Creepy: one sperm donor, 150 children

And now people are wondering if that was such a good idea after all.

Details:

Cynthia Daily and her partner used a sperm donor to conceive a baby seven years ago, and they hoped that one day their son would get to know some of his half siblings — an extended family of sorts for modern times.

So Ms. Daily searched a Web-based registry for other children fathered by the same donor and helped to create an online group to track them. Over the years, she watched the number of children in her son’s group grow.

And grow.

Today there are 150 children, all conceived with sperm from one donor, in this group of half siblings, and more are on the way. “It’s wild when we see them all together — they all look alike,” said Ms. Daily, 48, a social worker in the Washington area who sometimes vacations with other families in her son’s group.

As more women choose to have babies on their own, and the number of children born through artificial insemination increases, outsize groups of donor siblings are starting to appear. While Ms. Daily’s group is among the largest, many others comprising 50 or more half siblings are cropping up on Web sites and in chat groups, where sperm donors are tagged with unique identifying numbers.

Now, there is growing concern among parents, donors and medical experts about potential negative consequences of having so many children fathered by the same donors, including the possibility that genes for rare diseases could be spread more widely through the population. Some experts are even calling attention to the increased odds of accidental incest between half sisters and half brothers, who often live close to one another.

“My daughter knows her donor’s number for this very reason,” said the mother of a teenager conceived via sperm donation in California who asked that her name be withheld to protect her daughter’s privacy. “She’s been in school with numerous kids who were born through donors. She’s had crushes on boys who are donor children. It’s become part of sex education” for her.

Critics say that fertility clinics and sperm banks are earning huge profits by allowing too many children to be conceived with sperm from popular donors, and that families should be given more information on the health of donors and the children conceived with their sperm. They are also calling for legal limits on the number of children conceived using the same donor’s sperm and a re-examination of the anonymity that cloaks many donors.

“We have more rules that go into place when you buy a used car than when you buy sperm,” said Debora L. Spar, president of Barnard College and author of “The Baby Business: How Money, Science and Politics Drive the Commerce of Conception.” “It’s very clear that the dealer can’t sell you a lemon, and there’s information about the history of the car. There are no such rules in the fertility industry right now.”

Read the rest.

  • http://www.ramblingfollower.blogspot.com Rambling Follower

    I have friends – gay and straight – who have conceived their babies in this way. I often wonder if they worry their children might accidentally marry a half-sibling. How sad, as the article states, that it is easier to find a sperm donor than to buy a used car, in terms of regulations overseeing the process.

  • RomCath

    “fertility industry”, I can’t think of any words to describe how uncivilized this is. The whole article makes my skin crawl.

  • http://www.gerardnadal.com Gerard Nadal

    150 children from one donor? Good God, how many times did this guy donate??? We’ve reduced ourselves to a level of animal husbandry (pardon the pun). If HIV testing before marriage weren’t bad enough, now we’ll have people comparing daddy’s number with one another.

  • HMS

    I find this very upsetting.

    But I understand that a number of these sperm doners are med students, paying their way through med school. Some women are part of escort services to help pay their way through college.

    Hmm…

  • justamouse

    Euuwwww. Just, Euuuwwww.

    There really needs to be a limit as to how many times one guy’s sperm can be used.

    To think the FDA is waging a war against raw milk, and yet lets this go completely unchecked. Priorities, we gots em.

  • Klaire

    In my earlier life I had a med student boyfriend who gave sperm on a regular basis. It didn’t bother me back then, but now, still being very good friends with him, it totally freaks me out to think of how many kids he has fathered.

    For obvious reasons, the med students are always popular donors. It gets even creepier when you think more deeply about it and realize it really is a form of “eugenics-light.”

  • pagansister

    Now that really is an “extended family” 150 1/2 brother’s and sisters–WOW!

    While I have no problem with sperm donation in general, I do think there should be a limit on how many times a fellow can “donate”. Perhaps a national registry (simular to that for those that need organ transplants) could be done, since everything is now on the internet.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00442985285647041700 Melody

    Since “Big Love” went off the air, this could be the new reality show…..(not!!).

  • Greta

    When you have one sin stacked on top of another, it is not surprising to see it go off the tracks. Humane Vitae was certainly inspired by God for it nailed what we have allowed to become normal and how sick our society has become in this culture of death.

    A person I know who lives in the world of statictics once spent a few years studying the issue of infertility and children in need of parents. He came to the conclusion that it showed God’s hand. He found that almost as many of those who could not or chose not to conceive seemed to match closely those children in need of parents. He worked at a think tank with access to about every database in existence. Of course man has thrown God’s plan out the window with abortion and this type of birth without God or the method God put in place for mankind. Each time we say no to God, there has to be an impact in our world we do not see which is why we pray for forgiveness not only for the things we do, but also for the things we do not do, the things we see, and the things we do not see. I wonder if all mankind could see for a day, the ‘invisible world’ how it would impact our lives forever. Our closest way to view this world is through the teaching of the Church and many Catholics say no each day to solid church teaching.

  • George Marchand

    morally…hardly good seed

  • Gail F

    That’s just disgusting. Pagansister, why don’t you have a problem with sperm donation? Generally, a guy impregnating a woman and never having anything to do with the baby is considered bad. These particular women want to be impregnated, but so what? That doesn’t change that the man deliberately impregnates someone but has nothing to do with the child. Or, in this case, the 150 children. The children will grow up knowing that their father wanted nothing to do with them. And no, I am not extrapolating — there are whole websites for people who found out they were conceived this way and feel betrayed by all the adults concerned.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00442985285647041700 Melody

    I understand why artificial insemination is wrong. However, in defense of people who have resorted to that; to them it was just a solution to male infertility. They didn’t foresee the problems that have developed, they thought,”No one will ever have to know.” The man may have even thought he was doing a good deed, in addition to earning a little cash. However as we have seen, the past comes back to bite one in the behind. Children conceived this way would have to come to terms in the way adopted children do; realizing that their “real dad” is the man who raised them and was there for them.

  • http://jscafenette.com/ Manny

    And yet the abortion industry is riding high with 125 million abortions per year in this country alone. There are so many people who would adopt. We don’t have to reduce humanity to this. Gerard in #3 is right on: we have been reduced to animal husbandry. I don’t know if I find this story creepy; I find it repulsive.

  • http://catholicsensibility.wordpress.com/ Todd

    It’s a natural extension of a culture that allows materialism, acquisition, and finances to override all other considerations. It’s why Republicans and the AMA pushed for the decriminalization of abortion in the 1960′s.

    Regarding, “what we have allowed to become normal and how sick our society has become in this culture of death.”

    This is a clear misdiagnosis. This is a symptom of a culture of selling. Greta is right that there are consequences to unchecked indulgences, but let’s not permit “Euwww” circumstances to cloud our assessment here. a med student who sells off sperm and fathers hundreds of children might have an account paid in full, but maybe he deserves an F in genetics.

    It’s another good day to promote adoption, people.

  • oldestof9

    Aren’t these men in a sense, male whores?
    Any sexual act that does not include another person of the opposite sex and end in penetration is a sin.
    These men have turned their attention to themselves, not toward others, even to the point of making this about money.
    YIKES.

    Peace to all

  • Rudy

    My opinion is that this is unethical, immoral, wrong. I agree with those who have said we have reduced ourselves to the level of livestock. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, if man wants to be treated like raw material, raw material he will be.

    Incest is a real possibility, if one of the half siblings is herself impregnated with the seed of her father or half brother or cousin which in turn could cause malformations for the babies conceived and then possibly lead to abortion.

    There has been about 50,000,000 aborted babies just in the United States since 1973. And yet fertility treatment, and artificial insemination have become an industry. Something is awfully wrong.

  • Katie Angel

    In response to both Greta at #9 and Todd at #14 – this is one of those cases where statistics don’t tell the whole story. Yes, there are plenty of adoptable children out there to satisfy all those couple who want a child but cannot physically conceive one – but, to Todd’s point, they are not the KIND of children that these parents want. They are often born in poverty or with congenital illnesses or they are the incorrect race, gender, age or nationality. Children have just become another commodity that we should be able to purchase based on our own specifications. I even know of a couple that specified that the the child they adopted should look like them (so no one would have to know…..).

    There are still a lot of people that just want a child to love and don’t care about the aesthetics but there are also far too many who look at adopting as just another purchase. And that is very sad.

  • http://catholicsensibility.wordpress.com/ Todd

    Katie, exactly. Adopting a child is about getting something new and valuable, not dirty and used.

    Soon enough, adoptive parents realize that even the kid with movie-star white-bread looks will have smelly brown and yellow stuff dropping out the other end from the smile. And then, where are you? A generation that can’t live up to parental expectations.

    It actually fits that children from donors would all start looking alike. It’s what the culture sells us.

    This is where the Humanae Vitae Church is so hopelessly out of touch with the present. It’s not because the theology is wrong. Not at all. It’s because they have no alternative to offer, other than wring hands and say, “Bad, bad, BAD!”

    An authentically pro-family, pro-life Church, instead of laying off Catholic Charities adoption workers, would employ more. It would send them into the parishes, and start promoting adoption like the life of every foster child depended in it.

    What else is there to say? Bad sperm donors. Milquetoast church missing another opportunity to spread the Gospel. Dunce caps all around.

  • JosephW

    Todd,

    Pick up the cross and do something, your finger pointing at the Church is ridiculous.

  • http://www.inetsoft.com/company/bi_tools/ BI Tool Guy

    This just shows that medicine in the US is an institution. It is more about the money rather than the care for patients. Then again, one must wonder if this donor has better rates of conception and that is why people tend to choose the donor. However, it is a scary thought to know that there are 150 people who are “accidentally” related due to lack of concern for the gene pool by the suppliers at the donor office. I don’t see a problem with using a donor in general, but people should definitely be more aware of who they are receiving from.

  • http://catholicsensibility.wordpress.com/ Todd Flowerday

    Got you covered, Joseph. My wife and I adopted a special needs child over ten years ago. We promote adoption by talk and walk. We encourage others, too. We were also Encountered as an engaged couple and as a married couple and have urged many of our friends to experience ME.

    Unlike you, I’m not going to probe and asked what you’ve done to adopt children or shore up your marriage. But I will continue to push back against bishops who have it wrong. I also bring practical, pastoral suggestions for improvement when I do criticize my sister and brother Catholics.

  • Katie Angel

    Todd,

    Thank you for the thoughtful and prayerful response. My (late) husband and I were also Encoutered for engagement and marriage – as a matter of fact, ME is the reason we were not sitting in the World Trade Center restaurant on 9/11/01 – and worked to support foster children and older adoptions through our parish and Catholic Charities. Keep up the good work and may blessings rain down upon you!

  • JosephW

    Congrats Todd. Its about building up the Church not tearing it down.

    “This is where the Humanae Vitae Church is so hopelessly out of touch with the present.”

    “I also bring practical, pastoral suggestions for improvement when I do criticize my sister and brother Catholics.”

    Really? Here’s my suggestion attend some Theology of the Body sessions and learn what the Church is teaching about sexuality. They got it all covered.

    The Church helped save my life and my marriage.

  • RomCath

    “This is where the Humanae Vitae Church is so hopelessly out of touch with the present.”

    A bizarre statement if ever there was one. All that was predicted by the rejection of HV has come to pass–IVF, abortion on demand etc etc.
    It seems that people are “out of touch” with the beauty of the sacrament of marriage, procreation and sexuality in general that the Church continues to proclaim. So we have “sperm donors” prostituting themselves for a few bucks. If people have no problem with that I would say they are out of touch not only with the Church but with reality. 150 children from one “donor”!!!! Repulsive doesn’t even come close to describe it.

  • cathyf

    Does anybody remember the wickedly funny SNL skit My 75 Kids? Somehow we keep losing, bit by bit, the ability to recognize “crazy” when we see it.

  • Bruce Tereski

    Katie Angel hit the nail on the head.
    Those who see nothing wrong with this, implicitly reduce children to a product and a commodity, when human life is rather a gift and a person.

    To these children, their mother freely chose as their biological father some number who committed numerous self-abusiveacts. Was it through some catalogue? Perhaps in the future it will be by ebay or amazon.

    Besides the moral bankruptcy of this whole process, sadly, time may reveal psychological (if not genetic) damage done to children conceived in this way.

  • pagansister

    Self abusive acts Bruce T.? That’s what most normal males do occasionally when their significant other may not be around?

  • pagansister

    Gail F. #11: Sorry my attitude towards this subject makes you “disgusted”. However I have had the pleasure of meeting 2 beautiful children concieved this way because their father was unable to reproduce, so their mother with his approval, concieved a beatiful boy and girl this way. They are intelligent, lovely children. Just one persons opinion. If it makes for a happy family—how is this wrong? I do think as I mentioned above, that there should be a limit on the donors part.

    BTW, I’m also a supporter of adoption—my mother was an adopted child, adopted at the age of 7.

  • http://catholicsensibility.wordpress.com/ Todd Flowerday

    Joseph, thanks for the reply.

    My suggestion in turn is that because of CCC 2478, as (I presume) a Catholic, you are obligated to bring to a better mindset to this discussion. TOB may well have saved your life and marriage–of that I have no reason to doubt. Yet basic charity toward your fellow pro-life Catholics is missing somehow. How’s that?

    Here’s my sense of it. I condemned this “fathering of 150,” but the fact that I also criticize a Church that has yet to offer a convincing alternative message to sex, procreation, and children as commodities bothers you and others somehow.

    It is possible to have the “right” message, but to speak it in such a way that people can’t or won’t listen. Granted, there are voices in the culture, loud voices on both the Right and Left that urge people to abandon virtue, good sense, and holiness.

    On the other hand, the same message (TOB) that worked for you, and the different one that worked for me, won’t likely convince everybody else. It’s time for answers that are less what people want to say, and more what they need to hear. Thanks for the dialogue on this. If you concede that I’m a staunch pro-life Catholic who walks the talk, I think we’re good to go from here.

  • oldestof9

    “It’s time for answers that are less what people want to say, and more what they need to hear.”

    Todd,
    It’s NOT about what people want to say NOR about what people want to hear.
    It’s about speaking the TRUTH. Not your truth, not my truth, but the truth of Scripture and Tradition found in the Catholic Church.

    …and the Church teaches it is a sin to masturbate… period.

    Peace to all

  • JosephW

    Todd,

    I apologize if my calling you out offended you but I get tired of folks finger pointing at the Church. It’s great that you are pro-life and have adopted a child.

    This is off topic but are you criticizing people who pray the rosary on your blog?

    “a Church that has yet to offer a convincing alternative message”. Please define what you think that message should be. What do we need to hear?

  • http://catholicsensibility.wordpress.com/ Todd Flowerday

    Joseph, as I see it we each called the other out and then we got some clarification. It works for me.

    To answer your question, which is indeed off topic, and very curious, no.

    Clearly, more liberals like me need to hear the truth nuanced in a way that we can stomach it. The making of children into commodities is heinous to me.

    I think the bishops have got it wrong by downsizing Catholic Charities. If anything, more social workers should be added to promote adoption. CC people could be going into parishes to train parents for the secular adoption process. The Church doesn’t want to let single parents or homosexuals adopt–that’s fine. But the bishops seem unmoved by the plight of 130,000 kids in foster care, some of whom only single people or gays will take. Adoption needs to be seen as less a “cure” for childlessness and more as an opportunity for a convincing, fearless, and sacrificial pro-life witness.

    As for oldestof9′s comment, that’s definitely off-topic, not to mention in drastic need of reading comprehension. So I’m just going to let it sit out there with a raised eyebrow and be done with it.

  • RomCath

    “Self abusive acts Bruce T.? That’s what most normal males do occasionally when their significant other may not be around”

    So, pagan, those who don’t do it or who don’t have a significant other are “abnormal”? Is that what you are saying?

  • JosephW

    Todd,

    Promoting adoption is something we can definitely agree on, I don’t think I have heard it, but maybe I have not been listening. I recently have been contemplating it.

    On sexual education I firmly believe the CC is spot on. We live in a sex culture, I can’t turn on the darn TV anymore. We have turned something good into a perversion.

    The Church has it exactly right when it says, contraception, masturbation, IVF, sex outside marriage, homosexual acts, (and back to the topic) sperm donating are all wrong.

    It’s a perversion of society and morality and we all suffer for it including all those children.

  • pagansister

    #33 RomCath. Nope that is not what I’m saying.

  • Greta

    100% correct… The Church has it exactly right when it says, contraception, masturbation, IVF, sex outside marriage, homosexual acts, (and back to the topic) sperm donating are all wrong.

    Theology of the Body is outstanding for all to read and absorb if they want to know Catholic teaching on what is truly beautiful and normal for human beings. It is going to be viewed down through the ages as one of the best writings on this subject in human history.

  • http://themightyambivalentcatholic.blogspot.com Steve

    Manny, you gave a statistic concerning “125 million abortions per year in this country alone.” There’s no way that number is anywhere close to correct. There are about 300 to 310 million people in this country. Let’s say about half of them are female. Your stat means that almost every woman or girl (everyone from infancy through old age) has an abortion every year.

    I’m guessing you’ve accidentally added a zero on at the end. (Maybe the number is 1.25 million a year? That’s plenty sad right there.) Not trying to poke fun on a serious topic, but if we’re going to use statistics in a debate, they have to be used with care. Otherwise people just write off an otherwise valid and important point.

    Peace to you.


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