The Thinking 

Soulless Reproduction and Father Hunger

December 3, 2011


FATHERHOOD by anonymous sperm donors is considered so unethical in other parts of the world that many countries restrict it or ban it altogether. In 2005, Britain ended the practice of anonymous sperm donation. Yet in the United States, the market is essentially unregulated. Only in a country that sanctifies the whims of adults over the immaterial needs of children could such an inhuman practice take hold as an acceptable way for an unmarried woman or lesbian to conceive.

Here is the powerful 2006 piece in The Washington Post by Katrina Clark about her unknown sperm donor father. Clark wrote:

When she was 32, my mother — single, and worried that she might never marry and have a family — allowed a doctor wearing rubber gloves to inject a syringe of sperm from an unknown man into her uterus so that she could have a baby. I am the result: a donor-conceived child.

And for a while, I was pretty angry about it.

I was angry at the idea that where donor conception is concerned, everyone focuses on the “parents” — the adults who can make choices about their own lives. The recipient gets sympathy for wanting to have a child. The donor gets a guarantee of anonymity and absolution from any responsibility for the offspring of his “donation.” As long as these adults are happy, then donor conception is a success, right?

Not so. The children born of these transactions are people, too. Those of us in the first documented generation of donor babies — conceived in the late 1980s and early ’90s, when sperm banks became more common and donor insemination began to flourish — are coming of age, and we have something to say.

I’m here to tell you that emotionally, many of us are not keeping up. We didn’t ask to be born into this situation, with its limitations and confusion. It’s hypocritical of parents and medical professionals to assume that biological roots won’t matter to the “products” of the cryobanks’ service, when the longing for a biological relationship is what brings customers to the banks in the first place.

We offspring are recognizing the right that was stripped from us at birth — the right to know who both our parents are.

And we’re ready to reclaim it.

Lindsay Greenawalt has written at her blog Confessions of a Cryokid:

“If I had to choose between being conceived with half of my identity and half of my kinship deliberately denied from me for eternity — or never being born — I’d choose never being born,” she wrote. “We were created to carry a loss. A loss that no human being should have to endure.”

In the header of her blog, she writes:

What happens when artificially created bundles of joy begin to speak for themselves? Revolt! I’m a product of an anonymous sperm donor and now that I’m an adult I’m searching for answers and speaking out.

This 2007 piece by Kay Hymowitz in City Journal is also worthwhile reading. Hymowitz wrote:

Yet even if the numbers of those suffering from father hunger are relatively small, their plight is consistent with a powerful human theme explored by storytellers from Homer to George Lucas: the child’s longing to know his father. On websites, unhappy donor kids are beginning to speak up. “I believe that it is a tragic turn for our society to celebrate fathers who intentionally disconnect themselves from their children,” writes the proprietor of

As reported by the Associated Press, a study by the Commission on Parenthood’s Future, titled “My Daddy’s Name is Donor” surveyed 485 donor offspring and concluded “they were more troubled and depression-prone than other young adults in comparison groups, and recommended an end to anonymous sperm donation.” But as I argued in the previous post, this issue will never be resolved by studies alone.

Share:Email this to someoneShare on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest0Share on Google+0