that would otherwise result from you being a genetic parent.

          Logically and semantically, these are different cases. You don’t see a moral difference, which is fair enough, but I think it obscures part of the issue here to simply collapse the distinction. There are plenty of reasons people might see an important moral difference between these cases (though, again, I understand that you don’t): for example, the person at the first case is probably a social and legal parent initially and has a real relationship with the child that goes beyond a genetic connection, and the couple in the second case has a real involvement in the child’s coming to be that is not present in the first case.

          • JHW
            “One case: you have a child (rightly in your custody), and you give that child to a couple, bypassing the adoption process.”

            Well maybe yes maybe no. For example the vast majority of black market adoptions where the child is not kidnapped require pre-birth consent of the bio parents and the hopeful adoptive parents and often some kind of third party arranger. They collude to conceal the the identity of the parents who agree not to assume custody of their offspring once born and that provides the hopeful adoptive party an opportunity to simply name themselves as parent skipping the adoption process. With the fathers of children in those cases its relatively straight forward all they have to do is not show up and identify themselves when their child is born. With mothers it’s a little more on the fence as to whether she has custody but if she gives birth and the cord is cut and she allows the doctor to hand the kid off to someone else and leave her name off the record then it’s no different than the father who allowed someone else to be named as father. The point is that people who have offspring are obviously the first people to be in a position of having decision making power over what happens to a minor. They don’t ever have to hold their child to be in that position.

            JHW I really am not approaching this from a moral standpoint, not at all actually. I’m being very black and white about it and practical. Everyone has two bio parents and they are either raised by them or not. People who go through the process of being identified as parents and then relinquish their authority through the courts are not leaving the care of their children totally to chance. What happens in most sperm and egg donor arrangements where they are not hand selecting the people who are going to raise their kids and they are leaving that all to chance outside the normal court approvals process really are abandoning their children at birth they don’t have any provisions in place to help protect their children’s welfare in their absence the way that people who relinquish through the courts do. I don’t think that system is perfect either but if your not going to raise all your offspring there is a typical way of going about handing over the reigns that is slightly better than simply dropping them and walking away.

          • “Another case: you provide sperm to contribute to a child’s creation by a couple”
            Yes but this is where the fantasy starts and it’s a problem to put it forth this way. A couple with one infertile or same sex partner cannot create children together. People mean this figuratively – it feels like they are creating children together because they wish for that to be true but in fact it’s not true. It does take a couple of people to create a child and when donor conception is involved the donor is quite obviously one of the people in that couple creating the child. Quite deliberately creating a child in fact. Not that it really matters whether someone means to create children or not; once they have offspring their offspring’s needs come first whether it was an accident or on purpose. Nevertheless donors want to have offspring they just don’t want to raise all of them themselves. So people create their children with donors and they raise those children with their partners.

            It is a real important distinction to make because otherwise it sounds like we are saying infertile people can conceive with donor sperm and that just is not true. The term donor conceived means that the donor, not the infertile or same sex partner, conceived or created a child. It also means that the donor signed consent forms agreeing not to assume responsibility for his or her offspring when and if any are born. So if any are born and they keep their promise not to assume responsibility the will have tragically abandoned their responsibilities in accordance with the terms of their contracts and will have given up their child for others to raise. Olivia Montsuci at Donor Conception Network actually admitted in writing the other day that donors reproduce for the purpose of providing others with children to raise. That was monumental to me that she typed that out because she like you has always maintained they give their sperm to others so others can have a family. Just having her state it clear like that – that they are providing children to couples who want to raise them was like a breath of fresh air.

    • I appreciate your point and I have often given this some thought. I think the phrase “I have a child” or “that’s my child” isn’t a bio statement a lot of the time. This is one of those places where language has different meanings in different contexts and what people say is perhaps imprecise.

      It’s not that I don’t see your point. Should I have said “so they can raise a child?” Or should I have said “so that they could raise a child as the child’s parents?” Those are also both accurate but perhaps raise similar issues.

      In general I think the idea of “having a child” is odd of you think about it to long. I’m not sure any man ever “has a child.” It may be that only a woman who gives birth can be said to “have a child.” But then, what does the word “have” mean. (I worry I am now beginning to sound like Bill Clinton.)

      So I see your point and I “have” my reasons?

      • Fair enough. Just be careful your choice of words does not undermine your own philosophy. I have challenged Olivia on the same thing when she says thing like donor sperm was the only way that a woman and her husband could conceive children together or when Dr Sweet says that donor eggs allow women to conceive their own biological children.

        (when I use “you” in the paragraph below its not you Julie Shapiro its that I’m not skilled at writing in a way to mean “average guy on the street”)
        It is really interesting to watch people take these words and phrases which often have very specific definitions grounded in science and medicine, and use them and say the definition of the word is open to opinion. Well there are plenty of words and phrases that would bluntly and specifically define the nature of the relationship and to choose the vague way the ambiguous way and then say “well it’s nobody’s business” is big badge of shame. Like not dating a same sex partner in public or not dating someone of another race in public or having a clandestine affair or something that it’s better not to advertise. If it does not matter in making a family then why be vague and blame that vagueness as necessitated by the way the outside world thinks. If the goal is to get the outside world to think differently then conditioning the world to the truth has way more integrity than trying to clime on the bio train. Reality is that a woman got pregnant by a man and she is doing her part of the child rearing with her partner or spouse and he may or may not be doing his part of the child rearing. So maybe they signed a contract in agreement for him to be gone (sperm bank) or maybe he’s a lousy deadbeat ex boyfriend they are the two people who conceived, in most cases the conception was with mutual consent. Reality is that her partner or spouse did not agree to conceive a child with her she agreed to raise one with her. Her partner has her own body to be in charge of. Straight or gay or lesbian your body conceives or it does not. One partner agrees to raise a child that the other will conceive with another person. Trying to make it seem like two women conceive a child together really embraces the biological model. Biological families are not allowed the luxury of concealing their biological relatedness. Like I really hope they think I’m the adopted mother I don’t want them to know I’m the biological mother, it’s none of their business so I’ll go around celebrating “gotcha day” and calling myself her social parent because it’s nobody’s business I had sex to become a mother. If people assume biological relatedness and it’s true, then it’s true. If they assume it and it’s not true and your trying to hide it or be vague about it or not advertise it or even subtly lead people with commonly used biological terms it’s like you value and embrace and wish to emulate the bio-hetero-normative model of parenthood you loudly damn out the other side of your mouth. I’ve been in situations where I did not want people to know I had a straight side and been just as vague and ambiguous with my conversation with people who “did not need to know”. Not foreign to me. Hypocrite yes sometimes. Just noting a very prevalent theme in this industry of advocating against the bio family model and then using bio terms to describe members of non bio families.

        • “Just noting a very prevalent theme in this industry of advocating against the bio family model and then using bio terms to describe members of non bio families.”

          It’s funny that you say this when it is you that has strong bio family elitism beliefs. Who cares what the outside world assumes. As long as there are no assumptions within families and this little girl knows that her two moms are her parents and the man who provided the sperm that makes up half her DNA it’s irrelevant what you, I and others assume about their family. We all have our own problems to worry about.

    • “If you reject those things as essential to family formation and parenthood in general why not use terminology that clearly describes the situation as not bio and be proud of it.”

      Why does a certain terminology need to be used? Why can’t we just say their are parents and children and not apply meaningless prefixes? It seems to me the prefix push is coming from those that feel certain types of families are superior to others.

  2. My parent's donor is my father

    I think he/his parents etc. will probably feel differently when his child is born and is known to them. I wish them all the best. And I hope they can all work together through out their lives for the best interests of this child – love love love!

    • agreed. for men, who don’t get pregnant, the reality of fatherhood often doesn’t kick in until he becomes aware of the actual kid. Especially if they aren’t in a relationship with the kid’s mom and don’t see her growing belly every day and such, it can feel very theoretical.

      Julie, the uncertainty you speak about can be devastating to the lives of everyone involved, especially the kid. Who’s this guy? he’s my father but he isn’t. that’s why the law should make it absolutely clear that such arrangement have no legal validity. Such an agreement colludes with the mother if they should decide one day to push the father out of his kid’s life. The man is known and identified, and therefore he is a father, no ifs and or buts.

      Should he wish the co-mother to adopt his child, he must follow the same exact procedures as any adoption case.

      • co-mother?

      • I think you’re right–one needs legal clarity in these arrangements. The lack of clarity can be disastrous. But I don’t think we agree on the type of clarity.

        My guess (and I stress the word “guess”) is that legally he will not be a parent. That makes things pretty clear. If he is not a legal parent then it is also true that he is at the mercy of the legal parent(s)—-if they want to push him out, they can. That’s a risk he has to be willing to take. But of course, it is moderated by the degree to which he knows and trusts the women involved.

        It’s also probably true that for lots of men (and I’d even say “lots of people”) they don’t know how they’ll feel in advance. That’s one of the challenges here. It’s true for anyone contemplating parenthood–no matter how they are planning to get there.

        • glad we agree that one needs legal clarity.
          but legal clarity that flies in the face of the rest of society isn’t clarity at all. If the law should accept that daddy means uncle and uncle means daddy, thats a confused law.
          trust means nothing when it comes to child custody. just look at the millions of custody battles taking place between people who promised to love each other forever. the general rule is that the person who trusts most is the most likely to get screwed.
          I have advised him in the motherlode comments section to obtain legal advice as soon as possible.

          • I think your first point is that law, at least to some degree, needs to be in tune with social reality? I think this is true, but at the same time this is complicated. Law also helps to construct social reality. Still–I take your point. Law shouldn’t be totally at odds with social practices. But I don’t think we agree on what the social practices here are. I think the idea that a male friend who is a sperm donor might not be a father isn’t so far fetched for a lot of people. In the same way, I think lots of people do accept that a child might have two mothers or two fathers. So I think the law can, in a case like this, recognize the two women as legal parents and not recognize him as a legal parent and that will be socially acceptable. But of course, that’s just what I think and you may think otherwise.

            I’m more optimistic than you about the possibility of trust–indeed, the necessity of trust. For a while I was a single parent. Then I allowed someone to adopt my kids as a second parent. That is a huge act of trust–I gave away my insurmountable legal advantage when I did that. But I think it was also the right thing to do for a whole bunch of different reasons. I’m not saying one should be foolishly trusting. But at some point our human relationships have to be built on trust.

            All that said, he should surely get legal advice if he hasn’t. No argument there.

            • Julie you said
              “Law shouldn’t be totally at odds with social practices. But I don’t think we agree on what the social practices here are. I think the idea that a male friend who is a sperm donor might not be a father isn’t so far fetched for a lot of people. In the same way, I think lots of people do accept that a child might have two mothers or two fathers.”

              What about for health record purposes Julie? I know you loath to get into this aspect of the argument for naming the bio parents on birth records but it’s an important argument against the naming of two mothers on an original record at birth vs naming two mothers on an adoption decree following standard court approvals process to gain parental authority. When people say a child does not have a father they do have one in the medical and scientific sense. What to do about that? You did say socially you think its normal for some people to say a child does not have a father but do you think that is acceptable from a public or private health standpoint? Are the offspring of sperm donors somehow less human than the rest of the population and their health records and recorded information about their paternal relationships unimportant? Anonymous donation attempts to recreate a tragic situation where the father is not identified because there is genuinely no way to uncover the truth. But the identity of the fathers of donor offspring is known by at least one party and could be disclosed and recorded if it were not being concealed and kept off the record. And I did give you at least 10 different sources that prove the original record is a health record for health purposes even covered by hippa so isn’t the right way to handle it every time going to have to be adoption and adoption decrees? Isn’t that proving out to be the best way to secure parental rights for non bio parents anyway?

    • Collaboration is lovely. Yes they all should work together, but he should be one of the two parents named on that birth record and should remain responsible as one of two parents whether he is in a romantic relationship with the mother or not.

      This idea that a minor only deserves the care of their parents when their parents are either married or in love just ticks me off to no end. They’ve done it in adoption for years with teen age parents who are not married. “Don’t keep this one, you are not married to the father. Later when you’re married you’ll have children of your own.” So they don’t get kept because their father was the wrong guy or their mother was the wrong girl. Then they get given to a married couple who will raise them ‘as if’ their own child. They are not the child that those people wanted, they would have preferred if the child came from them rather than other people. And with black market adoption they go further and doctor the original records to make it look like the kid really does have other parents because nobody would want them as who they really are.

      I’m sorry but I have a real problem with the way this is all spun. It is insane for a father to abandon his child and refer to that as some kind of act of friendship. An act of friendship would be two long time friends who decided to have a child together despite not being a romantic couple but that thought enough of their friend to cooperatively raise a child together even if they were in separate homes. And they’d move close to one another and try as much as possible to share resources so their child could have more of everything he or she deserves. If they had romantic partners they would be involved in helping raise their child but would never waver on who is in charge and who is the parent so that their kid would feel confident that the parents who made them took their job of raising them seriously no matter if they are married to one another or not. The kid should really never feel that either parent cares less about them because they are not in love with their other parent.

      • The underlying point here, I think, is that you think he is has to be the social and/or the legal father because he is the genetic father? I don’t. He doesn’t want to be either the legal or the social father.

        I also object to your statement that he is abandoning his child. First, there’s the “his” problem. What makes it “his” is that it will be created with his sperm, right? We’ve gone round and round that a lot so I’ll say no more.

        Apart from the “his” problem, he’s not abandoning the child. He plans to be around. And he knows that the child will be well-loved and well-cared for. It isn’t what I’d call abandonment.

        • we argued this a million times. he’s a father because that is the primary ways kinship is constructed in ours and most other societies, thats why.

          • He’s a biological father. The way most society recognize whether or not he’s a parent is if he’s actually doing the parenting. Conceiving a child does not mean someone is a parent in the true sense. Having sex or donating sperm is easy for most people.

            • a parent who does not care for their child remains a parent; albeit very poor parent.

              • Disagree, unless you are of the belief that biology is the only thing that determines whether or not someone is a parent. If that’s the case we agree to disagree considering your perspective is much different than mine.

                • i think most people that I know experience it the way I describe- they are not emotionally neutral regarding the absent parent as they would be to an unrelated stranger. They may have strong negative feelings, evidence of a relationship. A bad relationship but a relationship nonetheless.
                  The amount of time you spend with someone and actual communication, is not an indicator of the intensity of the relationship. in fact Some of the most intense relationships are relationships that have been cut off.

                  • We agree to disagree. You feel that biological relationships are stronger. I don’t agree. As I said our perspectives are very different.

    • He and/or they may feel differently. It is hard to know. Some do and dome do not.

      Though think it is essential to think about this in advance, I don’t think you can know for sure no matter how long you think. It’s why I think the parties involved have to have a positive relationship–so you can work together to sort our things that come up.

  3. My parent's donor is my father

    I also agree with Marilynn ….it won’t be easy but it is what it is…it will take integrity and character to make this work. I truly wish them the best.

    • Oh I think it can work absolutely if the parents do what they are supposed to do. The whole idea of step parenthood is that the parents stay the same even if the spouses don’t.

    • Yes–integrity and character. In truth I think these traits are essential in raising children generally. That is what it takes.

    • .”it won’t be easy but it is what it is…it will take integrity and character to make this work. ”

      These same principles apply any successful relationship and raising children.

  4. This arrangement wouldn’t work for me but that’s irrelevant because family creation should be left to the people involved not the unscientific opinions or anecdotal experiences of strangers. I wish them all the best.

    It’s a pity more heterosexuals don’t put this much thought into parenthood. We’d have far fewer abused, abandoned, and neglected children if they did. It’s no surprise, really, that gay and lesbian folks make such good parents.

    • My parent's donor is my father

      Tyson, you can’t make that generalization about homosexuals or heterosexuals. I could link to many nasty ugly situations on both sides.

      • I agree that it is best to steer clear of category based generalizations. I’m afraid lots of people in all categories can behave badly, just as many people in all categories can behave well.

        I do think there is something to be said for being thoughtful about becoming parents and those who cannot readily conceive without assistance has to do that. It is not that lesbians or gay men or single people are particularly thoughtful or reflective. It’s that they don’t get pregnant cavalierly.

      • The problem is homophobic people on your side like Alana Newman and Jennifer a Lahl have unfortunately turned the discussion of family building into and anti same sex couple argument. It reality is unfortunate.

    • Well being gay or lesbian or straight really does not determine how well a person can raise a kid. You said family creation should be left to the people involved. There is no ‘should’ about it, nobody has any authority over other people’s bodies; they reproduce and have families if they want to or if it just happens to them. I’m not talking about creating children Tyson, I’m talking about abandoning them. Two people have a kid together – that is as scientific as it gets, they reproduce the child is their offspring. Scientific. What is unscientific is describing abandonment as an act of friendship.

      If the guy is not raising his kid because he wanted some other couple, gay or straight, to have a child to raise then what he gave them was not sperm. It’s not like giving someone a cup of sugar so they can bake a cake. He still one of the two people who has offspring in the end. Nobody used his sperm to make themselves offspring. He had to decide to have a kid and then fail to take responsibility for that kid in order for anyone else to have a shot at raising that kid with parental authority.

      Society should have no say in how people gay straight or lesbians create their families but society does get involved with protecting kids from being abandoned and yet somehow we over look that involvement for certain people’s kids. Their kids don’t have the same rights as other people’s kids its wrong. Its how they are treated that’s wrong not how they are created. Everyone is created equal. We should start treating people equal too.

      • “There is no ‘should’ about it, nobody has any authority over other people’s bodies; they reproduce and have families if they want to or if it just happens to them.”

        Factually incorrect: society can put people in jail for incestuous sex. So you are wrong that no one has any authority. There are other people involved when people create human beings, including obviously the person being created, and society has authority and responsibility to protect their interests as well as human dignity about the circumstances by which people are created. We can outlaw implanting clones and human-animal hybrids and genetically modified designer babies buying and selling sperm and eggs and surrogacy also. Individuals do have a right to be healthy and allowed to be fertile and marry someone of their choice (except where there is supportable basis to prohibit certain types of relationships), and marriages have a right to have sex and beget offspring of the marriage. There is no right to intentionally create a human being except by a marriage having sex.

    • Tyson in re-reading your statement I’m wondering exactly which unscientific opinions and anecdotal experiences you are referring to. I don’t read any anecdotal experiences here but certainly if the anecdote is coming from someone who has a parent who, though of sound mind and capable body, has elected to be absent from their life in a legal parental capacity in order to give a good friend a baby to raise – that person’s opinion carry’s more than a little weight. That person would be serving as a advocate for other minors subjected to similar denial of legal rights afforded to the rest of the population when parents are not married to one another. Like sticking up for a kid getting bullied on the playground, it’s simply the decent thing to do when you know someone has their rights threatened.

      Also when you say it’s a pity more heterosexuals don’t put more thought into parenthood, I agree completely. Sperm and egg banks are freaking filled with profiles of straight people who have signed up to not give a hot GD about their kids when they are born. If they cared as much about their kids as they do about their own personal wants needs and desires we would, you’re right, have fewer abandoned and neglected kids in the world to be trafficked into pseudo familial relationships with people who think they can buy parenthood. There has been a lot of employment discrimination of gays and lesbians in the service industry of abandoning their children so I’d agree that gays and lesbians are not the biggest parental neglect offenders.

      • “Also when you say it’s a pity more heterosexuals don’t put more thought into parenthood, I agree completely.”

        Agreed as well. When you have heterosexual couples bringing children into unstable marriages that complicate the child’s life it’s impossible for them to judge others. No one is perfect and before we judge others we need to look at ourselves in the mirror.

  5. There is no right to do this, first of all, and I think in the future it should be illegal and if people still go ahead and do this, they should go to jail, pay a fine, and permanently lose the children who should be adopted by families that respect human rights and dignity (the children should learn their real parents identity at some point, but that’s it, no visitation. (Heck in some countries this sort of crime would mean a death sentence, permanently ruling out visitation).

    If people don’t fall in love and get married to someone eligible of the other sex, and if they aren’t both fertile, then they just won’t have children. That shouldn’t be seen as such a bad thing, it isn’t painful or burdensome. There is no right to a child, children aren’t necessary, and there are plenty of people having children to keep civilization going, too many in fact. We should be trying to discourage people intentionally having children, and stop putting pressure on people to go through some rite of passage, stop telling childless people they are selfish or parasites or breaking their parents hearts. On the other hand, we should celebrate with joy when a married couple has children, which they have every right to do and should feel official state approval. We should support all married couples because they might have children, which is painful and burdensome and difficult, and they have a right to have children, so we give them benefits and protections and obligations, even if they don’t have children.

    It’s interesting that the article begins with his insecurity about his height and how he felt he didn’t deserve to have children because he was so short. This shows how sperm donation being legal has hurt people, driving this man into what is probably a deep depression. (Yes, he was chosen anyway, but perhaps the women don’t want a son that’s tall, perhaps they like the idea of creating more short males out there, and perhaps they want their child to be a perpetual child, never outgrowing them. It’s degrading and humiliating.) Apparently the donor’s father has been applying pressure on his children for grandchildren, which has made his kids anxious and insecure. There is no right to have grandchildren either. Yes, having children is something that ideally, most people would experience, but it should not be something people do intentionally, to fulfill their desires. It should be something that happens inadvertently, by people living healthy lives and being fortunate and blessed. That’s why there is joy, not because children are so adorable or cute.

    • Not having children is very painful to many people. Sure, there are people who don’t especially want kids, so it wouldn’t be painful to them, but it would be to someone who has wanted to be a parent their entire life. You don’t get to decide how other people feel.

      • Those who have children or people like John Howard who choose to not have children will never understand what it’s like to not be able to have children. Well said Rebecca.

        • While he is entitled to have whatever personal beliefs about morality that he wants, he doesn’t get to decide how other people feel about whether something is painful, not painful, etc.That is what really bothered me about his post. He can’t speak for other people whether something is going to feel like a loss to them or not.

          • Agreed, it comes across as not an opinion but as him saying people should live their lives according to the way he feels they should.

            • People shouldn’t treat people as means to an end. That’s a pretty fundamental moral principle.

              • It’s not treating people as a means to an end. It’s people desiring to have families that they go through life with rather than end up outcasted lonely with no family that they are a part of. If someone chooses to live that way as you have that’s your decision that is to be respected but others don’t choose to live this way.

                • The “end” is having children to go through life with, that makes the children the “means” to that end.

                  • But it’s not the end. Having children becomes a part of it just as it is for the couple the man in the article donates his sperm too.

              • The moral principle is actually, people shouldn’t treat people as MERELY a means to an end. (If you want the standard account, go to Kant, whose formulation is pretty explicit about this.) We treat people as means all the time, and there is no general moral problem with doing so. When you take a taxi, or ride a bus, or go to a restaurant, you are acting so as to get something for yourself from the people who are providing those services; you are treating them as a way for you to get what you want. When these interactions do not involve abuse or exploitation, there is no moral problem with them, because while self-interested, the self-interest is not exclusively determinative of the terms of the relationship: yes, you want something from them, but you get what you want from them in a way that treats them fairly.

                This distinction is critical here. Couples wanting children for self-interested reasons (happiness and fulfillment, support in old age, etc.) are indeed treating their potential children as means. But what actually makes someone a bad parent, where moral wrongdoing enters into it, is not the abstract presence of self-interest in the decision to have a child, but the prioritizing of that self-interest over the love and care that parent rightly owes to that child. And it is just not true, empirically, that it is impossible for parents who have children for self-interested reasons to nonetheless love and care for and respect their children as valuable human beings in their own right. Indeed, I think that’s pretty typical.

        • While I wouldn’t agree, I would at least somewhat “get” it if he gave the Catholic position, that it may be painful to not have children but to try to direct those feelings into adopting, fostering, or helping children in need, etc. I don’t agree with their position on assisted reproduction, but at least they don’t deny it’s painful to many.

          • See I don’t think those who try to direct those who aren’t able to have children into adopting, fostering or helping children are truly recognizing the pain of not being able to have children. Because in reality it’s not that easy nor does it erase the pain that comes with infertility. That pain lasts forever. The only thing that erases it as it did for people like Marilynn and Kisarita is if treatments led to a child that was conceived by both intended and raising parents.

            Only those who don’t suggest alternatives such as adopting and recognize that it’s a life long pain are truly recognizing the pain that comes with not being able to have children.

          • Not winning the Super Bowl is emotionally “painful” to many fans, but we don’t let them buy their own fake Super Bowl victory just because they want one. They aren’t for sale, they can’t be guaranteed.

            I suppose, if someone is really sad about it, a friend could help them to focus on other things, hobbies and books, sing Soft Kitty to them, but it doesn’t help to make them feel worse about it by affirming the pain as though it was physically real and could never go away except by having winning the Super Bowl (ie, having biological children), which is necessary to feel euphoric and complete.

            • John,

              You really don’t get it. The focus shouldn’t be on trying to heal the person and brain wash them onto focussing things you feel they should. The focus should be on supporting them and their feelings and being there for them. At the end of the day the person who is grieving needs to figure out their own path.

              Your Super Bowl analogy is a poor one because that is something few people get to do and it’s a team accomplishment not dependent on one or two people. A better analogy is someone who has an accident and is paralyzed from the waist down and unable to walk. Do we tell them they should just focus on the things they have or do we empathize with them and support their emotional hurt?

            • For some people the pain is real and would never go away. I dont think I could ever have really felt complete if I had not had a child. You can be against ART for moral reasons but you can’t force people to not feel pain or say their pain is not real.

              • I’m trying to help people not feel unnecessary pain, or the corresponding pressure to use ART. Those are people who do force people to feel pain by telling them that their childless condition is painful and they ought to fix it so that they can be “complete.” I do think marriage should ideally make people complete, and it is appropriate to encourage that, but having children doesn’t add to the completeness, especially if they aren’t children of the marriage. It seems quite cruel to tell childless people that you didn’t feel complete until you had children. Gee thanks.

                • Well, unlike you, I recognize that people are different and want different things in life and feel differently about what happens when their lives don’t go as planned. Some people certainly can feel complete without children, either because they never had an interest in having children or they didn’t feel a very strong desire to have children and are content with a different life if they never have any. But some people really do have a very strong desire for kids. I think that’s normal and okay and they should be able to make their own decisions about how to handle that, whether it’s using ART, or adopting, or choosing to remain child free.

                  I have no interest in marriage. It would not make me feel complete. And yet you saying that you think marriage should make people complete and therefore people should be encouraged to marry, neither makes me feel I need to go out and get married, nor makes me feel insulted that I’m not “complete” because I am not married. You seem to lack a basic understanding of human psychology and assume that everyone thinks and feels exactly the same way, and wants the same things in life, and would be content or not content with the same things.

                • “I’m trying to help people not feel unnecessary pain, or the corresponding pressure to use ART. ”

                  This is where you’re lost. By recognizing their pain you are telling them it’s ok to hurt. You are actually helping relieve the pressure to use ART. By dismissing their pain you are doing the opposite.

                  For me one of the most important things my therapist did was make me feel what I was going through emotionally was normal. It helped relieve the pressure to pursue parenthood until we are ready.

                  I think there are situations the church is awful and insensitive at and one of them is infertility. You have become brainwashed by the invisible man and fairy tale book. Too much Pat Robertson has clouded your judgment.

      • I’m talking about physical pain. I get to point out the fact that emotions are not pain. Emotions are 100% decided by other people telling you how to feel, and so that’s why it is important to tell people that being childless isn’t horrible, it isn’t painful, it isn’t wrong or bad, and doesn’t need to be fixed.

        • It’s very easy for someone who made the decision to live ChildFree to tell someone else whose circumstances not decision is the reason they are childless to tell them that there is nothing painful or even that big of a deal to go through infertility. Brain washing people and telling them they are wrong for feeling the way they do is both dismissive and insulting.

          • I have made no such decision. Circumstances are the reason I am child free, just like you. If there is any brainwashing going on, it is by the fertility industry and cruelly shallow friends and family who demand people reproduce offspring. Have some compassion and stop making people feel bad.

            • You clearly have made your decision to live ChildFree. Unless you are infertile you have made that decision. Since you’ve never stated such it’s clear that no circumstance got in the way of you having children. You just didn’t want them and that is your right to make that lifestyle decision. That’s to be respected by society.

              The true brainwashing comes from the church who get people to believe in the invisible man and fairy tale book. They lead to close minded views and extremist positions that prevent society from advancing.

              • See, I see the “decision” thing as being key. While I agree with Eisenstadt that people have a right to decide NOT TO have children, to take contraception or just not get married or have sex, I don’t think it is right or appropriate to make a decision TO have children (even by married couples). That thinking implicitly means that human beings are being used as the means to the end of having children.

                There is a right of individuals to DECIDE to marry and procreate, and a right of eligible consenting couples to ACTUALLY marry and (then) have sex and procreate with each other (only as long as there remains on-going consent to be married and have sex and procreate with each other of course). But they aren’t supposed to “decide to have children” as that isn’t something that is in their control and is something they are supposed to just welcome and accept. That way any children that are born are ends in themselves, and it obligates the parents to be responsible for them as a right of children due to their humanity and dignity.

            • Nobody told me to have a child. In fact some people told me not to have one. And I still was in emotional pain from not having one. You do not understand human psychology at all.

              • People have too much will these days. Too much choice and control and thinking and deciding makes people anxious and pained. Fewer options, less choice and giving up control would make people happier.

                • Seems like you want to live in a police state where people’s emotions are controlled by drugs or something and everyone is assigned a role. It reminds me of some sci fi books I’ve read. Scary.

                  • John Howard

                    No, not at all. I want to live in a more holistic natural sustainable state, where people have dignity and equality and live healthy moral satisfied lives. I do think the state has police authority by definition and that should be respected, not denied, but I don’t think there should be any need for police and people should have full freedom, but not be pressured into considering so many options. There is a book called “The Paradox of Choice” that shows why choice can be stifling and result in less freedom and more need for police and regulation.

                  • Well i for one am happy to live in a time and place where there are more options other than marry the person your parents picked for you at age 18 or so and then spend the rest of your life doing the same job your parents did while never traveling more than 20 miles away.

                  • And I also appreciate living in a time and place where people other than wealthy Protestant men have actual legal rights

            • You have no children because you decided that your situation was not one you’d choose to have a child in.

              • it really makes no difference at all why exactly somone doesn’t have children and its no one’s business either. G I’m really tired of you trying to make everything personal here. Feel free to comment on your own personal life, but kindly leave other people’s out of it.

                • There is a big difference between being childless by circumstance and making the decision to not have children. You are correct that the circumstances why someone is childless and why someone decided to live ChildFree are no ones business. But there is a difference between the two. That’s Rebecca’s point and mine as well.

                • I don’t care why John chose not to have kids, really. And he can have whatever personal opinion he wants on the morality of one thing or another BUT he has no right to control how people feel or to tell them their feelings are fake, not valid, etc. He’s the one who made it personal by saying people’s pain is fake, not real, or they only feel pain because of things other people say. He should stop making assumptions about people’s personal feelings if he doesn’t want his personal life discussed as well. Not to mention he is a hypocrite since he makes statements that he thinks all people should ideally marry and feel completed by marriage yet he has a problem with me making a statement ONLY for myself that I, personally, did not feel complete without a child (but that other people may feel complete without children, but it’s a normal human emotion for some people to not feel complete without children if that was their dream in life, to have a family).

                  • Marriage is necessary for individuals to stop being individuals and become what the Bible calls “one flesh” and what legally is marriage and the idea that a marriage is in some ways one unit that both spouses are obligated to be a part of. Joining a man and a woman’s reproductive potential together into one fully human complete reproductive system completes people. Any children are SEPARATE people, they are not part of the one flesh, they are not part of the marriage, they are not necessary to make someone be complete or full.

                  • Well, sorry, you are wrong. Some people may not feel complete without being married but marriage is not for everyone. I am extremely content as a single person and would be miserable if I married. And I did not feel complete without being a mother. So you are a hypocrite, period. You don’t get to decide how other people feel.

                  • I mean, why on earth do you think you can control how people FEEL?

                  • John Howard

                    How people feel is a result of culture and social conditioning, and influences include laws and television, family, neighbors, friends, conversations, books and blogs like this one. I don’t deny that you feel that having a baby made you feel complete, or that would feel miserable married to the other parent of your child, that’s how most people feel these days. Marriage is not what it used to be, people don’t feel the same as they used to about it. But biologically, people are still not fully human or complete as individuals, and it’s not merely producing children that makes people complete, because the child is a separate person, but joining with the person you are reproducing with that makes people complete. You did join with someone and so that can make you feel complete, but it is the joining with that person and not the resulting child, that was necessary to feel complete. The child was just tangible proof, in absence of any other evidence, that you were married once, to someone out of the picture now.

                  • Wow, so you say I am being insulting and cruel for saying I felt incomplete without a child, yet you go and say single or partnered but unmarried people are not even fully human.


              • As though I could just have a child at will!

                • You could you just choose not to. And there is nothing wrong with that.

                  • you have no way of knowing that G and whats more its irrelevant and nobody’s business.

                  • K normally I would agree but John seems to make other people’s lives his business by saying that their feelings aren’t even real! Also he is a hypocrite since he says people should feel complete by marriage and be encouraged to get married by society, but an individual saying they personally felt incomplete without a child (without saying that other people should have or not have children or how they should feel about that) is being cruel and horrible and forcing other people to want kids and go to desperate lengths to have them when they otherwise would not have.

                  • “you have no way of knowing that G and whats more its irrelevant and nobody’s business.”

                    Same goes for a discussion that doesn’t concern you. It’s none of your business.

                  • still rebecca thats no justification to drag him and his personal life through the mud. its also irrelevant because even if john is the most inconsiderate jerk in the world he’s still entitled to his opinion. if you disagree witih his opinion you don’t prove anything by saying anything about him personally.

                  • How is his personal life being dragged in? I’m not implying or asking why he choose to not have children. I’m just saying there is a big difference between someone who has a choice and others whose circumstances prevents them from having a choice. Please tell me how that is dragging his personal life into this.

        • Emotional pain can be far worse than physical pain and is not always caused by others. You don’t understand psychology at all.

          • Everything is caused by others, and you are causing people to feel that emotional “pain” (which isn’t actual pain but can still be debilitating) by affirming it and saying it is normal and unavoidable if one doesn’t have children. Do you work for AttainFertility or something?

            I want to make clear though that I do think it is sad and wrong and fairly tragic when people are rendered infertile, and I support much better medicine and health care to preserve everyone’s fertility so that people can be healthy and do what people are supposed to do. I want to help people that are facing infertility become healthy, but also to accept their fate with grace and not use other people as means to fulfill a desire to appear healthy and do what people are supposed to do.

            • I think emotional pain is normal for humans who experience loss, disappointment, etc but what causes it will be different for different people. Some people do not want children or might have wanted children ideally, but did not want them so much that it was a huge loss to not have them. And that is fine. But it is also normal for other people really want children and mourn not having them. If one person feels emotional pain at not having children, and another person doesn’t but feels that way because they never found love, and another doesn’t care about kids or marriage but feels very sad about something else, it is all normal. Not everyone needs children for their life to feel complete. But some people do and have a right to feel whatever emotions about that.

              • Rebecca we have to be careful though when we classify something as a loss – loosing something implies actually having had something. For instance, I can say that I lost a job or that I lost a son and that statement is true. I did have a job that I was let go from because they ran out of work and I did have a son that died right after he was born. I mourned the loss of something I had and lost. That is a loss. That is very very very different than being sad about never having had something that is very much wanted or needed. For instance someone who has never had gainful employment might be quite anguished about it, but it is not a loss that they are upset about. Someone who has been lonely all their life and cannot find the right companion, has every reason to be sad but it is not a loss that they are grieving. Loss is having something that you cannot gain access to, it is either gone forever or in a place unknown to you.

                A donor’s child has experienced the loss of his or her paternal family. They do most assuredly have a father and paternal relatives but they are lost to him or her for at least the first 18 years of their lives and lost the ability to be identified as their father’s child and known to all his other children and all his other relatives by virtue of his decision not to take care of all the offspring he has. He had to make that choice that caused the loss of his presence and his family’s presence in the lives of his children. Whoever he has children with really has nothing to do with his choice other than agreeing with him and or encouraging him to do it. Ultimately his absence is his choice and his burden because he caused the loss that his children are experiencing. Not having children would not have been a loss for the woman he had children with, it simply would not have been a gain that she were desirous of. Not getting something that is essential like food or shelter will make a person die. Not getting something like a job to pay for food or shelter can damn close make a person die. Not getting married, not getting to have kids or not getting to have the things in life that make people feel fulfilled and rewarded can make a person really freaking sad and that is a very big deal, but it is not technically loss.

                I think people who try and compare the loss experienced by say donor offspring to the loss of people who can’t have kids are barking up the wrong tree – because donor offspring are suffering from a preventable loss whereas people who did not prevent that loss were suffering from circumstantial lack of gain.

                Not gaining something we want should not give rise to an inflated sense of entitlement force loss upon another person in order to gain that thing we want. I mean ethically anyway.

                • “I think people who try and compare the loss experienced by say donor offspring to the loss of people who can’t have kids are barking up the wrong tree”

                  The only person who has made that comparison is yourself. No one else has made that comparison. Saying that infertility is a VERY REAL LOSS is not knocking any loss that others may feel so stop taking it that way. Just because you have empathy and care about one person’s loss doesn’t mean you have the right to bash them. Only a sick heartless person would do that.

            • “Everything is caused by others, and you are causing people to feel that emotional “pain” (which isn’t actual pain but can still be debilitating) by affirming it and saying it is normal and unavoidable if one doesn’t have children.”

              No one causes another infertilty it just happens. By recognizing their pain you are helping them. You aren’t encouraging them on how to solve it but you are recognizing and reaffirming they are normal for feeling the way they do.

              ” I want to help people that are facing infertility become healthy, but also to accept their fate with grace and not use other people as means to fulfill a desire to appear healthy and do what people are supposed to do.”

              This shows your lack of understanding of infertility. Infertilty is called the silent disease because a person can be infertile yet completely healthy. I happen to be one of those people. I am a perfectly healthy 33 year old who for whatever reason was born with missing pieces of my Y Chromosome.

              • Question Greg on a technicality – Not having kids is not the loss of something a person has so they are not sad about loss, they are sad about lack of gain correct? They are not getting to have something they want rather than losing something they had. Someone can say its loosing a dream but really what that is would be not getting to have something they dreamed of. I want to really nail down the difference between grief over having lost something or someone and sadness over never getting to have something in the first place.

                I just really feel the word loss is used inappropriately in these discussions to the insult of donor offspring who are actually loosing access to relatives that they have who are in most cases alive. Grieving the loss of a child that never existed is the wrong way to say Sad about the fact they can’t make a child exist.

                • “Question Greg on a technicality – Not having kids is not the loss of something a person has so they are not sad about loss, they are sad about lack of gain correct? ”

                  As someone who has a daughter the loss of the ability to conceive a child is something I don’t expect you to understand. At the very least I would hope that you had some empathy and were sensitive to it but it appears you are not capable of that. Very sad that intolerant insensitive people exist in the year 2014.

                  • Well I have a biological daughter, but I did more than most do to get pregnant, and I wanted her so so much, so I can empathize with it.

                  • Oh I was responding to Marilynn who forgets where she came from and is very cruel and unempathetic towards those unable to have children. Like John Howard she believes we experience no loss and that infertility is no big deal.

                    I know from your posts that you are very empathetic and supportive of the infertility community. I applaud and respect parents like yourself who I gather are great parents and role models for their children.

                  • John Howard

                    “Like John Howard she believes we experience no loss and that infertility is no big deal.”

                    Huh? I think infertility is a huge deal, and if I was rendered infertile I would be incredibly mad about it. I would feel very sad if my wife was infertile. I think fertility is precious and that’s why I stand up against same-sex marriage and transgenderism that treat fertility like a silly vestigial biological process, an unnecessary and irrelevant phenomenon to modern life, to be replaced by controlled lab technology.

                    Fertility and reproductive rights are precious, to be protected at all costs, the very basis of equality and liberty and rights and dignity. But actually having a baby is not necessary and being unmarried or childless or infertile is not physically painful, and there is no right to have a spouse or a child provided to you.

                  • “Huh? I think infertility is a huge deal, and if I was rendered infertile I would be incredibly mad about it.”

                    This tells me a decision was made for you to not have children.

              • “a person can be infertile yet completely healthy.”

                No no, healthy people are fertile, starting around age 16 and lasting as long as possible. It is normal for people to become infertile but it is a sign of declining health, an acceptable normal and not painful or unexpected decline in health. Fertility isn’t necessary for a quality life, but it is something that people have a right to be if they can, as part of their right to be fully healthy and use medicine to be healthy. I support your right to fertility, and think you have a right to use medical technologies that enable people with your condition to produce sperm to fertilize your wife’s eggs, because that’s something that people have a right to do if they can.

                • John,

                  You are so lost on infertility. Someone like me was never fertile I was born infertile. Despite that I am a healthy person. If you met me in person you could never guess that I was infertile. If my health was in decline it would have happened already. There are no medical technologies yet to repair missing pieces of Y Chromosomes that I was never born with. That’s the thing I struggled with for a while is that I am and have been healthy. There was no cancer or other disease that made me infertile.

                  You’ve been reading too much of the fairy tale book and should educate yourself on infertilty if you are going to discuss it.

                  • John Howard

                    No if you are infertile you aren’t healthy, even if you were born that way. Being born deaf or blind isn’t healthy either, even though the person’s life can be just as vigorous and long. Healthy people can see and hear and procreate. Saying that infertility is healthy is playing into the eugenicist agenda that prefers people be infertile so they must use screened donor gametes and hire labs to control the pregnancy.

                    Labs may soon be able to make sperm from your adult stem cells, I believe they have done it with mice. That might qualify as medicine people have a right to use to be healthy, though it also involves another person who will be born, so it might also be subject to bans and regulation.

                  • LOL, my doctor who is a licensed professional with a medical disagrees with you about my health. I don’t think I would be able to go through the rigorous exercise I do on a regular basis if I wasn’t healthy.

                  • My parent's donor is my father

                    Some one who has a genetic trait that makes them infertile is NOT unhealthy because genetically they are simply infertile and they wouldn’t exist any other way. That’s more of an anomaly. Not unhealthy. Fertile people aren’t more healthy, they simply are able to genetically reproduce. Some infertility is cause by unhealthy sperm but again, that is not unhealthy unless it was caused by an illness, technically in those cases that would make their infertility an illness because it was caused by something outside of themselves/their genetic makeup but that doesn’t make them as a whole, unhealthy.

                    Greg is NOT unhealthy.

                  • Father is My Father –
                    We’ve had quite a day and as sync as you and I are I gotta side with John on this issue of health. I bring the Center of Disease control up a lot as well as Department of Health and Human Services because, No, it is not at all healthy for a man of Greg’s age to be unable to reproduce. Sorry to personalize which is why I’m pulling back and saying a man of his age, rather than him personally. Look there are reasons why countries track the birth of new people and try to document the identity of their parents that have nothing at all to do with parental intention. Fertility rate is THE litmus test for the health of the overall population. If the fertility rate drops for people of child bearing age to the extent that a steady decline or sharp drop becomes evident it means something is terribly wrong with the reproductive health of people of normal child bearing age. If it’s regional it might be environmental if it’s in a certain race or economic strata the country wants to know because the country needs healthy citizens now and in the future and they won’t be able to cure the various types of infertility or won’t take it real serious until it starts being evident statistically. So if men who are not healthy enough to reproduce are named as fathers on their children’s birth records, that is a real freaking problem. If men who have lots and lots of kids are recorded as having no kids at all that is a similarly big problem.

                    Healthy men should be capable of getting women pregnant well into their 40’s and beyond unless they have underlying heart conditions or other health problems that cause impotency. If men who are privately diagnosed as having a problem are publically recorded as having reproduced we’re just idiots. Because then we cannot step back and see if there are similarities between the individual cases in order to possibly identify the real root cause which could be anything from a messed up gene to something regional like proximity to some toxic waste dump. Then if babies are born with problems they are attributed to the wrong father it is a real mess.

                    I have no idea what Greg’s particular situation is and don’t want to tangle with him personally. Infertility in people of childbearing age MAY be an indicator of other issues that are genetic or environmental or some combination of both. I think it’s probably more fair to say someone is healthy with the exception of X, Y and Z. Healthy with a persistent nagging cough can turn out to be emphazema. Healthy with the exception of a lump in her breast or healthy with the exception of whatever. Inability to reproduce is only normal and health at the beginning or end of a person’s life not in the middle. It is abnormal to see a jump in fertility in the elderly but we are not really seeing that because elderly women are not really conceiving children, young healthy women are conceiving them and old women (healthy for their age) are carrying them and delivering them. It could be that the government looks at the drop in fertility for the young as probably not really dropping because for every old person that is recorded as having a kid we know in reality it had to be two healthy young people who reproduced. It’s always two healthy people of reproductive age reproducing.

                  • Marilynn,

                    You are just as lost as John is. My fertility at 33 is the same as it was when I was 21 and 16. I was in similar health then as I am right now. Unless it’s tied to a life threatening illness a person’s fertility has nothing to do with their overall health.

                    I recommend either educating yourself on this topic or backing off the topic.

                  • OK Greg. Do you have a normal healthy reproductive system? Does your reproductive system allow for your body to reproduce itself? Do you want for others in the same or similar situations to have their conditions ignored so that there are never any medical advancements in curing potentially curable forms of infertility?

                    Nobody is healthy in all regards Greg.

                  • My reproductive system has nothing to do with my overall health. If that wasn’t the case men who had vasectomys and women who had their tubes tied would die within a short time frame of their procedures.

                    I can’t discuss this with you further because you don’t get it never will get it and it’s a waste of space on this blog.

  6. i notice that the kids feelings weren’t one of the things he thought about when making his decision

    • It’s true he doesn’t say he thought about the child-to-be’s feelings. But he has clearly given thought to how that child will be raised and what role he will play and how it will work. I think that means thinking about whether this is a good way to raise a child–and I do think that means thinking about the kid. So I guess I’m not persuaded he didn’t think about the child-to-be. Perhaps he doesn’t express it in the clearest terms, but I think it is there.

      • sure but about the specific things that concerned him- uncertainty about his role- it never occured to him that the uncertainty might not affect only him?

  7. and about the whole grandparents thing- i want to go back to his website and remind him about an adoptee I met whose mother didn’t wantn contact, but who is lovingly reunited with her grandmother.

  8. This situation reminds me a lot of an open adoption and the uncertainty there is prior to the child being brought into this world or an adoption being finalized. Like with an open adoption I think both parties need to work out and sign off on a legal agreement that outlines legal rights and visitation. Though unlike an open adoption agreement in most states it needs to be legally enforceable. Also I don’t think it would be a bad idea for the sperm donor and parents to be counseled prior to the child being born to work out any feelings they may have.

    The situation is going to take a lot of work both by the sperm donor and the parents. Much like an Open Adoption they’ll likely be bumps along the road and you hope they are able to work it all out for their sake and most importantly the child’s.

    • Yes it is much like open adoption. However this guy is treating it like the child is really no kin to him at all- or his parents.

      • I didn’t get that impression at all. If he expressed concerns of what contact would be it tells me he recognizes that connection and is thinking about how that would be managed. Maybe he doesn’t feel his biological connection is more important than the non biological parent as you and others want him to feel but I think he does care about his connection to the child.

    • There is an important difference in the premeditation factor though. giving a child up for adoption because you’re incapable of supporting your child or because you’re unfit or even because you just don’t freaking feel like taking care of your kid is not objectifying the kid as property that you distribute to others as charity or as something for sale. It’s offloading a responsibility one cannot take on or is unwilling to take on, not as charity, not as a means to financial gain.

      Offspring are not the property of bio parents. Giving them to people as gifts when your perfectly well able to care for them is all kinds of wrong.

      • I knew I was going to get a response like this from you. Your points are irrelevant to what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about is the actual parenting of the child once they are born being like an open adoption. Meaning the girl will know who is the man who helped conceived her and be able to have some type of relationship with her just like a true open adoption.

        That was my point has nothing to do with the legal proceedings in both situations. We’ve been down that road before and we simply don’t agree so it’s not worth discussing again.

        • Why does your point have nothing to do with the legal proceedings in both situations? This is a blog to discuss legal issues in family law,

          • Re-Read Julie’s piece it discusses the balance of a known donor in the child’s life. It’s not about legal proceedings. And any way my comment is very relevant to the topic of this thread and has nothing to do with any personal agenda I have. Perhaps you could learn from it.

          • Besides law influences how people feel. Especially whether or not they feel they have been treated justly. I too am talking about the actual treatment of born individuals. It matters very much whether someone gives their child up for adoption to someone who they colluded with in advance and were possibly paid by. I think any preexisting relationships between the absent bio parent and the hopeful rearing party should be scrutinized extremely carefully including relationships with common middlemen like lawyers or cryo banks where that might be accepting fees and making payouts in the form of legal reimbursement for time time and trouble exerted to create the child that they agree to give up at birth.

            In black market off record agreements for children there is no disinterested third party investigation to protect the child from simply being identified incorrectly at birth and raised by an unrelated person whose only qualification might be an ability to pay a fee to a middle man or to the absent bio parent. Parents should not be giving their children away to stranger as an act of charity – like I’ll make this baby with my friend because my friend’s partner can’t have a child with her. Why? Because the child looses in that deal. He could do his job as father and his friend’s partner would still get to be involved in his child’s life as either a step parent or quasi step parent. It does not matter whether step parenthood is not as good as parenthood in your eyes or anyone else’s because he is not supposed to be trying to serve the emotional needs of his friend and her partner he is supposed to be meeting the needs of his child and giving his child all that he or she deserves. When he is not playing the roll of parent in his child’s life his kid experiences a loss that is not gained back back by naming his friend’s partner as a parent. His friend’s partner could be of service to his child without his child loosing support and care from him as the legal father of his child.

            Focus exclusively on what a person deserves to receive from their biological parents and recognize that in order for anyone else to become a legal parent to them one or both their bio parents has to be lost at least in the legal sense. For anyone to orchestrate that loss simply to serve the ego maniacal desire of someone else to be viewed as a parent is absolutely unfair to the person loosing out on having a legal parent child relationship with their bio parent. It’s like they forget that they are causing a loss and are pretending that the other person simply replaces them. They forget the other person could still be there as a step parent involved in the child’s life without the child having to loose that legal parent child relationship with the bio parent. No arrangement should be focused on creating gain for any of the adults at the expense of the child. If the child has to loose a parent in order to gain a parent then the goal always should be an attempt to prevent the loss or at least legally protect children against being the victims of loss that was orchestrated for someone to gain the title of parent.

            • I don’t believe there was any money exchanged in this case. It sounds like this man donated his sperm to his friends with no compensation going his way. I think you need to go back and re-read Julie’s piece as well as the article referenced.

              This isn’t your typical sperm donation. This is a known donor that has a relationship with the expectant parents. At the moment it appears that he will be known to their daughter and she will know they will have a biological connection. The only thing that’s unclear is how they will manage the relationship. A lot of it is likely to be something they learn as they move along. Though I agree that they should legally agree upon ground rules prior to her birth or even probably should have prior to him donating his sperm.

              Not everything is about your bio family elitist agenda. I suggest you read the article again to better see the connection between this situation and an open adoption.

              • My agenda is personal responsibility for your own offspring and this guy is not taking personal responsibility for his his kids if he’s not paying support and sharing custody and named dad on the birth record.

                • That’s Biological Family Elitism. It looks at the biological family as being the only family and superior than the non biological family. You made me point about your agenda.

                  • Do you think biological parents should be legally accountable for their offspring or not? We could get rid of paternity testing and child support for millions of children. You think that’s a good idea? Then they would be treated the same as donor offspring.

                  • Not if they terminate their rights prior to any conception, IMO. I know you disagree and that’s fine. You believe biology trumps all. You believe biological families are superior to non biological families. I disagree. We aren’t going to convince each other to agree with something we don’t believe in.

                  • No you just don’t listen. You read what you want to read. I don’t think anyone is superior to anyone else at all. It’s not possible to terminate parental rights before you are a parent. They don’t terminate their rights ever as a matter of fact because that is a court process. They abandon their responsibilities not before their kid exists but after. The consent they sign prior to the birth of their offspring is a promise that if and when any are born they will not seek any kind of relationship with them or take care of them. It’s like selling someone a ticket to a concert the people are not paying for the paper and the ink – they have to actually have a band show up and let the people in to make good on their promise that they already were compensated for. The donor does not abandon his parental responsibilities unless and until he becomes a bio parent. These contracts make it very easy and efficient for him not to be there at birth especially when he has no idea who he is getting pregnant. Nobody has really tried to challenge their own promise yet especially through anonymous donations at clinics but I would imagine a man could have just as strong a case that courts should not enforce his pre birth promise to abandon his responsibilities as would any other bio parent who signed a promise to give their kid up for legal or black market adoption prior to the existence of their child which began their bio parenthood. They are expectant bio parents who have no rights to give or sign away until they exist and since we are not talking about property but rather a dependent human being courts don’t generally enforce those contracts in adoption there is no logical reason why they would enforce the contract under any circumstance even one that skipped the court approval process.

                    Here are excerpts from donor consent forms. Please take note that in these extensive and varied formats for sperm donor agreements and medical consent forms, the part about them giving up their sperm is virtually non existent. Paragraph after paragraph has him promising not to come after his kid if and when a kid is born and then also for the duration of the kid’s life. And the agreements say in the event the terms of the agreement are held to be unenforceable in court the donor promises to give his child up for adoption so that the intended parents can have his parental rights and custody and it say’s they’ll pay for everything and that he’s been compensated in advance for having to deal with the inconvenience of a court approved adoption which they are trying to avoid with the pre-birth contract (black market adoption)

                    “16) If pregnancy results from usage of semen produced by the donor, he will not attempt to establish, a parental relationship with the resulting child. Further, he will not attempt to contact, or communicate with, the child without the express permission of the recipient.”

                    “If a Child is conceived as the result of the sperm donation arrangement, this Agreement shall continue in force throughout the life of the Child, the Sperm Donor, Intended Mother, or Intended Father whichever is latest.” Life of the child? Gee that’s longer than childhood isn’t it? They are also attempting to control the person when they are an adult.

                    “26) In the event of any legal claim, demand, suit, judgment, dispute, contest or challenge regarding the donor’s legal responsibilities for a child conceived by the recipient, or seeking to establish legal paternity by the donor for such a child, or relating to the validity, applicability or enforceability of this contract or any portion thereof, the recipient agrees to compensate the donor for reasonable legal fees, costs and expenses related to the defense of this contract or the defense of the position that the donor should not have legal paternity or legal or financial responsibilities for the child. This is applicable regardless of where the dispute or contest originates, and includes challenges by the state, child, recipient, recipient’s partner or relatives, or other third parties.”

                    Does not say reimburse him for his costs it says compensate him.

                    “It is the intention of the Intended Parents and Intended Sperm Donor that if a Child is born as a result of this sperm donation arrangement, Intended Parents shall be given legal and physical custody of the Child and Intended Sperm Donor shall have no right to custody and no obligation for Child support. The Sperm Donor agrees to relinquish any rights to the Child now or in the future. The Intended Parents agree to release the Sperm Donor from any obligations he might have to the Child for child support and agree to assume all responsibility for the financial responsibilities for the care, control, custody, and financial support of the Child.”

                    “16) If pregnancy results from usage of semen produced by the donor, he will not have, or attempt to establish, a parental relationship with the resulting child. Further, he will not attempt to contact, or communicate with, the child without the express permission of the recipient.”

                    “12) The donor agrees to assist the recipient and/or recipient’s partner in any court proceeding to facilitate the adoption of the child or children. This may include, but is not limited to, signing a court petition to allow an adoption to proceed and/or signing a sworn affidavit regarding the process by which the child was conceived. Recipient agrees that all costs associated with such a court proceeding will be paid by her and/or her partner.”

                    “For example, a known sperm donor to a lesbian couple will likely have to consent to a second parent adoption after the child is born even if there is a sperm donor agreement stating the donor has no parental rights.” Why is that? Because he’s not allowed to just waive his obligations in a contract. There is nothing the court can do about it if they have no idea who he is. Fascinating that they make a lesbian couple go through the adoptive process but not straight people. Straight people should have to also. They should not simply over look this important step just because on the surface its not detectable.

                  • “No you just don’t listen. You read what you want to read. I don’t think anyone is superior to anyone else at all. ”

                    No, actually I read it all. You’ve made it clear you feel biological family is superior to non biological family.

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