IEET > Rights > HealthLongevity > Staff > J. Hughes > CSR > Enablement > Innovation > ReproRights
My Daddy’s Name Is Donor

Dr. J. chats with Alana Sveta, who is a child conceived with the assistance of donor sperm, and a participant in a study by the conservative Institute for American Values called “My Daddy’s Name is Donor.” They discuss the psychological consequences of biological ties between parents and children.  MP3




COMMENTS
The Institute for American Values is not a conservative organization. We don't use those labels.
Ms. Marquardt

While I realize that you and your founder David Blankenhorn do not see your advocacy of "one-mommy-one-daddy" parenting, and opposition to gay marriage and gay parenting, as conservative, I'm afraid the rest of us do.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-03-13-blankenhorn-fatherhood_N.htm

That includes for instance the Catholic Church, which is championing your "study" as evidence of the harm that the unholy abomination of assisted reproduction does to children, and why it needs to be shut down:

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/study-shows-problems-for-adults-conceived-by-sperm-donation/

As I believe my conversation with the charming and intelligent Ms. Sveta showed, entirely contrary conclusions can be drawn from the fact that some people fetishize genetic bonds between parents and children. That is, parents who make use of sperm donation and then treat those kids differently need better values, just as homophobic parents, or workaholic parents, or racist parents need better values. You prefer to blame the complaints of some of these kids on their mom's reproductive decisions, while I prefer to blame society.

However, as I originally tried to interview you about the study but was rebuffed, I will issue the invitation again. I'm open to hearing how you can reconcile your "study" with the two decades of research that shows that the children produced through assisted reproduction are *more* psychologically healthy and socially adjusted than the children of the "whoops I did it again" method, whether or not they have biological fathers raising them.
As I mentioned above, when I requested an interview with Ms. Marquardt to discuss this report I was rebuffed, and offered Ms. Sveta as someone who is a product of donor sperm. I just received this clarification of Ms. Sveta's role in the study from the PR person for the Institute for American Values:

"...you say Alana was "a participant in the study." Just wanted to clarify that although Elizabeth interviewed her for the narrative of the report and she is quoted in the report, she's not a study participant (i.e. she wasn't one of the 485 donor offspring surveyed). In endnote 27 of My Daddy's Name is Donor, the authors explain that "Quotations from donor offspring not otherwise cited come from interviews conducted by Elizabeth Marquardt with these persons."
It is ridiculous for you to claim I rebuffed you. You can only tape on a Sat afternoon. I worked with you in earnest to see if there were other times you could do it. I am a working mother of two and have to draw some boundaries around family time.
Ms. Marquardt

As a parent of two I completely understand carving out time for family. But I would note that 20 minutes after I posted this interview online on Saturday evening you had already listened to it and posted your first comment above, before I even got back from the radio studio. That suggested to me that you might in fact have had time to chat for twenty minutes Saturday evening. In fact I offered your publicist four possible afternoons:

"The next four Saturdays that I will be in the studio are June 19, June 26, July 10, and July 17. Would she be available on any of those days?" You were apparently also unavailable on all those dates.

J. Hughes
I haven't listened to it yet. I responded to how our Institute was characterized on the website when I saw the google alert that came into my inbox.

You may have children, but evidently you do not recognize the difference between occasional multi tasking with email while being with kids and finding a guaranteed way of having the children completely quiet and attended to while doing a radio interview.

I am done.
jhughes writes: "While I realize that you and your founder David Blankenhorn do not see your advocacy of "one-mommy-one-daddy" parenting, and opposition to gay marriage and gay parenting, as conservative, I'm afraid the rest of us do.

That includes for instance the Catholic Church, which is championing your "study" as evidence ..."

jhughes, Are you saying that just because the Catholic Church champions the study, <i>that</i> proves that the Institute for American Values is conservative? That's no proof at all, given the fact that organizations often seize upon studies from the "opposition" that support their views.

Consider me not as one of "the rest of us."
Why is it that so many conservatives want to pretend they're anything but? Most of the seem so proud to be "conservative", but some of them insist they're not, while espousing everyone one of the same ideas, and valuing the same things. I just don't get it, other than some kind of attempt to pretend to "independence".
Dear Dr. J.

You state

“As I believe my conversation with the charming and intelligent Ms. Sveta showed, entirely contrary conclusions can be drawn from the fact that some people fetishize genetic bonds between parents and children. That is, parents who make use of sperm donation and then treat those kids differently need better values, just as homophobic parents, or workaholic parents, or racist parents need better values. You prefer to blame the complaints of some of these kids on their mom's reproductive decisions, while I prefer to blame society.”

There is a great deal that I would like to discuss regarding the points covered above and in the interview with Ms Svesta (who, I can agree seems “charming”, “intelligent” and articulate).

First. lets be fair: The occupation, motivation, opinions and belief systems of a person that says something does not invalidate the possible truth in what they say. Calling someone “conservative” proves nothing about the report. The fact that it serves the Catholic agenda is not the point.

“As I believe my conversation with the charming and intelligent Ms. Sveta showed, entirely contrary conclusions can be drawn from the fact that some people fetishize genetic bonds between parents and children. “

I find your conclusions to be opinions or aspirations, which seem to ignore the reality of human nature. You haven’t even established your fact i.e. that “people fetishize genetic bonds between parents and children. “ (My emphasis)

If your intention was to descredit the findings of “My Daddy’s name is Donor” then your interview with Ms Sveta is something of an own goal,

For example, about 4minutes into the sound clip Ms Svesta discusses the relationships she had with her stepfather: She explains that the relationship he had with his “fully biological” son was “... definitely not the same relationship he had with me.” She explains that he is a “superintelligent” man, but suggests that he lacked the emotional intelligence to deal with the complex issues of the family. She then continues to explain that the fertility industry has “... no regulations at all....It is the wild west...and you have a million different outcomes.....I’d be really carefull about...”

(You interrupt her, don’t you like where she is going?) “Hearing you saying your parents weren’t emotionally mature enough to love you just as much as they could have. If you had been fully biological and tied to both of them and your kind of blaming your mother for not having the emotional maturity to..uh..provide the same kind of mothering to you, because you were not fully biological...”

Ms Sveta corrects you “...or my stepfather.” but generally agrees that they lacked the emotioonal intelligence to deal with it.

Where is your fetish fact?

I feel for Ms Vestta when she explains that she undertook egg donation as the “One experience that I can share with my father.” She considered it poetic. Then explains that “I don’t recommend it. I don’t recommend it. It’s not...it doesn’t feel that good.”

She received, no counselling, $8000, suffers frequent pains and, it appears, regrets this.

After your discussion with Ms Vesta you pronounce yourself skeptical of the finding of the report???

Did you hear her answer you?

“I feel that it’s abandonment. I feel that it’s child abandonment...I feel that we are being lied to...Are we teaching our men in society that fatherhood is not important.”

You then start by claiming authority of “most bioethicists.”

You then play the “gay child card.”

Here is where you ignore a couple of contradictions.

Don’t they say gay’s are born gay? It would be easier for the family if he were straight, right?
Doesn’t Richerd Dawkins explain in “The Selfish Gene” that we may be ‘hard wired’ to look after our own genes? It would be easier for the family if we were more altruistic right?

You respect the inborn nature of the gay child.
Why should the stepfather of sperm donor child deny his own nature? Why is it a “fetish?”
Why is the mother of a sperm donor child’s desire to have a child to be respected? Isn’t this a fetish, as you define it? Shouldn’t she just adopt?

The WHOLE assisted fertilisation industry exists to feed the fetish you describe.

You then cite a recent report about lesbian families referred to here

“In fact, researchers found that none of the 78 adolescents evaluated reported any physical or sexual victimization by a parent or other caregiver. This contrasts with past research that reports that 26% of all American adolescents report caregiver physical abuse and 8.3% report sexual abuse (US Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence, Finkelhor et al, 2009).”

Allow me to be skeptical here. No abuse? Then, quite simply, the findings of this report are unrepresentative! Google “Domestic abuse lesbain relationships.” You believe the findings of the report you read. At best it shows kids do well in abuse free households. If I were skeptical, or cynical, I would say - respondants are not disclosing abuse, and/or do not recognise abuse.

What is believable alternatives. Your report wrong - where abuse is possibly not reported or “My Daddy’s name is Donor” wrong - where healthy, happy children report upset and abandonment issues.


I disagree with your conclusions.
Tony
Glasgow

http://www.pandys.org/articles/lesbiandomesticviolence.pdf
“Domestic Abuse in Lesbian Relationships
©2009 Pandora’s Project
By Katy
There is a belief that women are the “gentle” sex. We are nurturing, kind, tolerant, compassionate, understanding, accepting, caring….and so, with that in mind, surely lesbian relationships are always founded on mutual love and respect for one another. Right? Wrong! Whilst the vast majority of lesbian partnerships are positive, life-affirming experiences, there is a darker issue that is seldom talked about, even by those within the lesbian community itself. I’m talking, of course, about domestic abuse and sexual assault. Myth: DV and SA does not occur within lesbian relationships. Perhaps surprisingly, statistics have shown that lesbian people experience domestic violence at a very similar rate to that of heterosexual women (Waldner-Haygrud, 1997; AVP, 1992). It has been estimated that between 17-45% of lesbians have been the victim of at least one act of violence perpetrated by a female partner (Burke et al, 1999; Lie et al, 1991), and that 30% of lesbians have reported sexual assault / rape by another woman (Renzetti, 1992). Considering the lack of discussion that takes place regarding lesbian domestic violence and sexual assault, I find these figures staggering.”
@Tony

The fact that lesbian couples are as prone to abuse one another as straight men are to abuse female partners actually does not imply that they are as likely to abuse their kids. The principal things that appears to drive how well kids are treated is how planned the kid is. Straight parents have kids by accident, gay parents don't. That's why the planned (and very expensive) kids born to straight parents through IVF/ART are also as or more loved, and as or more psychologically adjusted, than "natural" kids born to straight parents.

As to the genetic fetish, yes I confess, I am also a fetishist. I have two biological children and we only briefly considered adopting for a third. I also don't give as much to charity as I would like, and have a hard time sticking to my diet. I have complete sympathy with people's monkey brain programming that leads them to do things they would rather not. But if it leads you to treat a non-biological child differently than a biological child the problem is not adoption or IVF but your monkey brain prejudice. The data shows that stepfathers are ten times more likely to kill or abuse stepchildren than biological fathers. That's f-ed up money brain programming plain and simple, which we transhumanists and technoprogressives want to fix and transcend, just like we got rid of monarchy and tribal honor killings. Conservative opposition to ART is basically making the argument that we can never transcend our immoral impulses so we shouldn't even try. Not very Christian of you.
@jhughes


jh "The fact that lesbian couples are as prone to abuse one another as straight men are to abuse female partners actually does not imply that they are as likely to abuse their kids."

I beg to differ abusive personalities abuse when they find the power - children are especially vulnerable.

(http://www.parentdish.com/2010/11/11/absolutely-no-as-in-zero-cases-of-abuse-reported-in-lesbian/

“Vivian Farmery said...
I work in this field...I've been a social worker for 20 years, and I run a 4 year old nonprofit called Just Tell -- JustTell.org --which helps kids who are being sexually abused. While I am all for gay and lesbian parents being able to serve as foster, and adoptive, parents, I just need to let you know that I have known several kids who were sexually abused by gay or lesbian parents, one each by a lesbian adoptive or foster mothers. That's still FAR lower than the number of kids I know who were molested by straight parents, but...it DOES happen. This study had too small a sample number to be meaningful.”)

The claims of the report are dangerous and irresponsible. Too small a sample, self selecting, self reporting.

jh "The principal things that appears to drive how well kids are treated is how planned the kid is."

You assert this over & over again, please prove it.

jh "Straight parents have kids by accident, gay parents don't."

I disagree. Straight parents can have kids by "accident," gay parents can't.

Contraception, the "morning after pill" and abortion on demand means that "accidents" are rather more rare than you suggest.


jh "That's why the planned (and very expensive) ..."


My kids cost me a fortune!! I heard that, with childcare costs, loss of earnings, food, clothing, entertainment, a child (on average) will cost about £100,000 to get to adulthood. They certainly are not cheap.

"...kids born to straight parents through IVF/ART are also as or more loved, and as or more psychologically adjusted, than "natural" kids born to straight parents."

How do you measure this love? Surely not in money?

"As to the genetic fetish, yes I confess, I am also a fetishist. I have two biological children and we only briefly considered adopting for a third. I also don't give as much to charity as I would like, and have a hard time sticking to my diet. I have complete sympathy with people's monkey brain programming that leads them to do things they would rather not.”

We all do things we’d rather not. Or at least rather not tell! 😉

However, the monkey brain has been successful in bringing the human population this far, together with the “oops I did it again method.” It has achieved a great deal. I wonder if ART would have achieved as much competing in the tree of life!!

jh ”But if it leads you to treat a non-biological child differently than a biological child the problem is not adoption or IVF but your monkey brain prejudice."


I possibly agree. However, it is what it is. Your arguement is self negating. Why would a woman want a child by sperm donor if her husband is infertile? Her monkey brain wants her own DNA copied. Nevermind his monkey brain prejudice! If Dad and Daddy have a child by surrogate mother, whose monkey brain wins? Who is the "real" daddy. I accept that Ms Vesta concedes that egg donation is different. It may be possible for one lesbian to give the egg and the other to provide the womb and thus both bring the child into the world. Does this happen much? What happens with child custody when lesbains/gays split? (On this I am genuinely curious, I don’t know!)


jh " The data shows that stepfathers are ten times more likely to kill or abuse stepchildren than biological fathers. That's f-ed up money brain programming plain and simple,"

Absolutely f-ing, f-ed up. Which is why IVF and ART need greater regulation.

jh "... which we transhumanists and technoprogressives want to fix and transcend, just like we got rid of monarchy and tribal honor killings. Conservative opposition to ART is basically making the argument that we can never transcend our immoral impulses so we shouldn't even try."

How does ART achieve or fix any of the above?

jh " Not very Christian of you. "

Pardon? I didn't say I was!

None of the above addresses the findings of MDNID. Which was reflected by the words of Ms Sveta.
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