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Weighing the Rights of an Anonymously Conceived Child, aka Cryokids

Spaten OptimatorSpaten Optimator Smooth OperatorRegistered User regular
edited August 2010 in Debate and/or Discourse
Here's an interesting ethical question, one that I think we will see a lot more of as humans manipulate the reproductive process:

The article that prompted this question:
Greenawalt, who lives near Cleveland, and Clark, a college student in Washington, D.C., are part of an increasingly outspoken generation of donor offspring. They want to transform the dynamics of sperm donation so the children's interests are given more weight and it becomes easier to learn about their biological fathers.

...

"The adult voices of donor offspring are a welcome counterbalance to an array of cultural forces aimed at further marginalizing fathers," wrote Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker. "At the very least, as this study implores, it is time for a serious debate on the ethics, meaning and practice of donor conception."

...

At one point, Clark soured on the entire idea of donor conception. Now she accepts that it can be a blessing for some families, but she favors ending donor anonymity and hopes more parents will tell the truth early on to their donor-conceived children.

"The most damaging thing I've seen is when parents wait to tell," she said.

In an article she wrote for The Washington Post in 2006, Clark described the emotions that wracked her as an adolescent.

"I realized that I am, in a sense, a freak," she wrote. "I finally understood what it meant to be donor-conceived, and I hated it."


Her point:
My point is that the loss associated with being donor conceived is something that I will carry for the rest of my life, and that to deliberately create a human being with that loss is unethical.


How important is it that the donor remain anonymous? What, if any, rights do these offspring have to know that name, that person?

Not knowing one (or both) parent's identity isn't uncommon, but this is a circumstance over which society has direct control control. Should a certain amount of disclosure legally go with being a donor?

Spaten Optimator on
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    IncenjucarIncenjucar VChatter Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Necessary evil. The alternative is that people will have to sleep with people to get knocked up, which may involve strangers or lies.

    Incenjucar on
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    ElitistbElitistb Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    I don't really have any support for people who fight against societal stigmas by trying to change the situation resulting in the stigma rather than fighting against the prejudices of the society.

    Elitistb on
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    Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Uh, the situation inherently denies them genetic and medical histories.

    Fuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud on
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    Psycho Internet HawkPsycho Internet Hawk Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Uh, the situation inherently denies them genetic and medical histories.

    Wait is this seriously not provided with anonoymous donors?

    Like, how hard is it to take someone's medical history report and just x out the name or something christ.

    Psycho Internet Hawk on
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    Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    If medical history isn't being provided that is a problem that needs to be fixed, but that can also be done anonymously.

    I don't buy the idea that 'cryokids' have the right to be able to go find their biological parents. Maybe they have the right to be told about the circumstances of their birth at some age, but I'm not sure who that obligation falls on, ultimately. The state?

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    ElitistbElitistb Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Uh, the situation inherently denies them genetic and medical histories.
    Acknowledged. However that is not what the article is discussing:
    "If I had to choose between being conceived with half of my identity and half of my kinship deliberately denied from me for eternity _ or never being born _ I'd choose never being born," she wrote. "We were created to carry a loss. A loss that no human being should have to endure."

    Elitistb on
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    DuffelDuffel jacobkosh Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    If it were not anonymous, would there be any possible drawbacks to the donor/father? It's not like they have to pay child support or anything.

    If there's no drawback to the donor other than potentially having to shoo away some unwanted offspring 15+ years down the road, and there's a tangible negative effect on the children themselves caused by anonymity (which there seems to be), then what's the problem?

    Personally I think it would be kind of cool to know that you had a kid out there somewhere that you could make contact with if you so desired.

    Duffel on
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    Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    What is the harm, precisely?

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    rational vashrational vash Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    What the fuck is this bullshit

    I'm also the result of a sperm donor, and I have no problem with Donor anonymity. The study that article quotes? It was funded by a christian fundamentalist organization.

    I noticed that almost all of the distressed children in that article were raised by single parents. Not once did it mention that children like me that were raised by lesbians are generally emotionally stable, more so than children raised by straight parents, even if the child was created by a sperm donor. That wouldn't agree with their true motive- to convince the public that anything outside of a "natural" family is wrong.

    Also, what the hell makes that woman think that shes a freak for being a sperm donor's kid? All the natural processes are there; guy gets hard, experiences friction, squirts mucus, sperm fight like little gladiators for that right to live, baby is formed. There's just an added step with a turkey baster, and the two people aren't in the same room when it happens. Hell, it's basically long distance conception.

    rational vash on
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    CycloneRangerCycloneRanger Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    I suspect direct gene sequencing will supersede family history analysis before long anyway. I don't really have a problem with any of this.

    CycloneRanger on
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    rational vashrational vash Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    If medical history isn't being provided that is a problem that needs to be fixed, but that can also be done anonymously.

    I don't buy the idea that 'cryokids' have the right to be able to go find their biological parents. Maybe they have the right to be told about the circumstances of their birth at some age, but I'm not sure who that obligation falls on, ultimately. The state?

    Yea, medical history really should be provided at the time of donation, along with giving the agency permission to access all future records, so that they can pass any important developments on t the child.

    And it's the parents responsibility to tell the child as soon as the child asks (which he or she will certainly do at a very young age)

    rational vash on
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    DuffelDuffel jacobkosh Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    There are some people who simply feel driven to learn more about their biological parents. This psychological reaction isn't something unique to modern sperm donor children. There've been kids since the beginning of time whose fathers were, for all intents and purposes, sperm donors as far as the child was concerned; artificial insemination simply changes the mechanics of this. And sometimes those people grow up and want to know about who their father was. We know that genetics play a role in making you who they are, and for these people it's basically a search for their own identity.

    Duffel on
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    Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    While I agree that the parents have a moral responsibility to tell their kid, there are apparently cases where the child doesn't find out until later in life, and apparently this is a problem.

    What I'm not clear on is what the remedy sought in those cases is. Even if the donors were made not-anonymous, that doesn't solve the (questionable) "problem" of existential angst on the part of people who find out later in life that they had a surrogate biological parent.

    Eat it You Nasty Pig. on
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    IncenjucarIncenjucar VChatter Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Duffel wrote: »
    If it were not anonymous, would there be any possible drawbacks to the donor/father? It's not like they have to pay child support or anything.

    If there's no drawback to the donor other than potentially having to shoo away some unwanted offspring 15+ years down the road, and there's a tangible negative effect on the children themselves caused by anonymity (which there seems to be), then what's the problem?

    Personally I think it would be kind of cool to know that you had a kid out there somewhere that you could make contact with if you so desired.

    Sperm donors have that option in various ways. Anonymous donors are donating on the grounds that they will be anonymous. If they are not anonymous any longer, they will no longer provide donations, narrowing the options for would-be parents significantly. If the intended parent is the one who desires the donor to be anonymous, they will have to use a much less safe or ethical method to obtain it, as with abortion.

    Take away a person's legal options and you invite danger.

    Incenjucar on
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    kildykildy Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Medical history being provided to the clinic is fine, but being provided to the parent or the child seems like you'd get into interesting HIPAA issues. Namely you'd need a blanket release form to ANYONE, because at the time of signing you wouldn't know the people to release to, and then trust the clinic. I can see issuing basics like any genetic health problems, but the full records would in theory allow you to ID the anonymous donor.

    I guess my main question is: if we remove artificial insemination from the equation entirely, it's still possible to not know who one of your parents is (either the mother simply Not Knowing, or the mother refusing to tell the child). At this point, what should the rights granted to the child be? Basically: "cryokids" is a red herring in the discussion, since the situation can happen without this technology. What's the answer on a biological level.

    Personally, I don't think anyone has a RIGHT to know information about a parent, but it's probably best for the child's mental health to at least have the question answered in some way when the child asks why they don't have X or Y parent.

    kildy on
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    Glorious CretinGlorious Cretin Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Elitistb wrote: »
    Uh, the situation inherently denies them genetic and medical histories.
    Acknowledged. However that is not what the article is discussing:
    "If I had to choose between being conceived with half of my identity and half of my kinship deliberately denied from me for eternity _ or never being born _ I'd choose never being born," she wrote. "We were created to carry a loss. A loss that no human being should have to endure."

    Maybe I'm just not at all sympathetic to this line of reasoning, but I just do not see what bothers them about that. It's the only reality they know, after all.

    Glorious Cretin on
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    ReynoldsReynolds Gone Fishin'Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Parents fuck things up for their kids in the future all the time. Nothing is ever going to change that.

    If that girl knew who her father was all along, she'd probably just hate him for not letting her go to that concert with that guy, and not letting her have her own cell phone for, like, forever! He's totally ruining her life, god! I bet she wishes she never knew him now.

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    RUNN1NGMANRUNN1NGMAN Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    It's not an ethical issue, it's a personal issue that she needs to figure out a way to get over or cope with herself. I really doubt that her life would be sunshine and rainbows if she suddenly knew who her father was. Likely, she'd have a whole new issue to get upset about because he'd quite possibly tell her he wants nothing to do with her.

    Edit: flip this on its head. Would it be unethical for an anonymous donor to seek out all the children who were conceived using his sperm and meet them?

    I think the best solution would be for there to be some mechanism for both parties to get in touch IF they both want to get in touch. I'm pretty sure this already happens somehow, if only though unofficial channels.

    There was an article a while back about this group of people all conceived from the same anonymous donor--it's like hundreds of people. They have a message board an local meet-ups and everything. None of those people seemed at all concerned that they didn't know who their father was. Most had no interest in knowing.

    RUNN1NGMAN on
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    SolandraSolandra Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    IMO it's a parenting issue, like the revelation about Santa and the Easter Bunny. I'm pretty unsympathetic to her dramatic statement about being an incomplete person because she was conceived deliberately and with love, because she was a child who was inherently *wanted* - there is no option to think that she was an accident.

    Don't know who daddy is? Mom doesn't either? You think *that* makes life not worth living? Really? Go compare notes with the child of incest who's mother, through peer and community pressure, was told she was obligated to go through with the pregnancy because it was "the right thing to do," or to the child who's mother (or father) tells them in rage and personal angst that if only she hadn't gotten knocked up, she could have done x/y/z with her life. Amazingly enough, unwanted and resented children who know both their parents don't have perfect lives, either.

    /rant

    To the question at hand, no, I don't think "cryokids" or the children of one-night-stands or the children of volunteer sperm donors who's mothers deliberately get knocked up the "natural" way have an inherent right to know who the donor was if the donor does not wish to participate in the lives conceived by their donation. Kids showing up on the doorstep twenty years after a donation can do some pretty interesting things to the donor's current life and situation, and the donors may not want to participate in the lives of the people they never met in person.

    Solandra on
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    gtrmpgtrmp Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Yea, medical history really should be provided at the time of donation, along with giving the agency permission to access all future records, so that they can pass any important developments on t the child.

    The thing is, pertinent medical information isn't always going to end up in the father's medical records, if only because men can be pretty dumb about that. So the donor might be able to tell the kid things like "I get headaches if I eat too many nuts, but it's not too bad so I never thought to mention it", or "I found out after I donated that my uncle was at least a little schizophrenic, but he never saw a doctor about it because nobody in the family ever wanted to even talk about it". Even if these traits don't manifest in the kid, they could in the next generation, when the donor-baby grows up and has kids of their own.

    gtrmp on
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    Mr_RoseMr_Rose 83 Blue Ridge Protects the Holy Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Oh man, the first kid conceived and gestated entirely in vitro from two anonymous donors is going to be so fucked up.

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    CliffCliff Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    I can't imagine a worse situation than jerking into a cup because I need a quick easy $150, and having some whiny teenager show up at my door 15 years later demanding we get to know each other. I'd say anonymity is an important part of what keeps the donor business running smoothly. Take it away, and you're sure to see a swift drop in donors.

    Cliff on
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    darkgruedarkgrue Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Uh, the situation inherently denies them genetic and medical histories.

    Wait is this seriously not provided with anonoymous donors?

    Like, how hard is it to take someone's medical history report and just x out the name or something christ.

    Pretty hard, actually, as this can seriously compromise the privacy of the donor. It's pretty easy to take a sufficiently detailed medical history and data mine the original donor out. Far easier than you'd think. Much more difficult to make that data truly anonymous without making it unusable.

    Balancing the needs of the child for that data against that of the donor's privacy. There's not an easy answer there.

    darkgrue on
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    RUNN1NGMANRUNN1NGMAN Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Cliff wrote: »
    I can't imagine a worse situation than jerking into a cup because I need a quick easy $150, and having some whiny teenager show up at my door 15 years later demanding we get to know each other. I'd say anonymity is an important part of what keeps the donor business running smoothly. Take it away, and you're sure to see a swift drop in donors.

    Is it really $150? <googles DC-area sperm banks>

    RUNN1NGMAN on
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    Cedar BrownCedar Brown Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    When Sweden ended anonymous donation, the number of donors plummeted. Some places in Europe have shortages of donors and long waiting lists. Removing anonymity and payment reduces the number of volunteers. Then you have to wait in line at the tap.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/11/13/health/main4597958.shtml

    You never, ever agree to donate sperm unless it's done anonymously through an agency or whatever. The courts will make you pay child support if the recipient demands it. It doesn't matter, as long as you are established as the father they'll pin the bill on you no matter what. If you don't pay, you go to jail. You come last, women and children first. That's why you need to be careful and keep your seed to yourself.

    Cedar Brown on
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    Hockey JohnstonHockey Johnston Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    From a moral perspective, I think every 18 year old deserves to know the name and address of both of their biological parents (assuming anyone at all knows). For an institution to have this record but hold it back is unconscionable.

    It's just like adoption rights. It's slowly but surely changing.

    Hockey Johnston on
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    mythagomythago Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Any article that seriously quotes Kathleen Parker is full of crap. From her perspective, anything that might give males power = good, everything else = bad. She's one of those women who is convinced that if she shits on her fellow females hard enough the boys will love her bestest.

    Anonymous sperm donation came about because it was used to help married couples conceive where the husband was infertile - so of course one didn't want another male in the picture.

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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited August 2010
    gtrmp wrote: »
    Yea, medical history really should be provided at the time of donation, along with giving the agency permission to access all future records, so that they can pass any important developments on t the child.

    The thing is, pertinent medical information isn't always going to end up in the father's medical records, if only because men can be pretty dumb about that. So the donor might be able to tell the kid things like "I get headaches if I eat too many nuts, but it's not too bad so I never thought to mention it", or "I found out after I donated that my uncle was at least a little schizophrenic, but he never saw a doctor about it because nobody in the family ever wanted to even talk about it". Even if these traits don't manifest in the kid, they could in the next generation, when the donor-baby grows up and has kids of their own.

    If I donate sperm and provide medical history when I'm 35, it doesn't help the kid when I have a heart attack or stroke at 65.

    RUNN1NGMAN: It's usually $50 per donation, and they basically contract you for one donation per week over a period of time like 3 or 6 months.

    Feral on
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    Cedar BrownCedar Brown Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Cryokid sounds like something a Space Marine might kill.

    Cedar Brown on
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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited August 2010
    You don't know who your daddy is!

    Cry more, cryokid.

    Feral on
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    IncenjucarIncenjucar VChatter Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited August 2010
    From a moral perspective, I think every 18 year old deserves to know the name and address of both of their biological parents (assuming anyone at all knows). For an institution to have this record but hold it back is unconscionable.

    It's just like adoption rights. It's slowly but surely changing.

    And does this "moral" deserving have a solution to women getting pregnant by less safe means? Forcing donors to reveal themselves will work about as well as outlawing abortions.

    Incenjucar on
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    Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Why do you deserve to know the names/locations/whatever of your biological parents?

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    CervetusCervetus Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Feral wrote: »
    gtrmp wrote: »
    Yea, medical history really should be provided at the time of donation, along with giving the agency permission to access all future records, so that they can pass any important developments on t the child.

    The thing is, pertinent medical information isn't always going to end up in the father's medical records, if only because men can be pretty dumb about that. So the donor might be able to tell the kid things like "I get headaches if I eat too many nuts, but it's not too bad so I never thought to mention it", or "I found out after I donated that my uncle was at least a little schizophrenic, but he never saw a doctor about it because nobody in the family ever wanted to even talk about it". Even if these traits don't manifest in the kid, they could in the next generation, when the donor-baby grows up and has kids of their own.

    If I donate sperm and provide medical history when I'm 35, it doesn't help the kid when I have a heart attack or stroke at 65.

    RUNN1NGMAN: It's usually $50 per donation, and they basically contract you for one donation per week over a period of time like 3 or 6 months.

    Hmm, interesting. If my genetics weren't unconscionably bad I'd have to consider it.

    Cervetus on
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    NoughtNought Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Cervetus wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    gtrmp wrote: »
    Yea, medical history really should be provided at the time of donation, along with giving the agency permission to access all future records, so that they can pass any important developments on t the child.

    The thing is, pertinent medical information isn't always going to end up in the father's medical records, if only because men can be pretty dumb about that. So the donor might be able to tell the kid things like "I get headaches if I eat too many nuts, but it's not too bad so I never thought to mention it", or "I found out after I donated that my uncle was at least a little schizophrenic, but he never saw a doctor about it because nobody in the family ever wanted to even talk about it". Even if these traits don't manifest in the kid, they could in the next generation, when the donor-baby grows up and has kids of their own.

    If I donate sperm and provide medical history when I'm 35, it doesn't help the kid when I have a heart attack or stroke at 65.

    RUNN1NGMAN: It's usually $50 per donation, and they basically contract you for one donation per week over a period of time like 3 or 6 months.

    Hmm, interesting. If my genetics weren't unconscionably bad I'd have to consider it.

    I remember a news report a few years ago in Denmark. I think it was in connection with talks about removing donor anonymity retroactively, and they mentioned a guy that had donated a 1000 (his sperm quality was so high that they could tap him 3-5 times a week). At 500 DKK ~ 90$ a pop. 0,5 mil DKK or 90.000$

    Of cause you can't have sex while being in "rotation" so that can't be fun.

    I think removing anonymity is a bad idea, mainly because I see it as a very small step to then open up demands of child support. The donor doesn't choose the recipient, so I have a hard time seeing why they should be responsible.

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    GungHoGungHo Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Elitistb wrote: »
    Uh, the situation inherently denies them genetic and medical histories.
    Acknowledged. However that is not what the article is discussing:
    "If I had to choose between being conceived with half of my identity and half of my kinship deliberately denied from me for eternity _ or never being born _ I'd choose never being born," she wrote. "We were created to carry a loss. A loss that no human being should have to endure."

    Jesus Christ, grow up, lady. Your pompus ass has enough time to blog and whine, so you're doing better than a hell of a lot of people. You wanna suffer a loss no human being should have to endure? Go to fuckin Pakistan and watch your dad get dragged down the river.

    GungHo on
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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited August 2010
    If the law were changed so that sperm donors would be exempt from child support, and sperm banks could only reveal the father's identity after the child has turned 18, would there be any other reason for donors to desire anonymity?

    Feral on
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    IncenjucarIncenjucar VChatter Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Feral wrote: »
    If the law were changed so that sperm donors would be exempt from child support, and sperm banks could only reveal the father's identity after the child has turned 18, would there be any other reason for donors to desire anonymity?

    Having 50 18 year olds calling you up saying DADDY I WANT TO KNOW YOU!

    Incenjucar on
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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    If the law were changed so that sperm donors would be exempt from child support, and sperm banks could only reveal the father's identity after the child has turned 18, would there be any other reason for donors to desire anonymity?

    Having 50 18 year olds calling you up saying DADDY I WANT TO KNOW YOU!

    Yeah that might suck.

    Feral on
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    NuckerNucker Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Interesting read on the subject of adoption and adoptees access to information about their biological parents here.

    Quote from the conclusion that ties in with my question:
    ...adoptees who reach adulthood and desire to seek out their biological parents can do so without any restrictions other than the ability or inability to find information about one’s biological parents. In addition, State adoption registries facilitate such reunions and allow adoptees to access medical histories of consenting biological parents.

    I understand with the cryokids situation that there are obviously a whole different slew of laws about adoptees and relatively few for cryokids. With regards to the privacy of the biological parents, though--specifically for cryokids, dad--what difference is there between the parents who opted to have their children legally adopted and the parents who donated their sex cells for the purpose of fertilization?

    I can understand privacy laws for donation of sex cells for research, but for a person who specifically donates their sex cells for the purpose of procreation, how is it that they should be treated differently than parents who biologically carry the child to term, then put it up for legal adoption?

    Edit: And maybe that could be one way of making a distinction--clearly defining the roles of donation clinics between procreation and research, where privacy laws are different between the two.

    Nucker on
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    Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. normal (not weird)Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Elitistb wrote: »
    Uh, the situation inherently denies them genetic and medical histories.
    Acknowledged. However that is not what the article is discussing:
    "If I had to choose between being conceived with half of my identity and half of my kinship deliberately denied from me for eternity _ or never being born _ I'd choose never being born," she wrote. "We were created to carry a loss. A loss that no human being should have to endure."

    I sympathize for them, but that quote sounds really fucking melodramatic.

    Styrofoam Sammich on
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