TangledWebs UK

A group challenging donor-conception practices in the UK and internationally

Michael's story


Would anyone ever give away or even sell their children?...

I did. And so have hundreds of other men in this supposedly civilized country of mine.

Since the mid-1970s something of the order of twenty to thirty thousand children have been born in Australia by means of donor insemination. The vast majority of these children do not know it, but for all of them there is a man somewhere with whom they share the most basic biological connection. These men are their fathers.

Whether they realized it or not, what these men were really doing when they gave away their sperm was giving away their unborn children. Indeed, this is the sole purpose of the practice of donor conception: it is not so much the provision of the means of fertility to the infertile but the exploitation of those who are fertile in order that they provide the infertile with the child that, as it is usually so plaintively phrased, they desire.

Yes, it is true: I never held my lost children in my arms when they were just born as I did with the three daughters of my first marriage.

And yes, it is true: I never felt the pain and anguish such as young mothers felt when their babies were wrenched from them into adoption leaving them with a lifetime of sorrow.

But this does not mean that I cannot feel cheated, and at times even angry that – even though I cannot deny my utter responsibility in choosing to donate – I may never get to meet those three remaining young women who are just as much my daughters as those I raised.

Just like some donor-conceived adults of my acquaintance, I am sometimes struck by a passing person in the street or elsewhere, by a fleeting resemblance, by a flash of recognition. And I wonder…

I have been criticized – and even sometimes by they who are otherwise firm opponents of donor conception - for publicly affirming in the media that I am the real – by which of course I mean biological – father of my medically conceived children.

Most recently on a Four Corners episode dealing with donor conception my statement to that effect was dramatically counterpointed with the opinion of a social father. He was of course shocked that I should dare to reclaim fatherhood for myself in this way. But for me to have stated otherwise would have been to condone and further propagate the lie.

For I must remain ever mindful that I and my fellow donors have been not just willing agents but also unwitting perpetrators of what I believe is an immense and tragic denial of the human rights of our children to know their true identity.

Sperm donation is not some great and noble act; it is to the contrary: male irresponsibility with regard to procreation conveniently elevated by the medical profession to the level of a praised social institution.