Tuesday, December 3, 2013

That new sperm donor show

So I've been watching Generation Cryo, MTV's new reality series about a teenaged donor-conceived girl who enlists her half-siblings in a quest to locate their anonymous donor. It's a well thought out, respectful show which brings up a lot of important, and interesting issues. Two episodes in, here are some thoughts I've had about it:

I feel for the one infertile dad who's wife had twins via the donor. That must be a hellish situation for a man, particularly an older Jewish man who's whole cultural imperative is all about family and genes. I'm kind of amazed any husband consents to his wife using donor sperm, honestly, since men get all weird and egocentric about their genetic material (sometimes). When I went to my clinic to browse through their binders of donors (cheaper than ordering up profiles online, which had to be paid for), just to make sure I was solid in my choice of donor, there was a couple there doing the same, and I remember thinking, "please, God, let that be her friend or brother or someone other than her husband!"

I noticed on the show the half-siblings raised with moms and dads seemed to have the most conflict about being donor kids, whereas those raised by lesbian couples or single moms seemed the most comfortable.  Maybe it's because when you have a mom and a dad you have the picture of that "normal" family, and yet you've got this unusual circumstance, but if you're raised by one or two women or men, it's kind of like the jig is up, you know? 

I was kind of surprised to learn that their donor was NOT a "willing to be known" donor, and that one of the siblings had already attempted contact through the sperm bank but never received a reply. This started to make me feel like what these kids were doing was wrong - that this guy had the expectation of privacy and that should be honored, regardless of their "right to know" about him. I mean, when I reconnected with my father, all I really wanted to know about him was if his family had any medical issues and what his ethnic background is (being "Brazilian" is about as meaningful as being "American" - really you're either from Africa or Europe, and clearly we're not African, so what part of Europe? Turns out he's Italian). Beyond that his on again, off again presence in my life has been mostly a pain in the butt. So one would think having the basic info from the guy's profile would be enough. I get why it's not, though. But it did make me wonder if these kids were pushing the boundaries. 

I once again appreciate thoughtful, non-exploitative representations of the whole donor-conceived thing out in the media, but really, really wish someone would profile the mothers for a change, not always have it be about teenagers looking for their donor, or the donor's perspective. I just feel like the female perspective is almost always lost in this world - and yet we're the ones actually making the kids, doing all the freakin' work. Why doesn't anyone tell our stories? 


  1. I'm starting to wish I had cable so I could see this show that I'm hearing so much about. In all the research I did prior to deciding to be a SMC I found that the donor conceived children that were part of "normal" (mom and dad) families were the ones that struggled. I'm very curious to know if they ever do find the donor and what his thoughts are on being found. Annelise's donor is not an open ID donor (the lab we used only used double blind annon. donors), but I believe I have enough information that a PI wouldn't have too much trouble tracking him down. While I respect his right to privacy, there is a part of me that thinks that if Annelise ever feels that she needs to know who he is I'll do what ever I can to find him.

  2. Having only watched the one episode, I felt that the twins with the mom and dad had a healthy attitude. They knew he was a donor and their dad was their dad. They had known their whole lives that they were donor-conceived, so they were comfortable to have contact with 12 of their donor sibs. They just didn't have much interest in the donor besides to see what physical characteristics they might share with him which they could do with a picture. This one did mention the mom's interest in meeting the donor while exploring the dad's discomfort. So I agree that this is a much more even view so far.

  3. I somehow missed the first episode, even though I could've sworn I'd already set my DVR. But anyway, I watched the second one, and I liked it. I'm not totally sure what I think about them seeking out a non-ID release donor, other than I think they have a point that they have a right to know SOMETHING. Even if it's not much, and even if it's anonymous communication through the bank. It almost seems wrong to me that the donor wouldn't agree to communicate through the bank, without the kids knowing his identity or having any direct communication with him. I'm also not surprised that the kids with a dad have the most trouble with the topic, especially the guy who has a sister who's both of his parents' biological child. But I'm also glad he's on board now with looking for the donor. I hope they find him and that he's not an asshole about it...

  4. I have DVRd the show but haven't found time to watch either episode yet. Sidekick's donor happened to be an anonymous donor. I'm actually okay with that, and I'm perfectly okay with not knowing about any of his half siblings. In fact, the idea of being able to get in contact with his half siblings is actually unsettling for me. If he chooses to seek them out when he is older, that's fine, but I don't have any plans to do so. On Sidekick's first birthday (and every birthday from here on out), we released a balloon in honor of his donor because without him, I wouldn't have my son. Sometimes I think that this mysterious guy is really missing out on something amazing... my awesome son!

  5. I chose id release donors for this reason. My donor embryos were created with an anonymous donor though. If my kids want to pursue finding their donor, I will honor that, but with a stern warning that he may not want any contact and explanation of what conditions he donated under and what that might mean. It would be similar to the show in that it will affect a large number of donor siblings, so it could get weird. But my kids will have priority.

    I wonder if there was even an option to not be anonymous back when that guy donated. I think the id release thing is relatively new. But I agree that finding out he chose not to respond to the first letter as a pretty clear sign that he likely doesn't want to be contacted. It will be interesting to see where it goes.

  6. I have not seen the show so cannot comment. But choose a non-ID disclosure donor, not by intent but because his was the profile I liked the most. The egg donor is non-ID as well. I am comfortable with this decision. I have some information and pictures I can share with B, but other than that I have no interest in pursuing half-siblings etc. I also feel uncomfortable for anyone to be trying to find a non-ID donor seems like a huge invasion of privacy IMHO.