It turns out that children conceived via "donor" materials--e.g., by means of reproductive prostitution--aren't exactly thrilled when they find out:
When she was younger, Alana S. used to experiment and tell people her dad died when she was a baby and that she didn’t really ever get to know him. She would get a sincere hug and a heartfelt, “I’m so sorry.” But when she told people the truth of her father’s whereabouts, she got a response mostly filled with confusion.
“When I tell people I’m donor conceived, God, the blank expression on their face,” Alana said. “They’re shocked, they’re paralyzed.”
The reaction propelled her to create AnonymousUs.org, a no-names online story collective for donor-conceived people, their families, donors, and medical professionals. “The goal is for it to be a healing resource, and also I want to find the patterns. I feel like I’m a tile in a big mosaic and I want to see other people’s tiles and get a big picture,” she said.
AnonymousUs.org is part of the growing online presence and increasing visibility of the adult children of anonymous sperm and egg donors—kids who are not quite all right. [...]
Currently, in the United States, you need a license to sell a condo or cut hair in a salon, but not to broker human life. The $3 billion fertility industry goes largely unregulated, offering blank pages to those searching for information where the rest of us are free to access vital statistics of public record. “I’m not a treatment, I’m a person, and those records belong to me,” says Pratten.
Pratten, 28, says the court case was a last resort. “Five years ago, it was like ‘You’re a fringe group with issues,’ ” she says. Now they’re listening. She is petitioning the Supreme Court of British Columbia to preserve and disclose donor records (although she suspects her own may have already been destroyed). She sees the issue as practical and straightforward: “We want the same rights that adopted people have.” (British Columbia has some of the most liberal adoption laws in Canada, where any adoptee who reaches age 18 may access her birth records.) That right exists in only eight states in the U.S.
Why do donor kids--when they reach adulthood--even want to know about some anonymous person who just happened to have provided the genetic material used in manufacturing the child? We've been told by the cheerleaders for the Sexual Revolution that "family" doesn't have anything to do with biology, but instead is a feel-good term for people who choose to be together, whatever their relationship, blood or other. So--aren't donor kids just ungrateful brats, not content with the mother and father or mother and mother or father and father who have raised them?
No, as the new adult donor-child activists are making clear. Like every person, those people manufactured in laboratories via IVF retain the deep, primal need of every human being to know his or her origins, his or her parents. We know that adopted children often struggle with mixed emotions and desires as they confront their birth origins, and that keeping adoption records accessible has helped adopted children with everything from learning their health histories to realizing why, in a family full of popular music devotees, they remain addicted to Chopin or Bach. Nurture may be a big key to a child's life, but it's not the only key; nature provides more than we sometimes realize, and it's profoundly human to need to know our parents.
But having come to understand this with regard to adopted children, why are we so far behind in recognizing the same dynamic at work in children whose father or mother simply provided the raw materials for people-manufacturing before disappearing from the child's life forever?
I think there are many factors involved, but that underneath all of them is our culture's implacable need to believe that there is nothing special at all about natural parenthood, about biological mothers and fathers raising their own children, about intact families forming in the same way families have formed for centuries. Instead, our culture wants to believe in the myth of the 38-year-old career woman who has enjoyed plenty of satisfying sexual relationships and is now ready to be a mother--no permanent father-figure necessary--and who turns to IVF to make her maternal dreams come true; it wants to believe in the myth of the happy blended family who have shed the children's natural father in favor of a new model via the miracle of divorce and remarriage (because, after all, so long as "New Dad" is around to toss a baseball in the evenings he's exactly the same as "Old Dad," right?); it wants to believe in the myth of every married couple having the right to have and raise their 1.5 perfect children, even if there's a problem and a lab has to step in with an assortment of attractive donor material and several thousand dollars worth of IVF treatments to remedy what Mom or Dad can't supply--in other words, it wants to believe that having children is no different than obtaining pets, and that children aren't adversely impacted or harmed in any way by a dizzying merry-go-round of shifting and fading parental figures, all interchangeable, none even remotely important to grounded and peaceful child development, to say nothing of eventual adult well-adjusted happiness.
Out in the world today, we have a lot of adults who are the walking wounded, the injured and suffering survivors of adult frivolity and carelessness. The children of divorce have been speaking out about their suffering; the children of the never-married are beginning to have a few things to say, too; and now the children manufactured yet deprived, by the decisions of one or two people, of knowing at least one of their own biological parents are beginning to give voice to their pain as well. The truth of the matter is that children do care. Their longing to be with their own fathers and their own mothers is deep, and lasting, and real. And no matter how much our culture thinks it can reshape the family at will and by the selfish whims of spoiled adults, it is always the children who will suffer the most from these whimsical decisions.