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Since science has been able to intervene in the reproductive process of humans, a certain level of controversy has surrounded the technology. This growing science allows for a wider number of people who would normally be unable to conceive naturally, the ability to have their hopes of a child of their own come true.
But even when couples through the use of donor eggs or sperm, or a surrogate mother, are able to finally bring home their bouncing bundle of joy, little consideration is given to the anonymous gift that was essential to creating new life.
As generations of children conceived through a donor or a surrogate becomes adults themselves, the question of their origins is sometimes shrouded in mystery. Often in heterosexual couples, the true parentage is withheld from the child for fear that the child would not bond in the same way with the non-biological parent.
Even in same-sex couples, the identity of the genetic parent is kept sealed and in some cases records have been destroyed. The desire to know one’s biological parent is no new feeling. Adopted children, even ones that come from loving homes with adoptive parents they still refer to as Mom and Dad, still go on searches for their biological parents.
The motivations for such searches vary widely, but most often it stems from the need to see where they get their genetic traits from, or a concern about any health complications in their biological family’s medical history.
The problem is that while many adopted children are given access to their adoption records, children conceived with donated eggs and sperm often have no records available. Because little regulation is in place in the United States for those who choose to donate their genetic material, records are often permanently sealed, or even destroyed.
A recent NY Times article highlighted another complication that comes with poor regulation on sperm banks. Ms. Cynthia Daily, after creating a registry with a unique identifying number of her son’s sperm donor, watched the number of half-siblings grow to over 150.
Concerns about accidental incest and the increased risk of spreading rare genetic diseases have been raised, but as of yet, legislation has still not addressed many of the concerns of the donors, the parents, and the children involved.
Because of the large number of children born from single sperm donors, it creates problems when the children want to see their biological fathers. Having seventy children born from the sperm you donated twenty years ago come knocking on your door would be overwhelming.
Even those interested in developing a casual relationship with their genetic offspring would find it difficult to make time to get to know their dozens of adult children. When the first “test tube” baby was born in England in 1975, many of these concerns were brought up and regulations were set in place.
Unfortunately, not every nation, including the U.S., has adopted these practices and it has resulted in a number of difficulties for everyone involved. Considering that an estimated 20,000 to 60,000 babies are born every year from artificial insemination, the need to create more regulations is becoming more and more important.