According to a popular 2010 movie, the children of anonymous sperm donors are often successful at tracking down their donor dad(s), and in the end, to use the movie’s title, “The Kids Are Alright.” The AnonymousUs.org website, which features the real life stories of “voluntary and involuntary participants in these [reproductive] technologies,” paints a very different picture.
In 2010, Elizabeth Marquardt and a team of family scholars produced a deeply disturbing 140 page report entitled, “My Daddy’s Name is Donor: A New Study of Young Adults Conceived through Sperm Donation.” According to the report, “on average, young adults conceived through sperm donation are hurting more, are more confused, and feel more isolated from their families. They fare worse than their peers raised by biological parents on important outcomes such as depression, delinquency and substance abuse. Nearly two-thirds agree, ‘My sperm donor is half of who I am.’ . . . More than half say that when they see someone who resembles them they wonder if they are related. Almost as many say they have feared being attracted to or having sexual relations with someone to whom they are unknowingly related.”
Most of this would come as quite a surprise to viewers of “The Kids Are Alright,” a drama-comedy which told the story of two children conceived by artificial insemination and raised by their lesbian mothers. USA Today gave the movie high marks, saying that it “approaches perfection.” The reviewer called it “probing, poignant and, above all, highly entertaining,” without suggesting for a moment that there was anything controversial about two lesbians deciding to have kids through (anonymous) artificial insemination, thereby choosing to deprive children of a father.
But what’s the big deal? Everybody’s doing it these days, right? Just ask Elton John and his partner, who decided to bring a little boy into the world at the expense of him being raised by his biological mom. After all, what’s the big deal about having a mom and a dad?
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.