Creating children from broken family ties
Here's a very modern story covered by CBS News (via Dick Eastman's Online Genealogical Newsletter) entitled "Sperm Donor Siblings Find Family Ties." It's the story of lesbian couples and single mothers who decide to create children for themselves via artificial insemination using donor sperm from unknown men. The funny part is, human nature being not as malleable as technology, the children who result from these proceedings grow up insatiably curious about and missing their fathers. Lo and behold, though the "fathers" remain (for the most part) shielded by anonymity laws, the siblings fathered by such techniques (or even their mothers) are now using technology--the internet--to network and track their genealogical roots in the name of forging family ties.
The article by Steve Kroft tells about the amazing coincidence of three mothers who met in the San Diego area and realized their children were all conceived (artificially) from the same "sensitive" "hunk." Now they consider their children (and are raising them) as "siblings" (siblings living in different households, all with no father):
Cindy and Robin say they really consider Wade and Lila to be brother and sister.
"They have each other. They don't have the donor, the father; they have each other," Robin explains.
The two children live just 10 minutes apart. Their mothers talk frequently on the phone, get together every few weeks, and say they have begun to raise Wade and Lila as siblings.
"We love Maren, the mother. We love baby Lila. I mean, we have a lot in common. We're a great family match," says Robin.
In this case, the sperm donor decided to break his anonymity, and was interviewed by the journalist:.
Kroft asks: "When you decided to become a sperm donor, did you actually sit down and think that there were going to be babies created out of this and that someday they might try and contact you? Or you might try and contact them?"
"I guess I entertained the possibility of that. You know, I look at it a little differently," Niedner says. "This may sound a little detached, but I don't really look at these children as my children or, you know, that I'm their father. I was somebody who provided a tool or a necessary ingredient for a family to have a child that was wanted."
Niedner says he is not interested in fulfilling any sort of parental role.
"Do you think the children will think that way?" Kroft asks.
"Well, I don't think there's a blanket answer to that. I think different children will feel differently," he says.
I'm sorry, but I must admit this article angers and sickens me. These people seem scary for being so emotionally detached from reality outside of their own self-interest. Too many adults here were concerned only with their own needs and wishes (the sperm donor for money in selling his sperm; the women for fulfilling their desires for a pseudo-traditional "family" while purposely trying to redefine what "family" means, especially to the child). The technology makes it easy for people like these adults to rationalize what they are doing: deliberately creating children without a father in their home.
Meanwhile, I urge my own children to make darn sure they make good choices so that their own children (if they are blessed enough to have any) will be born and raised into a intact nuclear family, as the best thing you can do for the child, which should be the overriding consideration. Childless same-sex couples and single parents who want to do good in this world by raising children can devotedly provide a better life for abandoned orphans by adopting or fostering them; this clearly is a net good deed that shines in the sight of heaven and earth. But to purposely create vanity children born into fatherless families is indicative of some kind of monstrous selfishness and moral confusion at work.
"I mean, what is a traditional family today? I mean, I didn't have a father growing up," Cindy says.Lots of people don't have fathers growing up, but the best of them have the imagination and the character not to pass such a painful legacy of loss on to their own children.
UPDATE: "The Incredible Shrinking Father" by Kay S. Hymowitz: in the competition between the rights of adults and the needs of children, who's winning? --
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 Whosedaughter.com. “I’m 18 and for most of my life, I haven’t known half my origins,” Katrina Clark wrote in a Washington Post op-ed this past fall. Donor conception has always been about making adults happy, not children, she continued. As a child, she found herself jealous of a friend whose parents were divorced; at least the girl got to visit her father.