Last week the Oprah Winfrey Show featured individuals looking for donor dads. Not single women or infertile couples considering sperm donation, but rather people who are the offspring of third-party sperm providers. According to estimates, at least one million individuals have been conceived in this fashion in the United States alone. Like the prospective parents who turn to sperm donation to complete their families, these donor offspring are looking to complete their families too.
Some of those featured on Oprah's show had fairytale endings to their quests. Gavin, who was conceived with sperm donated by Todd, donor # 2053, searched for and connected with his biological father. Gavin, his mother Cheryl, and Todd have been able to establish a rapport and even take vacations together. Cheryl says, "We are definitely a family."
Others told heartbreaking stories. Susan felt she had been "lied to" when she learned at age 27 that she had been conceived with donor sperm and shared no biological relation with the father who raised her. Susan has been unable to track down her donor dad.
Today, it's a common understanding that children should be told they are the offspring of donors, because they have a right to know their medical history and in order to eliminate the problems created by secrecy within families. The US has no federal regulation around gamete donor identification.
Some experts, like the University of Alberta's Laura Shanner [PDF], argue that it's a child's human right to know his or her genetic identity. Taken together, the tales told on the Oprah episode reinforce the argument that children of sperm donors need to find their biological fathers and half siblings in order to feel complete.
Posted in Assisted Reproduction, Jamie D. Brooks's Publications, Media Coverage
CommentsAdd a Comment
Comment by Kendad, Sep 6th, 2012 11:11pm
I am a 47 year old well educated black guy and have black kids already.I would love to be a donor dad to a white,asian ot hispanic lady/couple before I am 50.
Comment by Carrie Elizabeth, Sep 28th, 2008 9:56am
I didn't see the Oprah bit, but do know there aren't many options out there for people seeking to become parents in non-traditional ways.
Check out this new venture: myspace.com/rainbowsoother
It's a very new community online seeking to connect potential parents desiring known donor/co-parenting etc. situations
Comment by Jamie D. Brooks, Feb 20th, 2008 8:03am
Jason Bobe, thank you so much for your comment. Oprah had the founders of the Donor Sibling Registry, Wendy and Ryan Kramer (a mother and son team) featured on this show who started the registry because they felt certain that other individuals like Ryan would be curious about their genetic orgins.
Comment by Jason Bobe, Feb 19th, 2008 6:04am
I don't know if the Oprah show discussed it, but its worth mentioning the Donor Sibling Registry -- an organization which connects individuals conceived through gamete donation to biological relatives. All on a voluntary basis.