Sunday, November 30, 2008

Postcard Submitted Anonymously: Being Sold

This was submitted anonymously to a site - PostSecret ( - that you may or may not be familiar with. People anonymously send in their secrets via postcards. Some are uploaded to the website each Sunday while others are used in books. I think it's important to note that the person who created this postcard had access to paperwork from her donor indicating that his reason for providing his sperm was "money." This caused her pain, given that he did not mention any other motives.

While I do not feel envious of adoptees myself, I did want to share this person's message. I must agree that it is an odd, and somewhat disturbing, feeling to realize that your biological parent, your own flesh, sold you. I, too, said this once on a Canadian radio program. After really thinking about this topic as a result of my own intense search, I came to the realization that my sperm donor had basically been paid $25 to create me and sever all ties forever. Did this cross his mind when he 'donated' (or, more accurately, sold) his sperm? No, probably not. Again, I know and believe that most participate for a combination of money and altruistic reasons.

Yet this leads to the point that many of these men who are recruited for sperm donation are young and naive. With all of the pleas to young men and women to help a family in need yet little discussion of different points of view of the resulting children, I am not convinced that donors are fully aware of what they are doing. Furthermore, the current terminology does not help. By referring to them as "donors," we are minimizing the reality that they are being PAID to CREATE life. Why do we continue to do this? I think it's because "donor" is a much more appealing and comfortable word for the donors, recipients, clinics, and society in general that enables status quo.


paragon2pieces said...

What label would you use in lieu of sperm donor. Genetic contributor? Or is that still neutral in your view?

damianhadams said...

I use father. The man that raised me is my dad.
Although if we want to talk in more medical terms then I would say they are sperm providers (they did not donate as they got paid). But if you want to be more correct scientifically then they are your progenitor.

Kathleen R. LaBounty - said...

I typically use "biological father." That is the best way to describe how I view him. Like Damian, I reserve "dad" for the man who raised me.

When I first met Patty, the psychologist who worked on the study with me, we got in long debates whenever I would say "biological father" and she would quickly correct my language with "donor." We looked up words in the dictionary, from father to progenitor to donor to parent. Eventually she came to accept and understand my language, so she no longer argues with me about it. :)

I think ultimately we each need the freedom to define terms like father, dad, and donor for ourselves.

Peregrinor said...

Would it really be better for a naturally conceived child to know what was going through her parents' minds when they conceived her? Maybe the father was just masturbating in his wife's vagina. Maybe she was thinking about another man--or another woman! Is a life's worth measured by such thoughts? Should fetuses produced by rape be necessarily aborted just so the children won't have bad feelings about what mental state their biological donors were in at "that moment"? (I'm pro-choice, btw). I think we're going too far too far in wondering about such unknowable things.