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Author Topic: Feb 8, 2008: Oprah Show; The Ultimate Reunion: When Dad Is a Sperm Donor  (Read 5384 times)
Quinny
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Donor offspring from Perth, WA


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« on: February 03, 2008, 04:09:03 AM »

On 8 Feb 2008, the Oprah show will have the following topic:

The Ultimate Reunion: When Dad Is a Sperm Donor

Six feet tall, medical student, brown hair, blue eyes and number X23PJ...
What if that was all you knew about your biological father? For an estimated
30,000 children every year who are born from sperm donors [in the USA], many
will grow up struggling with the fact that half their genes are a mystery to
them. Two sperm donors -- one involved with the children and one who does
not know them -- share their side of the story. Plus, adult children of
donors weigh in on the confusion, frustration and questions that may never
be answered.

http://www2.oprah.com/tows/coming/tows_come_main.jhtml

http://www.oprah.com/community/thread/17179
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Donor conceived adult from Perth, Western Australia. Searching for a donor who donated to Dr Colin Douglas-Smith in 1976.
Hursty
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« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2008, 10:12:57 PM »

Thanks Quinny
I was wondering when this show was going to be aired in Australia as I have heard about it. Looks interesting.
By the way I posted the DVD to you yesterday so you should receive it early next week
Cheers
Sue
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Love and Truth go together.
dadams
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« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2008, 09:45:12 PM »

A description from the show (not sure if this is the official transcript or not):

Since the first commercial sperm bank opened in the early '70s, it's
estimated that more than a million sons and daughters have been conceived
using donated sperm. As these children grow into adults, many are starting
to ask questions and search for answers. This 21st-century family drama is
affecting everyone involved, including the parents who depended on donated
sperm and donor dads who never imagined meeting their biological offspring.

Many sperm donors are now faced with an important decisionŠshould they meet
the children they helped create? Every year, thousands of men visit sperm
banks across the country to donate sperm. Some choose to donate for
financial reasons, while others are hoping to help single mothers and
infertile couples become parents.


MATTHEW (donor)
Matthew, a pediatrician from Michigan, says he first donated sperm at the
suggestion of a patient's parent. "I was in a long distance relationship at
the time, so I sure wasn't using it." For the next 4-5 years, he donated
several times a month. "My initial motives for being a donor are the same
kinds of motives that somebody has when they donate blood or sign up on a
marrow registry or sign their organ donor card on their driver's license. If
I'm not using it, and it's useful to somebody else you know, that's a good
thing.'"

After years of donating sperm, Matthew decided to start a family of his own.
In 2006, he and his wife welcomed a little girl, Arwyn, into the world.
Though he only considers himself a father of one, he knows of 5 other boys
and girls conceived with his donationsŠbut there may be more. His sperm bank
says he could be the biological father of as many as 9 children. "I've
received photos of the children conceived with my donations. I don't look at
them and think of them in any shape or form as my children. I mean, these
are children who have families."

As a pediatrician, Matthew says he tries his best to involve young children
when making decisions about their future. "My disposition toward these
children and the families that have contacted me is one of availability, but
in a very passive way. I don't want to insert myself into their lives. I
think it's really hard to predict whether or not a donor-conceived child
would want a donor in their life. Š It would be my preference that if
there's any kind of relationship that would evolve with them, which I'm
receptive to, that would be at the initiation of the child."


MARY (mother via DI)
Every potential parent who visits a sperm bank has different criteria for
the perfect donor dad --  height, weight, hair color, IQ. When Mary was
given a stack of donor profiles to sort through, she says Matthew's stood
out from the rest. Though privacy concerns prevented her from seeing more
than half of his face in a photograph, she chose him to be her unborn
child's biological father. "He was a pediatrician. He had very diverse
interests, which made me think that he [used his] left brain and right
brain. I just thought that was a wise choice."

Mary got pregnant using Matthew's sperm. Now, she's the mom of a 2-year-old
daughter, Alexandra. When the time is right, Mary says she plans on telling
her daughter the truth about her birth. "I don't want to keep any secrets
from her because I just don't believe in it.  She doesn't ask me too many
questions yet. Š Right now, she's living in a perfect world. I love her, and
she's loved by a lot of people, so she's not missing anything."


TODD (donor)
Todd -- also known as sperm donor #2053 -- was working toward his PhD at
Stanford University when he decided to donate for the first time. "There
were the newspapers on campus always running ads that were trying to recruit
for sperm donors. I was a poor graduate student. So it always crossed my
mind that it might be a good way to supplement my income and to kind of help
people out, as well."

When Todd first visited his local sperm bank, he says they were offering men
$35 or $40 per donation. Over the next four years, he says he donated sperm
up to three times a week. "It really became part of my routine. I'd wake up,
go to class, do some research, and then around lunch time or right after
lunch, I'd donate, which doesn't take very long. Then, [I'd] go right back
to class." Over four years he earned $16,000 for his donations

Many donors choose to remain anonymous, but Todd has decided to be a part of
his biological children's lives. Since registering on the Donor Sibling
Registry, a website that helps children conceived by sperm donations find
their half siblings and biological fathers, Todd has met t3 of his
offspring, though he says he could have as many as 10 children. "When we
first got together and met each other, we went to the museum, dinner and
Disneyland. I bought them all presents for their birthdays, for Christmas,
as well. I also got several Father's Day cards." Since meeting his children,
Todd says his life has become richer. "It's really been wonderful to get to
know these kids. I love them, and I really feel like we're developing a
really close family connection."


CHERYL (Single mother by choice)
Almost 13 years ago, Cheryl chose to use Todd's donated sperm to have a
child. "I desperately wanted a baby, and I was hearing my biological clock
ticking. I wasn't in a relationship that I thought was going to lead to
that, and I felt like an anonymous sperm donor would not be a legal hassle
for me." For many years, Cheryl raised her son, Gavin, without a father
figure. Then, less than a year ago, they connected with Todd. Since that
day, Todd says he's seen Gavin several times. "I've been out to the house.
We go on vacations together." Unlike many donor-conceived children who never
learn their father's true identity, Gavin now has someone to call Dad. "It's
been wonderful for my son," Cheryl says. "This has just totally enriched our
lives. Š We are definitely a family."


KATHLEEN (offspring)
For many donor-conceived children, not knowing who their biological father
is has led to many mixed emotions. Kathleen learned she was a
donor-conceived child when she was 8 years old. "My mom sat on my bed
upstairs, and she just said that, 'Your dad is still your dad on your birth
certificate, but I had to go to a sperm bank to conceive you.'"  Now 26,
Kathleen says having no information about the donor's medical history,
heritage or family has been frustrating. She isn't even sure if her donor
father knows she exists. "To me, it feels like the death of my biological
father and half of my family. I've been searching, and I can't find them."

Kathleen's search has centered on the few facts she knows about her donor
dad -- he was enrolled in medical school at Baylor College in 1981. Over the
years, she's written 600 letters to men who fit that description and
received 220 responses. Despite 15 DNA tests in one year, she still doesn't
have any answers.

Over the years, Kathleen says her feelings about not knowing her biological
father have changed. "When I was younger, it was more of the curiosity, like
why am I who I am and what did I get from my biological father? How am I
like him? How am I different from him?  Then as I got older, it became more
grief and more anger, and I just feel like it should be my right to know who
this man is." Finding the donor  would make a big difference in her life. "I
feel like it would put the pieces of my life together and provide
information about who I am that many people just take for granted."


SUSAN (offspring)
Susan grew up thinking she knew both of her biological parents. But when she
was 27, her mother told her the secret she had kept since 1967. "I felt lied
to. It seemed like a big secret. It was hard for me to imagine why you would
keep something like that secret for so long." Susan says it had never
crossed her mind that she might not be related to one of her parents. "I
happen to look a lot like my mother, and it absolutely never occurred to
me."

Susan says her mother had several reasons for waiting 27 years to tell her
daughter the truth. "At the time I was conceived, the doctor specifically
told my parents not to tell me and not to tell anyone, to pretend that this
had never happened. The father she grew up with was also a consideration.
"My father was very ashamed of his inability to have children at that time.
It was very hard for him, and he just didn't want anyone to know, and my
mother respected that and kept the secret."

After years of silence, Susan says her mother chose what she thought was the
right time to tell her daughter the truth. "My father and I were no longer
in contact. My parents had gotten divorced. A little late, in my opinion,
but she felt like it was the right time." At age 39, Susan says she would
like to meet her biological father. But because she was conceived in 1967,
before sperm banks were common, it would be very hard to find him. "My
mother was told that they were using a dark, eastern European donor that
would match my father so it would be easier to pretend. That's all I know."


KATRINA (offspring)
Nineteen-year- old Katrina has known for her entire life that she is a
donor-conceived child. "My mom has always been very open and honest with me.
It totally lessens the amount of secrecy involved, so there's less pain in
the process of finding out who I am." Although she knew the truth about her
biological father growing up, Katrina says it hurt to see her friends with
their fathers. "I didn't understand why I couldn't have a relationship like
that. Even when I approached my mother, she couldn't say anything. It's
already been done. I've been born. It was more a sense of loss, a sense of
grief." At times, Katrina also felt angry. "I felt that I was a product. I
am a product of an industry. It kind of dehumanizes everything." Katrina
began a search for the donor in order to learn the answers to some important
questions. "What is my complete medical history? Does he have an interest in
music? Where does he live? Does he have any kids of his own? Does he ever
think about me? I just wanted to know anything and everything I could."
Katrina's efforts paid off, and she found her biological father. She says
she wants to have a relationship with him, but that hasn't really happened.
"Just basically e-mails back and forth."


CHRISTINA & PHILIP  (donor & offspring)
When Christina's mother decided to conceive using donated sperm, she had a
specific kind of man in mind. "My mom decided to use African-American sperm
because she's actually a white woman, and she wanted her children to match,
and [my siblings'] fathers are both black."  Although Christina always knew
how she was conceived, she says something was missing from her life. "This
education, this medical background, this knowledge, these looks, you know?"
"I wanted to know the black side of me. I just wanted answers." Growing up,
Christina says she always looked forward to finding out more about her
biological father. "I knew when I turned 18 that I was allowed to meet him."

When she was old enough, Christina finally learned her biological father's
name -- Phillip. Eager to end her yearslong wait, she made a phone call that
would change her life. "When I first called him, I was absolutely nervous. I
was shaking. I gave him my number if he wanted to call back, and he did."

In a marathon conversation lasting 4-5 hours, Phillip and Christina shared
everything about their lives, from where Phillip grew up to their shared
sense of humor. "I was able to dip into this bucket of information to find
out all the answers that I was looking for."  Since that first phone call,
Christina, who is now 22, and Phillip have forged a relationship that
Christina says has enriched her life. "I call him Dad. He's like my second
dad."

When Christina contacted Phillip, he was the father of young twins. Now that
his children are 13, what do they think about the situation? "That's a work
in progress," Phillip says. In the years since he donated sperm, Phillip
says he occasionally would think about the children he might have helped to
conceive. "But then your life just goes forward. You keep doing things. When
[Christina] called and we talked, right from the start everything just came
flooding to me. When we first met, it was awe-inspiring. "

Now that they have known each other a few years, Phillip says he does feel
in many ways like a father to Christina. "In a sense I do because of the
things that we have in common, which are just incredible, just the things
that we talk about in the flow. As far as cracking the whip or anything, [I
do] nothing like that. I know she has a real dad. But if she calls me for
advice, I give her advice. First I say, 'What did your dad say? What did
your mom say? Now I can give you advice.'"

In all, Phillip says his sperm donations resulted in the births of 7
children. Besides Christina, only one other child has contacted him. "We
talked about five minutes, and then he said, 'Call me back.' I called him
back, and then he never returned the call," Phillip says. "I'm not going to
interject myself into his life. If he wants to talk to me, hey, he can
call."


NICOLE (wife of donor Matthew)
Reactions from family members of sperm donors can vary greatly when
donor-conceived children come into their lives. While Phillip's family
struggled to make the adjustment, Matthew's wife Nicole says she was happy
when Matthew heard from the mothers of his biological children. "When they
first contacted us -- well, contacted Matthew -- I was pregnant with our
child, and that was hard. It took us several years for us to conceive, so I
think it would have been harder had I not been able to conceive. But [since
we were] carrying our own child, we were just so happy, and I was so proud
of him."

As a pediatrician, Nicole understands why donor-conceived children would
want contact with their biological fathers. "I care about kids, and I know
kids have questions. I can understand the need to get to know Matthew, and I
think that would be great, because I think he's great, obviously."


CHRIS & STACY (1/2 siblings)
Throughout his life, Chris has only known his father by one nameŠ#46. As the
only child of a single mom, he learned he was the offspring of a sperm donor
early on. "I knew that I was conceived differently from a very early age,
but I've always felt very loved." Becky, Chris's mom, taught her son to
embrace his history. "I said, "You know what Chris, a man donated his sperm,
and you are a gift. This man already has a family, and he gave the gift of
life. You are a love child.'"

Little did Chris know, Stacy, a woman who lived less than 30 miles away,
also grew up knowing very little about the man her mom chose from the sperm
bank. When Stacy was in middle school, she says she had a hard time
explaining where her father was to other kids. "So I just told them that my
dad was not around." In reality, Stacy didn't know much about the man who
donated the sperm used in her conception.

Kim, Stacy's mom, says her daughter always yearned for a larger family.
"She's an only child. Š I think she would have liked to have had siblings
when she was growing up. She's grown up wondering about that other side of
her family."

As she got older, Stacy's curiosity about her biological father grew
stronger. She logged onto the Donor Sibling Registry to search for more
information, but instead, she discovered Chris. She immediately noticed
their mothers went to the same fertility clinic. After seeing his photo, she
began thinking they might have a lot more in common. "The chin and even the
nose, especially the eyesŠthat's the first thing I noticed. I felt like I
was looking at a version of myself, but I didn't want to get my hopes up too
high until I knew for sure." Further research revealed that she and Chris
had both lived in Paris during college and were fluent in French. "I was
just like, 'This can't be just a coincidence! '"

Stacy asked her mother for her biological dad's donor number: 46. She then
e-mailed Chris with the news. After discovering he had a half sister, Chris
says he jumped around yelling, "Is it possible that I have a sister? I can't
believe this is possible!"

After three months of daily e-mails, Chris and Stacy finally get to meet
face-to-face in Seattle. Chris boards a train in Portland, Oregon, and
begins the short journey to see his half sister. "I'm looking forward to
hugging her and listening to her and sharing with her.. I feel like my life
is about to get quite a bit richer. I'll always have someone to call,
someone to cry on their shoulder. That's a pretty rare thing, especially
when you've grown up as an only child."

On her way to the train station, Stacy says she's so excited, she gets goose
bumps. Around her neck, she wears a scarf Chris sent her for her birthday.
Finally, the brother and sister meet for the very first time. They stare at
each other with the same pair of green eyes. "This is really bizarre," Stacy
says. "Are you sure that we're not twins?"

Though these long-lost siblings have yet to find their father, donor #46,
Stacy says she's made peace with it. "Actually meeting Chris has made that
kind of okay with me. It seems like we've been talking about this void that
occurs inside of you when you're conceived this way, and you find different
ways to fill it. For me, finding Chris has kind of filled that void."

Growing up, Chris says he didn't realize something was missing from his
life. "I think if there was a void, there were many wonderful ways to fill
that void, [which] bore wonderful fruits.  Before connecting with Stacy,
Chris volunteered with the Peace Corps in Togo, West Africa. "Maybe not
knowing as much about where I come from and always feeling a bit foreign in
other people's places [made we] want to jump into their lives."

Now that they've found each other, Chris and Stacy are hoping to meet other
siblingsŠif there are any more out there. "I mean, the more the merrier,"
Stacy says.


WENDY & RYAN KRAMER (founders of the DSR)
Wendy Kramer and her son, Ryan, are the people to thank for bringing
thousands of donor-conceived children together with their half siblings and
biological fathers. In 2000, they created the Donor Sibling Registry
website, http:// www.DonorSiblingReg istry.com. to help Ryan track down his
sperm donor father. Since then, thousands of members have logged on to learn
more about their genetic origins, and many have found success. More than
4,200 people have discovered the identity of their half siblings or donor
dad. "There's not a day that goes by that at least two or three people don't
match up with each other. [It's] way beyond our wildest dreams."

Ryan says it's amazing to be able to help children like himself. "I know
exactly what it feels like to be searching for your half siblings and your
donor, as well. When I hear these figuresŠit's a really incredible feeling."
Since launching the website, Ryan says the best experience has been
connecting with his half sister, Anna. "She's just delightful, and she's got
the best parents. We couldn't be more happy to have met these people, and
it's been just an incredibly enriching and wonderful experience."


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