We are all born with an identity, a unique character that comes from the combining of our parents’ genes and that is shaped by interactions with our mothers and fathers. Defining personal and social identity for the thousands of
“The need to know your father, and the grief [felt] when one’s father is not in one’s life, is not a recent social construction,” explained Elizabeth Marquardt, vice president for family studies at the Institute for American Values and lead author on the report. “Our civilization’s great cultural stories, from ancient
The anonymous trade of sperm and eggs has become a major issue worldwide, and some countries, including
But while policies have changed elsewhere, they have received little attention in the
Marquardt’s recent study was co-investigated with Karen Clark, an author and writer for FamilyScholars.org, and Norval D. Glenn, a professor of sociology and American studies at the
The researchers found that even with controls for socio-economic status, donor offspring are more than twice as likely to struggle with substance abuse and delinquency, and more than 1.5 times as likely to struggle with depression, compared to those raised by their biological parents. They also fare worse on average compared to those raised by adoptive parents.
Furthermore, some two-thirds of donor offspring believe that they should have the right to know the identity of their biological fathers. “What seems especially troubling for some donor offspring is the deliberateness with which they were denied knowledge of or a relationship with their sperm donor biological fathers,” Marquardt explained. “Before they were ever born, their mothers and others decided that this man—their father—should not be of importance to them. Moreover, the state and society affirm that decision made by others before their birth.”
Anonymous sperm donation in the
The lack of donor tracking also means that persons conceived via artificial insemination are unable to obtain information about half-siblings, and hence the possibility of accidental incest is very real. “The American Society of Reproductive Medicine has a professional recommendation that 25 or fewer offspring should be conceived from the sperm of any one donor, but this is only a recommendation, not a law,” Marquardt said. “And to know you could have even 25 unidentified half-siblings is mind-boggling and disturbing to people conceived in this way.”
An underlying theme in “My Daddy’s Name is Donor” is the fact that none of us have control eover our born identities. “We are all here and all exist because of a union of our mothers and fathers,” Marquardt said. “But that does not mean we can have no opinion about what our parents did or did not do for us. Donor offspring are no different. They have powerful and profoundly legitimate perspectives to share as our society debates how to conceive the next generation of children.”
For more about Elizabeth Marquardt, Karen Clark, Norval D. Glenn, and “My Daddy’s Name is Donor,” see FamilyScholars.org.