Next year’s Academy Awards program ought to have a new category: Best Portrayal of a Sperm Donor. At least, that’s the role that’s being cast with increasing — and alarming — frequency.
First came the cinematic summer hit "The Kids Are All Right," the story of a lesbian couple that each have given birth to a child using sperm from the same donor. Reaching their teen years, the children want to meet their biological father (whom the moms only call “sperm donor”). The kids track him down and some predictable family drama ensues, including a romantic tryst between donor-dad and one of the women (Oops! Make that “womyn”). But in the end, it’s affirmed that this nontraditional family is simply A-OK.
The film is art imitating life, as it was written and directed by Lisa Cholodenko, who, with sperm from a donor, gave birth to the child she is raising with her partner, musician Wendy Melvoin.
Next, while promoting her movie "The Switch," actress Jennifer Aniston trumpeted the benefits of deliberate single motherhood via sperm donors. Elaborating on the movie’s premise — a single 40-year-old woman gives up on romance and marches into motherhood on her own — Ms. Aniston said, "Women are realizing…they don't have to settle with a man just to have that child…Times have changed…Love is love and family is what is around you."
Now come TV actor Neil Patrick Harris and his partner David Burtka, who last week announced they are “expecting twins” via a surrogate mother and anticipate the arrival of a son and a daughter in October.
Or as Ms. Aniston put it, “family is what is around you.”
That may be a pleasant (if not insipid) sentiment, but statistical analyses about what is best for children prove the ignorance of such an assumption.
Every conceivable aspect of childhood — from emotional health to cognitive development, social success to educational attainment — any variable you can measure, even when controlling for socioeconomic status, indicates that children in conventional two-parent homes with a mother and father are better off than their peers from “non-traditional” families.
Times may have changed for some, who more readily accept the family variations that increasingly are called “normal” in American culture. But times have not changed for children. To deliberately create a family structure based on the myth that “a parent is a parent” can only be labeled selfish, since it’s the needs and desires of the adults, not the children, which are pursued.
Our culture already battles the far-reaching implications of nearly 40 percent births out of wedlock. Now the rich and famous are promoting a new kind of abandonment: motherless and fatherless children of gay couples.
It may be the rage in Hollywood, but it’s not “normal.” It’s not healthy. It’s not good for children. And as we’ll see in due time, it’s not good for the culture.