So a bunch of bloggers are writing about some aspect of using donor sperm today. Whenever you get a couple of women who want a baby, you’ve got to get the sperm somewhere. It’s inevitable. And there are different options out there, depending on what you are looking for.
We used an anonymous donor from a sperm bank, as was my wife’s preference. As the non-gestating mother, she got to make the final decision. I thought that she had “more to lose” in terms of not having a genetic link to our kids and therefore I wanted to do whatever she was comfortable with, and sperm was “her job” in the process. But I’m not going to write about that.
I’m sure many of you have seen the article in the Boston Globe about the dude who donated sperm and has 70-something kids. It was all about how he was reaching out to them and blah blah blah. And some people gasped, “70 kids! That’s insane.”
I am here to tell you that I would not be at all surprised if my children have more than 70 genetic half-siblings. We purchased from a bank with a high guaranteed sperm count who also is willing to give that sperm to a LOT of families. I am not sure if I am remembering correctly, but I think it was 40 families. They would sell to FORTY families.
Think about that for a moment. They sell to forty families and families have multiple kids. And then maybe some people have some leftover sperm after their families are completely and they sell those vials to other families – outside of the bank’s knowledge – and then there are more than 40 families. And our donor had a pretty good success rate, I have to give him that. Let’s put it this way: I used him twice, and I have two children. End of story.
So what I worry about, more than “donor sibling incest” or about whether or not my children will be upset that their donor is not willing to be known (because really? even a dude with good intentions is not going to have much to offer 80 kids), it’s that one day my children, my absolutely special, lights-of-my-life, perfectly unique and wonderful children are going to think about their origins and feel mass-produced. They are my children, and they are my wife’s children, but they are – in some ways – products of donor #9558. Products like IKEA furniture. (You know – they’re cool, they’re hip, they’re really cute, BUT EVERYONE HAS THEM.)
Will my children one day find out that they are 2 of (let’s say) 80 and feel less special? Will they feel like pieces of meat? Will they feel somehow cheapened that all of these other children share half of their genetic origins? My brother and I are the only two combinations of our mother’s DNA and our father’s DNA. Neither of them had other children. We are IT. There is something concise and neat about it. My two sets of grandparents each had two children. My mother and her sister each had two children. My father had (obviously) two children and his brother adopted one child. My children’s father may have 70 children, or 80, or more. And worse (or better?), we will never know how many. I believe last reported tally was over 40 but we all know that many people don’t report births to the bank.
Our donor still has vials being sold. (Would you like to have kid #81? He makes cute babies.) They started being sold more than eight years ago, as I know of a donor sibling who is eight or slightly older. Sometimes I can’t help but picture a little assembly line-type machine spitting out babies, and in my mind it looks a lot like the “Children’s Television Sausage Factory.”
(Follow the conversation over at http://firsttimesecondtime.com/2011/09/donor-sibling-registry-yay-nay/)