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Sperm Donors Day
June 19, 2010 permalink
Fathers Day used to be a time for celebrating the contribution of fathers to the family but today the media take the opportunity to degrade fatherhood. The first enclosed article from the respected liberal magazine The Atlantic Monthly disparages fathers as incapable of providing a quality of care anywhere near that of mothers. They are valuable mostly for their financial contribution. For a refutation of the purported facts refer to Robert Franklin. The second enclosed article deals with the permanent hole in the heart of adults who were born as the product of anonymous sperm donation.
Are Fathers Necessary?
A paternal contribution may not be as essential as we think.
Even the most recession-walloped and otherwise diminished man can take pride in his essential role as father. Fathers, Barack Obama intoned in a 2008 Father’s Day speech, are “critical” to the foundation of each family. “They are teachers and coaches. They are mentors and role models. They are examples of success and the men who constantly push us toward it.”
None of this would seem particularly controversial. Nor would the ominous statistics Obama reeled off about kids who grow up without Dad: five times as likely to live in poverty and commit crime, nine times as likely to drop out of school, and 20 times as likely to wind up in prison. Obama was citing a commonly accepted and constantly updated body of research. The effectively fatherless Obama is clearly a freakish outlier. As for the rest of the fatherless: insufficiently breast-fed, apt to develop attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, unable to form secure bonds, lacking self-esteem, accident prone, asthmatic, and fat.
Liberal feminist moms—eager for the participation of our emotionally evolved, enthusiastically diaper-bag-toting mates in the grueling round of dual-career child rearing—are keen to back the data. Dads, we tell our husbands, are essential influences on children, the source of unique benefits.
There’s only one problem: none of this is proven. In the February issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family, Judith Stacey, a professor of sociology at New York University, and Timothy Biblarz, a demographer from the University of Southern California, consolidated the available data on the role of gender in child rearing. As Stacey and Biblarz point out, our ideas of what dads do and provide are based primarily on contrasts between married-couple parents and single-female parents: an apples-to-oranges exercise that conflates gender, sexual orientation, marital status, and biogenetic relationships in ways that a true comparison of parent gender—one that compared married gay-male couples or married lesbian couples to married heterosexuals, or single fathers to single mothers—would not. Most of the data fail to distinguish between a father and the income a father provides, or between the presence of a father and the presence of a second parent, regardless of gender.
Drawing on reliable comparative studies, you could say this: single moms tend to be more involved, set more rules, communicate better, and feel closer to their children than single dads. They have less difficulty monitoring their children’s whereabouts, friendships, and school progress. Their children do better on standardized tests and have higher grades, and teenagers of single moms are actually less likely to engage in delinquent behavior or substance abuse than those of single dads. Go, Murphy Brown.
The quality of parenting, Biblarz and Stacey say, is what really matters, not gender. But the real challenge to our notion of the “essential” father might well be the lesbian mom. On average, lesbian parents spend more time with their children than fathers do. They rate disputes with their children as less frequent than do hetero couples, and describe co-parenting more compatibly and with greater satisfaction. Their kids perceive their parents to be more available and dependable than do the children of heteros. They also discuss more emotional issues with their parents. They have fewer behavioral problems, and show more interest in and try harder at school.
According to Stacey and Biblarz, “Two women who chose to become parents together seemed to provide a double dose of a middle-class ‘feminine’ approach to parenting.” And, they conclude, “based strictly on the published science, one could argue that two women parent better on average than a woman and a man, or at least than a woman and man with a traditional division of family labor.”
Ah, there’s the rub. All howling to the contrary, most heterosexual men and women like that traditional division. Sticking to “gendered” parenting roles offers a seductive affirmation. Fathers, roughhouse all you want. But we, gatekeeper moms, are in charge of the rest. We could give you detailed instruction, and you still couldn’t possibly do it as well. “Even women who want their husbands to help more with the kids don’t want to give up their traditional authority,” says Stephanie Coontz, director of research at the Council on Contemporary Families. In addition to our pragmatic embrace of these roles, we still live in a culture with a deeply embedded notion of what a father is, beyond just another set of hands, and men, women, and children cling to it.
The bad news for Dad is that despite common perception, there’s nothing objectively essential about his contribution. The good news is, we’ve gotten used to him.
Source: Atlantic Monthly
Barbara Kay: Happy Seed Provider’s Day, Dad
Happy are those for whom Father’s Day means a barbecue and a card poking fun at Dad’s foibles. Not so much for children whose “father” was anonymous sperm sold to create a child he would never know or likely care to know. For them “Seed Provider’s Day” would be more accurate.
Adult children conceived during the wave of sperm donorship in the early 1980s and early 1990s are now telling their stories. They were wanted and loved children, but because of the way they were conceived, there is a world of hurt and anger out there.
Alana Sveta is a New York based, 20-something college dropout working with an independent film team on a screenplay based on her life as a “donor kid.” In an email interview she wrote that she is obsessed with her genetic heritage, to which she attributes substance abuse and intimacy issues.
Before researching her own genetic history, Alana struggled for years to understand her deep misandry. Men, she discovered, were not her problem; rather it was being raised as if the missing half of her genetic identity were superfluous to her sense of self-worth. “It never occurred to me how truly robbed I was until I started spending time in other people’s homes watching how their fathers interacted with them.” Discussing her feelings of loss with her mother was difficult; she didn’t want to appear ungrateful or critical of her mother’s decision.
Many donor kids do find their genetic fathers through such sites as donorsiblingregistry.com. Alana knows a few facts, but they haven’t panned out. She holds the “childish fantasy” that her blond, blue-eyed father of Polish provenance will see her finished film and reach out to her.
Alana is in many ways a poster child for the negative fallout from the commodification of human genetic materials. On May 31 The Commission on Parenthood’s Future released a report: My Daddy’s Name is Donor: A new Study of Young Adults Conceived through Sperm Donation. Lead researcher Elizabeth Marquardt is a familiar name on this topic. Her 2006 study, The Revolution in Parenthood: the Emerging Global Clash Between Adult Rights and Children’s Needs, made a persuasive case that the issue is not about “love.” Like many bio-ethicists, including McGill’s Margaret Somerville, who frequently writes on this subject, Marquardt focuses on children’s rights, in this case the right to know their full biological inheritance.
This new, first-ever comparative study of sperm-donor adults against control groups of adoptive and normative young adults raised with two biological parents presents interesting findings. Two-thirds of sperm donor kids agree that “My sperm donor is half of who I am”; half are disturbed that money was involved in their conception; nearly half fear having sexual relations with a possible unknown sibling (some sperm donors have a hundred offspring; unwitting half siblings in England married); about half have ethical reservations about the propriety of the system.
(On the other hand, many sperm donor children — about 20% of the study subjects — have themselves become donors sperm or egg donors, as against figures of 0% and 1% in the control groups.)
Many people assume donor-conceived children are much like adopted children, but the two situations are radically different. Adoption is a well-regulated non-profit institution, its raison d’être to find a home and family for an existing child, whose rights are well protected by social service people trained to pair a child with optimal parents.
Sperm and egg donation is an unregulated marketplace. Its focus is the desire and, some would say, the “right” of parents to have a child, whatever it takes. The conceived child’s interest is forgotten.
There is no evidence to suggest that “intentional parenthood” — but intentional fatherlessness/motherlessness — of this kind is good for children. There is plenty to suggest that a commercial free-for-all in sperm and eggs creates existential torment, an “invisible loss” in these children (there are about 16,000 in Canada) that cannot be smoothed away by the “good narrative” of how wanted the child was.
Like the U.K., Canada nominally bans the sale of sperm and eggs. But unlike the U.K, which regulates effectively, Canada’s Assisted Human Reproduction Act, passed six years ago, is extremely porous. Its oversight agency, Assisted Human Reproduction Canada is, according to one involved MP, “an agency set up to do nothing” (though it costs $10-million annually). It is merrily bypassed by fertility industry entrepreneurs.
Eyes, kidneys, blood — human parts with no mind or soul are not bought and sold. Why life itself? As one donor child put it: “If my life is for other people’s purposes, and not my own, then what is the purpose of my life?”
Source: National Post
Addendum: Barack Obama issues a message celebrating: "father and mother, a single father, two fathers, a step father, a grandfather, or caring guardian".
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release June 18, 2010
Presidential Proclamation--Father's Day
FATHER'S DAY, 2010
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
From the first moments of life, the bond forged between a father and a child is sacred. Whether patching scraped knees or helping with homework, dads bring joy, instill values, and introduce wonders into the lives of their children. Father's Day is a special time to honor the men who raised us, and to thank them for their selfless dedication and love.
Fathers are our first teachers and coaches, mentors and role models. They push us to succeed, encourage us when we are struggling, and offer unconditional care and support. Children and adults alike look up to them and learn from their example and perspective. The journey of fatherhood is both exhilarating and humbling it is an opportunity to model who we want our sons and daughters to become, and to build the foundation upon which they can achieve their dreams.
Fatherhood also carries enormous responsibilities. An active, committed father makes a lasting difference in the life of a child. When fathers are not present, their children and families cope with an absence government cannot fill. Across America, foster and adoptive fathers respond to this need, providing safe and loving homes for children facing hardships. Men are also making compassionate commitments outside the home by serving as mentors, tutors, or big brothers to young people in their community. Together, we can support the guiding presence of male role models in the lives of countless young people who stand to gain from it.
Nurturing families come in many forms, and children may be raised by a father and mother, a single father, two fathers, a step father, a grandfather, or caring guardian. We owe a special debt of gratitude for those parents serving in the United States Armed Forces and their families, whose sacrifices protect the lives and liberties of all American children. For the character they build, the doors they open, and the love they provide over our lifetimes, all our fathers deserve our unending appreciation and admiration.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, in accordance with a joint resolution of the Congress approved April 24, 1972, as amended (36 U.S.C. 109), do hereby proclaim June 20, 2010, as Father's Day. I direct the appropriate officials of the Government to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on this day, and I call upon all citizens to observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities. Let us honor our fathers, living and deceased, with all the love and gratitude they deserve.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighteenth day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.
Source: White House