Christine Dhanagom

Sperm donor children speak out

Christine Dhanagom
Christine Dhanagom
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December 5, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - There are only four things Alana Stewart knows about her father: he has blonde hair, blue eyes, a college degree, and his assigned number at the sperm bank where he sold half of Alana’s genetic code is 81.

She is one of an estimated 30,000 – 60,000 children conceived each year in the United States through sperm donation. A former egg donor herself, Alana is now a vocal critic of the practice, which she calls “the violent act of buying and selling a child.”

Her story, featured in the upcoming documentary Anonymous Father’s Day, is becoming more and more common. Many of the children conceived through sperm donation are now adults, and some of them are speaking out against the practice that brought them into existence.

Their stories are revealing that the experience of being a donor conceived child is not what many proponents of the technology expected it would be. Such children were supposed to think of the man married to their mother as their father, and of their biological father as just the man who masturbated at a sperm bank and walked away with a $75 check. But according to Alana, it’s not that simple.

“The biological parent’s absence is impossible to ignore because their presence is impossible to ignore - when you’re living in a version of their body and thinking in a version of their brain,” she told LifeSiteNews. “I do very much feel separated from not only my father, but my entire paternal relatives.”

Jennifer Lahl, the director of Anonymous Father’s Day, says she created the documentary to give a voice to people like Stewart, whose concerns are too often overlooked in a debate that has deep implications for their lives and identities.

“All we’re concerned about predominately is people who want a baby, is how we can help people who want a baby get a baby,” Lahl observed. But, she continued, there is a need for prospective parents and policy makers to think about “the larger implications of reproductive technology.”

For Stewart, those implications have included a sense of abandonment by her biological father and a rocky relationship with the man who raised her.

In Lahl’s film, she recounts what it was like to be raised by her mother and the man she refers to as “my mom’s first husband.” There was a noticeable contrast between his relationship with Alana and his relationship with Alana’s adopted sister.

“He felt purpose in raising [my sister], he felt like her father,” she relates. “With me, my biological relatedness to my mother just emphasized what I didn’t have in common with him.”

When the marriage fell apart, Alana recounts, he fought for custody of his adopted daughter but not of Alana.

Barry Stevens, another of the film’s interviewees, has a similar story to tell. Stevens did not find out that he was conceived through donor sperm until after the man he believed to be his biological father passed away. He says that even prior to the revelation, he and his sister had sensed that something was amiss.

“I had a sense that he didn’t really feel like my father,” Stevens explained. “And my mother later confirmed that. And there was this big secret in the family, and I think that hurt us.”

The identity crisis that this situation created for Stewart and Stevens is reportedly a common problem for donor conceived children.

My Daddy’s Name is Donor, a report released last year by the Commission on Parenthood’s Future, surveyed young adults conceived through sperm donation and compared their responses to those of peers raised by adopted parents and biological parents.

The study found that 43% of donor offspring compared to 15% of adopted children and 6% who were raised by biological parents agreed with the statement: “I feel confused about who is a member of my family and who is not.”

Moreover, 48% of donor offspring compared to only 19% of adopted children agreed: “When I see friends with their biological fathers and mothers, it makes me feel sad.”

According to Lahl, the differences between adopted children and donor conceived children should not be surprising.

“In the case of the adopted child, there was some reason why a parent couldn’t keep them,” she pointed out. “Versus with the donor conceived person where someone just gave away a part of their body, their egg or their sperm, without thinking that was their child.”

Strikingly, the report also found indications of a correlation between sperm donor conception and marriage failure.

27% of donor children parents are divorced compared to only 14% of parents of adopted children. The number of donor child marriages that fail is only slightly higher than the failure rate of a marriage with biological children - 25%. As the study points out, however, the comparison with adoptive parents is more significant because most couples do not consider fertility technology or adoption until later in life, when marriages tend to be more stable.

For Stewart, the finding is consistent with her own experience.  “Mothers can say things like, ‘Well it’s not your kid anyways.’ The father is left constantly insecure about his place and role in the family,” she said.

She added that turning to sperm or egg donation to conceive a child can be evidence of a “materialistic” attitude on the part of the couple.

“They are people that find it difficult to accept not having something and often put their own needs before others (i.e. their need to have a child before their child’s need to have its father/mother), and these personalities often fail in marriage.”

Despite the heartache that many donor-conceived children attribute to the circumstances of their conception, the report found that the majority, 61%, still support the practice.

“I call it the value endowment. It is what lead me to sell my own eggs,” says Stewart “There is a skewed level of support among donor-conceived people in approval of the practice, mainly because they are regurgitating their parent’s values, are afraid of being disowned if they reject those values, and haven’t had the time, space, inspiration to reflect further on it.”

The remaining 40%, however, are becoming increasingly vocal. Stewart has founded a website, anonymousus.org, which provides a forum where all whose lives have been affected by donor conception can grapple with the issues it raises.

Lahl says she hopes the film will facilitate a similar dialogue, both in the public square and in the legislature.

There is, she says, a need to examine the “policy implications” that these concerns should have, since “right now in the United States pretty much, anything goes. If you have money, you can pay the doctor and the laboratory to do anything you want.”


To obtain tickets for the January 29th premiere showing of Anonymous Father’s Day at the So Ho Digital Art Gallery in New York City, click here. The film is available for viewing online at prescreen.com

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PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

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By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received millions in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

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"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

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Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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