Can we re-define “family” and the relationship between parents and children? Sure we can. But not without consequences.
It’s sad but not surprising—the children of sperm donors are having problems. The Commission on Parenthood’s Future has released a new study titled “My Daddy’s Name Is Donor,” in which 485 adult offspring of sperm donors were surveyed.
Compared with both adopted children and children raised by their biological parents, donor offspring are struggling—and they’re struggling in ways that should have been foreseen.
The authors of the study write, “[O]n average, young adults conceived through sperm donation are hurting more, are more confused, and feel more isolated from their families. They fare worse than their peers raised by biological parents on important outcomes like depression, delinquency and substance abuse.”
They also note, “Donor offspring express significant pain over the loss of their biological father, significantly more even when compared to those who are adopted.”
And as it turns out, sperm donation, which we were supposed to think was harmless, is damaging parents’ lives as well. The study reports that the married heterosexual parents of donor-offspring are more likely to divorce than are parents of adopted children and the parents of children raised by their biological parents.
All I can say is—how did we, as a society, not see this coming? I think the answer may be that we didn’t want to see it coming.
It is too much, it seems, for post-modern humans to accept the fact humans are made in God’s image; that God provided for the healthy and proper way of conceiving and rearing children within the context of marriage. Within, dare I say, a Trinitarian-like relationship of love between child, mother, and father. Not in the context of anonymity.
And it is certainly too much for post-modern humans to believe that conceiving and raising children is all about the children—that children aren’t merely a collection of genetic “stuff.” They do not exist for my or your self-gratification. They are not products; they are people.
Of course a lot of people conceived through sperm donation are going to feel troubled over the fact that “money was exchanged in order to conceive [them],” as the study reported. Who wouldn’t feel a little troubled over owing their very existence to a business transaction?
Ironic, isn’t it, that we have discussed on our blog, that a slew of movies are coming out this year that make sperm donation look like a pretty great thing. But now this new study is making headlines, those movies are looking dated even before they hit the screen.
But friends, this is a great apologetic opportunity. Remember Barbara Bush’s famous comment, “However you define family, that’s what we mean by family values”? Well, unfortunately, that’s become a popular notion today. But it’s false. But you can start explaining to people how important family relationships are—no matter how complicated or messy, they’re vital to the well being of the individual and for humanity as a whole.
And those family relationships are the same across the sweep of human history and cultures—not something we can create or dismantle artificially, according to the whims of our own desires. Not without suffering the consequences. It always turns out in the end, doesn’t it? That following God’s design turns out best.
My Daddy's Name Is Donor
Sonja Corbitt | Catholic Online | June 24, 2010
Does Donating Sperm Lead to Distraught Offspring?
Monica Kortsha | The Horn | July 1, 2010
Sperm Donors' Kids Miss Half Their Identity
Susan Martinuk | Calgary Herald | July 16, 2010