By Allison K.
My heart breaks for my friends and other fellow donor conceived people who have reached out to their sperm sellers and been rejected. To clarify, I use the term “sperm seller” because “sperm donor” does not correctly portray the American industry. Sperm donors are not donors. They are paid, therefore they are sellers. They commodify their sperm by selling it to a clinic that sells it like a product. The children that result, which could reach numbers up in the hundreds, are then denied any knowledge of their paternal side.
I first learned I was donor conceived when I was 18 years old on the way to move-in day during my first semester as a college student. My mother blurted out “your dad’s not your biological dad.” I immediately burst into tears. I had so many different thoughts and mixed emotions.
Did she cheat? Was I adopted? After a long pause, she explained she used a sperm donor because my dad had a low sperm count.
Later, my brother told me the full story. He discovered the truth a few years earlier, but my mother intended to take the secret to her grave. She made him promise to never tell me. He pushed back, acknowledging that I deserved to know, and if she didn’t tell me, he would. After a few years of being threatened by my brother, she finally told me.
At first, I didn’t care very much. A nice man wanted to help families have children, and my parents wanted to be able to have their own family. I appreciated my parents for raising me and the man who helped to give me life, and I didn’t think much deeper about it until several months later.
My feelings drastically changed after I learned the dirty details about sperm clinics, such as pay, anonymity, sperm donors refusing contact, no cap on births, offspring not receiving medical records, and other ways the industry lacks in terms of regulation and justice.
I am particularly disappointed with sperm sellers who do not want to be contacted by their biological children. The idea that someone could intentionally sell sperm for extra cash and then refuse to speak to the resulting child seems immoral and sickening. I just cannot fathom how someone could not care about their own children walking this earth with them. If someone doesn’t want descendants reaching out to them, they shouldn’t sell their children.
I expect him to welcome contact through letters, phone calls, photos, and to meet.
Why is it that a father who accidentally conceives a child and isn’t in the child’s life is considered a deadbeat, but if someone is paid to purposely create a child through sperm donation and ignores them, that is considered acceptable? Shouldn’t the second example be considered more immoral than deadbeat dads, not less?
To be clear, I don’t expect my sperm seller to be a father figure. He helped my parents have a family, and I respect that role. I understand that as a young man who saw the dollar signs, he likely didn’t think about how he would have real children out there, craving a connection with their paternal family. I do expect him to care that I am his daughter carrying half of his DNA. I expect him to welcome contact through letters, phone calls, photos, and to meet.
DNA testing has connected me with 38 siblings, but none of us have any information about our father. We’ve reached out to other matches, and they either claim to have no information or ignore us, which blows my mind. How can someone ignore a person asking them about their biological family? I think I’d feel touched and want to help.
One of my siblings said a nurse at the clinic told their mom the donor began to realize what he was doing by donating sperm and felt sad about all the children he was creating. He obviously thought further ahead about his decision to sell his sperm, so I suspect that if he cared to find us, he’d have tested by now.
I suspect my biological father doesn’t want anything to do with me. That really hurts. Sometimes, I cry about it. Sometimes my 32 year old brother and I cry about it together. I just want so badly to put a name, a face, a real human, behind those four digits, the donor ID, that represents the man pulsing through my blood with half of his DNA.
Don’t we all have a desire to know and understand our biological family? I relate to adoptees who wonder about their biological parents and why they were placed for adoption. I wonder what my father was thinking when he made his “donations”. Did he think about who I’d become, and if I’d want to know him? Did he wonder if I’d end up in a happy and safe family, or about what I would accomplish in my life? Or was he just masturbating, knowing he’d get paid?
Sperm donation should be a donation with no pay, and anonymity needs to be banned. The sperm donation industry needs to be reformed as soon as possible before thousands more people experience their own trauma.
I live every day of my life knowing that to my father, I was likely a product for sale—not a human being who deserves to know my paternal side. I live every day knowing that to the sperm clinics, my existence is a huge profit to their business. I live every day knowing that my conception, my existence, was a transaction.
My father might have sold his sperm, but my identity is not for sale. It belongs to me. I am not a commodity. I am his daughter.
Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash