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Sunday, May 16, 2010

A mother considering artificial insemination......

During a brunch in the city, I and three other women discussed life and family and somehow got to the nature of my conception. Halfway into the meal, one of the women, a friend of a friend, shared that she was undergoing IVF treatments with donor sperm. It was like someone ran up to the table and hit me in the back of the head. I was overwhelmed.

Earlier in the meal and prior to her revelation, she had been overly interested in my experience as donor-conceived. While I answered her questions honestly I could sense their was a "motivation" for her interest that made me uncomfortable.  She looked very intensely into my eyes.  When I answered a questions it was rapidly followed by another. I later realized that, in some ways, she perceived me to be her unborn child 30 years from now.  

I imagine if my mother had the chance to speak to someone like me prior to conceiving via anonymous AI, she would have been very similar. However at brunch I found it troubling to listen to this aspiring mom and I was surprised at my impression.  As she sat beside me reviewing her latest trips to the doctor, her motivations, her history, it sounded incredibly selfish. She was in her late thirties and single after divorce. She saw her time as "running out" and without a partner she turned to artificial insemination. I tried to shake my head with familiar understanding but I felt a surge of emotion just beneath my calm.

At 29, I understand the aching desire to have a family and pressure to conceive. With that said, I don't think it gives me the right to deny a child the right to know their genetic lineage through via anonymous AI. As these thoughts ran through my head I felt the grip tighten on my fork with the frustration rising inside me. I looked down at my plate as she went on speaking to all the woman at the table.

"....I wish I had started earlier...people said I had all this time...I feel lonely in this... I hope I conceive soon....I have been waiting so long....I really want this.....I......I ......."she went on.

To calm myself down I had taken to counting the number of times she said "I." 27 actually. She focused alot on the "right to know" status of her sperm bank . Like a soothing mantra, she said it over and over.

"It's a right to know sperm bank.....since it's right to know I feel better...the right to know," she said.

Suddenly I could feel that despite the fact she was talking, everyone was looking at me. My face was flushed and I stumbled for words. "I wouldn't do it" I blurted out.

It was one of those, "did-I-really-just say-that?" moments, if you know what I mean.

She looked at me with a mixture of surprise and disappointment, "What do you mean?"

"I mean I wouldn't do it," I said and paused. "I don't think you have any idea how troubling it can be later on."

We went on to discuss why I felt this way. She raised some valid points as to why my situation was different and how the "right to know" sperm bank would provide her child with important genetic information and medical history. I wanted to be considerate but I couldn't help thinking to myself "medical history?" that is all YOU want to know about the donor...but your child may want more. Your child may want to see the crook of his smile or understand the subtleties of his personality which she shares...."

While I think she took my points to heart I could feel a certain resistance to truly engaging anyone who disagreed with her. I think her desparation to have a child...that instinctual "bell" that rings in the back of a woman's mind was ringing too loud for her to truly weigh the reality of her future child's exisitence.

I believe this desperation, this almost carnal push to procreate, is the driving force of the artificial insemination business. Simultaneously, it is the most erosive force against the rights of donor offspring.

Having a child is not a basic human right; it is a privilege. Moreover, there are many ways to conceive a child that do not strip them of their genetic past such as non-anonymous sperm donation. I would argue that, in contrast to having children, we all have an inalienable "right" to know our biological parents and that right cannot and should not be signed away by another individual endeavoring to have the privilege of being a parent.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Books about children of donor insemination and donors

I'm doing research on artificial insemination for a graduate paper I am working on and noticed its hard to find good scholarly literature about the social and psychological implications of being a "donor offspring." Oh-- as an aside here, can we PLEASE think of a better name than"donor offspring"? I feel like a science experiment or character in a sci-fi film when I use that term.

Anyways here are few books I looked up on Amazon that are pretty good. I used Amazon Associates to post them but I did not write them nor am I associated with the purchase.

Experiences of Donor Conception: Parents, Offspring, and Donors Through the Year

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

How to search engine optimize your donor blog (or any other blog) Part 1

I typically write about the search for my sperm donor father and all the contemplation and endless whining (on bad days) that entails. Recently, however, I've been getting a lot of questions about technology and blogs. Maybe I am an amazingly popular writer .....but far more likely it's because my blog comes up on top of Google for many key terms. Why? One answer: Search Engine Optimization or "SEO" as the techies like to call it. I have a lot of experience working as a technology consultant for well-known companies and let me tell you, SEO is what its all about.

Funny, if only I could "search engine optimize" my donor search things would be much easier :) How nice it would be if I could just put together a few algorithms, enter a few pertinent facts from my mom, run a search and voila, here is your donor! For know I will have to settle for using technology to help me get my story out there. As all of us donor offspring know, its not so much that something (or someone) is out there - its being able to find that entity.

The more donor offspring blogs we have search engine optimized, the stronger our voice. So I am also going to start posting tips on SEO and blogger optimization you can use for your site. Here is the universal first step:

1 -Check to see if Google has actually indexed (sort of like categorizing) your page. Go to Google and type: "site:" and the name of your site. So for example, I would google ""

If you have been indexed you will see results like this:

If you have not been indexed you will see this:

If you get the above result, then you have not been "indexed." Which in simple terms means that the Google web crawler has not yet made it to your page.  See, even though everyone thinks that Google searches the Web it actually searches a copy or "picture" of the Web. Google is crawling the Web all the time, indexing pages, but since the Web is always expanding that takes some time. If the Google Web crawler has not made it to your page to take a picture, you don't exist.

So what do you do to get indexed? 

First, go to : and you can request your site to be indexed. Next prepare your site to come up high in the results.....

We will go over that next post :).......

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Calling all Bloggers with excel spreadsheets of blogs

The custom AI google search engine is really there with about 35 vetted sites in its back end. I have gotten excellent submissions from all over but need more!

Instead of filtering the world wide web for information, let's cut things down to only those useful sites. Then we can use the power of the google algorithm to really find what we need.

If you have a list of sites, please send the urls to me in an excel spreadsheet so I can get them in there. Not only can we search but we could do analysis on what words, terms and ideas come up most frequently. We can see what the average first search is. All anonymous but useful data.

Email, Email, Email and tell your friends to email too.

Try it out its on the right side of the blog....this could get much bigger if we produce a viable solution.

Lets take technology in our own hands and rather than producing a person that will always question their existence, produce a search engine that helps us find some answers.

Looking forward to hearing from anyone who can here me :)

Seeing the world

I travel a bunch for my job and its always surreal to look out the window of the plane. When you are close enough to actually see the world beneath you, it seems so small. I especially like the little cars travelling in lines and the houses laid out like honeycombs . It's almost like an ant farm. I realize that while it seems vast, the world is not so big.

Then, like everything other time I philosophize, my mind leads me "to him." Am I flying over him. Is he maybe in his yard and, in a moment of rest, looks up to see a tiny plane flash by. "Up's me."

And then its usually a pushy flight attendant offering nuts that pulls me out of day dreaming.

Why are there so many connections "to him." Why do so many of my thoughts lead to this invisible person....its almost the "eyes" in the Great Gatsby that look down on everyone or Dicken's unknown benefactors. I think the fact that he has no shape or form is what leads my mind to him most. Our unconcious minds are simple. They do not think grand thoughts or complex ideas, instead they want something simplistic, a face, an image, a mantra. But this isn't simple. How can my mind simply grasp the artificial inseminnation process and the transfering of DNA anonymously to another. My unconsious is like a skipping record or something, searching and searching for something to fall on. Ahhh the joy I would feel to have a face...just a face to hold on to.

One afternoon over Starbuck's coffee, a friend of mine commented on the fact that this "unknown" being that is my biological father almost sounds biblical, like god or something. I had to laugh, so hard actually that I spit a bit of coffee across our table attracting the attention of those around us. But then come to think about it there is an element of truth to her observation. I think the link is less religious and more faith based.

By this I mean that because you can't see this person, because in some cases like mine you have to come to terms with the idea of never knowing, you just have to have faith that he is out there. You have to have faith that while you may never meet him, he is a good person. You have to have faith that he is whatever your mom was told he was like tall, smart, and handsome.....and the only thing you have to go on is yourself. You - the only place, ironically, you can find "him" insomuchas half his DNA is written into every cell in your body. Talk about the "holy spirit" . Too bad I'm not religious or I could really take this comparison somewhere meaningful :)

But get the drift.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Not The Man

Well, it turned out Jake was not my biological father. When I sent in my samples I opted to get the results via email - funny how technology is laced throughout this story from conception to revelation. It was a Thursday and I couldn't sleep, so I got up and brought my laptop into bed. I tried to be quiet as my boyfriend slept soundly next to me.

The results were not due for another day or two, but when I opened gmail, there it was - "DNA Results." In the middle of the darkness, my heart literally spasmed - a feeling I only remember having once before when I watched my brother just miss getting hit by a car.

The feeling was panic I think, which was so unexpected. I mean, I had been researching, blogging and corresponding for a couple of years on this topic and had been coordinating with Jake nearly two weeks, why such sudden panic? Feelings came forward that I never new were there, it was like I had repressed so much trying not to upset my parents, keeping the secret, not telling my brother. I opened the results scanning feverishly......where does it say "it"? where is the yes and no? I actually read and read the marker results with no understanding of the answer. For a moment I thought to myself that this was a metaphor for my conception a pivotal moment, a meaningful event, reduced to technicalities, to tests and medical procedures. And then:

"With 99.9% accuracy the donor is NOT biologically related"

It was as if a shot had rung out and there is that odd silence when you wonder what damage has occurred or who was shot. I actually felt physically nauseous. I started to much crying about this all. It never ends.

The only way I can describe it was that it felt like someone had died. Jake was alive and well in Brooklyn, but he wasn't my biological father and that hope, that chance to truly know myself - evaporated. I'm even crying writing this. Aside for a love of narrative writing and literature, I'm not a very dramatic person so this crying, this constant emotion is so unlike me.

My boyfriend woke up and his eyes were squinting from the laptop glow. "What's up hun?"
"It's not him" I said. He knew, he hugged me. I just cried and cried and cried.

I remember stories my mom told about finding out she and my dad could not have kids, how she cried herself to sleep, how she would breakdown when she saw children and how terrible it was to want something so very badly but be unable to have it. How the feeling just ate her up in side, consumed her.

She doesn't realize, but I understand. It is that very same carnal ache, that heart-breaking urge to have something so out of reach but so intimately linked to who you are that defines the life of a donor offspring. Sometimes I want to scream from the rooftops -
"where are you?" just let me see this person, understand myself, know that half of me exists somewhere outside of my imagination but alas - unlike my mother a sperm bank offers no resolution for this despair, quite the contrary - the sperm bank is where this mess all started.

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