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Sperm Donor Daddy: The Breakdown of Society

On September 12, 2011, Style Exposed aired a program called “Sperm Donor”, which features 33-year old Ben Siesler, a man who has fathered 74 children. When he was in law school at George Mason University, he donated to a local sperm bank for three years and never knew he fathered so many children until recently. For each month he donated his sperm, he received $900. Throughout the documentary, he has trouble telling his fiancée Lauren about his 74 children, while they both discuss wedding plans and the possibility of having children of their own in the near future.

After finding out about the amount of children he has from the Donor Sibling Registry, Ben decides to contact the families who have reached out to him. So far, 15 of his children have personally contacted him from the Registry, but in the documentary, he only meets two of his biological children, a boy and girl born from a single mother. Finding out that Ben will be visiting them, Ben’s biological daughter asks her mother if she and Ben will be breaking up, since Ben will be marrying another woman. Clearly, his daughter is sad that she does not have a father by her side and lacks a stable nuclear family unit.

When asked about his experience meeting two of his biological children, Ben said that “It was kind of wild. On the one hand, these kids are biologically my kids. On the other hand, they are not my kids. I didn’t raise them. I have no control over how they are raised.” Despite how truthful Ben’s statements are, it is a shame to see that the sperm donor industry enables single mothers to create “families” out of their own self-interest and that psychologically damages the children that are born into such households.

In addition, “Sperm Donor” also features two half-sisters, one born in Kansas and the other born in Arizona, who both have Ben as their father. After meeting virtually on the Registry, Adrienne decides to fly out to Arizona to surprise her half-sister Karis for her senior prom. While in Arizona, Adrienne discusses the importance of getting to know all of her half-siblings and having all of them unite to become one big family. Adrienne’s exact sentiments convey how the sperm donor industry is responsible for breaking up the stability of the traditional family unit by separating biological siblings into numerous families that only feature one biological parent.

Essentially, programs like “Sperm Donor” are normalizing the unethical effects of the sperm donor industry and are continually perpetuating the moral decay of our society. By restructuring the traditional family unit and the two-parent heterosexual model, the sperm donor industry is purposefully changing America’s definition of a stable society and thus is ultimately hurting the children conceived from such a system.

However, there is hope that the abuses of the sperm donor industry will halt. Recently, The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network released a film called Anonymous Father’s Day, which features adults searching for their biological fathers and calling for the end of the very system that conceived them.

In the trailer, one woman asks “Should we be conceiving children in the first place who will be deliberately denied the ability to know, and be known by, their father?” Another woman states that she wants “…her children to know where they came from.” Such statements convey both the unethical and emotionally damaging nature of anonymous sperm donations.

The truth about this industry is being told, but will such an immoral practice that could potentially lead to the rise of  incest and genetic disorders be deterred soon? We have yet to find out.

Anna Maria Hoffman // University of California at San Diego // @AMHoffman

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Comments

  1. 2alangroves says:

    Great article Anna, albeit depressing. To support your thesis that anonymous sperm donors have contributed to the breakdown of the nuclear family and the overall moral decay of American society, a new stat has come out recently that shows that only 51% of adults are married -down from 72% in 1960 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/married-couples-at-a-record-low/2011/12/13/gIQAnJyYsO_story.html?tid=pm_pop). Keep fighting to defend the integrity of the family! Maybe our generation can begin to change this depressing trend.

  2. this is just like octo-mom. people who have gone through fertility treatments and need sperm donations are usually good, moral, ethical people who crave families because they know they have a lot to offer in a stable environment and don’t want to adopt until they’ve exhausted other options. i’m glad you were good enough to say that the problem with the *program* is that it normalizes unethical behavior, but not enough publications take the extra step to admit that the entire industry isn’t at fault and probably 90% or more of people who need these services would never sell their families out for TV or other publicity, a la Jon & Kate Plus 8.

  3. What a great article…I haven’t read this anywhere…Thanks, Ron

  4. I don’t think that you thoroughly researched this enough. As an adult adoptee, I do disagree with anonymous sperm and egg donation as well as sealed birth records for adult adoptees. Blaming women who chose to parent this way is not the answer either. Women for the most part that go this route can afford their children. They are not on welfare. They are caring for their children with lots of love and support. As a previous commenter said, they are not out for publicity stunts. Married couples go this route too. The breakdown of the family unit is not just a woman’s fault. Many times it is the man’s fault too.

  5. @Amyadoptee, I don’t hear anywhere in Anna Marie’s piece that she is “blaming women” but rather is raising the important questions around the rights and desires of the children created via anonymous egg/sperm donation . . .I work regularly with those in the adoption communities (I’ve actually been invited to show my previous film, Eggsploitation, at the annual American Adoption Conf. in Denver, 2012) who share a lot of my concerns; who’s thinking about the best interest of the child? What about the child’s desire to know their biological parent? Seems much of the focus is on the couple/individuals who want a child, vs. what’s best for the child? I agree with you on open records vs. sealed. No one is saying that couples don’t love and care for their child, or it’s his fault or her fault, this is rather about the best interests of the children who grow up.

  6. Ben Franklin says:

    Was your article inspired by The Parent Trap?

    If you are a true conservative, let the free market reign! The sperm industry seeks not to do anything but generate profit$.

    Good points though, this is why adoption should be illegal!

  7. By the way, the name’s Anna Maria to everybody who misspelled my name!

  8. Yeah, I hate how sperm donation is “perpetuating the moral decay of our society!”

    Look how sh*tty my son born of artificial insemination turned out!!

  9. Quote

    ‘the sperm donor industry enables single mothers to create “families” out of their own self-interest and that psychologically damages the children that are born into such households. ”

    I couldnt find the link – where have you found that dc children raised by single parents fare badly? I think youll find they actually far better than MANY children being raised by two biological parents! And some studies show that they an be more nurtering etc than mothers who have not had to resort to IVF. These parents have decided they are ready emotionally and financially to be a parent- it is a very natural feeling. Should you deny these feelings because you havent found the ideal partner? Or a fertile one? Why is it ‘self-interest’ to yearn to be a mother and not seen this way if you have a partner? Does that equate with being ‘ok’ to you, regardless of circumstances. Its ok (and not out of self-interest) if married- even if he is a drunk? an abuser? a drug addict? And even if starting out as a loving 2 parent family statistically 1 in 2 of those partners are going to leave anyway! Now THAT can mess up a child psychologically.

    I prefer to look at each individual case and look at the child. If you have an idea that only committed straight married couples should be having children with a committment to stay happy together forever and not do anything to damage the child psychologically then good luck actually finding that. Let’s look at the realities. Children arent psychologically damaged because of being raised by a single parent. Children are psychologically damaged by inconsistent, unkind parenting. And that happens in all family set ups! Single, 2 parent, straight, gay…pink., blue, green.

    Why not adopt single? So many ask. In Australia you cant. In other places its ridiculously hard.
    So that’s it -youre 30+, financially an emotionally secure, have a wondeful supportive family with great male role models, parents who will be wonderful grandparents – but you shouldnt have children because single? I think youl find that the children who tend to do badly when raised by single parents are born into a different lifestyle. One night stand, broken mariage, abusive relationship…many children in care had biological parents living together at one point or another.

    The issue I have with commercial sperm donation is that the child doesnt get info about his self-identity until at least 18. Thats barbaric. And as the donor didnt choose the parents he may not want to even know the child. How psychologicallty damanging is that- regardless of whether youve een raised by one or two parents. The donor might find that the child has been raised completely at odds with his own belief system. And with anonymous donations there is no connection. THAT is unethical.

    People have distorted views – often bcause of the press. A man has recently been crucified all over the press for donating privately to 2 or 3 women in New Zealand while helpig with the earthquake relief project. He is married but has no biological children and his wife cant have any more. At 50+ he couldnt face dying and not having had biological children. Its a yearning for men just as women have a maternal instinct. He didnt want to donate through a clinic and not know the woman raising the child or have the chance to support them and meet them if the child wanted. He was only interested in the child’s well-being. But he didnt tell his wife. By all accounts he didnt want to hurt her and didnt think she would find out- but he would know he had children on the othe side of the world. Yes, lying to your wife isnt something any would approve of (one would hope) however many of us realise when we get past 40 that life really is short. Never having had children becomes much more frightening, often leading to men doing silly things like trying to do this and keep his family at home in the dark. Anyway, my point is that the press condemn a man who WANTS to help women and couples build their families and to allow the child to know him. Instead we should be condemning men who donate to clinics, knowing of how many donor conceived children (now adults) are talking of this awful practice- especially anonymous donations.

    We should be condemning commercial sperm donation practices full stop- not those using them. Often they dont have other choices other than to be irresponsible and have a one night stand etc. There are places like FSDW where men can donate privately to single women and co-parent (like an arranged marriage but parenting) and where they donate to couples but are known to the child as the bio father and can have contact with him. Many single women would choose this but dont know about those options. These children grow up knowing of their origins.

    Many single women feel just the same as those who have partners. But after 30 it becomes much more difficult to keep waiting and hoping for that wonderful husband and the house wit he white picket fence. Many single women want that, but dont want to face never having had the opportunity to love and raises a child. Many often meet that wonderful man after having children and then they become a grea 2 parent family! Dont assume that all single women who have children are all the same. Yes, some will be lousy parents and screw up their children. But they certainly dont have a monopoly on that.

    And as I said, its the fertility industry that sould be criticised- whats their main interest? Not the child, thats for sure.

  10. ..and please excuse the grammatical errors….my keyboard sticks and I type too fast !!

  11. sam edwards says:

    It really is sad to see kids suffer the deep, irreversible psychological trauma of having only 1 loving mother. I am so bothered by the discomfort of thinking about a child unhappy about their circumstances that I join you in calling for these children to not exist. I agree that non-existence for these children is better for our civilization.

  12. I am 100% against donor sperm, egg, embryo. To me this is the greatest form of identity theft possible and that is identity theft of the children purposely born this way who will never fully know who they are. How discusting to create children in such a selfish way not to care about the fact that half or all of who they are will always be a mystery to them. I am sick of people treating human life like going out shopping for a material item. If you dont want it well just get rid of it by having an abortion, who cares about the life lost… could have been you ever think about that? If you want it bad then hey just go shopping for your ideal sperm and buy your new baby. Whenever people talk about using a donor to have a child all you ever hear about is what the parents want and how happy they will be. You never hear people talking about concern for these children who will be growing up with a piece of themselves missing, never to be discovered. While I understand some of the people born through donor will not care about how they were created or where they come from but very many do. I would be devestated to be born through donor and to never know what my other half looks like or how they or their family were like. My sister is having a baby soon through donor and I feel very bad for this child and discusted how my sister only cares about getting the baby she wants so bad that she said she wouldnt even care if the donor was married and his wife did not know about the donations. And for everyone who thinks I don’t understand what its like to not be able to have childred I do. We can not have one due to male infertility and I would never for a moment consider donor. We have been waiting for years and saving up for IVF to use my husband’s own sperm and it will be this way or no way. I would never take the easy way by simply getting a donor and than bring a child into this world knowing I caused them to forever have something missing inside of them. Yes I realize that people who have children through donor want them and love them and are usually good parents. But even the best upbringing in the world will not replace who they are in blood and them knowing that part of them. I think donor conception should be illegal. I don’t understand why more people can not adopt. I have looked extensively into this also in case IVF would not work for us and there are so many ways to adopt out there so I am tired of people saying its too hard or too expensive. Atleast with an adopted child you are giving them a chance at a better life and these children were atleast not purposely created knowing that they would not have connections with their biology. But why do it on purpose? To fullfill the needs and wants of the parents and thats it.

Trackbacks

  1. […] College Conservative Blog Sperm Donor Daddy: The Breakdown of Society December 14, 2011 By amh2013 Essentially, programs like “Sperm Donor” are normalizing the […]

  2. […] College Conservative Blog Sperm Donor Daddy: The Breakdown of Society December 14, 2011 By amh2013 Essentially, programs like “Sperm Donor” are normalizing the […]

  3. […] expounds on this unethical and equally demoralizing practice in her column “Sperm Donor Daddy: The Breakdown of Society“: “On September 12, 2011, Style Exposed aired a program called “Sperm Donor”, which […]

  4. […] So why on earth do we believe that just because technology can expose people means that it should?Anna Marie Hoffman at The College Conservative, a similar question is raised about a program I will not watch called “Sperm […]

  5. […] rest of my article can be found here: http://thecollegeconservative.com/2011/12/14/sperm-donor-daddy/ Like this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

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