Who is a parent?

I have just been sent a lovely photo of a young woman.  She has been volunteering in the DC Network office for some weeks gaining work experience before going abroad for a year as part of her language degree at university.  She is a donor conceived adult and is going to write about her time working in the office for the DCN Journal – hence the photo.  Although she is very happy to talk about being donor conceived you won’t find her on the internet because she feels no need to post there. Very comfortable about her beginnings she is, as yet, uncurious about her donor or half-siblings.  Although entitled to put her name on the HFEA’s Sibling Register in order to be in touch with others conceived from the same donor, she has yet to do this thinking she might once she has finished at uni. At the moment her life is too full of other interesting projects.

This particular young woman happens to be very beautiful, intelligent and talented but in her comfort about being donor conceived she is no different from many, many young people growing up in DC Network families.  None of these people regard their donor as a parent.  An important contributor to their genetic make-up, yes, but not a parent.  The arguments put by some commentators to this blog about the importance of being brought up by both the people who contributed their gametes to their creation, would not be understood by this group.  A parent is someone who cares for you, gets up at night to comfort and clean up sick, helps with homework and sets the boundaries for teenage adventures.  A donor is someone who gives a precious gift to help create a life for those who need help in founding a family.  The contribution he or she makes deserves acknowledgement and profound thanks, particularly if they have agreed to be identifiable to the donor conceived person from 18.  Curiosity about the donor, in a greater or lesser degree, feels like a very understandable response to knowing that an unknown person’s genes have contributed to one’s make-up, but identity is made up of so much more than genetics.  The young woman who worked in the DCN office was very clear who she is and who her parents are.

I completely accept that talking with anyone can only give a snapshot in time of how they are feeling.  People evolve, grow and change and it may be that as this group of young adults think about making families themselves, the attitudes and feelings of some of them will move more towards wanting more information about their unknown progenitor.  But I just can’t imagine them changing their minds about who their parents are.  Surely parent/child relationships are based on emotional ties and shared experiences not genetics, or more viscerally, blood.

Is a donor a family member in any shape or form?  Are his or her parents, children, aunts and uncles also relatives of a donor conceived person?  Perhaps the answer is both yes and no.  Yes, in that there will be genetic traits in common but no in that they are all strangers to each other with no shared history or experiences.  To my mind family are people who share more than genes.  These are intriguing questions that are coming to the fore with so many more donor conceived people knowing about their beginnings and donors beginning to become real people rather than shadowy background figures.  I’m much looking forward to Ken Daniels thoughts on this topic when he speaks to DC Network’s Nottingham conference on 21st September.  It will be an interesting and I suspect a rather controversial presentation.

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About oliviasview

Co-founder and now Practice Consultant at Donor Conception Network. Mother to two donor conceived adults and a son conceived without help in my first marriage.
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20 Responses to Who is a parent?

  1. Maddymoo says:

    Couldn’t have said it better myself! Thank you Olivia, for once again putting your thoughts down so eloquently.

  2. Kriss Fearon says:

    Is the DCN going to record or live stream those talks? That sounds really interesting.

  3. oliviasview says:

    DCN usually records all talks. It will also be printed in the DCN Journal which is published in the Spring and Autumn. The twice yearly conferences are a benefit of membership of DC Network.

  4. marilynn says:

    Alana called this afternoon and we talked for hours on this and other topics. She’s in the bay area and is going to do some more filming with me on her search documentary. We talked about the unique type of internal pressure that many donor offspring feel to not say any thing publicly against getting pregnant by donors because it can sound like an attack on the one parent that was willing to raise them the one that wanted them. Many of the people that get in contact with me are raised by activists in favor of donor reproduction so it can be quite difficult for them to talk candidly about it That is the happy silent majority so often referred to with better things to do that complain about their rights having been violated. True But if things were ever put to a vote about making all people responsible on the record as parents for any children they create and only donor offspring were allowed to vote the silent majority would be allowing the the loud crowd to vote for equality for them, No?

  5. marilynn says:

    Look I actually agree with you about everything you said when it comes to people bonding with whoever raises them regardless if they are their offspring or not. No question. But there is also no question that people are parents of their own offspring technically in the medical sense the textbook kinship definitions don’t need any modifiers you are either related to someone as an aunt or your not. Being someone’s aunt does not mean that they know or even like you, its just who you actually are in relation to one another. In contrast people who are not actually someone’s aunt, can play the roll of someone’s aunt and be bonded at that level of family where you don’t live under one roof but get together with them several times a year maybe more. All my closest friends are referred to as the aunts and uncles of my daughter even though they are not actually my siblings. I have one sibling that is kind of a brother from another mother who actually did grow up with me and I do think of him and refer to him as my brother but when push has come to shove a few times I’ve had to admit that it’s not altogether true which is to say, its a lie. My brother from a different father was raised by my dad, he was my brotheers ‘dad’ before i ever existed and my brother changed his own name at 18 to my dad’s name. It truly was never thought of that he was another man’s son. My brother put our dad on a pedestal but now that he is gone he is building a relationship with his own father also before he looses him too and he realizes how much he pushed his own dad away to please my mother and because our dad was so proud when he changed his name. Dad deserved the praise he did all the hard work, but he would have done it and loved him the same without my brother changing his name They still would have been just as close. It hurt his real dad terribly when my brother changed his name and he might change it back now, he is getting to know his own family and heritage and he is his fathers first born and should be proud of his own heritage

    I think that everyone knows you don’t have to be related to a kid to do a great job of raising them. It is the ethics of how that kid comes into a position where someone other than a bio parent is raising them that is the kicker. If your not related to the kid you are raising you don’t want to have planned for the kid’s bio parent not to raise them, they will resent you and being told how wanted they are will only highlight the tragedy of not being wanted by the missing parent (in the medical sense)

    • oliviasview says:

      “It is the ethics of how that kid comes into a position where someone other than a bio parent is raising them that is the kicker. If your not related to the kid you are raising you don’t want to have planned for the kid’s bio parent not to raise them, they will resent you and being told how wanted they are will only highlight the tragedy of not being wanted by the missing parent (in the medical sense).”
      In my experience this is just not true. You may say, ‘well, you are a parent, not a DC adult so how can you know’ but I do talk to UK conceived DC adults and I have to take at face value what they tell me. They say that their parents are the people who raise them and their donor is just that, a donor. They acknowledge the bio and genetic connection but do NOT feel resentful that they were not raised with or by this person. Please see comment by DC adult Sam Gregory under the Tell Me a Story blog post https://oliviasview.wordpress.com/2013/07/26/tell-me-a-story/ In my experience his response is typical. Are you telling me that he and others are lying or fooling either me or themselves in some way? That is surely deeply patronising.

  6. marilynn says:

    I believe you Olivia. Thank you for sharing the link, I’ll check it out. I know that you believe me also. Lot’s of people who have estranged gamete donating parents are raised by people who earn a living in a field related to the gamete donation industry and it is very difficult for them to speak freely because it not only might hurt the people that wanted them so badly it might also undermine their livelihood.

    • Sam Gregory says:

      Are you seriously suggesting that donor conception is some sort of large-scale profit-driven conspiracy theory to make loads of money for clinicians? As in, parents of DC-people deliberately pressure their children to keep silent so that they can continue to make money out of this donor-conception wheeze? It’s so mad it barely deserves a serious response…

      • marilynn says:

        Sam Hi. Sam is a good name, it’s my son’s name.

        I reunite separated families. I’m not saying anything nearly as inflammatory as I think you’ve taken my words to mean. Many people who want to reproduce with an anonymous person or who want to raise an anonymous person’s offspring utilize the services of specialty physicians, psychologists, laboratories, counselors, books, seminars, matching services, etc and people in those professions take their work very seriously. They are passionate about their work because they genuinely believe that they are helping people who really wanted to become parents bring a child home to love and raise. Often people in these professions got involved because they themselves are raising a donor’s offspring and feel they have something special to offer others in the same position. Virtually all of them believe in being open and honest about the fact that they are raising donor offspring and encourage others to be open as well to overcome their insecurities about sterility, infertility, being unmarried or having a spouse/partner of the same gender as themselves.

        Donor offspring are taught that they were very wanted by the people raising them and that a family is people who live together. They are told that they did not loose any family in this process because a person that donates their genes does not want to be their parent and chose not to live with them or let their relatives around them. It is a variation of the old saying you cannot miss what you never had. There is no concrete logic in that statement because donors become biological parents when their offspring are born. Donor offspring have two biological parents and they have maternal and paternal relatives like all other people and clearly they have been rejected by one half their family and no amount of telling them how wanted they are can make the elephant in the room go away. Half their relatives are absent from their lives; they not only had them, they still have them because you can’t erase the fact that they are kin so they have in fact lost something very real in the process. They also gained a social family which is lovely but the social family would not be there had the actual family not failed to operate as its supposed to.

        These are very logical reactions to being told that the people raising you are somehow implicated separating you from half your relatives. I get contacted by offspring of people in those niche professions who won’t even bother having that discussion with the people raising them because it would be met defensively by them and because that opinion runs contrary the ones they espouse in their professions. To say these very simple things publicly might damage the credibility of the people raising them or might undermine their ability to earn a living or just might hurt their feelings. More often than not they make it sound like its just not worth their breath to talk about how they actually feel because they are not going to have any revelations and apologize so why bother. It’s easier to say nothing and search behind their backs or join private groups behind their backs where they can speak freely about how they really feel.

      • marilynn says:

        Its more of a simple desire not to public ally oppose the opinions of the people who raised them out of respect for them as their elders and because they know that their opinion might cast an unfavorable shadow on what those people raising them do for a living.

  7. Sam Gregory says:

    (in response to marilynn’s comments of August 27, 2013 at 6:16 am and 6:22 am)

    “I reunite separated families. I’m not saying anything nearly as inflammatory as I think you’ve taken my words to mean.”

    Looking at some of your words, they strike me as very inflammatory. Here’s some recent choice phrases of yours from your comments on Olivia’s blog:

    “If your not related to the kid you are raising you don’t want to have planned for the kid’s bio parent not to raise them, they will resent you and being told how wanted they are will only highlight the tragedy of not being wanted by the missing parent (in the medical sense)”

    “Ideally non-genetic parents want to come along after a person is abandoned and should have had nothing at all to do with encouraging the abandonment.”

    “Parents of donor offspring have a special challenge in that telling donor offspring they were wanted makes them secretly furious.”

    Words like ‘abandonment’, ‘secretly furious’ and ‘tragedy’ are not inflammatory? Such emotive and hysterical language is certainly inflammatory to me. Lets look at that last quote. Being told that I am wanted does not, and has never made me, “secretly furious”. The only thing that makes me furious is someone who is not donor conceived having the nerve to speak on behalf of DC-people, and proclaim to the world how we feel. What gives you that right? Anyway, going back to your comments on this thread, you say this:

    “Often people in these professions got involved because they themselves are raising a donor’s offspring and feel they have something special to offer others in the same position.”

    I’ve seen you say this a number of times, with no evidence to back it up. It seems very unlikely to me that someone would have DC-children and then decide to take up medicine so they can work in a clinic, or become a fertility counsellor. As far as I’m aware, I’ve never met anyone on the professional side of DC (clinicians, counsellors, researchers etc) who also have DC-children themselves. It’s improbable at best to think that a significant number of people after having DC-children would make a major career change to work in the field.

    “Donor offspring have two biological parents and they have maternal and paternal relatives like all other people and clearly they have been rejected by one half their family and no amount of telling them how wanted they are can make the elephant in the room go away.”

    I’m sorry, but this is outrageous. To suggest that the beautiful act of donating your gametes so that other people are given the chance to start a family is “rejecting” your future children?! ‘Rejection’ implies that someone accidentally had children or had children against their will, and then gave them away. Donors willingly make a choice to help start a family, fully in the knowledge that the resulting child would always be the child of that family. There is no possible way that that could sensibly be interpreted as ‘rejection’.

    “They also gained a social family which is lovely but the social family would not be there had the actual family not failed to operate as its supposed to.”

    The social family IS the actual family. The term ‘social family’ is so dismissive and unpleasant – implying that the relationship is not meaningful or deep. The ‘actual family’ you speak of has not failed to operate as it’s supposed to, because it was never supposed to operate in that way. The donor never intended to become part of any family. There are no two families at all. There is simply a child’s family, and the donor that kindly helped the biological creation of that child. That’s it.

    “I get contacted by offspring of people in those niche professions who won’t even bother having that discussion with the people raising them because it would be met defensively by them and because that opinion runs contrary the ones they espouse in their professions. To say these very simple things publicly might damage the credibility of the people raising them or might undermine their ability to earn a living or just might hurt their feelings.”

    You’re starting to sound like a conspiracy theorist. It seems very convenient that all these angry and upset DC-people who you claim to represent are so reluctant to speak publicly. Very convenient for you, because you therefore don’t have to provide any evidence of their existence – just a wild unsupported assertion. Maybe there’s a simpler reason why this vast and shadowy group of silenced DC-people don’t speak in public – because they don’t exist, and you have provided no evidence that they do.

    What do exist though (because you’ll meet dozens of them if you came to any DC Network conference) are healthy, happy DC-children who love their parents and are thrilled to know that they were wanted. Their parents work in all sorts of professions – lawyers, teachers, social workers – and none that I’ve met have any part in your idea that there’s an army of DC-professionals who want to keep ‘the truth’ silent.

    • marilynn says:

      Sam you are not being very nice to me. Inflammatory means to arouse violence. I assure you that I don’t want to arouse violence. I want to arouse critical thinking, logic and empathy for people who don’t currently have equal rights. I want to see all people legally accountable for their offspring so that all people are treated fairly and equally at birth. People have to be named as parent’s on their offspring’s birth records in order for the entire family to access one another’s vital records which is their right for medical and personal reasons to know and be known to one another. They are in the most fundamental sense a family at least for public health and accountability purposes. This is everyone’s current right, but some people are unable to access information they have a right because they have a relative that did not get recorded as parent of his or her own offspring, or they are the offspring of a person not recorded as their parent, etc.

      Sam you cannot deny the reality of the type of family the Department of Public Heath is trying to keep track of when they record original birth certificate info. There is a reason why the same department does not collect amended birth certificates for adoption, because the people named as parents are not parents in the medical sense.

      • Sam Gregory says:

        I’m not being very nice to you because you’re talking a load of tripe. Usually I wouldn’t care, but this is dangerous tripe. It alarms me that a prospective DC-parent could stumble across your views and mistakenly believe that you represent how DC-people like myself feel, when you don’t, in any way shape or form.

        You have a very narrow view of parenthood, which seemingly equates all forms of parenthood with a biological connection. That stopped being the case probably about a century ago, and we now realise that there are many different types of family, and different family set-ups work well for different situations.

        You seem to be stuck with the notion that all other forms of parental relationship (unconditional love for your children, etc) can only arise when there is a biological relationship. This would be to deny the thousands of adopted people, who love their parents just as much as people with a biological connection to their parents. Both forms of family are equally valid. While many adopted people are curious about, and may go looking for, their biological parents, many are perfectly content to have a full familial relationship with their adopted family. And that relationship can be just as rich and loving as a familial relationship where there is a biological connection.

        It’s the same for donor-conception. I have just as much of a family connection with my parents, one of whom isn’t biologically related to me, as my friends do with their parents. Your ideas that DC-people somehow feel constantly abandoned because one or both of their parents are not their biological parents is simply incorrect. As far as I know, you’re not donor-conceived, so please let me assure you that you are wrong in this notion.

  8. marilynn says:

    Sam
    I don’t understand your logic. You refer to gamete donation as a beautiful thing. Maybe it is. Let’s not talk about sperm or eggs let’s talk about people.

    You seem to think that

    “I’m sorry, but this is outrageous. To suggest that the beautiful act of donating your gametes so that other people are given the chance to start a family is “rejecting” your future children?! ‘Rejection’ implies that someone accidentally had children or had children against their will, and then gave them away. Donors willingly make a choice to help start a family, fully in the knowledge that the resulting child would always be the child of that family. There is no possible way that that could sensibly be interpreted as ‘rejection’.”

    What? You cannot be serious. If a person’s bio parent chooses to be absent from their lives and chooses not to raise them how could that not be interpreted as anything other than rejecting their parental obligations for raising their own offspring? From the perspective of a person not being raised by one or both bio parents, the fact that their bio parent intended for them to exist but did not want to raise them is quite a big thing to accept.

    “The ‘actual family’ you speak of has not failed to operate as it’s supposed to, because it was never supposed to operate in that way. The donor never intended to become part of any family.”

    Malarkey Sam. How can you say that the bio parent never intended to become part of any family… The bio parent wanted to have biological offspring or he/she would not have donated their genes for reproductive purposes. The bio parent knew full well that they’d be adding members to their own family that their siblings would gain nieces or nephews and that their neices or nephews would gain full cousins. How can you say that they did not want to extend their family when they signed up to do just that. What they did not want to do though is take responsibility for the children they were going to be having. So all a donor really is an irresponsible parent.

    • Sam Gregory says:

      Not everyone whose sperm or eggs are used to create a child has “parental obligations”. That’s an extremely old-fashioned view. Donors are never expected to have “parental obligations” – that’s the whole set-up! The DC-parents don’t expect obligations, the donors don’t, the clinics don’t, and society at large doesn’t. It is accepted universally that if a person donates sperm or eggs to help someone else start a family, that person has no parental obligations. Just like a surrogate mother, who has always agreed to be carrying a baby for someone else, has no parental obligations. This is simply modern society, and ethics of family building that are accepted almost universally across the western world.

      “From the perspective of a person not being raised by one or both bio parents, the fact that their bio parent intended for them to exist but did not want to raise them is quite a big thing to accept.”

      That’s interesting. I assume (as you have said nothing to the contrary) that you were raised by your two ‘bio parents’. So how on earth do you know what our “perspective” is?! You don’t. On the other hand, I do. The fact that the donor I am biologically related to did not want to raise me in a parental role is not a big thing for me to accept. It’s a wonderful thing – that a man would generously donate his sperm to help someone else become parents. It’s a beautiful, and kind thing.

      I am going to resist the urge to type the following in capital letters as I don’t want to come across as shouting: you are not donor-conceived. You do not know what our “perspective” is and you have no right speak on our behalf. Please stop trying to represent us. What you are saying is simply wrong.

  9. marilynn says:

    Sam I am not trying to represent anyone. I am commenting on legal inequities that are experienced by people with estranged parents. Because of what I do in helping people find their family members I began to realize that people are being treated unfairly and that the law needs to change in order for people to have equal rights. You fascinate me Sam because you put a lot of words in my mouth and you seem to think I’m a total liar. I found Kathleen LaBounty’s brother I’ve been working with Alana and Stephanie and Olivia and a host of other activist type offspring and a bunch that do not qualify as activist types because they don’t want to upset the people who raised them by speaking out against gamete donation. I honestly think it is just fine that you are not interested in meeting or getting to know your biological family members. You have a right to their information though. I don’t know if you know that but everyone has a right to obtain the birth marriage and death records of their immediate biological relatives but some people cannot because the names of their bio parents are not on their birth records. That interferes with the rights of every member in that family to information which is vital to their own health and their ability to make conscious decisions about who they do and do not wish to date. You are prevented from accessing information about who your relatives are Sam only because the law allowed the man who fathered you to not have his name on your birth record. I’m not talking about love or personal feelings about fatherhood. I’m talking about the fact that you need certain information to make informed decisions and you are prevented from that. You should have the right even if you choose not to exercise it.

    If it is good enough for you that your biological father had no obligation to you then why not let it be good enough for everyone? No more paternity suits or child support for any minor based on DNA testing. If you don’t deserve it then nobody should have it. We do discourage people from reproducing irresponsibly, making babies we have no intention of raising ourselves. How loving of a choice is it to make children we have no intention of raising and have no control over who does raise them? What if you had not gone to great people? What if they people who raised you were not so hot? Shouldn’t he bear some responsibility for that as his choice to be absent caused that trajectory? Also your bio family may be irrelevant to you but don’t be so sure that you are irrelevant to them. Your absent father likely has siblings who are your full blooded aunts and uncles, their children are your full blooded cousins. If you have 20 paternal siblings and 5 full paternal cousins in the same region, that is a big deal to your paternal family and they’d need to know about you even if they did not want to. You’d be surprised to know your grandparents would likely be horrified at having lost the chance to know you and angry at their child and the government for not allowing them to know who you are or where you are. You are much more significant than you seem to think. Other people besides you have had their rights interfered with as well. Normally a grandparent can go get their grandchild’s birth record, not them, not with you. You may think that’s fine because you are not their grandchild in the social sense. But the only reason they are not your grandchild socially is because they’ve been prevented from trying to get to know you.

  10. marilynn says:

    Sam he did not donate his sperm to give someone else a family. If he had just been willing to donate his sperm, but not the resulting child, nobody would want his sperm. The agreement he signed was that he was willing to give up his children and in order to do that he first had to make some kids to give up, ergo the sperm. Please go look for examples of the agreements that sperm donors sign. They are not even allowed to donate if they are unwilling to give up at least some of their offspring. The reproductive service they offer is not desired unless they give up their offspring at birth and agree to stay away for at least 18 years. They don’t give sperm to give someone else a chance at having a family – they choose to reproduce with women they don’t know and they allow them to raise their offspring without them present. They give up their kids, not their sperm. Sure they are just sperm donors when they donate but time passes and when their offspring are born they become biological fathers same as any man who gets a woman pregnant. What they do that is wrong in my eyes happens after their children are born, not before. They are not there to take care of them when they are born and that is universally thought of as careless and irresponsible and I wonder why in this instance society makes the exception. Why is it OK to abandon parental responsibility for you and others like you when its a crime for everyone else?

  11. Sam Gregory says:

    — “Sam I am not trying to represent anyone. I am commenting on legal inequities that are experienced by people with estranged parents.”

    Firstly, lets have a look at your very odd choice of language, especially words like ‘estranged’ and ‘abandoned’. ‘Estrange’ is defined by Merriam-Webster thus: “to cause someone to be no longer friendly or close to another person or group”. Donors have usually never had a parental relationship with their biological children, or even met them. They have never been close to them in that sense. So they cannot ‘abandon’ or become ‘estranged’ from their biological children as they never had a connection beyond the biological in the first place. You cannot become estranged from somebody you’ve never met. This should be obvious to anyone. It’s therefore my conclusion that you are deliberately misusing these words as part of your bizarre campaign to discredit donor conception.

    — “You fascinate me Sam because you put a lot of words in my mouth and you seem to think I’m a total liar.”

    Hilariously ironic, given that you’ve spent the last few thousand words of this comment thread trying to put words into the mouths of donor-conceived people, despite not being donor-conceived yourself, and having no idea what it’s like to be donor-conceived. If you were the parent of a DC-person, or even the daughter of a DC-person then you’d have some input, but you don’t seem to have any connection to the DC personal experience at all. It’d be like me commenting on the true inner-feelings of the Swiss. I don’t think you’re a ‘liar’, just very dishonest (see above: deliberately misusing language to evoke emotional point-scoring AKA ‘weasel words’)

    — “and a bunch that do not qualify as activist types because they don’t want to upset the people who raised them by speaking out against gamete donation.”

    How convenient!

    — “I honestly think it is just fine that you are not interested in meeting or getting to know your biological family members.”

    Actually, I’d be very interested in meeting biological relatives, especially siblings. I don’t know where you got the idea that I wasn’t interested from. This might surprise you, but there are some people who are perfectly comfortable with being donor-conceived, and who also would like to meet their biological relatives if possible. The two are not mutually exclusive.

    — “You are prevented from accessing information about who your relatives are Sam only because the law allowed the man who fathered you to not have his name on your birth record.”

    Yes, but that hasn’t been true in the UK at least since 2005. Nearly a decade ago. We can’t go back in time to 1991 when I was born, but that’s how legislation in a liberal society works. It gradually improves, making peoples lives better. I’m not overly angry that anonymity was still legal in 1991. These ideas take time to progress.

    — “You’d be surprised to know your grandparents would likely be horrified at having lost the chance to know you and angry at their child and the government for not allowing them to know who you are or where you are.”

    Complete speculation. I have no idea who they are, and there’s a small chance that they may very well feel that way, but I’d imagine on the balance of probabilities that they wouldn’t be “horrified”. They’d probably think it quite beautiful that their son was willing to donate and make an infertile couple (my parents) very happy. If the UK is the place that I think it is, the vast majority of the population would find this act of kindness by a stranger to be heart-warming.

    — “The agreement he signed was that he was willing to give up his children and in order to do that he first had to make some kids to give up, ergo the sperm.”

    I didn’t realise that every time a man masturbates he has to sign a parental release form…

    — “Please go look for examples of the agreements that sperm donors sign. They are not even allowed to donate if they are unwilling to give up at least some of their offspring. The reproductive service they offer is not desired unless they give up their offspring at birth and agree to stay away for at least 18 years.”

    Well of course they’re not! After the donation, the mother of the child will have to go through nine months of pregnancy to have that baby. You’d be more than a little irked if after that, the donor could change his mind and take your child off you. It’s just not feasible to have a system when a donor could retroactively claim parental responsibility over resulting children. The only solution is to ensure that donors are of a sound mind when they donate, and are fully aware of the consequences of their donation.

    — “They are not there to take care of them when they are born and that is universally thought of as careless and irresponsible and I wonder why in this instance society makes the exception. Why is it OK to abandon parental responsibility for you and others like you when its a crime for everyone else?”

    They have not abandoned parental responsibility because they never had parental responsibility. Donors are not parents, and never were. They are the donors of the building blocks that create human life, a human life that is then moulded and formed by the environment it grows up in.

  12. marilynn says:

    I like talking to you Sam, I’m actually getting a lot out of this conversation. I’m a nice person. I devote lots of my free time to helping people locate their relatives because its really a difficult task and I’m pretty quick at it. I don’t think that it’s fair for some people to have access to their relatives vital records, while other people don’t. I don’t think that its fair for most bio parents to be accountable for their offspring while others are not. I don’t think it is fair to you and I hardly think its appropriate for you to have to wait to be treated justly, even if you don’t necessarily want to exercise all your rights, that is no reason to deny you at least the same options that others have.

    You say that you have to have a parental relationship to abandon a child. You are right and they do have a parental relationship with their children once they are born, of course, it is the biological parental connection which is the one that paternity suits turn upon and the one that orders for financial support turns upon. That definition of parent is the primary one that parental obligations stem from and it is the one that all other forms of parenthood are modeled after. That is not to say that biological parents are better than social parents but the obligation and expectation is there in law which is why donors sign paperwork agreeing not only to give up their sperm but more importantly to give up their children at birth and that act of giving up can be described in many ways but sperm donation does not describe the giving up of the child which as I said is the primary thing their agreements discuss.

    No men don’t have to sign contracts every time they mastrubate, but they do have to sign agreements every time they donate sperm for reproductive purposes because they are giving up their sperm with the intent of creating a child that they agree in advance they will abandon responsibility for at birth if they are ever born. It’s not inflamitory language. If a man has 5 offspring and he is raising only two of them, not paying support for the other three and he did not relinquish them in a court approved adoption and he has no idea where they are or whose taking care of them the term abandoned is rather apt. I find it odd that you look at that and find it heartwarming, that a person would think that their offspring were something that they can simply give as gifts to other people who want them. I have always found it odd that anyone would think biological parents owned their offspring and could choose to give them as gifts to people or could sell them or trade them or offload them as they saw fit. I’d like to hold biological parents to a higher standard of care than that. Their children are their obligation to raise not their property to keep or dispose of depending on their intentions. But you feel differently about it and I respect that I don’t think my desire to see you or others treated fairly will interfere with your feelings at all.

    I know that you think I’m all shady and that its convenient that some of the donor offspring I’ve helped won’t talk publicly but others will. Plenty will and they are of the activist type, what can I say. Not everyone is cut from the same activist cloth I am. A lot of people I’ve helped are much more like you publicly. Interesting that you said you want to find your bio relatives while still maintaining your other feelings about gamete donation, that is how they feel also. So maybe the kind of person I’m describing is not that far fetched. Can you imagine that there are some that would not want to say publicly that they are interested in finding bio relatives, because in their instance it might hurt the feelings of the people raising them? Is that in the realm of possibility since you have an interest in bio family but simultaneously have an allegiance to the family that raised you? Is it that unrealistic that some of their parents could be bloggers on the topic? Maybe lawyers on the topic, maybe counselors or physicians? They might want just a little help finding their bio family, might feel the position they are in is very unfair to them, but won’t discuss it openly because they might feel strongly just as you do about the whole donating thing? Like they have a whole internal mini struggle going on that they don’t want to air out?

    Also what you were saying about the 2005 thing, I’m not talking about this “right to know your donor at 18” thing. Sorry if I gave the wrong impression. I’m talking about citizens all in general have the right to their immediate relatives birth marriage and death certificates because access to that info is a public health issue and it is critical to make that information available within families especially when family communication breaks down – like someone bails on a kid for instance. This right to access your families records is undermined whenever a relative either lies and says they are a parent of someone when they are not, or lies and does not get recorded on the birth certificates of their offspring. Finding out who your donor is at 18 does not enable you to access your families vital records, nor they yours. So that is a token gesture that does not equalize the rights of donor offspring with the rest of the population, and does not help any family member of a donor or recipient. Causes a big public health nightmare actually.

  13. marilynn says:

    Sam wouldn’t it be even nicer of donors if they were willing to stick around and be accountable for their offspring as parents after their offspring were born to the same extent the biological mother sticks around and is accountable? And then the two of them as parents work together and collaborate in the best interests of their joint offspring each providing equal support equal share of physical care and full inclusion in both families and their offspring would have the added benefit of being raised also by the mother’s loving and attentive spouse who wants very much to be an integral part of the child’s life in their legal position as the child’s step parent? All around us are people whose parents are not together as a couple and courts order them to cooperate in the best interest of their joint offspring and their offspring frequently develop very close bonded loving relationships with their parents respective partners or spouses – even closer than with the noncustodial parent sometimes. But would it not be a more loving gift for a donor to give a couple if he actually remained accountable for his child and they worked together in the child’s best interests? Why is it that we think it is best for the bio father to simply disappear in this instance when we don’t want him to disappear in other instances where parents are not together as a couple? Clearly those men did not all intend to be parents when they got a girl, not their wife pregnant yet they are required to cooperate with her to raise their child regardless.

    It seems more loving to me to stay involved and collaborate. It seems unequal to me to have it one way for donors and a different way for everyone else. If it is so great for donor offspring not to have their bio parents support then lets just scrap it for everyone. Everyone should be in the same boat as you and donor offspring if it is such a super deal. Lets stop bothering with vital records and child support based on biology because Donor offspring are totally cool with unfair treatment lets adjust it so everyone gets nothing more than what they get.

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