The film Donor Unknown premiered on the PBS series Independent Lens this week. This documentary follows the journey of Jo Ellen Marsh, raised by two moms in Pennsylvania, and her an insatiable need to discover the identity of the anonymous sperm donor Number 150, who contributed half of her DNA.
Jo Ellen signs up with a donor sibling registry and begins to connect with her half-siblings. Many half-siblings, it turns out. As the count rises, NY Times writer Amy Harmon picks up the story and eventually Donor 150—Jeffrey Harrison—recognizes himself and comes forward. Mr. Harrison has likely fathered 150 children. A similar story is featured on the Donor Sibling Registry website, in another documentary, Sperm Donor, which premiered on the Style Network in September. In this one, sperm donor Ben tells his fiance Lauren that he may have fathered 70 children. We get to meet several of them.
These are fascinating stories and very emotional journeys. Since we used donor eggs and sperm, this possibility is part of our story. Is it part of yours?
The decision to create a child using donor sperm and/or egg has ethical, legal, psychological, and deeply personal implications we must consider when creating our families. Getting to Baby is only the beginning. We always have to remember that there is a life that comes after the infertility. How we navigate life after the baby arrives is a lifelong journey.
The PBS website has a good list of resources for donor-conception issues.
Let us know what you think about the implications of a generation of children conceived through a donor process.