Donor Issues Come Up

As I mentioned in an earlier post, a current donor wrote in to the DSR Listserve with issues concerning contact with families that has used his sperm. I’ll post his note here- and the response that I sent in to the Listserve.
I feel a great deal of empathy for both parties and this is one of the reasons that I feel compelled to wade into this discussion- and this film.

The title of post was “Am I Cold-Hearted?”

I haven’t been a sperm donor for that long. Recently, I told this lady by email I want no contact with the child after AI or NI…except for a few pics. Then she goes off on me about being cold-hearted and mean. I’ve spent lots of $ traveling to help couples & singles get pregnant and never received a thank you.

My response:

As a former donor who has been following the subject for a couple of years I would say that you aren’t cold-hearted- but you are probably not as well informed about the emotional implications of what’s going on as you could be.

I dontated 20 or so years ago and was not made aware in any way that there would be emotional implications. I thought of it all in an abstract kind of way- and didn’t have a sense that the children born from my donations would feel any connection to me- nor me to them. Then I had kids of my own and …. well- there’s no denying that they are partly me- and that is an intense fact.

As i have followed the subject I have also found that the children born of donor fathers are often intensely interested in knowing more about where they came from. I don’t imagine that all of them have this desire. Of course everyone is different, but I have talked to a number of donor kids, and they feel cut off from a part of themselves- as someone who recently lost my father I can totally relate to that feeling- as someone who has children I can totally relate to that feeling.

As such- if I had the ability to do it over- I think that I would still consider donation- but I would only do it if it was a much more open and supportive process for all concerned- taking into consideration the emotional needs of everyone involved-

You are clearly giving these people a gift- and it should be lauded and supported. At the same time that gift has hidden emotional time bombs attached that you need to be aware of – and think through- in the best interest of the child that will come from your gift. I can completely understand why you might not want to have a relationship with that child- at the same time- closing the door on that possibility may not be the best thing for them or for you in the long run.

Obviously it’s a complex issue and I don’t mean to preach at you in any way whatsoever- when I donated there was no contact with the clients- yet now I wish there had been- as it would have made me ask myself the hard questions that you are asking yourself now. your actions are far more generous than mine were at the time- as you are giving not only the gift of your self – but also of you identity.

If you can take the point of view of these parents for a moment.

They, like you- probably entered this realm with less information than they probably should have had. Now they have a child and they are becoming more informed about how to best handle things- what they are hearing is that donor kids can benefit emotionally from having a better sense of where they came from- from their roots- and you are a big part of their roots. perhaps they are overstepping lines in their desperation to provide what they now find is necessary. I hope that you can find a way to give them a little patience, and I hope that they can find it in themselves to appreciate what you have done for them.

You might also find that 10 years from now you want to know more about these children- because these children can help you learn a lot about yourself. I know that I am a very different person at 40 than i was at 20- I probably wasn’t emotionally mature enough to accept the responsibilities that came with donating at that time.

I listed myself on the DSR about a year and a half ago and I haven’t been approached by any donor kids. However, a couple of weeks ago I posted an op-ed about this issue on a blog and through that I met a 23 year old donor kid who has spent many years thinking deeply about her roots- I wish that she was my daughter, and I look forward to meeting my donor kids some day.

Here’s a link to that op-ed I hope that it helps to clarify some of these issues- and I am happy to discuss any of them with you – just email me directly.


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