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 over at Slate is real or not (I always assume these questions are fake), but it's worth noting because of how it updates this old tale in horrifying ways:
Q. Nasty Surprise: When my wife and I met in college, the attraction was immediate, and we quickly became inseparable. We had a number of things in common, we came from the same large metropolitan area, and we both wanted to return there after school, so everything was very natural between us. We married soon after graduation, moved back closer to our families, and had three children by the time we were 30. We were both born to lesbians, she to a couple, and me to a single woman. She had sought out her biological father as soon as she turned 18, as the sperm bank her parents used allowed contact once the children were 18 if both parties consented. I never was interested in learning about that for myself, but she felt we were cheating our future children by not learning everything we could about my past, too. Well, our anniversary is coming up and I decided to go ahead and, as a present to my wife, see if my biological father was interested in contact as well. He was, and even though our parents had used different sperm banks, it appears so did our father, as he is the same person. On the one hand, I love my wife more than I can say, and logically, done is done, we already have children. I have had a vasectomy, so we won't be having any more, so perhaps there is no harm in continuing as we are. But, I can't help but think "This is my sister" every time I look at her now. I haven't said anything to her yet, and I don't know if I should or not. Where do I go from here? I am tempted to burn everything I got from the sperm bank and just try to forget it all, but I'm not sure if I can. Please help me figure out where to go from here.
The advice Prudie gives, as it often is, is insufficient. She basically says he should tell his wife what he found out and then go to a counselor -- but don't tell the children.
I might have similarly cavalier attitudes about this if I hadn't recently seen a provocative documentary called Anonymous Father's Day. Here's a trailer:
One of the things about sperm donors is that if their sperm is bought by one woman, it tends to be bought by many. And that doesn't have anything to do with the fact that any male could be a sperm donor so many folks out there could be related to you.
This one fellow in the movie, who has hundreds if not thousands of siblings out there, talks about the casual dismissal that greets his statements against the manner of his conception.
He says that if anyone found out that the person working in the office next to him was a long-lost brother, they'd be utterly fascinated and moved by the news. I challenge you to find a human on earth who would not be moved to find out he had a long-lost sibling. Being related by blood is obviously significant and important. But these commodified conception plans we dream up with no thought to the actual people we conceive turn this idea of kinship on its head. In very bad ways.
The children conceived through bought genetic material from their fathers all talk about the horrors of dating and mating.
Whether or not Prudie's questioner was real, the problems wrought by our current reproduction ideas that think nothing of the effect on children are.
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.