June 20, 2012
“Anonymous Father’s Day”
By Mike McManus
Father’s Day for millions of
kids was not a happy day, because they don’t even know who their father
is. They are the product of a donated sperm, emplanted in their mother.
issue first surfaced two years ago when a report was published, “My
Daddy’s Name Is DONOR,” by Elizabeth Marquardt, Norval Glenn and Karen
Clark by the Institute for American Values in New York.
first artificial insemination occurred in 1884, and is now routine.
Why? One in six married couples is unable to conceive a child.
Understandably, there is sympathy for such couples. However, 2.3
million couples give fertility experts $3.3 billion annually.
time to ask some questions about what happens to the babies of sperm
donors. Babies grow up and are often dismayed to discover that their
father is anonymous.
Marquardt’s study asked a million households if their mother used a
sperm donor. Result: 485 adults said yes – 262 of whom were born to
heterosexual couples, 113 to single mothers and 39 to lesbian couples.
same study assembled similar numbers of young adults who were adopted as
infants and others raised by their biological parents.
adults conceived through sperm donation are hurting more, are more
confused, and feel more isolated from their families,” it concluded.
“They fare worse
than their peers raised by biological parents on important outcomes such
as depression, delinquency and substance abuse. Two-thirds agree, “My
sperm donor is half of who I am.” Nearly half are disturbed that money
was involved in their conception. They are more apt to be substance
abusers and are twice as likely as those from intact marriages to get
No one knows how many sperm donations
there are, because shockingly, no one is required to keep track. The
best estimate is that 30,000-60,000 U.S. children are born annually. It
is a big international business. India and South Africa advertise that
they charge less.
This week the Family Research Council
aired a moving new DVD, “Anonymous Father’s Day,” which interviewed
three adults with sperm donor parents.
One at age 3 asked her mother, “Who is my
daddy?” Her mother took her to a meeting of infertile women, and the
child felt like, “I was thrown to the sharks.”
Barry has spent years looking for his
father. He was told he couldn’t ask questions about donors. Many were
not sympathetic: “That is the way you were given life. If that had not
happened, you would not be here. Accept it”
His response, “If that were true, anyone
who is a product of rape would have to endorse rape.”
Alana remembers looking at pictures of
her family when she was young and noticed her sister looked like her
mother, but she did not look like either parent. Her mother divulged the
secret when she was 5. At age 7 her parents divorced; she learned “My
father wanted full custody of my sister, but not me.”
She asserted, “We were always told how
wanted we were, especially by our mother. But we were abandoned by
someone…I wondered what it would be like to meet my biological father. I
wanted to see him.”
Therefore, she registered with
www.donorsiblingregistry, which has made 8,000-9,000 matches between
adult children and their donor dad.
Stephanie did not learn about her origins
until two years ago as an adult. She’s glad she did not know as a
child, because “I would have been a lot harder on my dad, telling him,
`You are not my dad,’ which would have cut him to the quick.”
What should be done about this mess?
“We should end anonymous donation of
sperm,” says Elizabeth Marquardt. “Other nations have banned it –
Britain, New Zealand, Australia, Norway, Sweden and British Columbia in
“We tolerate the creation of two classes
of children. If a man walks in a bar, and gets a woman pregnant, he is
liable for child support. There is a legal norm even if you did not
mean to be a father. On the other hand the state allows the deliberate
creation of children who have only one legal parent. The state can’t ask
him for support, and obscures him from the children.”
Finally, what about the Catholic position
that opposes sperm donation?
“It makes a lot of sense,” she said.
“Don’t do it.” If one has a right to know where you came from, how can
anonymous fathers be morally acceptable?
Certainly, anonymous sperm donations
should cease by creating a registry. If fathers knew their children
would seek them out, how many would do it for $150?
Copyright © Michael
J. McManus is a syndicated columnist and past president of Marriage Savers