Home > Artificial Reproductive Technology, Babies, Children, fathers > I’m the Only Daddy You Got! I’m the Paterfamilias!

I’m the Only Daddy You Got! I’m the Paterfamilias!

February 19th, 2010

Great article by a Ruth Institute Academic Advisory Board Member.

By Jennifer Lahl, CBC National Director

Newsweek recently reported a story about a 51-year-old man, who between 1980 and 1994 donated his sperm twice a week in order to make cash for medical school and to nurture his altruistic desires to help infertile women. Kirk Maxey states, “I loved having kids, and to have these women doomed to wandering around with no family didn’t seem right, and it’s easy to come up with a semen donation.”

Don’t get me started.

By his own estimates, this do-gooder, go-to stud figures he’s got 400 children in the U.S. But now, some 15 years later, Maxey’s conscience is catching up with him. He’s seeking to right his wrongs by making his genome publicly available to the Harvard Personal Genome Project, in order for his offspring and their mothers to find him and have access to his genetic information. Of course, he’s also blaming the unregulated sperm scattering seed industry for not keeping track of the number of children produced by each donor, and not doing genetic screening and testing to make sure donors and subsequent children are healthy.

Maxey’s story illustrates so many of the fertility industry’s dark and shady issues:

1.  Maxey, an educated medical student, admits to not giving much thought to his actions. So much for being a bright medical student. Just because you are smart, doesn’t make you wise.

2.  The sperm donation is referred to as “volunteering.” This isn’t the army, the local library or a soup kitchen. For his volunteerism and donating spirit, Maxey pocketed a steady stream of cash totaling some $29,000.

3.  Twice a week for 14 years, he “locked himself in a room with a cup and a sexy magazine” at the suggestion of his first wife, a nurse at the fertility clinic. They are no longer married. One has to wonder the impact of regular indulgences with “sexy magazines,” and the negative impact on a marriage.

4.  400 children don’t know their father. And if they find him, what kind of relationship is Maxey expecting? What sort of parent relationship is he willing to develop with 400 children? That is a lot of college education, weddings and birthdays to provide for.

5.  Notice that only after the damage is done, has he experienced his great-awakening. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, IVF is one of the greatest social experiments of our time, with so many casually — scratch that . . . recklessly — pursuing reproductive technology as the solution to infertility. How many lives need to be ruined or destroyed for us to wake up? Maxey is just one of thousands of sperm and egg donors who’ve contributed to this colossal baby-making enterprise.

Keep reading.

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  1. Dorothy Ahlswede
    February 23rd, 2010 at 10:40 | #1

    Frequently, I do agree with articles published by the Ruth Institute. However, I think the tone of some remarks which I read concerning sperm donation and infertility treatments are very ill informed. Children are a blessing. Many, many infertile couples and single women who have lost husbands or never married love and care for children and they would not perhaps have access to fertility treatments without sperm donation. While I do not minimize the important role responsible and caring fathers play in a child’s life, it is NOT appropriate to attack sperm donors because they are medically biological progenitors and do not endeavor to fill the shoes of fathers right from the outset.
    Probably many marriages have been assisted because kind and generous men volunteered to act as sperm donors for fertility treatments. They deserve compensation for sperm donation in my opinion because they are donating time in a way which benefits other people, and most fertility clinics do screen donors and recipients very carefully so altruism is probably a very common actual motivation (there are egg donors also sometimes, by the way).
    Often, single people do marry later in life; but sadly female biological clocks expire sometimes well before Prince Charming arrives. Who is to stand in judgment of another person’s family planning decisions or medical issues? Do only the most beautiful people deserve children? Or only those without fertility impediments? Many cancer patients lose the ability to have children without fertility treatments.
    While I do agree that both mothers and fathers have important roles to play in the wellbeing of children, I do not like to read articles attacking the motivations and generous actions of sperm donors or egg or embryo donors or physicians.

  2. Joanne Beckman
    March 2nd, 2010 at 19:18 | #2

    The ethical issues raised here are important; many women seem to be choosing the “smart” category of donors based on educational career tracks. This is not the first article I have seen about a medical student’s sperm donations being, shall we say, “overutilized” by women, with ensuing difficulties for the children who later want to have a relationship with their biological father. Furthermore, with so many children out there, and no tracking, what if some offspring of the same donor marry and have children? Those people will not know that they are actually half-siblings when they marry unless the fertility clinics do a better job of tracking.
    As for motives being questioned, it seems pretty obvious that money is certainly a motive, whether altruism is or not. I think the article makes good points. Fertility clinics have gone down this path without really taking the nature and consequences of human choices into account. For a good lesson in the dangers of this, look at China where people don’t value girls as much as boys, and had only one child under the government regulation. The result was to decimate the population of women so that now there are two few women for all the young Chinese men to marry!

  3. anonymousphancock
    May 16th, 2010 at 10:27 | #3

    He’s seeking to right his wrongs by…

    What wrongs? I don’t understand what wrong was done, or to what party. Was there some fraud or coercion involved? If so, it isn’t mentioned.

    By his own estimates, this do-gooder, go-to stud figures he’s got 400 children in the U.S.

    Another way to express this ideas is, “He has no actual idea how many, if any, children he has in the U.S.”

    3. Twice a week for 14 years, he “locked himself in a room with a cup and a sexy magazine” at the suggestion of his first wife, a nurse at the fertility clinic. They are no longer married. One has to wonder the impact of regular indulgences with “sexy magazines,” and the negative impact on a marriage.

    Yes, one does have to wonder, as there is apparently no other reason to assert such a connection. Maxey and his ex-wife will certainly die at some point. One has to wonder whether any connection exists there as well.

    4. 400 children don’t know their father.

    Remember, that’s 400 children “by his own estimates”. In other words, no one appears to know how many, if any, children there actually are. Let’s assume he has some way of knowing this, even though the donation system is set up specifically to prevent him from knowing this, because otherwise the moral outrage is harder to get ginned up.

  4. fkynvfae
    June 14th, 2010 at 11:44 | #4

    so… why is this article hating on women who want children?

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