How the Selling of Sperm Has Changed Dating and Mating

The story of accidentally falling in love with someone who turns out to be your sibling is quite old. The best recent take has to be featured in 1996′s Lone Star, directed by John Sayles and starring Chris Cooper and Matthew McConaughey. (Are you supposed to say “spoiler alert” after that long?)

I don’t know if this Dear Prudie question o…

  1. Albert Arthur

    Yikes. An uncomfortable revelation, to be sure. I remember before my wife and I got married, our minister asked us if, to the best of our knowledge, we were related. Well, since neither of us are adopted, or anything like that, we’re pretty sure that unless our great-great-great-great-great-grandparents were doing something (unlikely, since at that point my ancestors were in England, New Hampshire, and Quebec–speaking French–, and hers in South Carolina and Nova Scotia–speaking English) then we’re all set. But for people who are adopted, or were that result of a sperm donor, perhaps a DNA-test before marriage would be something to think about? I don’t know. The odds are still quite low.

    By the way, Mollie, I would think one of the most famous literary examples of sibling matrimony is Moll Flanders.

  2. DrewInWisconsin

    The “Dear Prudie” letter completely red-lined my BS-detector. It has all the hallmarks of an urban legend. “We were both born to lesbians” is the part that really makes it stand out. Storytellers can never resist those little flourishes.

    What it needs now is a twist ending to make it the perfect tale for a teen girl pajama party. (The “Where do we go from here?” closing lament of the alleged letter-writer is little more than an appeal for readers to supply that twist.) So . . . any ideas? Go to it, Ricocheteers! Make this one for the ages! This should be enshrined along with the vanishing hitchhiker and the hook-handed man.

  3. Elizabeth Van Horn

    Hmm, so following some threads and discussions about how we need to raise the birth rate in the US, comes this thread.  Interesting.

    Fertility was never an issue for me, I got pregnant easily, and quickly.  But, for some women, and couples, who many not have the same biological ease of reproduction, I’m glad that there are sperm donors. 

    Is it a perfect system?  No.  But, neither is biological sex pregnancies which all too commonly happen to people who are ill prepared for parenting.  I wager that those who seek out, and pay for a sperm donor service, have the will and inclination to be good parents.  I say let them.  

  4. Jordan Wiegand

    One of the aggravating factors to the phenomena you describe is that sperm donation is highly selective, and this selection for a narrow band of specific traits causes the same donor with those traits to be selected several times, sometimes hundreds or even thousands. 

    Nearly all women who use sperm donation to conceive a child select a very narrow band of traits.  I recall reading an article where one law student had sired some hundreds of children through sperm donation to pay for his law school.  This is a kind of hypergamy in the end, just without marriage controlling with how many women the man can sire children.

    Ignoring the very serious spiritual implication of shopping for children as if shopping for a car, if you look at the behavior of the people using sperm donation services to conceive you would realize that this phenomena should be expected.

  5. Mollie Hemingway
    C
    Elizabeth Van Horn: Hmm, so following some threads and discussions about how we need to raise the birth rate in the US, comes this thread.  Interesting.

    Fertility was never an issue for me, I got pregnant easily, and quickly.  But, for some women, and couples, who many not have the same biological ease of reproduction, I’m glad that there are sperm donors. 

    Is it a perfect system?  No.  But, neither is biological sex pregnancies which all too commonly happen to people who are ill prepared for parenting.  I wager that those who seek out, and pay for a sperm donor service, have the will and inclination to be good parents.  I say let them.   · 3 minutes ago

    This isn’t about parenting so much as kinship. The people in the video above had loving families. They’re talking about the problems associated with the manner of their conception.

    Perhaps think of it like a child being conceived via rape, but raised very well by loving parents. Does that make conception by rape a good thing? It’s actually a separate issue altogether.

  6. Elizabeth Van Horn

    I watched the video.  It reminded me of the types of things that adopted children say, about wanting to find their biological parents, and being told that the information is not available.  

    So, my question is this:  If there are people in favor of forcing the sperm donor information to be available for access, are they likewise in favor of forcing adopted parents to provide their information for available access?  Because, some people choose to given up their baby/child for adoption under the circumstances of anonymity.  Wouldn’t the same set of conditions apply?  

  7. Elizabeth Van Horn
    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.

    This isn’t about parenting so much as kinship. The people in the video above had loving families. They’re talking about the problems associated with the manner of their conception.

    Perhaps think of it like a child being conceived via rape, but raised very well by loving parents. Does that make conception by rape a good thing? It’s actually a separate issue altogether. · 2 minutes ago

    I think the closer analogy is one of adoption Mollie.  As you stated, it’s a kinship issue. 

  8. Elizabeth Van Horn
    Jordan Wiegand:

    Ignoring the very serious spiritual implication of shopping for children as if shopping for a car, if you look at the behavior of the people using sperm donation services to conceive you would realize that this phenomena should be expected. · 12 minutes ago

    What behavior? Can you be more specific? 

  9. Leslie Watkins

    Reminds me of Instapundit’s recently added intro line: 21st Century Relationships. My daughter/little girl—I’ve told her many times that I do not know exactly what to call myself or her; she shrugs with a nod—is aware that she will need to consider this issue when deciding to marry (she wants lots of children, at least for now). Yet there’s also this: Her mother’s family has the gene for cystic fibrosis, an issue that was very much a part of finding a good donor fit (that and a picture of me). These sorts of things should be considered by every woman who becomes pregnant, unless of course she and her husband are open to whatever emerges at birth (which, I think, most women are).

  10. Mollie Hemingway
    C
    Elizabeth Van Horn

    I think the closer analogy is one of adoption Mollie.  As you stated, it’s a kinship issue.  · 1 minute ago

    As anyone who is adopted or going through adoption can tell you, these are significantly different issues.

    Adopted children don’t believe that their father was paid to masturbate into a cup — they believe that he and their biological mother had conjugal sex that resulted in their conception.

    It may not seem like a big thing to us, but it’s a very important distinction.

    When you think of your personal story about how you came to be, these things matter. What makes sperm selling so unique is that you tend to be raised by one of the people who brought about your existence by paying someone for their genetic material. It leads to very conflicted feelings.

    Children who are adopted have stories or gaps in their stories but they don’t have … that.

  11. Mollie Hemingway
    C
    Elizabeth Van Horn

    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.

    This isn’t about parenting so much as kinship. The people in the video above had loving families. They’re talking about the problems associated with the manner of their conception.

    Perhaps think of it like a child being conceived via rape, but raised very well by loving parents. Does that make conception by rape a good thing? It’s actually a separate issue altogether. · 2 minutes ago

    I think the closer analogy is one of adoption Mollie.  As you stated, it’s a kinship issue.  · 11 minutes ago

    I think it’s also important to note that sperm-selling and assisted reproductive technologies are intentional whereas adoption is about aiming to assist children who have been conceived in less-than-ideal situations.

    These are differences with meaning, regardless of how well-intentioned the people involved are.

  12. Leslie Watkins

    In my experience, most traits selected for had to do with potential health issues. My brother could not donate, for example, because he was determined to have a hidden blood issue (honestly I don’t remember what it was; it was almost 20 years ago). We did include a picture of me, which resulted in my daughter looking more like me in terms of coloring but more like her mother in deeply subtle ways: how she moves her fingers, shakes her hair around, where she gains weight. I might well be judged for all this, as I’m not sure what it means spiritually. But no child was ever wanted more than she.

    Jordan Wiegand: One of the aggravating factors to the phenomena you describe is that sperm donation is highly selective, and this selection for a narrow band of specific traits causes the same donor with those traits to be selected several times, sometimes hundreds or even thousands. · 19 minutes ago

  13. Mollie Hemingway
    C
    Leslie Watkins:  We did include a picture of me, which resulted in my daughter looking more like me in terms of coloring but more like her mother in deeply subtle ways: how she moves her fingers, shakes her hair around, where she gains weight. I might well be judged for all this, as I’m not sure what it means spiritually. But no child was ever wanted more than she. · 18 minutes ago

    One of the things I appreciated about the documentary was that it didn’t discount how much sperm-selling and IVF have helped fill the needs of various parents (be they suffering from infertility or otherwise). This benefit should not be discounted.

    The focus, however, is on the needs of the children that have been produced in this manner.

    I was just talking to a friend who, getting shut down on her second Russian adoption, is considering purchasing sperm for a surrogate. There is no doubt it would meet her needs right now. I did encourage her, however, to give some thought to the needs of a child produced in such a manner. It’s a delicate issue but one I think we should discuss.

  14. Mollie Hemingway
    C
    Elizabeth Van Horn:

    So, my question is this:  If there are people in favor of forcing the sperm donor information to be available for access, are they likewise in favor of forcing adopted parents to provide their information for available access?  Because, some people choose to given up their baby/child for adoption under the circumstances of anonymity.  Wouldn’t the same set of conditions apply?   · 44 minutes ago

    I realize that many people seek government solutions to the problems that technology and our morality lead to. My own wish, first off, is that we consider how our actions affect others.

    As for whether people should have the right to manufacture human beings in such a manner … that’s much thornier.

    As for whether people should have the right to do so anonymously and for pay … that’s even thornier.

    But first, I think we need to simply think about what we’re doing and whether it’s right.

    Adoption, again, is a solution to a problem. What we’re talking about in the matter above is the willful and intentional creation of problematic circumstances for other people.

  15. Nick Stuart
    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.: …The first solution is to think less about doing whatever we can to get what we want and more about how our actions hurt others. · · 2 hours ago

    Novel concept. Maybe people will give it a try someday.

    Meanwhile, as Hillary Clinton might say “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

    It never fails to amaze how quickly predictable adverse consequences of decisions are mocked and dismissed out of hand by people who want what they want, consequences be damned. Then when they come to be, it’s a crisis to which a government-enforced and government-funded solution is demanded.

  16. twvolck

    The most famous example of brother-sister marriage is probably Abraham.  He excuses himself for telling Pharaoh that Sarah was his sister, instead of (truthfully) telling him she was his wife, by saying, And besides, she is my sister, the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother.

  17. Valiuth

    I think the lesson here is that ignorance is bliss. Though I guess we know that from Oedipus so it is not a new lesson just another repetition of an old lesson. 

  18. Barkha Herman

    I read the Instapunit link a couple of days ago that relates to this.

    I find it fascinating that there are “reproductive issues” here (in the US), especially having grown up in India.  People there breed like rabbits, and all the old fashioned way…

    I know we often discuss the motivations of people  when it comes to reproduction; but is it all mental?  Is there a physiological reason why there are so many childless couples exist in the west?  And when they do choose to have kids, they have some funny ideas on how to go about doing it.  

  19. Locke On
    Mollie Hemingway, Ed

    As for whether people should have the right to manufacture human beings in such a manner … that’s much thornier.

    As for whether people should have the right to do so anonymously and for pay … that’s even thornier.

    But first, I think we need to simply think about what we’re doing and whether it’s right.

    And so we need to, what?  DO SOMETHING, for teh children?  Like question whether ‘people should have the right’?  Is this a parody, or serious? 

    If the latter, can anyone wonder why libertarians find SoCons to be uneasy bedfellows?  Please think for just a moment about how intrusive, heartless and clueless this would sound to the general public, particularly when the lefty mockers get started.

  20. DrewInWisconsin
    Barkha Herman:

    I know we often discuss the motivations of people  when it comes to reproduction; but is it all mental?  Is there a physiological reason why there are so many childless couples exist in the west?  And when they do choose to have kids, they have some funny ideas on how to go about doing it.

    This is almost a thread of its own.

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