Thought Number One: FYI: Craigslist + Catheter = Child Support
You probably remember hearing about the case out of Kansas when the State of Kansas decided to sue a sperm donor for child support.
I know! That was my first reaction too! Well...seems there are a few facts that came out in court that the media failed to mention. This might not make it more palatable for a state to be suing a sperm donor but it does bring up some questions as to the legal process that protects children in unusual family dynamics.
While it is true that the State of Kansas did, in fact decide to sue William Marotta for $6000.00 in past child support related to the fact, he fathered a child via a sperm donation to a same-sex couple, Jennifer Schreiner and her now-ex-partner, Angela Bauer. The problem arose from the manner of the "donation". The women posted an ad on Craigslist to find a suitable daddy for their child. Mr. Marotta came to an agreement with the women that he would not be obligated to the child in any way. This wasn't handled by an attorney or a clinic...just a man, a plan, some sperm and two women that wanted a baby.
Unfortunately for the clueless parents-in-the-making, the law in Kansas (and in 10 other states), requires a physician or clinic to be involved with the insemination process for it to be considered a legal "donor" situation. It turns out that men furnishing their sperm for the purposes of baby-making,..... because of a Craigslist ad, and some hand delivered semen (OK..maybe hand isn't the appropriate word...but you know what I mean.), it might make the legality of it a bit "iffy".
As it turned out the two moms split and both filed for welfare and child support from the state. Then Kansas went looking for the daddy, thinking he could help to take some financial responsibility for the now three year old little girl.
The case was heard in a local court in October and a decision is due before the end of the year. The lawyers on both sides feel that there will be appeals, no matter which side wins. Ultimately, the thought is that the laws will have to be more specific to protect donors from being sued and persons seeking artificial insemination will hopefully be more inclined to approach insemination with the aid of physicians which would of provided a legal basis to protect the donor, even in this case.
Thought Number Two: Maternity and Paternity is Getting More Complicated
The other day I was watching one of the morning talk shows and there was a segment about the reality show that is being aired on MTV called the Cryo Generation. The 6 part realty show documentary follows the search conducted by a 17 year old college student, Breeanna Speicher who decided to search for her biological father. Her biological father was an anonymous sperm donor for her two moms.
Sperm donor clinics became prevalent in the 1980's so there is a whole generation of children now to the age where they may be curious about their genetic backgrounds. There is even a movie currently in theaters, Delivery Man which tells the story of a man that finds he is the biological father of 500 children.
As for the MTV Cryo Generation group, they have been aided by Wendy Kramer, the founder and director of the Donor Sibling Registry. Through the registry, Breeanna has found 15 half-siblings that were also fathered by Sperm Donor #1096. Ms. Kramer believes that children have the right to know where they come from and satisfy their need to know their genetic parent.
Which brings me to..."why this is of interest to me".
I find it interesting that today there are so many resources to help in seeking one's genetic parent. In the mid 1970's after having Kiddo #2, I decided to track down my biological mother. Back in that time period there were groups that you could work with that had figured out strategies to find parents but without computers it was very difficult. Most of it required tracking down people that might knew other people that knew other people.
In my case, the year 1975 had my poor brain swimming in a pool of postpartum hormones that kept telling me that there was a woman somewhere in the world that had two adorable grandchildren that she knew nothing of. I might add, that she was also not aware that these two children were the most perfect, beautiful children that were ever born. (maybe I was prone to overstating it a bit due to the hormone-tainted-brain-pool as well.)
My circumstances were different in the fact that I was separated from my biological mother at a very young age but I vaguely remembered what she looked like (or so I thought) and I knew her maiden name and her surname at the time of my birth. So, I spent my days going through phone books of various cities looking for a last name and calling a LOT of people asking if they knew this person or had they had ever given birth to a little girl named Cheryl M. After a myriad of calls, I managed to connect with someone who knew her current married name and the state she was currently residing in. I backtracked....looked through more phone books until I called the right person.
Let me tell you, you haven't had a more bizarre phone conversation than when you ask someone if they gave birth to you and they pause before they answer. Which makes one wonder if the person fainted, couldn't remember or thought it was a trick question.
Now.... you would think of this as a success but....here is the thing about tracking down biological parents. They don't necessarily want to be tracked down.
My sweet husband went along supporting me in this quest even though he had been lucky enough not to have to endure a mother-in-law up to that point and encouraged me to invite her to Kansas City for a visit. Seemed like a fine idea at the time. I was 23 years old and was about to meet a person of which, I had just wisps of memories.
BTW....Memories are totally inaccurate. I now know that very young children don't see their parents as they are. I have to think our adult memories of our parents are also not entirely accurate because of our childlike perceptions at the time the memories were created.
Another component to this is: time is not your friend when trying to reunite with a parent. I would have to think the longer the time span, the harder it would be to fill the gap.
As for my mother, she did arrive in KC, via the bus. My first surprise was the fact she was blind. (I would say that I didn't see that coming but that seems cruel.) If one was to write a screen play based on me picking her up at the bus station, it would appear to be a comedy. I thought I knew what she looked like. I wandered around the station for quite awhile trying to figure out which of the hundreds of women in the terminal might be her, when luckily, she heard me talking to someone. I presumably was whining about how I should of asked her for a clue of some sort to know who she was. Good thing she had good hearing.
While her blindness meant she couldn't appreciate how beautiful my babies were, it added another dimension to what was to be a bizarre couple of days. (This is just another example of why my husband deserves a medal for all he has had to endure in our 42 years of our marriage.)
All in all, I realized, she came to KC out of curiosity and the need to justify why I wasn't a priority in her life. From my point of view, it satisfied some of my curiosity but left most of my questions unanswered. I later learned that she preferred to tell people she had only one child which was a son she had adopted later in life. This was just one of the indicators that she had detached herself from me and wasn't needing to reconnect.
I received word a couple of years ago she passed away. In her obituary, it listed her adopted son and two previous children...my brother and me. Obviously, someone felt the need to include us but they had a first name (which was the wrong name) and "last name not known".
SOOOO..back to the idea of searching for biological parents. For all the paternity tests, the DNA testing and tracking down unknown siblings, technology has made it easier, I'm sure. Computers and Smart phones might of made my search more efficient. But the current climate of invitro, sperm donors and surrogacy makes more cases that might arise for children wanting to know their parent.
Sadly, for those that feel that connection, the truth is "some people won't want to be found?" Those that do...hypothetically they might really result in a kumbaya kind of moment. BUT in cases such as the Cryo Gerneration.... If donor #1096 isn't interested in seeing or knowing about his 15+ kids, is it more hopeful or more hurtful to try to find him?
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