A parenting spectrum
The Washington Post ran a bunch of articles yesterday about different kinds of parent-child relationships in this era of assisted reproduction:
- Liza Mundy, who is apparently writing a book about assisted reproduction, writes an overview article, with the obligatory Mary Cheney references.
- Katrina Clark writes about having been conceived by anonymous sperm donation. She also answered questions on line today. She writes with passion and pain about having been stripped of the "right" to know who her father is.
- Mike Livingston writes about being a known sperm donor, or maybe occasional father to the child of a lesbian couple.
And, in a completely unrelated article, part of their Being a Black Man series, Neely Tucker writes about Tim Wagoner and how he is navigating what it means to be a father when he’s not married to the child’s mother.
It’s an interesting, provocative set of articles. One of the points that Mundy makes is that until recently, sperm donation was mostly the province of married couples, as it was essentially the only option that doctors could offer to "treat" male-factor infertility. Such donation was societally invisible and, in many cases, hidden even from the children. These children may have been denied access to their genetic heritage, but had social fathers, so face different issues than Clark.
My one complaint is with Mundy’s blithe statement "There aren’t enough adoptable children in the United States to meet people’s desire for kids and family life." Setting aside the blithe labelling of over 100,000 kids as "unadoptable," I think it’s wrong to suggest that the majority of people using reproductive technologies would choose to adopt if there were suddenly a huge number of healthy infants available for adoption. What makes the use of donor eggs and sperm so fascinating is that some of the people who go that route are
largely doing so because they want a genetic connection to at least one of the social parents, even as they minimize the social connection to one of the genetic parents.
1) The comments made me realize that I hadn’t included enough modifiers in the last sentence — so I added the "some of" and took out the "largely." I apologize if I offended with my carelessness.
2) Family Scholars blog is doing a round up of blog-reactions to the Clark essay, and included a link to this post. Can anyone point me to something I wrote that makes Elizabeth Marquardt think that I’m a "donor insemination mom"? The link may be getting a different assortment of commenters than usual. It’s worth restating my policy that I don’t censor comments for opinions that I disagree with, but I reserve the right to delete comments that I think cross the line into personal attacks.