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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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62 Responses

  1. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil September 6, 2011 at 11:15 am |

    I thought this article was interesting, but it didn’t answer the main question I had, which was: “What makes these dudes with 100+ children so attractive as donors?” How can you write a story like that and not say more about the men involved?

  2. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve September 6, 2011 at 12:13 pm |

    FashionablyEvil:
    I thought this article was interesting, but it didn’t answer the main question I had, which was: “What makes these dudes with 100+ children so attractive as donors?”

    Is that a rhetorical question or did you not notice the skin color on the guy pictured in the article?

  3. Medea
    Medea September 6, 2011 at 12:20 pm |

    That’s exactly what I was thinking. What kind of information do they supply to women seeking donations? What traits are most popular?

  4. LC
    LC September 6, 2011 at 12:30 pm |

    I know I am excluded from donating sperm because I’m too short, so height is a big thing. Skin colour, education level, and income are the primary criteria, if I recall.

  5. chingona
    chingona September 6, 2011 at 12:40 pm |

    Fat Steve: Is that a rhetorical question or did you not notice the skin color on the guy pictured in the article?

    What? You think he’s the only white guy in the whole metro area donating sperm? Skin color really doesn’t get us that far. It would be interesting to know why these particular donors are so popular.

  6. BHuesca
    BHuesca September 6, 2011 at 12:40 pm |

    Like FashionablyEvil and Medea, I’m also interested in what characteristics/traits are most popular. Although if someone ‘wants a kid that looks like them,’ which I’m guessing is pretty common, that would explain the popularity of White sperm given the greater (aggregate) wealth of White egg-owners and their greater amount of options. But other than that- does height trump eye color, or intelligence vs. athleticism, or what? What makes sperm ‘so beautiful it launched 150 children’?

    The article’s kind of more describing “The downsides of using sperm donation as your preferred conception method, given that the ol’ unprotected PIV isn’t a viable (successful?) choice, and you have enough money to use IVF/IUI/surrogacy and do not prefer to pursue adoption” rather than “The downsides of sperm donation”…but I’ll get my semantics-arguing English teacher mother and my newspaper editor grandfather off of my computer now, with apologies.

  7. Laurie
    Laurie September 6, 2011 at 1:43 pm |

    I am going through the process of trying to conceive with donor sperm right now, so perhaps I can address at least my experience of selecting donor sperm.

    For a fee, my sperm bank allows access (on-line) to the following information about the donors:
    1) Pictures of the donor as a baby and/or child
    2) Information about the donor’s medical history and family medical history, including all grandparents and aunts and uncles (as reported by the donor)
    3) Information regarding the donor’s ethnicity, height, weight, blood-type, profession or field of study (many donors are still students), and GPA. (I chose my donor a few months so I can’t recall if SAT scores were included).
    4) A questionnaire filled our by the donor with such questions as “Where would you like to travel?” or “What’s your favorite animal?” (A little goofy, I admit.)
    5) An essay written by the donor. Also there is often some other creative project by the donor, like a collage, a drawing, poetry, or an original musical competition.
    6) A paragraph by a staff member recording his or her impressions of the donor’s personality.
    7) A 5-15 minute audio-recorded interview with the donor.
    8) And this is just effing’ goofy, but a list of “celebrity look-a-likes” which I hope anyone with sense takes with a grain of salt. (There is no way my donor looks like Hugh Jackman AND Adam Sandler.)

    I suspect the process my husband and I used was similar to a lot of people’s. We identified a pool of donors whose ethnicity, build, and coloring were similar to my husband’s, with no significant red flags in the medical history, and who are open to being contacted by our child eventually. Then we narrowed it down based on intangible gut feeling. The most important information we looked at was childhood photo and audio interview. We rejected one guy who looked a lot like my husband as a child because he sounded like a pompous asshat in his interview.

    In the end, we chose a guy because we just found him thoughtful and likeable, and he looked adorable (and also filled with joy and humor) in his childhood photos. The clincher was that the staff described him as having a “dry” sense of humor, which sounds like my husband. I don’t know how much of the guy’s personality is genetic, but at least if my kid tracks him down eventually, he probably won’t be a jerk.

  8. Niki
    Niki September 6, 2011 at 1:48 pm |

    LC: I know I am excluded from donating sperm because I’m too short, so height is a big thing.

    Really? I’m genuinely curious – how tall are you? How short is too short to donate sperm? Is that an industry-wide policy or is it distinct to the clinic(s) in your community? I knew that height was something that recipients considered when picking a donor, but I didn’t know some guys were totally excluded on that base. That seems like such an arbitrary way to draw the line. It seems so silly to me. Many women might prefer a short guy, for whatever reason; who are the doctors to decide what’s suitable for every woman?

  9. Laurie
    Laurie September 6, 2011 at 1:49 pm |

    Oh, a couple more observations:

    – Based on the donors who seem to “sell out” right away at the sperm bank I am using, it appears that extremely cute childhood pictures is a major selling point.

    — Based on my monitoring of internet chat boards of women choosing donors, it is overwhelmingly common for people to seek a donor with an appearance and ethnicity that matches the partner who will not be biologically linked to the child.

    – In terms of, “Holy shit, my kid could have 150 half-siblings,” umm, yeah, that has occurred to me as a worry. With my sperm bank, you are supposed to report live births to the sperm bank so that they can stop using a particular donor after that donor produces a certain number of children. I think the limit is 25. Of course, there is nothing to stop that donor from donating at another sperm bank and having even more children. So, yeah.

  10. Paul
    Paul September 6, 2011 at 1:51 pm |

    A question: Are all of the women who are using these sperm donors using IVF, or are some of them using simple artificial insemination? I would think that the latter would be cheaper and less medically disruptive for women who were capable of conventional conception, but I get the impression from other articles that it isn’t done that way, for one reason or another.

    Also, what is with the “Oops”? The women who had these 150 children had them by their own choice, and this donor made that choice possible. Everything was consensual, planned and intentional at each step of the process.

  11. Laurie
    Laurie September 6, 2011 at 2:10 pm |

    Paul,

    It’s an “oops” because apparently a lot of people haven’t thought of the possibility that their kid will have lots of half-siblings or may have been misled into believing that this would not occur. According to the article, the doctor who heads some society for reproductive medicine had never considered this possibility (which I find odd, but whatever).

    Also, the article recounts the experience of one donor who was led to believe his donation would only result in, at most, 10 kids.

  12. BHuesca
    BHuesca September 6, 2011 at 2:23 pm |

    Paul,

    the article mentions as a concern half-sibling incest. There is also one donor profiled who began a spreadsheet of all of the live births resulting from his donation after, thinking there would be around 10 at the most, he realized there were more than 50, and he’s still compiling.

    I swear I’ve seen this half-sibling incest on CSI Miami, Law & Order SVU, and House – three shows pulling in major ratings – in just the last couple of years. (Yes, I procrastinated and only had basic TV in grad school, please don’t judge.) (Yes, I think these tv episodes were the result of PIV, not sperm donation, but the sperm donation makes it even more anonymous and undetectable, as in, the parents wouldn’t even know or have the thought ‘hey, my husband’s long-ago affair was with our daughter’s boyfriend’s mom, and her boyfriend has my husband’s eyes…uh-oh.’)

  13. Mztress
    Mztress September 6, 2011 at 2:27 pm |

    I thought this article was interesting, but it didn’t answer the main question I had, which was: “What makes these dudes with 100+ children so attractive as donors?” How can you write a story like that and not say more about the men involved?

    FashionablyEvil

    I think it’s safe to assume that being college-educated white males who were “height/weight proportionate” made most of them attractive as donors. That’s usually the ideal in the fertility market.

  14. LC
    LC September 6, 2011 at 2:29 pm |

    Niki: Really? I’m genuinely curious – how tall are you?

    I’m about 5’5″. Back when I was unemployed in Boston and looking for anything to make some cash, I was told in no uncertain terms that short men do not sell, so it is pointless to stock them. 5’7″ minimum, and really 5’10″ or more is better. (It falls off again on the high end, of course.)

    How widespread this is? Don’t know. But seeing as these are for profit industries, I figure it is fairly consistent across the board. (Some might make different calls on how much it costs to acquire and store the donation, so how much “don’t even bother” is the answer I can’t tell you.)

  15. Mztress
    Mztress September 6, 2011 at 2:38 pm |

    I have a really hard time believing that people with common sense and average intelligence, let alone people with extensive college education (i.e. the doctors and scientists), never realized that allowing men to jerk off into cups an unlimited number of times for money could result in hundreds of kids per donor. The doctors just didn’t give a shit, so long as the clients kept the cash flowing. This is just as much a problem in ethics as it is in poor planning and shoddy regulation.

  16. Laurie
    Laurie September 6, 2011 at 2:38 pm |

    Oh, and another thing. My sperm bank claims they only take 1% of the men who want to donate sperm. They say they screen out anyone who isn’t college educated or currently incollege, anyone over the age of 39, anyone “too short,” anyone with a medical history or family medical history that does not meet their criteria, and anyone with an STD. They probably have other criteria as well, but I don’t know what it all is.

  17. Donna L
    Donna L September 6, 2011 at 3:05 pm |

    Well, I guess my son won’t be making any extra money this way. He’s 5’2″ and gay, so he definitely isn’t what most straight women or couples are looking for. Their loss; they should be so lucky!

    (I had already heard about the height thing a very long time ago when I was theoretically capable of being a donor; I was, and am, 5’2″ myself, and someone helpfully pointed my lack of qualifications out to me.)

  18. Doctress Julia
    Doctress Julia September 6, 2011 at 3:13 pm |

    That seems pretty classist, the excluding of those without a college education. I’ve tried to sell my ova and have been turned down- yes, I have ADHD, but I am well above a genius IQ, healthy, attractive… but I was disowned by my Xtian mother, who renegged on paying my college tuition. I quickly became homeless, and I had to drop out. I guess this means I am inferior? Huh. I guess I don’t get that one.

    And, yes, I would do almost ANYTHING to go back to school. Maybe I could donate some eggs? /s

  19. Laurie
    Laurie September 6, 2011 at 3:16 pm |

    Donna, I don’t think a donor being gay would necessarily matter. Most sperm banks are pretty gay friendly, since a significant percentage of their customer base are lesbian couples. The sperm banks I looked at didn’t mention the donors’ sexual orientation.

  20. Laurie
    Laurie September 6, 2011 at 3:46 pm |

    That seems pretty classist, the excluding of those without a college education.

    Yes, indeed. Not only that but some of the sperm banks market themselves as only accepting donors from prestigious colleges and universities. The sperm banks I looked at didn’t discuss IQ (though that’s pretty linked to social class also, I understand). I am sure in any marketing campaign by a sperm bank some proxy for intelligence is important, and IQ may seem too “brave new world-ish.”

    Also, the donor questionnaires tell you what country the donors parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles were born, their heights and weights, their occupations, and their interests activities.

  21. BHuesca
    BHuesca September 6, 2011 at 3:49 pm |

    Doctress Julia:
    That seems pretty classist, the excluding of those without a college education. I’ve tried to sell my ova and have been turned down- yes, I have ADHD, but I am well above a genius IQ, healthy, attractive… but I was disowned by my Xtian mother, who renegged on paying my college tuition. I quickly became homeless, and I had to drop out. I guess this means I am inferior? Huh. I guess I don’t get that one.

    And, yes, I would do almost ANYTHING to go back to school. Maybe I could donate some eggs? /s

    Yeah, it seems pretty classist. But, at least in the US, class is correlated with having a lotta dough. And purchasing donor sperm, artificial insemination, IUI, IVF, etc., are pretty pricey endeavors from the anecdotes I’ve heard/articles I’ve read. So the capability to get donor sperm (&put it to use) is pretty classist/class-segregated too.

  22. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil September 6, 2011 at 3:49 pm |

    That seems pretty classist, the excluding of those without a college education.

    They’re selling a product, which, like any other luxury product, is aspirational. Cultural norms about what defines success (thinness, education, etc) is going to predominate in their product line.

    (Excuse me while I go take a shower for having written that).

  23. martian
    martian September 6, 2011 at 4:32 pm |

    Speaking as someone whose gorgeous infant son is the result of a donor…
    What we were looking for was, first, open donation. No donor not willing to have future contact with offspring was considered. Second, not just family resemblance but a certain indefinable sense of fit or rightness. Our donor’s toddler picture looked like family and his essay answers sounded like family. He’s curious, exploratory, there was a wordy sort of earnestness to his responses, and he’s very musical – in his discussion of his family, even they sounded like they could be related to us. I can’t speak to anyone else’s decision process, but that is how we went about it. I read probably hundreds of profiles before settling on our guy.
    If you’re curious enough to bop around the website, a lot of info is freely available: The Sperm Bank of California. They’re pioneers in identity release and seem, to us, to be a terrifically ethical organization. Their donors are restricted to ten families. With the way people lag in reporting pregnancies, they do run over a bit sometimes, but they try. Our guy has ended up with twelve families scattered around the country.
    It did seem to me to be a lightly regulated market. We found it difficult to decide who to trust. Sperm Bank of California is a non-profit started by the Oakland Feminist Women’s Health Center with a mission of helping all women, especially lesbians and single women, have families. We really like them.

  24. martian
    martian September 6, 2011 at 4:35 pm |

    Wow, sorry for the solid block of text. I should have broken that up.

  25. Mr. Siegal
    Mr. Siegal September 6, 2011 at 4:44 pm |

    The title reminded me of this.

    http://www.weebls-stuff.com/songs/Babies/

  26. Donna L
    Donna L September 6, 2011 at 4:46 pm |

    Laurie, you’re probably right; I wasn’t thinking about that side of the business. Being 5′ 2″ might still disqualify him, though; heightism is, after all, all-pervasive!

    Not that I think he’d be interested in a million years anyway; this is purely a hypothetical discussion. As it was for me when I was his age and (in theory) his gender.

  27. philfemgal
    philfemgal September 6, 2011 at 4:47 pm |

    From spending time on message boards of those using donors–and from going through the process myself–I suspect at least some of these “superdonors” are popular because of a high sperm count and/or a very successful record getting other women pregnant. There was one bank we thought of using, but it went out of business. My partner had read a lot of these message boards and many of the people buying sperm all talked about one specific donor by #. Apparently his sperm count was very high and his swimmers were pretty hearty, because numerous women in these discussions indicated they had gotten pregnant on the first shot with his sperm. It wouldn’t take more than a handful of women reporting that experience to cause a higher than average demand for his sperm.

    Someone asked about IVF for AI above. The banks actually sell 3 different kinds of sperm–one for IVF, one for IUI (“washed”), and one for ICI or just sticking it in the vagina. I don’t have any statistics, but on the various message boards ICI/vaginal insemination users far outnumber anyone else. Also AI with donor sperm is probably the most common way lesbians have kids. (I believe lesbians now account for something like 50% of those buying sperm from a bank.) Since for most lesbians the only “fertility problem” is that neither partner can manufacture sperm, ICI/vaginal insemination is usually all that’s needed (though some couples go right to IUI for a sightly better chance for each insemination). So I think AI is probably what accounts for the bulk of the “super donor” phenomenon and not IVF.

    Personally I think if the banks are not being honest with donors/buyers that is a significant problem. But the mere fact that there are 150 offspring from one donor? Eh–can’t say it bothers me much. In particular, I find the incest worry just ridiculous. I wonder if anyone has actually tried to map out how likely it is that a child produced through sperm donation who has 150 genetic siblings spread throughout the entire U.S. would meet and have sex vs. the chance of accidental incest among just a handful of kids produced from piv sex in the same geographical region given the rate of unintended pregnancy. Say my father had some other child from cheating or before he was with my mother that he kept a secret or didn’t know about. My father lived his whole life in the same city, so would have had to have met the child’s mother in that area. So the kid would most likely have been born in/near and lived in/near that same city of ~30000 people that I grew up in. So for any sex act I had with a person from that city, there would be about a 1 in 30,000 chance of accidental incest (let’s ignore that this genetic half sibling might move across the country). On the other hand, if I have 150 half genetic siblings in all of the US, that’s a 150 in 312 million for any sex act with someone in the US (let’s ignore that they might move out of the country.)

    Laurie–re gay sperm donors–actually I am pretty sure the FDA bans MSM men from donating sperm just as they do blood.

    When choosing a donor all that we cared about was 1) trying to avoid someone who had a family history of the same health conditions which I have a family history of, 2) avoiding anyone who sounded like an asshole in their short answers about what they are like and why they are donating, and 3) who seemed gay, since we would have liked a gay donor if not for the damn FDA rules.

  28. chingona
    chingona September 6, 2011 at 4:49 pm |

    Another reason the high number of children from individual donors matters is that it magnifies the impact of any potential genetic disorders. I’m surprised they didn’t mention this, as I’m pretty sure the article I read some years back about an actual case of this happening was in the NYT. In that case, a local pediatrician started to think it was weird that he was seeing so many cases of the same extremely rare genetic disorder, one that many docs can go their entire career and never encounter in real life. As he asked more questions of the families, it turned out they had all used the same donor in the same mid-sized city and dozens of children were affected. Eventually, they got the sperm bank to pull the donor’s sperm, and the doctor and some of the families were pushing for better tracking of medical conditions among children from donor sperm. Sounds like the parents are registering with the sibling registry after the fact but may not be aware ahead of time that their child will have so many biological relations.

  29. Safiya Outlines
    Safiya Outlines September 6, 2011 at 5:08 pm |

    Laurie – it’s good to hear positive stories. I wish you and your husband all the best.

  30. Cactus Wren
    Cactus Wren September 6, 2011 at 5:42 pm |

    As usual, the “discussion” thread for this article is worth avoiding. A disturbing amount of woman-hatred (based on the idea that AI is only chosen by “narcissistic” single women in need of “validation”), and a rather bizarre recurring assertion that nothing could possibly better than for “genetically superior” men to produce lotsandlots of kids. (And at #144, one apparent test case for the competition at We Are Respectable Negroes who seems to be trying to see how many coded racial references she can fit into a single posting.)

  31. Laurie
    Laurie September 6, 2011 at 6:33 pm |

    Thank you, Safiya. We’ll see how it turns out. Also hope my kid doesn’t hate us when she finds out she has 150 siblings.

    Philfemgal, I had no idea that MSM men weren’t allowed to donate sperm. I am completely surprised by that.

    It looks like one of the concerns of the article are possible identity problems caused by having so many siblings. I have to admit my gut reaction on that is, “Meh” mainly because I don’t think that would cause me any angst if I were donor-conceived (although I would probably be fascinated by the information). But I know actual donor-conceived kids may have a different response to this, so it is definitely something to consider.

  32. lt
    lt September 6, 2011 at 6:35 pm |

    I’m currently pregnant thanks to a known donor who is a friend. I conceived at home, and the total cost was exactly the same as a hetero couple doing the “traditional” thing – i.e, nothing, unless you count the ovulation sticks. So I kind of laugh when people assume having a donor is always some expensive medical proposition. Obviously, if you’re using a sperm bank and frozen sperm, this isn’t quite possible, but IUI and even home insemination are still possibilities for many since, as someone pointed out, lots of people are using donors because they are gay and/or single (like me.)

    Also . . .on the height/classist aspect – it’s an issue, for sure. But we can’t pretend people don’t factor these in when choosing a mate. So I think we should be carefully about singling out non-traditional moms-to-be- whether gay, single, or with male partners with fertility issues -as somehow uniquely guilty or symbolic of society’s prejudices.

  33. martian
    martian September 6, 2011 at 7:03 pm |

    Laurie–re gay sperm donors–actually I am pretty sure the FDA bans MSM men from donating sperm just as they do blood.

    I just did a quick google because I’d somehow gotten the impression only a few states had restrictions – apparently a federal rule was instituted in 2005 prohibiting gay men who admit to sexual activity within the past five years from donating to banks. Only donations to friends and family are allowable.
    That’s really backwards. With the resistance to changing the blood donation rules, though, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

  34. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil September 6, 2011 at 7:28 pm |

    With the resistance to changing the blood donation rules, though, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

    When I was in college there was an gay African American med student who had registered as a bone marrow donor. He came up as a match for someone needing a bone marrow transplant and was willing to donate. (There is a serious lack of minority bone marrow donors). They refused to let him donate because he had had sex with another man.

  35. martian
    martian September 6, 2011 at 7:48 pm |

    Wow, that’s heinous, Fashionably Evil. Seems like the patient whose life is at stake should get a vote at the very least.
    Bigotry kills.

  36. karak
    karak September 6, 2011 at 9:04 pm |

    “I think we should be carefully about singling out non-traditional moms-to-be- whether gay, single, or with male partners with fertility issues -as somehow uniquely guilty or symbolic of society’s prejudices.”

    Very, very true. The qualities these people desire aren’t magically massively different from the qualities a large percentage of people desire.

    Not to mention the fact you’re investing in someone based on fairly artificial means. My boyfriend is technically too short for my preferences, but he makes up for it by being willing to try anything I cook. I was willing to trade-off a physical demand for an emotional one. But if I JUST wanted a baby and not a lifetime companion, I’d make very different choices.

  37. andie
    andie September 6, 2011 at 9:59 pm |

    Yeah.. the donation restrictions against gay men are ridiculous. The argument is HIV contamination.. I don’t know about sperm, but didn’t that argument become moot when they started screening ALL donated blood for HIV?

    (They do that, right?… *thinks about the amount blood received in last 10 years* Man, I hope so.)

  38. karak
    karak September 6, 2011 at 11:40 pm |

    @Andie:

    They do search for it, but (as I understand it) the problem is AIDS/HIV mutates so rapidly that there are several different “strains” of AIDS/HIV out there. They only look for known/likely strains from this area of the world, so there are strains from Africa that wouldn’t necessarily ping on our search for HIV/AIDS.

    It’s *presumed* that gay men, world travelers, and needle-drug users are at high risk to not only become infected, but also to become infected with highly mutated, unusual strains, and their infection might possibly bypass the tests we have in place, contaminating the blood supply from their donation.

    Apparently (again, someone correct me if I am wrong) HIV is almost like a fingerprint in terms of how unique each individual’s infection is. A newly-infected person can compare their infection to other infected people, and it can be determined which person infected them by the virus’ similarities. Over time, the virus mutates in their body and then loses similarity to other infections.

  39. martian
    martian September 7, 2011 at 12:16 am |

    – In terms of, “Holy shit, my kid could have 150 half-siblings,” umm, yeah, that has occurred to me as a worry. With my sperm bank, you are supposed to report live births to the sperm bank so that they can stop using a particular donor after that donor produces a certain number of children. I think the limit is 25. Of course, there is nothing to stop that donor from donating at another sperm bank and having even more children. So, yeah.

    Maybe this is me being naive, but I think a donor’s commitment to open donation would mitigate the risk. It’s not like you have to agree to identity release to get the opportunity to be a donor- far from it. Making the commitment to be available for contact suggests a seriousness about the process to me.
    It is a leap of faith, though.

  40. lt
    lt September 7, 2011 at 3:45 am |

    Well, there’s one sperm bank out there that actively recruits gay men, (http://www.gayspermbank.com/), so there must be some variation on this. And andie, yes, there’s blood testing, and from my experience that should take care of the issues with sperm as well. One reason I opted for home insemination is that as a single woman, even with a known donor, we’d be required to do a six month quarantine to retest after the incubation period. Married women using IUI for infertility issues are not required to do this, and can get the benefits of doing using fresh sperm. Which seemed a bit arbitrary to me since, you know, marriage is actually not a guarantee no one has an STD.

  41. Deb
    Deb September 7, 2011 at 7:50 am |

    Andie- I know that in Australia (where I am) they do test every blood donation for HIV (along with pretty much everything else). I would be very surprised if this was different in the US.

  42. Andie
    Andie September 7, 2011 at 9:06 am |

    Thanks for the feedback, especially Karak – I had no idea. That’s actually really interesting to know.

  43. feministadoptee
    feministadoptee September 7, 2011 at 11:00 am |

    Meh. It’s hard enough trying to figure out how to navigate having found my mother and her family, along with a few half-siblings. And by hard I mean needing lots of therapy to figure out how the hell you have a relationship with someone you really want to know but don’t know how to know. I can’t imagine having to come to terms with finding out this is how I was created. And this is coming from someone who had to come to terms with finding I was conceived in rape. I will never know who my “father” is, and I don’t want to because he must be evil to have done this. But my mother is my mother…it’s just really hard to have a relationship when you only met them as an adult. And then there is the guilt placed on you when you are curious as to your origins by your adoptive parents…along the lines of “why do you need to know…we are your ‘real’ family”, and a lot of slutshaming about my first mom along with a bit of classism thrown in.

    Imagine that multiplied by 150. Minus the slutshaming and classism. I imagine that’s not as much of an issue in donor sperm…although perhaps classism still is? The question will inevitably come up “why did my bio-mom/dad donate their eggs/sperm?” and sometimes money is a factor.

  44. feministadoptee
    feministadoptee September 7, 2011 at 11:01 am |

    Please excuse the very disjointed sentence structure in my previous post. I still have trouble explaining my thoughts here. Adoption/Gamete Donation/Surrogacy/etc. are so complicated!

  45. McSnarkster
    McSnarkster September 7, 2011 at 11:04 am |

    karak:

    Apparently (again, someone correct me if I am wrong) HIV is almost like a fingerprint in terms of how unique each individual’s infection is. A newly-infected person can compare their infection to other infected people, and it can be determined which person infected them by the virus’ similarities. Over time, the virus mutates in their body and then loses similarity to other infections.

    No, this matches up with what I’ve learned, too. There actually was a case where they convicted a guy of infecting a woman with HIV through genetic testing of the strains the two of them had, and showing how her strain could have come from his. (IIRC, he infected her by giving her an injection–he was a doctor.)

    (On the topic of the article? Britain, France and Spain’s laws limiting how often a donor can have kids make good sense. 150 half-siblings? That’s kind of terrifying, especially when it looks like the donors themselves didn’t think they signed up for that many kids.)

  46. BHuesca
    BHuesca September 7, 2011 at 11:44 am |

    karak:
    @Andie:

    Apparently (again, someone correct me if I am wrong) HIV is almost like a fingerprint in terms of how unique each individual’s infection is. A newly-infected person can compare their infection to other infected people, and it can be determined which person infected them by the virus’ similarities. Over time, the virus mutates in their body and then loses similarity to other infections.

    I’ve read about this. It’s been used in cases where an individual knowingly has HIV or AIDS and then lies and says they have had a drug test and are HIV-negative and don’t have AIDS and then has unprotected sex with the lied-to partner – I believe it’s been prosecuted as endangerment and even attempted murder. (I think this is where the ‘assault with a deadly weapon’ charge was added in when a protester placed under arrest spat HIV-positive saliva at a police officer.) I’ve also read of this being used as an ‘enhancer’ (like ‘hate crime’ is used as an ‘enhancer’) in rape cases.

  47. BHuesca
    BHuesca September 7, 2011 at 11:45 am |

    ….with hate crime being in quotes not for the purposes of using scare-quotes or doubting that it exists – just quoting it because it is a legal term…

  48. martian
    martian September 7, 2011 at 12:49 pm |

    @feministadoptee

    And then there is the guilt placed on you when you are curious as to your origins by your adoptive parents…along the lines of “why do you need to know…we are your ‘real’ family”, and a lot of slutshaming about my first mom along with a bit of classism thrown in.

    Imagine that multiplied by 150. Minus the slutshaming and classism. I imagine that’s not as much of an issue in donor sperm…although perhaps classism still is? The question will inevitably come up “why did my bio-mom/dad donate their eggs/sperm?” and sometimes money is a factor.

    Not to minimize your pain, but I don’t see how you can multiply the guilt and shame for wanting to know your origins placed on you by 150. This group is known to one another primarily because the parents are proactively seeking info for their children. Some of the parents are getting together to establish childhood relationships amongst the kids. It doesn’t seem to me to be a situation that directly correlates with the trauma you’ve experienced from your adoption. Personally, I think open donation is a whole other dynamic. Also, egg or sperm donation seems quite different from giving up a live infant.
    As far as classism, I’d say probably not as predatory in operation as adoption is sometimes described to be. The desirable donors seem to be those perceived as high achievers – the stereotypical med students for example. If they’re currently poor, you assume it’s temporary. How that plays out in reality, I’m not certain. So, yes, classism, but sort of aspirational on the part of the would-be-parents, if that makes sense. I ran across donors with all sorts of motivations other than the cash, including one who specifically felt the urge to spread his seed because he and his life partner wouldn’t be having children together.

  49. Azalea
    Azalea September 7, 2011 at 2:17 pm |

    feministadoptee:
    I imagine that’s not as much of an issue in donor sperm…although perhaps classism still is? The question will inevitably come up “why did my bio-mom/dad donate their eggs/sperm?” and sometimes money is a factor.

    My cousin used donor sperm to have her son, her son has one paternal sister and they visit each other and see each other as often as any half sibling being raise din separate households would.

    I think the obvious question would be that they wanted to have biological children or that they wanted to help other people have children. I haven’t read all of the comments but my cousin’s son is a small child and couldn’t answer this question: could the animosity and abandonment adoptees feel for their bio parents be felt by children who were conceived using donor sperm?

  50. Paul
    Paul September 7, 2011 at 3:17 pm |

    philfemgal:
    Personally I think if the banks are not being honest with donors/buyers that is a significant problem.But the mere fact that there are 150 offspring from one donor?Eh–can’t say it bothers me much.In particular, I find the incest worry just ridiculous.I wonder if anyone has actually tried to map out how likely it is that a child produced through sperm donation who has 150 genetic siblings spread throughout the entire U.S. would meet and have sex vs. the chance of accidental incest among just a handful of kids produced from piv sex in the same geographical region given the rate of unintended pregnancy.

    I have seen other articles about couples who become involved before finding out that they are half or even full siblings, in which it was claimed that this is more likely than statistics would suggest. Supposedly people are attracted to potential mates with similar genes, but this is usually counteracted by a tendency to find the people you were raised with unappealing. In other words, siblings that you were not raised with are supposed to be more attractive than random strangers.

  51. Gomeisa
    Gomeisa September 7, 2011 at 3:32 pm |

    One can only imagine that having 150 children sired by one sperm donor can lead to huge problems (and I’m not talking just worries of incest)

    I’m thinking of the quarter horse Impressive, who sired hundreds of horses, and has singlehoofedly caused 1 in 50 quarter horses to have a debilitating disease because of his popularity as a sire. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperkalemic_periodic_paralysis

    Hence why I think limits like 10 or 20 children per donor are much preferred.

  52. Paul
    Paul September 7, 2011 at 3:58 pm |

    martian:
    Speaking as someone whose gorgeous infant son is the result of a donor…
    What we were looking for was, first, open donation.No donor not willing to have future contact with offspring was considered.

    Last I heard, depending on state law any man who could be proven to be the genetic father of a child could find his paycheck garnished for child support no matter what prior agreements existed between him, the mother of the child, and the sperm bank. Even if the mother of the child is determined never to make the donor pay, the state can try to collect if she or the child ever end up needing public assistance. Child support is the right of the child, which the parents and/or sperm bank have no authority to sign away, and the states figure they should seek any re-imbursement they can find, ethics be damned.

    Has the law changed? Other than anonymity, is there any unambiguous legal protection for sperm donors?

  53. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. September 7, 2011 at 4:28 pm |

    Paul: Last I heard, depending on state law any man who could be proven to be the genetic father of a child could find his paycheck garnished for child support no matter what prior agreements existed between him, the mother of the child, and the sperm bank.Even if the mother of the child is determined never to make the donor pay, the state can try to collect if she or the child ever end up needing public assistance.Child support is the right of the child, which the parents and/or sperm bank have no authority to sign away, and the states figure they should seek any re-imbursement they can find, ethics be damned.

    Has the law changed?Other than anonymity, is there any unambiguous legal protection for sperm donors?

    Cite pls? I don’t know of any case where there was a written agreement that hasn’t been overturned on appeal.

  54. martian
    martian September 7, 2011 at 7:10 pm |

    @Paul -
    The only cases I’ve ever heard of where donors became liable, they were known donors with ongoing relationships to the mothers and children – sometimes with already quasi-parental relationships to the kids. In those cases, the mother sued. Googling around, it appears that most states specifically exclude sperm donors from being considered parents but the courts take into account whether there is a relationship. It looks like a surprisingly gray area of law, actually, but I don’t see any cases as you describe, where the state pursues the donor.

  55. feministadoptee
    feministadoptee September 7, 2011 at 10:45 pm |

    I personally can’t answer this question, but I recall hearing from a few donor-conceived children in another feministe post on adoption, as well as in adoption blogs who did feel similarly to other types of adoptees. If you’re interested try searching some blogs, as I can’t speak for them. I did find these links though, just through a quick google search: http://www.anonymousus.org/ and http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2011/02/25/donor-conceived-and-out-of-the-closet.html

    And I’m not sure I’d call what we feel “animosity” or hostility…it’s more of a hurt, confusion, frustration, etc. We tend to get called hostile anytime we speak out and express anything but gratefulness for adoption.

    Azalea: could the animosity and abandonment adoptees feel for their bio parents be felt by children who were conceived using donor sperm?

  56. feministadoptee
    feministadoptee September 7, 2011 at 10:53 pm |

    Again, do some research. I can’t speak for donor-conceived kids, but I have heard from some who participate in adoption forums that seem to feel similarly. I just posted some links that an easy google search came up with…I imagine it would be easy to find out more.

    I talked with someone once whose father had abandoned them as a young child, and oddly enough our feelings about our parents were almost the same when it came to the confusion, wondering how/if/when to meet and have a relationship with our parent. I don’t know why, but I would not have assumed we would feel so similarly, and they told me they never thought they would have anything in common with someone adopted at birth. So you never know.

    I also guess my wording of “multiply this by 150″ was a bit off. I get emotional easily and type faster than I think. I guess I meant that it’s hard/confusing/happy/sad/(insert just about any emotion here) to deal with the information that comes with learning of another family, (parents, siblings, half siblings, etc), and that it would be more to digest the more family you find you have.

    I definitely think the classism thing is more limited to adoption…I was just curious. You are right, there is a big difference. Being forced to give your baby to a wealthier family because you can’t afford to raise them is much different.

    martian:
    @feministadoptee

    Not to minimize your pain, but I don’t see how you can multiply the guilt and shame for wanting to know your origins placed on you by 150.This group is known to one another primarily because the parents are proactively seeking info for their children.Some of the parents are getting together to establish childhood relationships amongst the kids.It doesn’t seem to me to be a situation that directly correlates with the trauma you’ve experienced from your adoption.Personally, I think open donation is a whole other dynamic.Also, egg or sperm donation seems quite different from giving up a live infant.
    As far as classism, I’d say probably not as predatory in operation as adoption is sometimes described to be.The desirable donors seem to be those perceived as high achievers – the stereotypical med students for example.If they’re currently poor, you assume it’s temporary.How that plays out in reality, I’m not certain.So, yes, classism, but sort of aspirational on the part of the would-be-parents, if that makes sense.I ran across donors with all sorts of motivations other than the cash, including one who specifically felt the urge to spread his seed because he and his life partner wouldn’t be having children together.

  57. martian
    martian September 8, 2011 at 3:21 pm |

    @feministadoptee

    Thank you for the links. We had read some of the research before making our decision, but I was unfamiliar with anonymousus.org.

    I’m an adoptee. The circumstances are different from yours, the trauma is different, but I was fifteen before I found out I was adopted and who my real father was. I’ve experienced being surprised by the existence of an entirely new set of relatives. Those experiences informed our decision to seek open donation and the choice of our sperm bank, linked in The Daily Beast article, The Sperm Bank of California. In addition to pioneering identity release, they sponsor a program to connect the families of donors with one another.

    Do we expect there to never be any issues, ever? No, my kids are entitled to come to their own conclusions about their history – we can’t anticipate everything. We can and will see to it that we begin with transparency, remain honest, and close no doors that it is in our power to leave open – whether they go through them is their choice. There is comfort in the donor research that suggests that, basically, healthy families produce healthy kids.

    In the end, the most we can do is the best we can do.

  58. feministadoptee
    feministadoptee September 8, 2011 at 4:34 pm |

    I’m happy for you, and I hope things turn out well. I really think it’s awesome that you plan to be as open as possible, and expect the unexpected. I think the religious community/family I grew up in discouraged openness about adoption, so it was much harder when I was hit with finding out about my first family. Openness and honesty would have gone a long way with me.

    Good luck!

    martian:
    @feministadoptee

    Thank you for the links.We had read some of the research before making our decision, but I was unfamiliar with anonymousus.org.

    I’m an adoptee.The circumstances are different from yours, the trauma is different, but I was fifteen before I found out I was adopted and who my real father was.I’ve experienced being surprised by the existence of an entirely new set of relatives.Those experiences informed our decision to seek open donation and the choice of our sperm bank, linked in The Daily Beast article, The Sperm Bank of California.In addition to pioneering identity release, they sponsor a program to connect the families of donors with one another.

    Do we expect there to never be any issues, ever?No, my kids are entitled to come to their own conclusions about their history – we can’t anticipate everything.We can and will see to it that we begin with transparency, remain honest, and close no doors that it is in our power to leave open – whether they go through them is their choice.There is comfort in the donor research that suggests that, basically, healthy families produce healthy kids.

    In the end, the most we can do is the best we can do.

  59. martian
    martian September 8, 2011 at 6:53 pm |

    @feministadoptee
    Thanks! Any and all luck gratefully accepted. It’s a terrifying responsibility raising little human beings, but the joy and sheer goofiness is amazing. We feel very fortunate.

  60. Avida Quesada
    Avida Quesada September 11, 2011 at 12:39 pm |

    I can’t fantom why the donors are so eager to be tried far less than farm stallions. This list looks deeply degrading. Maybe is the same force that move some of us (women) to accept street sexual harrastment as compliments and get the happy day start feeling some women express about that kind of stuff.

    I understand that the people that use sperm donation are not degrading the people involved, but still feels deeply inhuman.

    The other stuff is capitalistic exploitation of the needy. They get pennies big corporations make a ton of money.
    But that is an issue for other post.

    Looks like is lees than 100 US$
    http://www.fertilitynation.com/how-much-money-can-an-egg-donor-make-from-donating-eggs/

    Laurie:
    I am going through the process of trying to conceive with donor sperm right now, so perhaps I can address at least my experience of selecting donor sperm.

    For a fee, my sperm bank allows access (on-line) to the following information about the donors:
    1)Pictures of the donor as a baby and/or child
    2)Information about the donor’s medical history and family medical history, including all grandparents and aunts and uncles (as reported by the donor)
    3)Information regarding the donor’s ethnicity, height, weight, blood-type, profession or field of study (many donors are still students), and GPA.(I chose my donor a few months so I can’t recall if SAT scores were included).
    4)A questionnaire filled our by the donor with such questions as “Where would you like to travel?” or “What’s your favorite animal?”(A little goofy, I admit.)
    5)An essay written by the donor.Also there is often some other creative project by the donor, like a collage, a drawing, poetry, or an original musical competition.
    6)A paragraph by a staff member recording his or her impressions of the donor’s personality.
    7)A 5-15 minute audio-recorded interview with the donor.
    8)And this is just effing’ goofy, but a list of “celebrity look-a-likes” which I hope anyone with sense takes with a grain of salt.(There is no way my donor looks like Hugh Jackman AND Adam Sandler.)

    I suspect the process my husband and I used was similar to a lot of people’s. We identified a pool of donors whose ethnicity, build, and coloring were similar to my husband’s, with no significant red flags in the medical history, and who are open to being contacted by our child eventually.Then we narrowed it down based on intangible gut feeling.The most important information we looked at was childhood photo and audio interview.We rejected one guy who looked a lot like my husband as a child because he sounded like a pompous asshat in his interview.

    In the end, we chose a guy because we just found him thoughtful and likeable, and he looked adorable (and also filled with joy and humor) in his childhood photos.The clincher was that the staff described him as having a “dry” sense of humor, which sounds like my husband.I don’t know how much of the guy’s personality is genetic, but at least if my kid tracks him down eventually, he probably won’t be a jerk.

  61. Avida Quesada
    Avida Quesada September 11, 2011 at 12:46 pm |

    Just to clarify part of my comment, I don’t believe that is wrong that women get pay more since the procedure is more complicated. Is the difference between what the donor get an what the medical corporation get.

    I am making this clarification because the links is about what the women get.

    Love,

    Avida

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