The Selfishness of Sperm Donation

by Christopher White, Ramsey Institute Project Director on November 4, 2014

Post image for The Selfishness of Sperm Donation

A recent essay in the New York Times tells the story of a lesbian couple in Brooklyn who used the sperm of one of their friends in California to conceive their son.

By happenstance, the sperm donor and his wife became pregnant shortly thereafter, and the writer cheerfully claims that it was their Californian friends’ willingness to serve as a donor that brought about good karma in the birth of their own child—or as the title of column states, “It Was in Giving That They Received.”

The children of the two couples will doubtless encounter each other throughout their lifetimes since their parents are friends and they desire for their children to grow up as friends as well (half-siblings, in fact!). It’s hard not to imagine, however, some conversation taking place around age seven (if not before), where the sperm donor conceived child of the two lesbian mothers begins to ask questions about his father.

At some point they will likely tell him who his biological father is and since the two couples are family friends, their son will personally know the very man who helped bring him into existence. I surmise that he’ll very likely wonder—even in he doesn’t vocalize it—why his childhood friend is being raised, loved, and cared for on a daily basis by his biological father while he is only allowed to know him as an “uncle” or family friend.

Recounting her pregnancy, the author writes:

In my last trimester I started to awaken in night terrors, my belly hoisted high above the little me down below. What will my son make of his life, I wondered, created from his mother and her college friend’s husband? Will he resent two mothers and see in their place a gaping hole? Will he find it cruel that we chose to know his donor and keep him close but not close enough?

On such nights, as I burrowed into my wife’s shoulder and open arms, she would say, “What could be wrong about our child coming from a great act of selflessness?”

Time and time again, children conceived from sperm or egg donation attest to the fact that biology is an important part of their story. While the intention of this author and her partner is to facilitate an upbringing that allows their son’s father to play a role in his life, it’s a relationship that they are choosing to establish on their own terms, which require that the natural relationship of a child growing up with his biological, intact family being reduced to a game of semantics.

Perhaps it’s just me, but there’s nothing selfless about that.

Previous post:

Next post: