- For Survivors
- Resource Center
- Make a Difference
- Book Clubs
This page helps complete Step 1:
We honestly Face and Embrace the Impact of the Sexual Revolution on our lives.
If you are not familiar with the “7 Steps to Sexual Peace,” go here.
We have identified twelve categories of people who have been harmed by the Sexual Revolution. This questionnaire explores Donor Conceived Persons. Use this check list to see if you are a Victim of the Sexual Revolution.
Our goal here is not merely to identify Victims. The goal is to help the Victims become Survivors, and the Survivors to become Activists for positive change.
If you are a Donor Conceived Person, you may benefit from these resources created or compiled by the Ruth Institute.
Posted on: Thursday, November 29, 2018
November 29, 2018
For Immediate Release
For More Information, contact: email@example.com
The announcement by a Chinese researcher that he has successfully used a “gene-editing” tool to modify two embryos drew a sharp rebuke from Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Founder and President of the Ruth Institute.
“This is appalling,” Morse said. “Supposedly, the gene editing will make these twin girls resistant to the AIDS virus. Whether or not that’s true, it opens the door to all sorts of manipulation. Will gene-editing eventually be used to create a class of genetically-enhanced super humans?”
What about the long-range consequences? “Obviously, the changes are made without the consent of the subjects. The altered genes will be passed on to any offspring,” Morse noted.
Although most in the scientific community are cautious about the announcement of Chinese genetic scientist He Jiankui, Harvard Medical School Dean George Q. Daley says full-speed ahead, as long as the research is done by “responsible” clinics. Dr. Morse asks: “How can you ‘responsibly’ alter the genetic makeup of humans?”
Morse has fought other forms of manipulation on unborn children, including surrogacy, where eggs are fertilized outside the mother’s body and then implanted in the surrogate. That unwanted embryos are then destroyed makes the procedure even more objectionable.
“Gene editing is another step on this perilous course,” Morse noted. “Once a particular gene, or genes, are modified, the child is then placed in the mother’s body, with unknown long-term effects on future generations. The Managerial Technocratic Class is assigning itself the right to play God.”
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse introduced the concept of The Managerial Class in her recent book: The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives and How the Church was Right All Along.She holds them largely responsible for the devastation of the Sexual Revolution. “Not the ‘March of History’ or some impersonal forces: but the well-educated, well-connected technologically sophisticated Elites created and imposed the Sexual Revolution. They are going even further, with their plans to make the manipulation of human embryos sound humane. Enough is enough,” Dr. Morse declared.
For More information, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted on: Tuesday, October 09, 2018
By Tyler O'Neil
This article was first published October 4, 2018, at PJMedia.com.
In 21st century America, sex is all around us: on television, in movies, in classrooms, in politics, and even in churches. Sex permeates our desires, our expectations for relationships, even our identity. The Sexual Revolution goes far beyond the LGBT movement, and it has fundamentally reshaped American society. But few Americans actually grasp exactly where this revolution came from. An explosive new book reveals that government and wealthy donors, rather than impersonal historical forces or newly liberated women, propelled the Sexual Revolution.
"The State bears the greatest responsibility for the toxic sexual culture in which we live," Jennifer Roback Morse, founder of the Ruth Institute (RI), writes in "The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologues Are Destroying Lives And Why the Church Was Right All Along." She presented five other explanations for the Sexual Revolution, and found each one wanting.
Many have suggested that the Sexual Revolution came about through the inevitable and impersonal "march of history." This view does not work "because it robs us and our forbears of human agency." Even the over-hyped birth control pill "is just an inert piece of technology" that people could decide to use or not use, or use in different ways.
Morse also rebuts the feminist narrative, which suggests that "these changes have been one long string of victories for the benefit and advancement of women." Ironically, the very success of women's liberation "undermines the claim that women have been completely powerless and dominated by the patriarchy throughout all of recorded history." Furthermore, the author argues that "the pro-life movement is dominated by women," suggesting that not all women want more of the Sexual Revolution.
Perhaps the most common explanation for the Sexual Revolution is the "liberationist narrative," which posits that everyone is more free thanks to new sexual norms. This view also cannot explain how age-old oppression was immediately dissolved in one generation, Morse argues.
Furthermore, many people "have become less free, in fact actually oppressed, by the very forces that are supposedly liberating us. The breaking of family bonds has increased the size and scope of the State, including the intrusion of the State into the everyday lives of ordinary people." She mentions college sex tribunals, family courts — which even rule on which schools and churches children can attend — and higher taxes to pay for social workers who manage tough divorces and family breakdown.
Morse also rejects the "over-population narrative," which suggests that "too many people create ecological disaster and economic backwardness," so the State needs to control population through birth control and abortion. Interestingly, advocates of this narrative "haven't been able to adapt the narrative to the changing circumstances of population decline, which the Over-Population Narrative itself helped bring about."
Finally, the author turns to a "steal capitalist narrative," explaining the Sexual Revolution by pointing to the many people who benefit financially from family breakdown. Abortionists, pharmaceutical companies, the fertility industry, pornographers, divorce professionals, family court judges and lawyers, medical professionals who specialize in sexually transmitted diseases, and social workers all perversely benefit from family breakdown, contraception, and abortion.
Even higher education and employers benefit from women choosing to get married later, to go to school and to work, rather than raising a family. Morse claims that employers benefit from easy divorce as well, as women are less able to rely on their husbands to financially support them. She suggests that these factors cement the Sexual Revolution, but they do not explain it.
The author boils the Sexual Revolution down to three basic "ideologies:" the Contraceptive Ideology separates sex from childbearing; the Divorce Ideology separates sex and childbearing from marriage; and the Gender Ideology eliminates the distinctions between men and women that individuals do not explicitly embrace.
"The Sexual Revolution needs the State for one major reason: the premises of the Sexual Revolution are false," Morse declares. "Sex does make babies. Children do need their parents, and therefore marriage is the proper and just context for both sex and childbearing. Men and women are different." The Sexual Revolution requires "reconstructing society" around a rejection of these basic truths, so it involves a great deal of propaganda.
"If you can make people believe Bruce Jenner, the 1976 male Olympic decathlon winner, is a woman, you can make them believe 2 + 2 = 5. If you can make people afraid to say, 'Bruce Jenner is a man,' you can make them afraid to say anything," Morse quips. "The Sexual Revolution is a totalitarian ideology with a blind commitment to the implementation of its tenets, regardless of the human costs."
The book begins with a list of victims of the Sexual Revolution, a topic for a future article. Those victims include children of divorce, spouses who did not want to get divorced, women who waited too long to have children, young women who wanted to abstain from sex, and more. Suffice it to say, the Sexual Revolution has harmed many people.
Morse narrates how the state unleashed the Sexual Revolution, beginning with the Supreme Court contraception case Griswold v. Connecticut (1965). The Contraceptive Ideology predated this decision and played a large role in pushing the Court to change the law on contraception.
The author cites liberal attorney Leo Pfeffer and conservative historian Allan Carlson, who agreed that governments will consider contraception necessary once they have established welfare states — in order to prevent the subsidized poor from having children. Tragically, the U.S. government pushed contraception before Griswold, pushing contraception in post-World War II Japan and other foreign countries considered to be U.S. interests.
In the 1960s and 1970s, USAID started pushing contraception and abortion, thinking these "family planning" efforts would help other countries defeat poverty. These policies were also wrapped up with the ugly eugenics movement in America.
In order to downplay the ugly history of eugenics, contraception activists turned to the work of Alfred Kinsey, an academic who claimed that "up to" 67 to 98 percent of American men ha had premarital sex and that 69 percent of American males had at least one experience with a prostitute. His claims were shot down by other researchers, who exposed his shoddy methods. But the Rockefeller Foundation funded his research and sent his crackpot theories mainstream.
Planned Parenthood and its allies enjoyed connections to elites, and helped push the Court in the direction of legalizing contraception for anyone across the country.
Similarly, elite institutions and big donors pushed no-fault divorce, Morse argues. After Ronald Reagan signed the first no-fault divorce law in 1968, the American Law Institute (ALI), founded with support from the Carnegie Foundation, crafted model legislation to insert the state in between husbands and wives — and favor the spouse who wanted a divorce.
The ALI pushed for decriminalizing private sexual acts between consenting adults, a key plank that struck down states' ability to regulate obscene materials and contraception.
By 1974, all but five states had adopted a form of no-fault divorce.
Morse argues that no-fault divorce positions the power of the state on the side of whichever spouse least wants the marriage to continue. This damages spouses who are committed to the marriage, but it also damages children who do not grow up with both of their parents. It also empowers the government, which now mediates between divorced mothers and fathers.
The author argues that the claim "the kids will be all right" is propaganda. She cites the work of Judith Wallerstein, who found that divorce has a long-term impact on children — damaging their prospects for romantic relationships in adulthood. Similarly, the worries about husbands abusing wives are overblown, as studies have shown that women and children are more likely to be abused in cohabiting relationships than in marriage.
Finally, Morse argues that the government and elites pushed the "Gender Ideology" — long before transgender identity went mainstream — in order to encourage women to be "ideal workers:" "a person who never takes time off, is never sick, whose mental and psychological focus is entirely on the job."
"We've built a society around the premise that our educated women must be permitted to time their 1.6 pregnancies right down to the minute when it's most convenient. But convenient for whom? All too often, it means the convenience of the employers, or the interests of the career path, or of those who hold the student debt which the young woman or young couple must pay down," Morse claims.
The author does not lament the fact that women have entered the "managerial class," highly paid professions which do not involve manual labor. She herself is a member of this class. Rather, she suggests that the pressures of work and the benefits of this class enable people to overlook the obvious differences between men and women.
"People who do manual labor aren't deluded for a moment that men and women are interchangeable," Morse quips. For this reason, men are vastly over-represented in the dangerous professions.
Women's involvement in the workforce need not be connected to the Sexual Revolution's Gender Ideology, the author argues. "I claim the right to participate in the labor market as women, not as men in skirts." She suggests that "educated women would be better off if they accepted that their fertility peaks during their twenties and planned their lives around this fact."
Morse lays out a basic life plan: Women should go to college for a liberal education, not a vocational one. They should et married and have kids early, using their higher educations to be involved in educating their kids. "Let your husbands support you. Trust them. Be grateful for them," and when the children are older, go back for an advanced degree and work.
Tragically, activists are pushing on all these issues and more. Morse discusses same-sex marriage in a chapter on the Gender Ideology. She recalls the battle over California's Proposition 8.
"The 'Yes on 8' campaign was arguably the largest grassroots campaign in history," she writes, noting that California's secretary of state website crashed because there were over 5,000 pages of contributors to the campaign. Yet modern "progressives" "took Proposition 8 to court on flimsy pretexts and rich people's money."
After Proposition 8 passed and the people had amended their constitution, California's attorney general refused to defend it. The people's will failed thanks to an effective pocket veto. in the case Hollingsworth v. Perry (2013), the Supreme Court ruled that proponents of ballot initiatives like Proposition 8 could not defend such laws in court, enabling Gov. Jerry Brown (D-Calif.) to resume same-sex marriage in the state. Now-Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) performed the first same-sex marriage after this ruling.
As with Proposition 8, wealthy liberals continue to push Sexual Revolution issues, particularly abortion and contraception. George Soros and Warren Buffett continue to fund abortion groups, and they use their money to "shape political institutions so they can use the government to recreate the world in their own image and likeness," Morse alleges.
Importantly, the book notes that contraception carries health risks for women, and some studies have shown that hormonal contraception is as likely to cause cancer as smoking. "Smoking has been all but banned, tobacco companies have been sued, and smokers have been socially shunned," Morse writes. "By contrast, the government actively promotes the use of hormonal contraception while the media plays down the risks."
Abortion, often considered an alternative should contraception fail, also carries tremendous health risks to the mother, which medical associations keep secret for political reasons, the author argues. She also notes that wealthy donors funded abortion activists who convinced the Supreme Court to strike down Texas regulations treating abortion clinics like any other medical facility.
"When the people of Texas, acting through their duly elected state legislators, enacted health and safety legislation for abortion clinics, the elites of society knocked it down," Morse declares.
"The Sexual State" makes a compelling case that state power and wealthy elites pushed the Sexual Revolution, and people should fight back. While Morse does address LGBT issues, her book mostly focuses on the negative impacts the Sexual Revolution has had on family life, harming faithful spouses, children of divorce, and many others.
Morse, a Roman Catholic, presents a very Catholic view of these issues and champions the Catholic Church's approach. Her book was ill-fated to release shortly after the sexual abuse scandal broke, but her points still stand.
The book may be too polemical, but it raises important questions about the hidden harms of the Sexual Revolution and who benefits from this humongous social change.
"The Sexual State" is an important book for libertarians to wrestle with, as it presents a compelling case that big government benefits from the Sexual Revolution, and that marriage and family would help weaken the power of the state.
Posted on: Friday, May 25, 2018
(May 25, 2018) Dr J is one of the speakers at the Asociación LAR México conference in Monterrey, Mexico. Now in their 9th year, the theme this time around is "The Challenges of the Family Today." Dr J gave three talks, and this is the first, on "Understanding the Sexual Revolution and the Contraceptive Ideology." Stay tuned for the other two.
Lar, which means "home" in Spanish, is part of the larger IFFD, the International Federation for Family Development.Powerpoint slides from this presentation are also available.
Posted on: Wednesday, March 14, 2018
(March 14, 2018) Dr J is speaking to Freedom Readers, a project of Grove City College's Center for Vision & Values. Her topic is "The Government's Duty to Marriage: A Not-Exclusively Biblical Approach." Check out our podcast stream if you missed yesterday's talk to one of Grove City's classes, and stay tuned for Q&A afterward.
Posted on: Monday, February 12, 2018
New York is sacrificing a child's best interest in favor of "marriage equality."
By Jennifer Roback Morse
Published on February 9, 2018, at The Stream.
A little girl in New York is in foster care, even though her father is a perfectly fit parent. The court will not even recognize him as her father. How is this possible, you ask?
The little girl’s mother is in a same sex union. The girl is in foster care, because of neglect petitions pending against both the mother and her lover. The five-judge panel agreed that the fact that the child was in foster care was “relevant” and “concerning.” They nevertheless denied the father’s request to prove his fatherhood.
In the court’s logic, this man “merely donated sperm, belatedly asserting parental rights.”
In other words, he is not a father unless we say so.
The news stories about this case focus on its implications for “Marriage Equality.” The Daily Beast story has a sub-headline: “judges rule in favor of marriage equality over biology in case of 3-year-old girl.” A Canadian paper, The National Post describes the case this way:
Without legal advice, Christopher and the women drew up a contract in which he waived any claims to paternity, custody or visitation, and the women waived any claim to child support. But troubles arose, and they disagreed on Christopher’s access to the child … In April 2015, Christopher went to court, seeking an order for a paternity test, and later for custody of the child.
The Post is not too clear on what “troubles arose.” We get a clue, from the court documents (page 18), which The Daily Beast cited only in passing, that the child has been in foster care for a lengthy “period of time” since the 2015 hearing.
Perhaps this explains why he “belatedly asserted parental rights.” Maybe he saw what the child welfare authorities eventually saw. These women were neglecting the seven-month-old child.
Christopher volunteered his sperm as a “humanitarian gesture” to two women who were family friends. He evidently absorbed the Grand Gay Narrative that assures us:
If the Grand Gay Narrative is true, a man might logically conclude that donating his sperm could be a “humanitarian gesture.” He might well believe that agreeing in advance to stand down from active fatherhood was a fine thing to do, costless to himself and his child, and beneficial to these two women.
The problem is that the Grand Gay Narrative is false. Biology does matter. Both parents and children care about their biological connections. Being raised by a same sex couple does present risks to kids, compared with being raised by one’s own biological parents. The people who say otherwise base their opinion on highly suspect, cherry-picked data, from small unrepresentative samples. Frankly, most of it is highly publicized junk science.
Neither of these women has pulled herself together enough to have the little girl returned to her care. I was a foster parent in San Diego. I know that child welfare agencies try to give parents every opportunity to reunify with their children. If the child has been in foster care “for a lengthy period of time,” these two women must be bad news. Christopher was trying to be a nice guy in 2014 when he donated the sperm. He has been trying to be a responsible father since April 2015 when he first petitioned the court.
Isn’t this how we want men to behave toward the children they sire?
The five-judge panel was not interested.
We believe that it must be true that a child born to a same-gender married couple is presumed to be their child … A paternity test for an outsider, who merely donated sperm, belatedly asserting parental rights, would effectively disrupt, if not destroy, this family unit and nullify the child’s established relationship with the wife, her other mother. Testing in these circumstances exposes children born into same-gender marriages to instability for no justifiable reason other than to provide a father-figure for children who already have two parents.” (emphasis added.)
News flash to the judges: a child in foster care is already “exposed to instability.” Is letting her father be involved more disruptive than foster care?
The court’s ruling does not protect the child’s best interests. Their ruling circles the wagons to protect the Grand Gay Narrative.
“Marriage Equality” advocates assured us that removing the gender requirement from marriage was only a matter of making same sex couples the legal equivalent of opposite sex couples. This case shows that “Marriage Equality” creates a whole round of new inequalities. Some fathers are permitted to be involved in their children’s lives. Others are not: the law actively blocks Christopher from his own child. Some children have a legally recognized right to their fathers. Others, like this little girl, do not.
She only has the parents the government allows her to have. And that is way too much power for any government.
Posted on: Monday, February 12, 2018
“Donating sperm may sound like a humanitarian gesture. But it could come back to haunt you.” --Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse
Lake Charles, Louisiana, February 12, 2018
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse urged men not to donate their sperm. “A recent New York case shows what can go wrong. A little girl is in foster care. Her father wants to get her out of foster care and take care of her. But the courts are forbidding him to even take a paternity test.”
The man gave his sperm to two women in a same sex union. They were family friends and wanted to have a child together. The adults drew up an informal agreement, where he waived any claims to paternity, custody or visitation, and the women waived any claim to child support. But, as a newspaper blandly put it, “troubles arose, and they disagreed on his access to the child.”
The “trouble that arose” was that the women were neglecting the child so badly that she was taken into foster care. The man asked the court to be allowed to take a paternity test to prove he is the father. He wants to take care of his daughter.
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Founder and President of the Ruth Institute, said, “Men have a natural desire to protect and provide for their children. I cannot image how helpless this man must feel.”
Dr. Morse continued: “This father evidently absorbed the Grand Gay Narrative that assures us that biology is overrated: any two people who love each other and the child are just as good as any others. If the Grand Gay Narrative is true, a man might logically conclude that agreeing in advance to stand down from active fatherhood was a fine thing to do, costless to himself and his child, and beneficial to these two women. The problem is that the Grand Gay Narrative is false. Biology does matter: both parents and children care about their biological connections.”
Dr. Morse noted: “Sperm donation is going to be legal for the foreseeable future. The Ruth Institute urges men to get the full story. Men need more accurate information about the pitfalls of sperm donation, before they make a decision they may later regret.”
Posted on: Tuesday, January 16, 2018
by John Stossel; originally published at Creators.com on January 16, 2018.
Who will warn Americans about hate groups? The media know: the Southern Poverty Law Center.
SPLC, based in Alabama, calls itself "the premier" group monitoring hate. Give us money, they say, and they will "fight the hate that thrives in our country."
I once believed in the center's mission. Well-meaning people still do. Apple just gave them a million dollars. So did actor George Clooney.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali grew up in Somalia, where she suffered female genital mutilation. So now she speaks out against radical Islam. For that, SPLC put her on its list of dangerous "extremists."
Maajid Nawaz was once an Islamic extremist. Then he started criticizing the radicals. SPLC labels him an "anti-Muslim extremist," too.
While launching hateful smears like these, SPLC invites you to donate to them to "join the fight against hatred and bigotry."
SPLC once fought useful fights. They took on the Ku Klux Klan. But now they go after people on the right with whom they disagree.
They call the Family Research Council a hate group because it says gay men are more likely to sexually abuse children.
That's their belief. There is some evidence that supports it. Do they belong on a "hate map," like the Ku Klux Klan, because they believe that evidence and worry about it?
I often disagree with the council, but calling them a hate group is unfair. In my YouTube video this week, the group's vice president, Jerry Boykin, tells me, "I don't hate gay people. And I know gay people, and I have worked with gay people."
But once you're labeled a hate group, you are a target.
One man went to the Family Research Council headquarters to kill people, shooting a security guard in the arm before he was stopped.
The shooter told investigators that he attacked the FRC because he found them on SPLC's hate list.
Calling the council a "hate group" made its employees the target of real hate.
SPLC also smears the Ruth Institute, a Christian group that believes gays should not have an equal right to adopt children. The institute's president,
Jennifer Roback Morse, says they're not haters.
"I like gay people. I have no problem with gay people. That's not the issue. The issue is, what are we doing with kids and the definition of who counts as a parent."
The institute doesn't argue that gays should never adopt. "There could be cases where the best person for a particular child would be their Uncle Harry and his boyfriend," Morse told me. But the institute wants preference given to "a married mother and father."
For that, SPLC put the Ruth Institute on its hate map. That led the institute's credit card processor to stop working with them. In a letter to the institute, the processor company said that it had learned that the "Ruth Institute ... promotes hate, violence, harassment and/or abuse."
"We went and checked our website," Morse told me, "and we were already down."
I suspect SPLC labels lots of groups "haters" because crying "hate" brings in money.
Years ago, Harper's Magazine reported that SPLC was "the wealthiest civil rights group in America, one that now spend most of its time — and money — on a fund-raising campaign." People in Montgomery, Alabama, where SPLC is based, call its elegant new headquarters "the Poverty Palace."
"Morris Dees' salary is more than my entire annual budget," says Morse. "Whatever they're doing, it pays."
Dees, SPLC's co-founder, promised to stop fundraising once his endowment hit $55 million. But when he reached $55 million, he upped the bar to $100 million, saying that would allow them "to cease costly fundraising."
But again, when they reached $100 million, they didn't stop. Now they have $320 million — a large chunk of which is kept in offshore accounts. Really. It's on their tax forms.
In return for those donations to SPLC, the world gets a group that now lists people like Ben Carson and Fox commentators Laura Ingraham, Judge Andrew Napolitano and Jeanine Pirro as extremists — but doesn't list the leftist militant hate groups known as antifa.
SPLC is now a hate group itself. It's a money-grabbing slander machine.
John Stossel is author of "No They Can't! Why Government Fails — But Individuals Succeed."
Posted on: Monday, January 08, 2018
Posted by Marc & Julie Anderson on in Archdiocese, Leaven News
What part will you play in the future of the family?
It is a question that is on the mind of more than a few Catholic leaders these days, as we see the primary institution of our society fracture under seemingly insurmountable stress.
But the Catholic Church is not the only institution unwilling to throw in the towel on the institution of the family.
The Ruth Institute, founded in 2008 by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, is a global nonprofit organization aimed at ending family breakdown by energizing survivors of the Sexual Revolution.
And it’s a movement that is coming to the archdiocese next month.
On Jan. 27, the archdiocesan office of marriage and family life will host the institute’s “Healing Family Breakdown” spiritual workshop at the Church of the Ascension in Overland Park.
The event is open to all, Catholic and non-Catholic, and, according to Morse, is meant to accomplish three goals: (1) heal families; (2) help participants prevent family breakdown; and (3) help participants become agents of healing within society at large.
When families attend the workshop, Morse added, something important and life-changing happens to them.
“You realize you and your family are not the only ones,” she said. “For a lot of people, that is huge.”
That realization is an important first step in healing, she said, and is often made manifest to her in a tangible way in the seating arrangement of workshop participants.
“The Holy Spirit has a way of seating people at the table who belong together,” Morse said.
For example, at a past workshop, she witnessed a teenage girl’s perspective change as a result of a conversation she had with a man at her table.
The girl was the daughter of divorced parents. She blamed her father for the situation and did not want anything to do with him.
However, also seated at her table was a divorced man experiencing loneliness as his children would not talk to him. A conversation between the two, Morse said, led the young lady to consider the hurt and loneliness her father might be experiencing, a perspective the teenager had not considered previously.
And that’s just one type of healing and paradigm shift The Ruth Institute is trying to bring about in the world.
On the nonprofit’s website — www.ruthinstitute.org — Morse identifies a dozen different types of survivors of the Sexual Revolution, ranging from children of divorce and of unmarried parents, to a pornography addict or a post-abortive man or woman.
If you recognize yourself, a family member or a friend in one of the 12 survivor descriptions, Morse discourages you from trying to go it alone. Participate in the workshop and begin the healing process, instead.
“We need [survivors’] participation,” she said. “We need you to be witnesses to say the church was right all along [about its teachings on family and sexuality].”
Morse calls survivors “the secret weapon” to restoring the family to its greatness and its rightful place in society.
“All these wounded souls need to speak up,” she said.
“Many people leave the faith over sexual issues,” Morse explained. “I know. I stormed off in a huff.”
But just as people leave the faith over sexual issues, Morse said, countless people later realize the beauty of church teaching and return to the faith.
“I was completely wrong, of course,” she said of her departure from the faith.
Later, by studying the church’s teachings and by watching her adopted and biological children grow, Morse said she realized how much children need their father and mother as well as how much they want their parents.
“That’s how I got interested in the family and how the family fits into society,” said Morse.
As she has watched the family structure in modern society continue to deteriorate, however, Morse is not without hope.
“A lot of what society is trying to do is undoable,” she said. “We believe it is possible to make the family great again.”
Posted on: Tuesday, May 23, 2017
(May 23, 2017) Dr J is the speaker at St. John Bosco Catholic Church's annual Clergy Appreciation Dinner in Westlake, Louisiana. Her topic is "What the Ruth Institute Can Do for the Priests and People of St. John Bosco;" she also made a special statement to the children who were present.Listen
Posted on: Wednesday, March 29, 2017
by Doug Mainwaring at publicdiscourse.com on March 2017.
This world does not need men to selfishly take whatever we want, especially if the price is the welfare of our children. Our children don’t need superheroes—just quiet, unsung, ordinary, everyday heroes who answer to the name “Daddy.”
When I was taking my first few steps out of the closet in the late 1990s, a guy who called himself Tex offered me a short version of his life story over drinks at a Dupont Circle bar. The conversation took an unanticipated turn: he explained that his current partner had moved halfway across the country, leaving behind an ex-wife and kids. Tex would sometimes answer the house phone (this was before cell phones) and would hear a small voice cautiously ask, “May I please speak to my Daddy?” This was his partner’s eight-year-old daughter calling from somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Tex said that it troubled him deeply that his partner’s daughter had to ask permission of a stranger in order to speak with her daddy.
When I think of this little girl, my thoughts drift to folks like Alana Newman and others who have anonymous sperm donors for fathers, many of whom have daily asked that same question in their hearts. May I please speak to my Daddy?
When I started speaking out about the dangers of same-sex marriage for children, I found it difficult to get proponents of genderless marriage to engage in intellectually honest one-on-one discussions. Then I realized: at least half the people who wanted to clobber me with bumper sticker slogans were products of broken marriages.
In early 2013, following my participation in a panel discussion, a young man accused me of being unfair to gays, lesbians, and their children. So I took a chance and asked him point blank: “Did your parents divorce when you were a child?”
He was a little stunned by the personal question, but he answered, “Yes.” The smugness left his face.
“Did you live with your mother?”
“Did you see much of your father?”
“No. I almost never saw him.”
“Did you miss him? Did you wish you could be around him more?”
“Yes. Of course,” he answered, with a bit of wistfulness.
“Did your parents’ divorce increase your happiness—or your sadness?”
“So your parents dismantled your home and set up two new structures that put their needs first, not yours. In fact, they were structures guaranteeing your continued unhappiness. You learned to live with it, because as a child you had no control whatsoever over their actions, but these new structures weren’t necessarily built with your best interest in mind.”
“Well, no. I didn’t get to vote on the matter. I was a kid.”
“Exactly. So why would it be different for children of gays and lesbians who are denied either their father or mother? Do you really think two moms or two dads is exactly the same as having both mom and dad around to love and care for you? Seriously? Would having an extra mom around the house really have satisfied you, or would you still have an unanswered yearning in your heart for your Dad?”
“Then why would you want to condemn other children to be fatherless? Or motherless?”
He got it. He didn’t like it, but he got it—and then he walked away. I have no idea if he changed his mind, but at least he had finally actually heard and listened to an opposing point of view—one that resonated with him.
As I walked away, I thought to myself, “To be intellectually honest, I can’t keep speaking publicly against the dangers of genderless marriage without also simultaneously speaking about the objective evil of divorce for kids.” Divorce is an exponentially larger, far more pervasive threat to children than the prospect of gays raising children without moms and lesbians raising children without dads. I sighed. There is a lot to undo and set straight.
The Prodigal Dad
After my wife and I had been divorced for a few years, it was not unusual for her to call and ask me to drive to her house because our youngest son was out of control. When I would arrive, I found turmoil. He had gotten angry about something, and that had triggered a rage completely disproportionate to the issue. He would yell and scream and kick, then isolate himself in his bedroom. No trespassers allowed. It was gut-wrenching to witness this. Thankfully, he would calm down after a while and return to normal.
His rage would, in turn, trigger discussions with my ex-wife. What were we going to do about his behavioral problem? Did he require medication? Did he need to be spanked? Did he need psychological help?
After this happened a few times it became abundantly clear to me exactly what he needed. Our son did not have a behavioral problem. He needed just one thing: he needed his parents to get back together and to love each other. The slicing and dicing of our family had thrust unbearable stress on this four-year-old’s tender psyche. His Dad and Mom were the culprits responsible for this, yet we were approaching this as if it were his problem.
Our little boy bore no blame, but I sure did.
Posted on: Tuesday, March 28, 2017
(March 28, 2017) Jennifer Johnson, Ruth Institute's Associate Director, is speaking with Steve and Becky Greene of Immaculate Heart Radio's The Catholic Conversation. They're discussing family structure equality for children and Jennifer's new booklet, Marriage and Equality: How Natural Marriage Upholds the Ideal of Equality for Children.
Posted on: Monday, March 27, 2017
Dear Dr. J,
What do I say to a same-sex married lesbian niece whose mother (my sister-in-law) just left a phone message saying they “are expecting twins”? Congratulations just doesn’t seem right but it’s not the children’s faults. It doesn’t seem right to create a family rift over this but neither can I be happy about it. I have no idea who the father is, which of the females in the relationship is carrying the children, whose eggs were used, etc. Nor do I know if I will ever be told because the family knows I do not believe in gay ‘marriage’. I can’t just ignore this, but do I say nothing? What do I say when the children are born? Any kind of congratulatory words would come out as fake, & they would be falsely said.
Your problem is becoming increasingly common. We are all figuring this out on the fly. So, let me offer a few suggestions for you to consider.
In general: keep your powder dry. Save it for when you really need it. There is absolutely nothing you can do right now to prevent this situation from unfolding. A time will come when you may be able to make a truly unique and valuable contribution. Prepare yourself for that time, through prayer and charity. Who knows? Maybe your preparation will allow you to help someone outside your family.
Do you have a question for me? Send an email to email@example.com.
Posted on: Thursday, March 23, 2017
Jessica Kern couldn’t figure out why she was white and her mom was Korean. At 16, she learned the unsettling truth.
June 25, 2014, at Lifesitenews.com.
CULPEPER, VA -- Jessica Kern was sixteen the day she found the missing puzzle piece that finally made her life make sense.
Growing up, Kern, now 30, had always suspected something wasn’t right about her household. It was more than just the emotional and physical abuse she suffered at the hands of her parents. It was a deep and unsettling feeling that somehow, she didn’t really belong.
Kern grew up in an interracial home – her father was white; her mother, South Korean. Kern was raised as a half-Korean girl, attending Korean school on the weekends and her mother’s Korean church. But the mirror told a different story. Her appearance lacked even a trace of Asian ancestry. At times, she wondered if she’d been adopted.
The truth turned out to be much more complicated than that. At sixteen, a therapist she was seeing to help her deal with her parents’ abuse shared something hidden deep within her medical records: Kern was the product of a surrogacy arrangement. The woman who had raised her from birth was not, in fact, her biological mother.
In a single moment, a simple four-sentence statement buried in a doctor’s notes gave Kern an answer to the question that had been in the back of her mind all her life – but simultaneously presented a lifetime’s worth of additional questions that may never fully be answered.
“I think it’s wrong. It really is the buying and selling of babies, and the commodification of women’s bodies.”
When LifeSiteNews interviewed Kern last Friday, she had just returned from a whirlwind press tour to New York City and Washington, D.C., where she was promoting Breeders, a documentary about surrogacy produced by Jennifer Lahl of the Center for Bioethics and Culture, whose previous film credits include Eggsploitation and Anonymous Father’s Day.
Kern said she agreed to be part of the documentary because she felt like there was a very important voice missing from the ongoing cultural debate over surrogacy: the voices of the children themselves.
“I think it’s wrong,” Kern told LifeSiteNews. “It really is the buying and selling of babies, and the commodification of women’s bodies.”
“There’s a huge difference between the adoption world and the donor-conceived world,” Kern added. “[The] institution [of adoption] was not … created for the parents, to give them a kid. It was created for the opposite, to put children in a home, because they’re here already and we’re responding to a catastrophe.”
On the contrary, Kern says, “Donor-conceived [children], we’re creating them with the intent of separating them from their biology, and you know … it’s vastly different.”
Kern’s own story, in her view, is a perfect example of what can go wrong when science and the culture of entitlement meet – pitting the selfish desires of adults against the ultimate well-being of children.
In 1983, Kern’s mother wanted a child, but found herself infertile. She had just undergone a new, radical treatment for cancer that had put her into remission, but doctors still gave her only a five percent chance of surviving the next five years. That made adoption an impossibility – no responsible agency would place a child in such a high-risk situation.
“I don’t believe they would have [passed a home study for adoption],” Kern told LifeSiteNews. Aside from her adoptive mother’s cancer, “I don’t think she would have passed the psychological testing,” she added. “Also, my dad was 46 and had a family history of all the men dying in their early 50s. Adoption wouldn’t have touched that.”
Surrogacy, being comparatively unregulated, offered Kern’s parents a loophole. The practice was still unusual in the 1980s and not widely available, so the Virginia-based couple traveled to Michigan to make arrangements with a surrogacy agency. They never told anyone else what they were doing. Throughout the surrogate’s pregnancy, Kern’s adoptive mother wore pregnancy prostheses of increasing size in order to fool friends and family into thinking she was the one having the baby. When Kern’s biological mother went into labor three weeks early, “they were at a cocktail party,” Kern said. “The next day, she had to explain how she suddenly had a baby.”
The early delivery turned out to be a stroke of luck for Kern’s parents, if perhaps not for Kern herself. Several weeks before, Kern’s biological mother had mentioned the surrogacy arrangement to her doctor at a routine appointment. Out of concern for the well-being of her unborn child, the doctor called social services. A social worker was supposed to be present at the birth in order to interview Kern’s father and his wife, but on the advice of an attorney, the couple fled the state with the baby before social services could intervene.
Today, Kern is outspoken in her opposition to all donor conception, including surrogacy, egg donation, and sperm donation. In fact, she strongly objects to the use of the term “donation” at all. “It’s not donation if you get a huge check at the end,” she told LifeSiteNews. “It’s selling babies. … If you’re a sperm donor or an egg donor, you’re not selling your sperm, you’re not selling an egg, you’re selling your child.”
Kern says she went through an “evolution” in her attitude toward surrogacy after she learned the truth about her own origins.
At first, “I was relieved,” Kern told LifeSiteNews. “I knew something was not right, and honestly, the household was extremely abusive, so to a point, it was like, ‘Thank God I’m not completely related to these people; there’s hope for me yet.’”
But as time went on, and she gave the issue more thought, she began to feel increasingly conflicted.
“I think when you’re a teenager and you hear [you’re a product of surrogacy], you don’t think too much in depth about it. … I don’t know if that’s because it’s just too big a thing to think heavily about, or just because as a teenager you’re kind of self-involved,” she said. But once she began to process the information, she started to become curious about the circumstances surrounding her conception and birth. “You wonder about the logistics behind it, the motivations; you know, do they think of you?” Kern said. “It starts to become a little bit nagging.”
Despite her questions, Kern kept her newfound knowledge hidden from her parents, even after she moved out of their house at seventeen. She was “nineteen or twenty” before she gathered the courage to tell her father what she’d learned, and asked for her biological mother’s name and contact information. He refused to provide the details, even though he had allegedly promised the surrogate mother he would facilitate contact when his daughter turned eighteen. “I think because I was so unhappy with our family, he thought it would reflect badly on him,” Kern said.
So Kern turned to the internet for assistance, signing up for multiple websites where adopted children can seek to be reunited with their birth parents. “I knew I didn’t fit the profile completely,” Kern said, “but I hoped that maybe she was out there looking for me.”
Kern’s mother wasn’t looking for her. She assumed that because she had provided her contact information to Kern’s father, her daughter would come to her if she decided she wanted to. “She was just kind of waiting on me,” Kern said.
She would have to wait six more years. Kern was 26 when, fed up with her father’s refusal to give her the information she so desperately wanted, she stole two personal phone books from his house. When her father realized they were gone, he contacted the birth mother to warn her to expect Kern’s call.
When Kern finally reached her biological mother, “we talked for two hours,” she said. Kern learned that she was one of six children born to her mother – three of them, her mother raised, and three were surrogate children like her. She immediately made plans to travel to Michigan to meet her birth mom, along with three of her half-siblings and more than a dozen aunts and uncles. She was also able to establish contact with one of the other surrogate children born to her mother, a half-sister.
Kern’s birth mother told her she went through three surrogate pregnancies out of “compassion” for infertile couples. But in giving birth to Kern, she was rewarded with a $10,000 check for her trouble – an amount Kern is quick to note is more than a person would have made in a year of working a minimum wage job in the early 1980s.
Kern says she and her biological mother have had “a rocky road” since their meeting four years ago. As Kern has been more publicly outspoken against surrogacy, their relationship has cooled. But Kern is determined to keep speaking out for what she believes, in the hopes that increased public awareness might cause people to think twice before intentionally creating children who will spend nine months in a mother’s womb before being ripped away at birth to be raised by strangers.
“I personally am 100 percent against it; I don’t understand the purpose of it,” Kern said in the Breeders documentary. “I believe that there are too many children who need homes in this world.”
Kern now writes a blog called “The Other Side of Surrogacy,” where she shares her views on being a donor child and tracks the rapidly developing legal landscape surrounding surrogacy. She hopes to transition into full-time activism on the issue and perhaps write a book.
“There needs to be more education on the downfalls of surrogacy,” says Kern. “I think that it’s too easy to look at surrogacy from the point of ‘What are my wants, what are my desires and how do I get them met?’ But it’s a lot harder to look at how it could possibly affect the child.”
One of the main concerns Kern and other donor children cite is the lack of oversight and transparency at every stage of the assisted reproductive process. Not only are would-be parents not required to go through the same vetting process to which they would need to submit for traditional adoption, there are no requirements for donors of eggs or sperm to keep agencies apprised of their own health status post-donation. An egg donor who later developed breast cancer, for example, would not be required to report that to her agency, even though any female child conceived using her eggs would be at an increased risk of developing the disease and should therefore be monitored more closely. That means donor children are often left totally in the dark about potential health problems down the line.
Kern told LifeSiteNews that filling out routine forms at doctors’ offices can often feel “like a slap in the face” to donor children who have no idea about their genetic history. If they’re lucky, she said, they will have information about at least one of their genetic parents, like she does. But for those born to so-called “gestational carriers” – surrogate mothers who are sometimes implanted with both donor eggs and donor sperm – “it’s like, ‘I don’t know, your guess is as good as mine,’” she said with a shrug.
Kern also talked about the “primal wound,” an idea promulgated by Nancy Verrier in her book of the same name. In the Breeders documentary, the author explains, “The primal wound is what happens when you separate a baby and its mother. Babies know their own mother through all their senses, and when for some reason … the baby is separated from that mother, the prenatal bonding is interrupted, there is a trauma that happens to both the baby and the mother, and they both feel as if something is missing within them.”
In addition to Kern and Verrier, the Breeders documentary features a number of surrogate mothers, all of whom keenly felt the loss of the children they carried for nine months, whether genetically related or not.
In one difficult case, a mother was pressured to abort after the 20-week ultrasound, when it was revealed the infant – not biologically related to the surrogate – had a brain deformity. After a week of avoiding the prospective parents’ calls, the surrogate hired a lawyer and told them she couldn’t go through with the abortion. She gave them the option of placing their child with a different adoptive family or raising him themselves. They ultimately chose to keep their son, but in acting to protect their baby’s life, the surrogate formed a bond with that child that persists to this day, long after the parents walked out of the hospital with their new baby, without even leaving their contact information. “I still think about him every day,” the surrogate said, through tears.
Another surrogate said it was her daughter who opened her eyes to the oddity of the situation. Already a mother of two who had enjoyed both pregnancies and had easy births, the woman said she felt like offering the use of her womb to an infertile couple would be a compassionate thing to do, along with helping her to pay her bills and stay home with her kids. But she hadn’t counted on the emotional attachment her eldest daughter would form with her unborn half-sibling.
“She loved babies,” the surrogate said. “I mean, what was I thinking? I had two daughters at that point, and when my second daughter was born, it was the biggest thing that had happened in her life. It was like the best thing in the whole world to her. How on Earth did I think I could just give one away, and that she would be okay with it?”
That same surrogate – who has a relatively open relationship with the adoptive family – later recounted the experience of visiting her surrogate daughter for the first time at the couple’s home, some two months after the birth. The baby had been colicky and sleepless, crying for hours a night from the moment she had been removed from her birth mom at five days old. Within minutes of being placed in the surrogate’s arms, she was fast asleep on her chest, seemingly content for the first time in weeks.
“At no point did I consider how it would affect her,” the surrogate said, “being a baby, spending, you know, nine months in my womb, and then five days in my arms, and then being taken away.”
Five years later, on a visit to her birth mom’s house, that little girl would look at her three half-siblings and observe that she looked more like her birth mother than any of them did.
“She looked right at me, innocent as could be, and said, ‘We have the same hair, and we have the same eyes,’” the surrogate recalled. "'Why did you give me away and keep them?’”
To order the “Breeders” documentary or to watch the trailer, click here.
To read Jessica Kern’s blog, “The Other Side of Surrogacy,” click here.
If you are a child of donor conception, or an egg/sperm donor searching for your biological family, click here to join the free registry at DonorChildren.com.
Posted on: Tuesday, March 21, 2017
by Jennifer Roback Morse
We have a petition that anyone can sign. It just says we support Rep Krause’s effort to limit no-fault divorce. You do not have to live in Texas to sign it.
Conservatives complain and wring their hands over “losing the culture wars.”
We can’t honestly complain about losing a battle we never even fought.
“Kids need a mom and a dad,” the constant mantra of the pro-marriage movement, is not nearly strong enough. “Kids need their own mom and dad,” is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
I’m sorry to get in your face about this. But children are entitled to a relationship with both parents, unless some unavoidable tragedy takes place to prevent it.
These are the divorces that no-fault protects. When people say, “but we need no-fault divorce because fault is too hard to prove,” adultery and selfishness are sneaking in the backdoor.
Conservative Christians complained about “gay marriage” harming children.
No-fault divorce harms children.
Conservative Christians complained about “gay marriage” being un-Biblical.
No-fault divorce is un-Biblical. See Matthew 19. Don’t whine to me about the so-called “exception clause,” aka “escape hatch big enough to drive a Mac Truck through.”
Why were people against gay marriage? I don’t know about you. But I know why I was. I saw that it would harm children’s legally-recognized rights to have a relationship with both parents.
We at the Ruth Institute were virtually alone in the “Marriage Movement” in arguing this way. And I am pretty sure I know why. Once you say, “Kids have a right to their own parents,” you have to be willing to start talking about divorce, single-parenthood and donor conception. Most of the Marriage Movement bobbed and weaved to avoid these topics.
The Ruth Institute did not. I am grateful to our supporters who have stood by us as we made these arguments. I am not ashamed to say:
The Gay Lobby accused us of hypocrisy, saying we didn’t really mean it about any of those other topics. We just really hated gay people. Divorce and single-motherhood and all the rest were just window dressing.
Too bad. We talked about children’s rights then. We continue to talk about children’s rights, now, long after the dust has settled on the whole gay “marriage” controversy. We intend to keep talking about it.
What about you? Will you sign our petition, supporting Rep. Krause and his divorce reform?
Posted on: Tuesday, March 14, 2017
For immediate release:
“Families don’t just ‘break down.’ Marriages don’t just ‘fall apart.’ Somebody sins! So, go to Confession!” –Ruth Institute President, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse
Ruth Institute launches ‘Go to Confession’ Campaign
(March 14, 2017, Lake Charles, LA) During this season of Lent, The Ruth Institute has launched an online and billboard campaign encouraging people of all faiths to make things right with God. “Families don’t just ‘break down.’ Marriages don’t just ‘fall apart.’ Somebody sins!” Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse stated in announcing the campaign. “That is why have launched a series of billboards and social media messages urging people to go to confession!”
Even in cases where one person has the major responsibility for fracturing the family, all family members can benefit from going to confession. “The injured parties may need help with bitterness, anger, emotional paralysis and many other issues. The grace of confession can help them,” Dr. Morse explained. “And of course, it goes without saying: if you have injured your family through addiction, abuse, adultery or desertion, go to confession. Jesus is waiting for you in the confessional and wants to forgive you. If you can’t tell him, in the person of the priest, that you are sorry, how are you ever going to be able to face your ex-spouse or your children?”
“Our ‘Go to Confession’ campaign reminds people that God is merciful and He will forgive us. What better time than during Lent?” Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president of the Ruth Institute said.
The Institute launched a billboard campaign in Lake Charles, LA, with messages: “Jesus is waiting for you,” “Sin makes you stupid,” featuring St. Thomas Aquinas (who loosely said that), and “Party’s over. Go to confession,” with an image of Mardi Gras debris. “Lake Charles is in the heart of Cajun Country, the Catholic buckle on the Bible belt. If we can’t publicly urge people to go to confession here, where can we? And the world desperately needs this encouragement.”
Dr. Morse added. “Guilty consciences make it harder for us to move forward and to resolve the issues caused by our sins, or the bitterness we’ve held onto from the sins of others.” Find the Ruth Institute’s ‘Go to Confession’ images on their website here, here and here.
The Ruth Institute is a global non-profit organization dedicated to finding Christ-like solutions to the problems of family breakdown. Founded by world renowned author, speaker and academic, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, the Ruth Institute has accumulated decades of research to support individuals and families harmed by divorce, the hook-up culture, and other forms of family breakdown.
Reply to this email if you’d like to interview Dr. Morse further about this unique and beneficial ‘Go to Confession’ campaign.
Posted on: Friday, March 03, 2017
(March 3, 2017) Jennifer Johnson, Ruth Institute's Associate Director, is speaking with John Rustin on his radio show, Family Policy Matters. They're discussing family structure equality for children and Jennifer's new booklet, Marriage and Equality: How Natural Marriage Upholds the Ideal of Equality for Children.
Posted on: Saturday, February 18, 2017
by Jennifer Roback Morse on
In my line of work, people tell me their stories of family breakdown and heartbreak. I recently heard the following story. I will tell it in first person, roughly as it was told to me. My comments are in italics.
“Like you and your husband, my wife and I went through years of infertility. We decided to try IVF. I was worried that a child created by us would not be fully a child of God. I went to a priest/mentor. He told me: “you are going to a lot of trouble and expense to create a child. The child will certainly be a child of God.” I breathed a sigh of relief. The priest relieved his immediate concern. The priest also said, “I have to tell you: the Church doesn’t want you to do this.” I couldn’t tell whether the priest gave him any reasons why the Church doesn’t want him to do this: all my friend heard was, “It’s ok.”
“The IVF clinic told us that we should retrieve three eggs, fertilize and implant them, for the best chance of getting one embryo to implant successfully. Once my wife woke up from the procedure, the doctors informed us that they had retrieved 13 eggs and fertilized all of them. They had implanted 3 in my wife’s womb, as we discussed. But this was the first mention of any other eggs or embryos. Only then, did they ask us what we wanted to do with the “extras.” I have heard many similar stories of infertility clinics failing to tell the whole story. People desparate for a child do not always think clearly or listen completely. And the fertility industry does not always help them….
“I was in shock. Indeed. The man’s countenance visibly changed as he told me this part of the story. We decided to freeze them and deal with them later.
“Only one of the babies survived, and she is now a teenager. I love her. I’m glad I have her. But I have agonized over those 10 frozen embryos ever since. Apologists for the Sexual Revolution might say that this man’s guilt is a problem created by the last vestiges of religion. I say that is a crock. He instantly and instinctively knew that something was wrong with freezing his children. After all, if the one that was implanted and carried to term became his precious child, how could her siblings, conceived at exactly the same time, and under the same circumstances, be any less precious?
“My wife and I divorced. I am still struggling over what to do with our frozen embryos. I have met with other priests and counselors. I finally found one who said, “Stop calling them embryos. They are your children.” I knew immediatly that he was right. The priest gave him some genuine relief, by actually addressing the problem, not glossing over it. I don’t know about you, but I feel crazy when someone tells me “it’s ok,” when I know for a fact that it isn’t. The priest gave me an ethical path for what to do for my children. I still have to convince their mother. I don’t know if she will go along with it.”
I’m not going to share the priest’s counsel right now. I will save that for a different post. Today, I want to focus on one point: if that first priest had given him reasons to NOT do IVF, this man would not have had these years of anguish.
It is true that he would not have had this particular daughter, conceived at this particular moment and in this particular way. And of course, we must never regret the child. Each and every child is a unique and unrepeatable gift from God.* But he and wife might have had some other experience of fatherhood and motherhood, some other way, on God’s good time and in God’s good way. Who knows? They might even still be married.
Priests and other authority figures need to tell people the whole truth. Sugar-coating is not helpful. Truthful words, spoken firmly before the sin actually occurs, could prevent the sin, and save the person years of heartache.
Please Padres, Pères and Fathers: tell us the whole truth. We promise to listen and not give you a hard time.
And my non-clergy readers, please: if you are in a situation like this, go to confession.** Trust the Lord to put you in the right confessional with the right priest. Do not delay. Trust me on this. You are going to feel better.
* I spell this out in more detail in my essay, “You were loved into existence.” We give this essay away as a free premium for signing up for the Ruth Institute newsletter.
** Or as Fr. Z would say, GO TO CONFESSION!!
Posted on: Monday, January 30, 2017
(January 30, 2017) Jennifer Johnson is once again Molly Smith's guest on From the Median. They're discussing her just-released book, Marriage and Equality: How Natural Marriage Upholds the Ideal of Equality for Children. They also touch on the general interrelatedness of the marriage and life issues.
Jennifer's book can be found at our store in several formats--check it out!
Posted on: Friday, January 13, 2017
(November 21, 2016) Dr J was invited to speak at the Altar Society in Lake Charles on the work and history of the Ruth Institute.Listen
Posted on: Tuesday, January 10, 2017
(January 10, 2017) Dr J traveled to Phoenix to participate in the Courage Conference, a Roman Catholic organization dedicated to helping persons with same-sex attraction live chaste lives and seek holiness. Her topic was "Understanding the Sexual Revolution."
She also fielded a brief Q&A session after the her talk; that's available to listen to as well.
Posted on: Friday, November 04, 2016
(November 4, 2016) Dr J is a guest on The Kristine Franklin Show. This morning, she and Kristine are discussing the modern world's abnormal separation of sex and procreation--and the fallout of the sexual revolution generally.
Posted on: Thursday, October 27, 2016
(October 26, 2016) Dr J travels to Austin, Texas to debate philosophy professor Dr. Peter Jaworski on the topic "Markets Without Limits." Are markets for surrogacy and prostitution ethical? This event was sponsored by the Texas Economics Association, the James Q. Wilson Forum, and the Austin Institute.
Check out our Ruth Refuge for the Q&A session in the middle of the event.
Posted on: Saturday, October 15, 2016
(October 13, 2016) Dr J travels to Rhode Island to speak at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church on the theme "Does the Family Have a Future?" This is the second part of her talk; this one's theme is "The Sexual State." If you missed the first part of her talk, check out the previous podcast. The questions and answers she took after each talk are also available on our Ruth Refuge.Listen
Posted on: Friday, October 14, 2016
(October 13, 2016) Dr J travels to Smithfield, Rhode Island to speak at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church on the theme "Does the Family Have a Future?" Addressing over 100 people, she describes why the family is the basis of society.
Stay tuned for the second part of her talk or head over to our Ruth Refuge for the Q&As after each talk.
Posted on: Monday, October 03, 2016
The Ruth Institute recently sent a letter of commendation and 24 white roses to Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo of Richmond, Virginia congratulating and thanking him for his defense of Catholic teaching. Tim Kaine, Democratic candidate for Vice President, has said that the church will change its teaching on marriage. Bishop DiLorenzo, Kaine’s local bishop, disagrees. The Bishop’s office posted the following:
“Despite recent statements from the campaign trail, the Catholic Church’s 2000-year- old teaching to the truth about what constitutes marriage remains unchanged and resolute.”
The statement continues by pointing out a foundational belief shared by the Ruth Institute: “Redefining marriage furthers no one’s rights, least of all those of children, who should not purposely be deprived of the right to be nurtured and loved by a mother and a father.”
The Ruth Institute is a global non-profit organization dedicated to finding Christ-like solutions to the problems of family breakdown. Founded by world renowned author, speaker and academic, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, the Ruth Institute has accumulated decades of research to support individuals and families harmed by divorce, the hook-up culture and other forms of family breakdown.
Dr. Morse stated, “We are particularly encouraged that Bishop DiLorenzo defended the rights of children to be nurtured and loved by their mothers and fathers.”
Dr. Morse continued, “The Ruth Institute dreams of the day when every child will be welcomed into a loving home with a married mother and father. We believe every child has the right to a relationship with both natural parents, unless some unavoidable tragedy prevents it. We believe every adult without exception has the right to know his or her cultural heritage and genetic identity. Bishop DiLorenzo has restated the ancient teachings of Christianity and of Jesus Christ Himself. These teachings protect the interests of children, as well as the interests of men and women in lifelong married love.”
As a sign of support for Bishop DiLorenzo, the Ruth Institute sent 24 white roses to the Bishop’s office, and offers prayers for him and for everyone in the Diocese of Richmond.
Dr. Morse is available for interviews about the Roses from Ruth Initiative, the Bishop’s statement, and Catholic teaching on marriage. To interview Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, contact the Ruth Institute at:
Posted on: Saturday, September 17, 2016
(September 17, 2016) Dr J was invited to Phoenix, Arizona to speak on "Catholics in the Public Square" to the diocese there. Her talk is designed to prepare people for personal and civic engagement on the marriage and life issues in the current cultural climate.Listen
Posted on: Monday, September 12, 2016
Scientists are beginning to realize that IVF could be a time-bomb.
by Michael Cook
This article was first published September 6, 2016 at Mercatornet.com.
Evolution works because of the differential reproduction of individuals with certain features. If an organism has a harmful gene, it will not survive to reproduce and will perish before it produces offspring.
To some extent this is true for human beings as well, although we usually see it as a personal tragedy rather than as a force of nature. Infertility may be Nature’s way of decreeing that this man or this woman, or this couple, are not “fit” in the evolutionary sense.
So surely IVF, which enables people to bypass their infertility, must be having an effect upon human evolution.
This tricky but important question was tackled by Norwegian scientists in a recent article in the journal Human Reproduction. “Assisted reproduction is redefining human society and biology and, in the face of profound ethical issues, it is important to understand the technical and conceptual principles that underlie this new paradigm,” they write.
They point out that IVF systematically changes selection pressures, involving “a combination of artificial environments and selection criteria that are distinctively different from those of natural reproduction”.
They give a number of examples. For instance, the human oocytes, or eggs, which survive the selection process are different. The follicles in the ovary of normal eggs are highly sensitive to the FSH and LH hormones; IVF eggs, on the other hand, can survive harsh laboratory conditions, including puncturing it to insert a sperm in some procedures.
IVF favours sperm that swim fast for a short distance while nature “favours long-distance swimmers that are able to navigate the female reproductive tract”.
IVF embryos have to survive contact with plastic surfaces, exposure to light, mechanical manipulation, living in culture media in a Petri and abrupt temperature changes. There may be differences in how IVF embryos survive implantation and miscarriage.
Even the couples who seek out IVF come from a distinct subgroup: “Overall, the limited availability of IVF favours healthy sub-fertile couples in stable relationships who live in high-income societies over other sub-fertile couples”.
The authors stress that much of what they say is speculative, but they conclude that “The most extreme evolutionary scenario is a subpopulation in which reproduction is entirely dependent on IVF … Overall, it seems clear that IVF facilitates the propagation of genetically heritable traits of sub-fertile couples, and we suspect that ongoing studies of IVF offspring will show an increased risk of subfertility for this group.”
Apart from allowing infertile people to reproduce, IVF may also select for traits such as, for example, a resistance to exposure to plastic surfaces. What the results of this will be is completely unknown.
Other recent papers in the same journal point out that the Petri dishes in which IVF embryos spend the first days of their lives are filled with mysterious fluids made up of unknown ingredients. The composition of these laboratory cultures affects the birthweight of the resulting babies – and possibly their long-term health.
These alarm bells are not being rung by moralizing criticis. In a blistering editorial, Hans Evers, the journal’s editor, admitted that he knows far more about the ingredients in his favourite peanut butter, from the ingredients to the production record, than he does about embryo culture media.
“It’s not possible to sell a single drug on the market if you do not give the total composition of the drug, but for such an important thing as culture media, that envelopes the whole embryo, you can sell it without revealing its contents. For me, that’s unacceptable,” Evers told New Scientist. “Compared to the rest of medicine, this is such a backward area. We can’t accept it any longer.”
A working group of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, led by Professor Arne Sunde, from the University Hospital in Trondheim, Norway, has found that culture media for IVF embryos vary widely, their composition is usually unknown by the end users (the embryologists, clinicians and patients), and data about the influence of the media on embryos are conflicting.
“We have no information about long-term consequences of this, but we cannot rule out that the composition of the culture media may affect the health of children as they grow up and become adults," says Dr Sunde.
One possibility is an epidemic of chronic disease.
This is what the “the Barker Hypothesis” suggests. This idea stems from observations of the health of Dutch children conceived and born during a severe five-month-long famine in the German-occupied part of the Netherlands in the winter of 1944 to 1945. It was a perfect experiment – albeit a tragic one – in the effect of the gestation on adult health. In middle age these children are suffering from obesity, dementia, hypertension, coronary heart disease, and diabetes because their pregnant mothers were starving. The results may very well be relevant to the harsh and unusual environment of the Petri dish.
So while an IVF baby may be a delight to cuddle, 50 years later an IVF adult could be an overweight, doddering, diabetic, stroke-prone candidate for a heart attack. The millions of IVF children now alive may be health time-bombs.
We don’t know. The first IVF baby, Louise Brown, is only 38. Unfortunately, IVF scientists have been turning a blind eye to these issues for 38 years.
Back to the Norwegian scientists’ musings about IVF and evolution. Let them have the last word. They conclude, somewhat ominously, that despite IVF’s success in producing babies for infertile couples, it makes reproduction increasingly dependent upon artificial means: “It is our opinion that IVF should be seen as a primary example of how the human species is becoming not only culturally —but also biologically— dependent on our own technology.”
Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet.
Posted on: Monday, July 25, 2016
(July 25, 2016) Dr J is a guest on Janet Mefferd's show to discuss surrogacy: why should we be opposed to it? This dovetails with her recent article over at TheBlaze, "Why Everyone Should Oppose Surrogacy."
Posted on: Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Submitted to the Ruth Institute by Ellen Giangiordano
I applaud the History Channel for airing Alex Haley’s “Roots” reimagined over Memorial Day weekend. As co-producer LeVar Burton noted, “Roots” generates a dialogue that is needed now more than ever.
Today, the loss of ancestry is still keenly felt by slave descendants. In February of 2016, when I took a seat at a conference offered by the Black Law Students Association at the University of Pennsylvania, the attendees near me were not talking about Ferguson type police brutality, the topic of the day. They were talking about roots and how successful each had been at reconnecting her own. In this room of legal professionals, Alex Haley’s words rang particularly true: “In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage - to know who we are and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning. No matter what our attainments in life, there is still a vacuum, an emptiness, and the most disquieting loneliness.”
All this raises the question “why, when we readily admit that the amputation of ancestry was wrong during the slave trade, would we seek to amputate the ancestry of others today?” I am not talking about adoption here. In adoption, children are not produced for the commercial market by we the people. They come into the world through the sex act of two private citizens and then society reacts defensively to the abandonment of the child. Rather, I am talking about third party reproduction, which is the intentional manufacture of citizens using donor sperm and/or donor egg knowing that the child’s ancestry will be amputated in whole or in part.
While we no longer allow fully formed babies to be sold at market, we license the merchants who reduce human beings to their component parts, forcibly harvest those parts, maintain them as live stock, advertise them for sale, and ultimately sell them, knowing all the while that the ultimate purchaser will assemble the parts to make the baby he/she/they could not legally buy outright. With guns and drugs we would call this conspiracy, but here we it donor-conception.
Standing in the shoes of the “donor-conceived,” shouldn’t we be trying to prevent this unnatural reality just as we try to keep kids out of our adoption agencies by funding educational and birth control programs? Don’t all roots matter? Of course they do. To deny that every citizen’s roots are worthy of protection is to admit that some citizens are products because they came with a price tag and thus are owed nothing.
In the shadow of Father’s Day 2016, this is a call to stand for something that makes historical, natural and common sense: “Roots Equality.” Find your federal and state legislators at whoismyrepresentative.com and openstates.org, and forward this article to them. Ask that they draft legislation to abolish donor-conception and to establish agencies to re-connect those roots already severed. For the truth is, all roots matter.
Posted on: Tuesday, June 21, 2016
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first posted at The Blaze on June 1, 2016.
The image from the Huffington Post staff meeting created an immediate backlash for editor Liz Heron’s rhetorical question: “Notice anything about this Huffington Post editors’ meeting?”
Unlike many of the internet commentators, I am not interested in the ethnic diversity or ideological hypocrisy of the Huffington Post. All these editors appear to be twenty-somethings, thirty-somethings at most, with the possible exception of Heron herself. To me, this photo illustrates the most poignant sociological fact of our time: Delayed child-bearing is the price of entry into the professional classes.
Look at these eager young faces. These young ladies have high hopes for their lives.
An editors’ meeting at Huffington Post. Editor Liz Heron tweeted: “Notice anything about this Huffington Post editors’ meeting?” (Twitter)
They believe that by landing this great job, they are set. Once they are established in their careers, then and only then, can they think seriously about marriage and motherhood. They do not realize that they are giving themselves over to careers during their peak fertility years, with the expectation that somehow, someday, they can “have it all.”
They are being sold a cynical lie.
Here is the bargain we professional women have been making: “We want to participate in higher education and the professions. As the price of doing so, we agree to chemically neuter ourselves during our peak child-bearing years with various types of birth control. Then, when we are finally financially and socially ready for motherhood, we agree to subject ourselves to invasive, degrading and possibly dangerous fertility treatments.”
I am no longer willing to accept this bargain. These arrangements are not pro-woman. They are simply anti-fertility. Any woman who wants to be a mother, including giving birth to her own children, taking care of her own children, and loving their father, needs a better way. Until now, we have been adapting our bodies to the university and the market. I say, we should respect our bodies enough to demand that the university and the market adapt to us and our bodies.
We cannot expect much help from establishment publications like Huff Po, establishment institutions like the Ivy League and Seven Sisters schools, and certainly not from the government.
Huffington Post is a consistent cheerleader for the sexual revolution. They have a whole page devoted to divorce. They have a regular Friday feature called “Blended Family Friday,” in which “we spotlight a stepfamily to learn how they’ve worked to bring their two families together. Our hope is that by telling their stories, we’ll bring you closer to blended family bliss in your own life!” And they are enlisting twenty-somethings to sell their propaganda.
I wonder how many of the young ladies seated at that Huff Po editors meeting have ever heard of abortion regret or considered the topic worthy of their attention? I wonder how many of them believe that hooking up is harmless, as long as you use a condom. I wonder how many of them have ever heard that hormonal contraception – especially implants and vaginal rings – increase the risk of strokes and heart attacks.
I wonder if any of them wish for a guy who would dote on them, and act like he really truly cares. I wonder if they have ever chided themselves for being too clingy when a relationship ended, without realizing that bonding to your sex partner is perfectly normal.
I wonder how many of them realize how unlikely childbirth after 40 really is? A recent study of IVF in Australia looked at the chance of a live birth for initiated cycles. Don’t look at the bogus “pregnancy rate:” IVF pregnancies are 4-5 times more likely to end in stillbirth. And don’t be taken in by the “pregnancy per embryo transfer.” Plenty of women initiate cycles but do not successfully make it to the embryo transfer stage.
The average Australian woman aged 41-42 years old had a 5.8 percent chance of having a live birth per initiated cycle. And women over 45 have a 1.1 per cent chance of having a live birth per initiated cycle — which is almost a 99 percent chance of failure every time.
Yes, Huffington Post is an opinion-making and opinion-leading organization. And yes, it is not right for a bunch of white, privileged childless twenty-something
women to be having such an outsized influence on public opinion. But for now, let’s give a thought to these young ladies themselves. They are being
sold a bill of goods. It is up to us, as adults, to warn them.
Posted on: Wednesday, June 15, 2016
(June 15, 2016) Dr J is once again Drew Mariani's guest on his show on the Relevant Radio network. They're discussing the effects of the sexual revolution on women.Listen
Posted on: Friday, June 10, 2016
(June 9, 2016) Dr J fields questions after addressing law students participating in the Alliance Defending Freedom's Blackstone Legal Fellowship. If you missed her talks on the family as the foundation of society and the agenda of the modern sexual revolution, check out our podcast stream.
Posted on: Saturday, June 04, 2016
By Marilyn Rodrigues May 27, 2016 at Catholicweekly.com.au.
Dr Jennifer Roback Morse believes surrogacy will become more prevalent if same-sex marriage is introduced along with a renewed push for legalisation of commercial surrogacy. Photo: Patrick J Lee
The inherent right of children to be raised by their biological mother and father should be the focus of efforts to promote and defend the traditional understanding of marriage, a leading US marriage and family advocate has urged Australians.
“Arguments about religious liberty and freedom of speech didn’t work in the US when we were debating this issue, they were a bit abstract, and sadly, the public’s respect for religion has been lost,” Dr Jennifer Roback Morse told The Catholic Weekly.
Dr Morse is a widely read author on the importance of traditional marriage and family as well as the founder and president of the Ruth Institute which provides support for sufferers of post-divorce family breakdown, the hook-up culture and other outcomes of the sexual revolution such as anonymous donor conception.
“I think the way [that approach] came off is that people felt that we were just worried about ourselves and how we were going to be inconvenienced. It sounded like we were whining about ourselves – and that’s not very attractive.”
Dr Morse visited Australia this month to advise and assist those promoting natural marriage in the lead-up to the anticipated national plebiscite on same-sex marriage after the election.
She also had the advantage of being able to set out where American pro-family groups had made tactical mistakes and the hard lessons learnt from the loss of the fight for the definition of marriage.
“Someday the kids [of this generation] are going to want answers from us about what we were thinking,” she told The Catholic Weekly.
She warned that redefining marriage by permitting same-sex couples to obtain marriage licences under the law will usher in an era where the right of children to be raised by their biological mother and father, where possible, will be undermined as never before.
She says that contraception and no-fault divorce had already paved the way, helping to separate sex from marriage and procreation, and marriage from procreation, and fostered an adult-centric notion of family.
The creation of genderless marriage will lead to the normalisation through surrogacy of children being born and raised without relationship to their biological parents, their parents’ culture, traditions, and ancestral heritage.
“If you redefine marriage, you redefine parenthood,” she said.
“Instead of parenthood being a natural reality that the state records; parenthood is going to be something that comes about through contracts among interested adults that the state then adjudicates and enforces.
“There have already been cases in the UK where four adults [two same-sex couples] were in court contesting parental rights and custody of a child. These types of situations are unresolvable in a way that is just to everyone. It is important to ban them in the first instance.”
Dr Morse is the author or co-author of four books including Love and Economics: It Takes a Family to Raise a Village, and Smart Sex: Finding Life-Long Love in a Hook Up World.
She and her husband are parents to a birth child, an adopted child, and godchild. They also fostered eight children.
“I know from my own experience how much a child needs his or her own mother and father,” she said.
“It is an injustice to children to separate them from one of their parents without a very good reason.”
In adoption, she argues, people stand in for parents lost through an unavoidable tragedy, which is completely different from deliberately denying a child a relationship with one or both parents through surrogacy.
She believes that the use of surrogacy will become more prevalent if same-sex marriage is introduced, along with a renewed push for legal commercial surrogacy in Australia.
Dr Morse also believes that the gay marriage lobby’s own agenda will be hijacked by others if marriage is redefined.
“All kinds of things will change because if we change the law to redefine the institution of marriage, for the sake of the few people who identify as gay or lesbian, we change it for everyone,” she said.
“If you change family law to say marriage is between any two persons, then it can be any two persons for any reason. Two women or two men would be able to get married without proving that they are gay. The incentives will change for people.
“I think there will be some women who will say all things considered I think it’s easier to put up with another woman than a man. I’ll have my kids and she’ll have her kids, and we’ll get married although we’re not sexual partners. The gay lobby can’t stop that from happening. If you redefine the institution; you’re going to change it for everyone.”
This is similar to what happened with easy divorce, she pointed out, which has caused an untold level of suffering among the children of divorce.
“What [divorce’s advocates said at the time] was that no-fault divorce is just going to make it easier and cheaper for the small percentage of couples who are going to get divorced anyway, never realising that they were making divorce easier and thinkable for people. A lot of people began calculating and acting in ways that would have been unimaginable before.”
Dr Morse has real hope that proponents of natural marriage will succeed if we are to have a plebiscite on the issue here.
However, she concedes that given the momentum that the sexual revolution has garnered over the last 50 years, and the fact that most large English-speaking countries have permitted same-sex marriage, we may end up with it in Australia.
In that case, she believes that most people will look back on the decision with regret.
“It wasn’t so long ago that eugenics was seen as the most progressive, enlightened way to go for society. That idea horrifies us now,” she said.
“I think that down the road if these policies come into effect that these so-called progressives want, we are going to look back and be ashamed.
“We’ll say, ‘What were we thinking, that children could get along without a mother; that they could get along without a father; that children could get along with no rights in that respect at all’.
“We already have the situation where two gay men can get a donor egg from a friend and a surrogate mother from some other country, in order to get a baby. That child is likely to never be meaningfully connected to either of those women.
“The Catholic Church can be proud of the fact that we were the only ones who were against eugenics consistently from the beginning.
“In the same way we are the only ones, from the beginning, who have consistently been against the deconstruction of the family in whatever form that may take.”
In promoting natural marriage and family life to young people Dr Morse agrees that there can be no turning back the clock to a time before there was
a divorce and contraceptive culture.
She says that one way to inspire young people to help rebuild a marriage and family culture is to look to the past to find inspiration and hope for going forward.
“When Jesus appeared to St Thomas, he said to him, ‘You believe because you’ve seen, blessed are they who gave not seen and yet believe.’
“That’s what we have to say to young people who have not really experienced what a culture centred on marriage and family is like; you need to believe that it is possible.
It’s important to feed the imagination if you don’t have the lived experience of a culture geared toward supporting marriage and family. I have a friend in the US who is a professor of Renaissance poetry.
“He tells his students that this is how men and women treated each other, and isn’t it charming? This is possible for us today; this is our species, it’s not completely alien to us.”
In families that are reasonably intact and functional, she says, it is important for people to talk to their older children about sexual mistakes they have made, apologise for any affect these have had on the family, and listen to their children without judging.
“That makes us much more credible to our children when we then discuss these issues with them.”
While in Australia, Dr Morse had some other advice for those defending natural marriage in the public sphere and ordinary Catholics wanting help in how to defend marriage in conversations with their friends, family, and work colleagues:
We need to mind our language
It’s more precise to speak of redefining marriage than marriage equality, same-sex marriage, or gay marriage, Dr Morse says. This is because language not only reflects but guides the way that people think.
“If you talk as though there’s such a thing as gay marriage you’re conceding a crucial point,” Dr Morse said.
“Our position is that there’s no such thing as gay marriage. Whatever two men or two women in a same-sex relationship are doing together it’s not marriage. So it’s important to say that and not implicitly affirm it by using the term gay marriage.”
“If you say instead: Changing the terms ‘man and woman’ in the family law with the term ‘any two persons’, it makes people stop and think about what is really being asked for here.”
Transgender rights is next in line
Promotion of transgender culture and a push for transgender rights is “the next step” for the LGBTQ lobby, she says.
“We can ask people who want to know why we don’t support gay marriage, ‘Do you think gay marriage is the last thing you’re going to be asked to accept?’
“Look at the US and most people will see right away that that transgenderism is part of the next step. In the US they’ve almost stopped talking about gay marriage. That battle’s been won and so they’re onto transgenderism which is the next thing.
“People have the idea that if we just give the gay lobby what it wants, it will leave us alone and go away. But they will not go away. The deconstruction of gender is very important to them. They want a completely genderless society.”
It confuses the issue to say children are better off in heterosexual households
This is one argument sometimes used in the context of the marriage debate. But whether or not measurable outcomes are better for children raised in heterosexual households misses the point, Dr Morse says.
“It’s a poor argument. You could just as well say that maybe we should remove all children from poor people and give them to wealthier people so they will get a better education and job prospects.
“Rather, we need to think about what is owed the child; a relationship with both of their parents, and the fact that they don’t get it is what is driving a lot of bad outcomes.
“They may have no role model of the opposite gender, or of their same gender. They may have feelings of loss associated with the biological parent who’s not present.
“That’s why the donor conception issue is so important.”
Posted on: Monday, May 30, 2016
An Australian study came out
with success rates for women over 40, using their own fresh (that is, not frozen from years before) eggs. The figures are shocking:
The latest, Australian-only numbers given to Four Corners by the industry show the chance of a live delivery for initiated cycles by all age groups for the year 2013.
The numbers for women older than 40, who are trying to collect and fertilise their own eggs, are extremely low.
The average Australian woman aged 41-42 years old has a 5.8 per cent chance of having a live birth per initiated cycle.
If you're 43-44 years old, you have a 2.7 per cent chance of having a live birth per initiated cycle.
And if you are over 45, you have a 1.1 per cent chance of having a live birth per initiated cycle — which is almost a 99 per cent chance of failure every time.If you are a twenty-something planning to "have it all," using IVF after 40 if necessary, I beg you to think again. You are being sold a bill of goods.
Posted on: Monday, May 30, 2016
Pro-Family Political Leaders and legislators: here is some low-hanging legislative fruit. Propose that your state standardize the reporting for all IVF clinics in your state. The measure you want is Live Birth per Cycle Initiated. This proposal allow you to educate the public, including women who are being misled by the industry. This proposal also allows you to take the moral high ground as a consumer protection advocate, in opposition to the fertility industry, which really does take advantage of very vulnerable people.
You don't want the number of pregnancies because not all pregnancies make it all the way to the birth of a live child. This is especially true with IVF because the rates of miscarriages and still birth are higher than for naturally conceived children.
You also don't want the number of "embryo transfers" as your baseline number. Not all women make it to the point of doing a successful embryo transfer into the woman's uterus. The woman may have difficulty at the stage of egg retrieval or fertilization for instance. Yet she has been through a cycle. Her body and soul have taken some abuse. It is not fair for the clinics to exclude these women from their "success rates."
This story quote a couple of IVF experts from Australia, but the point is the same everywhere. Women contemplating assisted reproduction have a right to know the actual probability of success, for the amount of money and physical trauma she will experience per cycle.
Fertility clinic websites have a number of different ways of reporting success rates. For instance, clinics may report success rates in terms of pregnancy, or they may report it in terms of live birth rate per embryo transfer.
IVF pioneer Alan Trounson said pregnancy rates were not helpful to the consumer, because some pregnancies were lost.
"What you need to know is the probability of having a baby, because you didn't come in to get pregnant, you came in to have a baby," he said.
On top of that, Professor Norman said clinics defined "pregnancy" differently in their website claims.
If you count a pregnancy at an earlier stage, or a later stage, the statistics change — and that also meant consumers could not make proper comparisons between websites.
"There's [a] big inconsistency," Professor Norman said.
"You'll find some clinics define pregnancy on the basis of an ultrasound.
"Others are included from 12 weeks onwards, so it's a bit of a mess all over the place."
Some clinics also present success rates in terms of live birth rate per embryo transfer.
But this does not reflect all those women who could not make it to the embryo transfer stage. If your eggs could not be retrieved, or fertilised, you are not included in this statistic.
Also, see Dr. Norman's "5 things to ask your fertility doctor."
Posted on: Friday, May 27, 2016
(May 24, 2016) Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, one of the largest Southern Baptist seminaries in the world, hosted Dr. J at their annual Summer Institute, sponsored by the Land Center. This is the second part of her address to pastors and seminary professors on making the case for marriage; if you missed the first part, check out the previous podcast.
Posted on: Thursday, May 26, 2016
(May 24, 2016) Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, one of the largest Southern Baptist seminaries in the world, hosted Dr. J at their annual Summer Institute, sponsored by the Land Center. She addressed pastors and seminary professors on making the case for marriage.
Posted on: Friday, May 20, 2016
(May 20, 2016) Dr J is in Australia! She was invited to speak at a Marriage Alliance event in Sydney. Her talk is on public policies and personal strategies for sparking discussion and change on the marriage issue. She took questions afterward, too--those are available on the Ruth Refuge podcast.Listen
Posted on: Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Politicians want power and to pass on their genes at any cost.
by Alana Newman, from her newsletter Coalition Against Reproductive Trafficking, sent May 15, 2016.
Let me tell you about my Senate committee hearing experience.
In the last several weeks, I have had my first legislative experience. For a decade now, I have focused my energy on story-telling, speaking, and publishing articles. I tell the truth—mine and others'—when and where I am invited. My skills don't naturally synch with political strategy, but regarding Louisiana's current surrogacy bill, HB 1102—I feel a great responsibility to share what I've learned and rescue my beloved state before the legislature makes a huge mistake.
I am greatly disappointed by the behavior of the proponents of this bill. They claimed that the provisions in their updated bill would not allow sophisticated people to exploit surrogate mothers (for example, not "allowing" commissioning parents to pay a surrogate to abort)—yet every move they've made thus far proves that sophisticated and powerful people will do whatever it takes to get what they want.
May 4th was the House Floor vote. It passed. The next step— the Senate Committee vote—appeared on the schedule for May 17th, which would have allowed for opposition voices to prepare, organize, and make childcare and travel arrangements to come to the capitol. However, on Monday May 9th at 4 pm, the schedule was changed and the committee hearing was rescheduled for Tuesday, May 10th at 9:30 am.
This was a shady move that gave opposition less than 18 hours (including sleep) to get it together and have their voice heard. I knew of at least four experts who were willing and wanting to testify, who could not because of the impossible logistics. This included former Yale professor, President of The Ruth Institute and author of Smart Sex, and Love & Economics, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse as well as Staci Gulino—a psychiatric mental health expert and former labor and delivery nurse specializing in attachment and maternal-infant health. Also wanting to attend and testify were two LA family life experts, David Dawson and Rickard Newman.
I heard about the schedule changes at 7:30 pm, and at 8 months pregnant, and even though my family is in the middle of moving, I woke up at 5 am to drive
to Baton Rouge and testify. I was mocked and literally laughed at during my testimony shockingly by Senator Gary Smith—who is the original author
of this bill and used two surrogates in order to have his two children with his wife, a long time state lobbyist.
The truth is that the authors of this bill felt that oh-so-intense need to pass on their genes, and were willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars
to use a stranger as a surrogate to do it. They are now using their power and political skills to change state law to appease their consciences.
The bill's authors claim to be pro-life, but they do not seem at all concerned about the sanctity and humanity of the many embryos that will be destroyed with this bill. They claim to be Catholic, but they have completely disregarded Pope Francis's condemnation of surrogacy along with clear statements from the LA conference of Catholic Bishops. They claim to be conservative, but they are at ease venturing into this massive social experiment on children whereby mothers are dehumanized as "gestational carriers" and the maternal-infant bonds are nowhere given consideration.
I tremble for the future of Louisiana. The law teaches—and this law teaches that birthmothers are unimportant and disposable.
People will go to great lengths to pass on their genes—that desire is what it is. But while families are good and every child a worthy human being worth infinite dignity—not every form of conception should be celebrated. Surrogacy involves serious health risks, human trafficking, eugenics, systematic abortion, and broken maternal-infant bonds. Therefore, we don't need it in Louisiana.
Please reach out to your state senator.
Posted on: Tuesday, May 17, 2016
(May 17, 2016) Dr J is in Australia! She was invited to speak at the South Toowoomba Baptist Church. Her talk is entitled "Same-Sex Marriage Affects Everyone." She took questions afterward, too--those are available in the Ruth Refuge podcast.
Posted on: Monday, May 16, 2016
(May 16, 2016) Dr J is in Australia! She was invited to speak at the Community Church in Cooper's Plain near Brisbane, Australia.
Posted on: Saturday, May 14, 2016
(May 14, 2016) Dr J is in Australia! She was invited to speak at Our Lady of the Rosary near Sydney. Her talk is entitled "Same-Sex Marriage Affects Everyone." She took questions afterward, too--those are available in the Ruth Refuge podcast.Listen
Posted on: Monday, May 09, 2016
By Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published at The Blaze on May 4, 2016.
I am an outspoken critic of gestational surrogacy, in which the gestational mother carries a child to term for another person or couple. I have noticed that many people do not understand the stakes in this issue. Pro-life people think, “gosh, surrogacy makes babies, how can that be bad?” Feminists think, “gosh, surrogacy allows people to meet their reproductive goals, how can that be bad?”
SRIRACHA , THAILAND – AUGUST 6: In this handout photo Thai surrogate mother Pattaramon Chanbua poses with baby Gammy at the Samitivej Hospital on August 6, 2014 in Chonburi province in Bangkok, Thailand. David and Wendy Farnell have made international headlines for abandoning their disabled infant son, Gammy, in Thailand with his surrogate mother, Pattaramon Chanbua. Gammy’s twin sister lives with the Farnells at their home in Bunbury, Western Australia. The couple have denied abandoning their son on a recent television interview in Australia. (Handout photo via Getty Images)
Read on. Surrogacy has something to offend everyone.
Pro-life Reasons to Oppose Surrogacy
Every surrogacy procedure retrieves eggs and fertilizes them outside the body. These are now tiny human beings. (That is why adults are willing to pay for them.)
Pro-woman Reasons to Oppose Surrogacy
Pro-child Reasons to Oppose Surrogacy
Progressive Reasons to Oppose Surrogacy
Pro-liberty Reasons to Oppose Surrogacy
And the ultimate pro-liberty reason to oppose surrogacy:
With all these disadvantages of surrogacy, we should look for other solutions to the problems that surrogacy is supposed to solve. We need natural solutions, such as NaPro Technology, for medical infertility. We need more love between men and women to solve the socially-caused infertility of being unable to find a suitable co-parent of the opposite sex.
Whether you are progressive or conservative, feminist or pro-life, straight or gay, surrogacy is not the answer.
Posted on: Monday, May 09, 2016
Update: Alana Newman got up the next day at 5 AM, drove all the way to Baton Rouge by herself. She testified. Alana told me that when she showed up to testify, Katherine Smith, the wife of Senator Gary Smith, shot her a very dirty look. The plan to keep Alana away failed!
I am incredibly proud of Alana!
I just sent a version of this letter to several Louisiana newspapers. It speaks for itself. Yes, I'm annoyed.
To the editor:
HB 1102 proposes to legalize surrogacy contracts in Louisiana for the first time. I am concerned about the unprofessional manner in which this bill is
Neither of us has been able to testify on HB1102. We were told the night before the house hearing that it had been postponed, and we shouldn’t drive from Lake Charles. The very morning of the hearing, the committee decided to consider the bill. We were of course, not present.
We came for a second house hearing. Mrs. Newman (who is 8 months pregnant) came with her husband and two pre-school children. Halfway down I-10, we learned
that we could only testify regarding the public records consequences of the bill. We both scrambled to adapt our testimony. We were interrupted and not permitted to complete our testimony.
Tonight, May 9, after close of business, we learn that the bill will be considered in the Senate Judiciary Committee B, tomorrow at 9:30 AM.
I do not believe the whole sequence of events preventing our testimony is a coincidence.
The chairman of Senate Judiciary Committee B is Senator Gary Smith. He and his wife have been very public about their use of surrogacy for the birth of their two children. Senator Smith should recuse himself from this topic.
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse
Founder and President, The Ruth Institute
Posted on: Friday, May 06, 2016
Watch Representative Joe Lopinto assume the very thing that needs to be proven: he asserts that the genetic parents should not have to adopt their "own" child. But according to Louisiana law, and indeed the law of every civilized country until the day before yesterday, the woman who gives birth to the child is the child's mother.
When a husband and wife make love, the man "donates" his sperm to his wife. The woman "donates" her eggs to her husband. Actually, each of them donates their entire selves to the other. This unlimited gift of self may result in the creation of a new life. In a lifelong, sexually exclusive union of one man and one woman, the identity of the mother and father is certain. There is no ambiguity. The business of the law of the state is simply to record what the law of love has created.
All this changes when we remove our sperm or eggs from the body. Now, the law is involved. Contracts and commerce are involved.
The woman who removes her eggs from her body and gives them to another woman to gestate, is the person who has created the ambiguity about the identity of the child's mother. It is right and just that the obligation to clarify the situation should rest with her, and not with the woman who gives birth to the child.
Posted on: Wednesday, May 04, 2016
By Ellen Giangiordano
This article was posted May 2, 2016, at CatholicPhilly.com.
On May 8, America will celebrate Mother’s Day. In June, America will celebrate Father’s Day. As nationally promulgated holidays, every citizen should have the equal right to celebrate both. But all citizens do not have this right.
As in the days of slavery, we as a nation again support the intentional amputation of certain children’s ancestry in whole or in part, and laud the commercial human reproductive system that requires the amputation to survive.
The advertisement at right, which hangs in car 110 on SEPTA’s Paoli/Thorndale line, makes the truth of this statement all too plain. In this, the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis has requested us to perform concrete works of mercy which includes “Instructing the Ignorant.”
What Americans today have forgotten, or may have never known, are their country’s equitable principles and what we as a nation owe to posterity.
When we fought the American revolution, we rejected the notion that equality could ever be man-made. In the Declaration of Independence we specifically stated that nature’s God, through the laws of nature, creates all men equal. In our federal Constitution, we pledged to ensure that posterity would enjoy every right we claimed for ourselves.
This idea, that posterity would have the same rights we do, found its fullest expression in the Virginia Declaration of Rights penned by George Mason in May 1776: “all Men are born equally free and independent and have certain inherent natural Rights, of which they cannot by any Compact, deprive or divest their Posterity.”
Donor-conception, however, is just such a compact. A veritable army of citizens — the transit authority, advertisers, egg and sperm sellers, processors, egg and sperm buyers, refrigerator manufacturers, lawyers, doctors, and the state which licenses many in this commercial system — work together to ensure that some children grow up not knowing one or both of their biological parents. This is public action at its worst.
In his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, Dr. Martin Luther King said: “When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.”
That promise included the promise not to take from others that which nature gives, and one of the first things nature gives to all citizens is a biological mother and a biological father. For us as a nation to work together to sever a child’s biological roots today is no less tyrannical than it was during the slave trade.
As we celebrate the national holidays of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day this year, may we return to our senses and re-embrace biological mothers and fathers as essential to everyone’s life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Attaching this comment to a letter to your state representatives would be an easy way to make your opinion known.
Ellen Giangiordano is a member of St. Margaret Parish, Narberth.
Posted on: Tuesday, May 03, 2016
(May 3, 2016) Dr J is Jeff Crouere's guest on his radio show Ringside Politics. They're discussing the work of the Ruth Institute and the surrogacy bill currently before the Louisiana legislature.Listen
Posted on: Monday, May 02, 2016
(May 2, 2016) Dr J is Kathleen Benfield's guest on her radio show The Current Word. They're discussing the work of the Ruth Institute and the surrogacy bill currently before the Louisiana legislature.
Posted on: Thursday, April 28, 2016
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published at The Blaze on April 28, 2016.
On Wednesday, Dr. Morse testified against the Louisiana surrogacy bill in Baton Rouge. Surrogacy is a social and medical experiment, with great risks to children. This is her prepared text.
Thank you for the opportunity to share my concerns about HB1102. I am the founder and president of the Ruth Institute, a global non-profit organization, with offices in San Diego, Pittsburgh, and now, Lake Charles, Louisiana. Our organization is dedicated to creating Christ-like solutions to the agony and injustice of family breakdown.
We oppose surrogacy on principle. We consider it a form of family breakdown. Surrogacy breaks down motherhood itself, reducing it to a series of functions. The genetic, gestational, care-giving and even the legally-recognized mothers could all be distinct individuals. The full impact of these divisions cannot be fully known at this time.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
However, we owe it to future generations to look down the road as far as we can, and try, at least, to anticipate the consequences.
We do know that infants attach to their mothers in the womb. Neonatal research has found that newborns can recognize their mothers by sight, by voice and even by odor. Research strongly suggests that prenatal infant attachment is correlated with secure attachment between mother and infant after birth.
We have no idea how surrogacy affects this. Does a secure attachment between the gestational carrier and the infant translate into a secure attachment with the genetic mother? Does a disruption of the bond between the gestational carrier harm the child? We just don’t know.
The practice of surrogacy amounts to a social experiment using babies as subjects. The adults involved, surrogates, donors and commissioning parents, can give meaningful consent, at least in principle. But children, in the nature of things, cannot consent. We have a responsibility to protect their interests, which they cannot protect themselves. Experimenting on small children is morally objectionable, even if it turns out tolerably well. The burden of proof should be on those who claim surrogacy is harmless, not on me to prove specific and identifiable harms.
The Ruth Institute has produced a brochure entitled “Children and Donor Conception and Assisted Reproduction. This is one in a series of pamphlets outlining the risks and harms associated with various forms of family breakdown. I present a copy for the record. I also present a copy of the 16-page report that details the scientific studies supporting the brochure.
On the inside, you will see a chart detailing the medical risks to children from IVF and ICSI procedures. These risks include low birth weight, pre-term birth, cerebral palsy, and a variety of genetic imprinting disorders. One study finds that IVF babies on average, weigh almost one full pound less, and have a 5 times greater risk of being very pre-term, compared with naturally conceived infants. These risks are relevant to this bill, because every surrogacy procedure involves the use of medically-assisted fertilization outside the body.
The inside flap of the pamphlet allows donor-conceived persons to speak for themselves.
I realize that HB1102 limits surrogacy to married couples, using their own gametes. I appreciate this. The drafters of the bill evidently recognize the potential harms posed by third party reproduction.
However, in the post-Obergefell world, I doubt these limitations will survive judicial scrutiny. Some legally married couples in Louisiana will be same sex couples. Some of them will want to use third party gametes to meet their reproductive goals. Excluding them, even indirectly, will certainly be declared unconstitutional.
Hence, this bill opens the Pandora’s Box of third party reproduction, whether you intend it or not. These problems must be weighed in the decision of whether to pass HB1102.
The study of the psychological impact of donor conception is preliminary. But these anecdotes are heartbreaking. One donor-conceived person said, “The words, ‘I’m not your real father,’ will haunt me for the rest of my life.”
Surrogacy is illegal in many countries, including Finland, France, Italy and Hong Kong. Other countries that permit surrogacy, such as India and Thailand are tightening their laws because of abuses and problems.
I moved to Louisiana because I was impressed by the prudence and wisdom of its people. Let other states and countries run the surrogacy experiment. The decisions we make today will affect Louisiana citizens for generations. Let us watch for another ten years and gather the evidence we need to make a truly informed judgment.
As a woman who experienced four miserable years of infertility, I am well aware of how urgently people sometimes feel about these issues. However, no public health crisis demands immediate action on this bill. Cooler heads must prevail.
Do not legalize surrogacy contracts in Louisiana.
Posted on: Friday, April 22, 2016
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published April 20, 2016, at The Blaze.
Sperm donation, egg donation and surrogacy: Third party reproduction seems to be a “done deal” in Western society. Even ardently pro-life people do not seem to see the problems. Hey, these techniques are making babies, not killing them. So what could possibly go wrong? A lot of things can go very wrong. Let me describe just one: making the choice of your child’s other parent into a commercial transaction.
Image source: Shutterstock
A recent story from Canada in The Star illustrates the problem. The profile for Donor #9632 from the Xytex Corporation seemed particularly attractive to many women. His sperm has been used to create 36 children: 19 boys and 17 girls from 26 families. But through an inadvertent breach of confidentiality, one mother discovered the identity of Mr. 9632, and did some internet sleuthing:
The donor was nothing like the perfectly healthy man — aside from some color blindness on his dad’s side — touted on the sperm bank’s website. Nor was he working on a PhD in neuroscience engineering en route to becoming a professor of biomedical robotics at a medical school.
Instead, Chris Aggeles, a now 39-year-old man from Georgia, has struggled with serious mental illness for much of his adult life. In addition to schizophrenia, court documents show he has had diagnoses of bipolar and narcissistic personality disorders, and has described himself as having schizoaffective disorder.
He has a history of run-ins with the law, has done time in jail, dropped out of college and struggled in the past to hold down jobs.
When confronted, the company referred the distraught mothers to the fine print in their agreement:
The donor underwent a standard medical exam and provided extensive personal and health information. He reported a good health history and stated in his application that he had no physical or medical impairments. This information was passed on to the couple, who were clearly informed the representations were reported by the donor and were not verified by Xytex.
Think of it: A man can get paid to masturbate into a jar. He can sire children for whom he has no legal responsibility whatsoever. He can write up his own advertising copy for the catalogue given to prospective mothers, with no verification whatsoever of his self-description.
What could possibly go wrong?
Let me spell it out: This arrangement attracts people with a narcissistic personality disorder. I have talked personally with a number of donor-conceived persons who, as adults, found their biological fathers. Narcissism is not an unusual component of the personality profile.
What about the mothers?
Some of the aggrieved mothers, understandably upset, have a whole list of things they want the industry to do, in order to be more accountable, such as requiring the company to verify the information and requiring the company to keep up with the donors and report any changes in their health status to the customers, I mean, mothers. They want them to establish a fund to help the mothers of the children of Donor #9632. And so on.
But anonymous sperm donation separates a child from his or her genetic origins, and the parents from each other. This is so wrong you cannot paste enough band aids over it to make it right.
One of the mothers said she feels cheated: “I felt like I was duped by Xytex and I failed my son for having chosen Xytex. In hindsight, a hitchhiker on the side of the road would have been a far more responsible option for conceiving a child.”
I agree with her: She was cheated. But not just by the corporation. She was duped by Modern Family and The Kids Are Alright and all the other Hollywood propaganda for “alternative family forms.”
She was duped by the legal system that declares anonymous gamete donors to be “legal strangers” to their children. The state gives unambiguous parental rights to the “commissioning parents.” Yes, that is what the adults who may or may not be biologically related to the child are called: “commissioning parents.”
She was duped by the social scientists who have been whitewashing the fact that children need both of their parents. Divorce and single-parenthood are tough on kids. Data shows this beyond doubt. Widespread experience confirms it. Some social scientists try to explain it away.
She was duped by the culture that says that we can do anything we want sexually, and the kids will be fine. As a society, we disregard the impact on children, their health, their relationships, and their sense of identity. Adults get the sex lives they want: kids have to accept whatever the adults choose to give them.
What could possibly go wrong?
As for the mothers’ suit against the sperm bank, I don’t know what to say. Suing a commercial entity is the logical response to a situation in which the entity does not perform in a satisfactory manner. But a child is a human being, not a product. Donor #9632 is not an abstraction: He is the biological father of these children, genetically, half of who they are.
The aggrieved mother continued: “Who would have thought that an industry that makes people would be like this?”
On the contrary: this is exactly what I thought an industry that makes people would be like.
We don’t need an industry that makes people.
Because a whole lot can go wrong.
Posted on: Saturday, April 02, 2016
The headline over at LifeSiteNews says this is a story out of the gay lifestyle. And so it it. But it is first and foremost an inspiring story of forgiveness and repentance. Any Survivor of the Sexual Revolution, any person seeking peace, can benefit from this article.
I embarked upon an incredible journey of forgiveness, having many people from my past, and especially men, that I needed to forgive. The therapy and prayer sessions I now regularly engaged in never focused solely on my being sexually attracted to men, but I was encouraged to look every aspect of my present and past in the eye. This included the painful process of accepting that I had been consistently sexually abused by a number of men as a child over a three-year period.
Much of my spiritual journey became concerned with recognizing where, during my infancy and childhood, my little soul had chosen to build walls within myself against significant others in my life, especially against my parents, siblings and other prominent people from my past.
He faced the wrong that was done to him (child sexual abuse) and at the same time took responsibility for the ways he had built walls around himself. Eventually, he became able to forgive those who had wronged him.
Survivors of all sorts: please study this!
Posted on: Thursday, March 24, 2016
The film Delivery Man shines a light on the people deprived of roots, extended family and a father figure. It's a hole that can never be filled
by Elizabeth Howard
This article was first posted at The Guardian on January 16, 2014.
All I know about my father is that, one day in August 1971, he went into an office in Harley Street, masturbated into a bottle, was paid and left.
In all probability that is all I will ever know. Not for me the chance of asking for his details, as would be the case if I were adopted. The doctor who facilitated my conception is now dead, and in any case he claimed, when contacted years ago, that all his records had been destroyed.
My mother's husband was infertile. I called him "Dad" for 15 years, until I discovered by chance that my two siblings and I were donor-conceived. "Donor-conceived" is a clumsy term, because, in relation to me, the man in the clinic was not a donor. He gave something to my mother, but nothing – less than nothing – to me. He is, or was, my father, but by co-operating with my artificial conception, he deprived me forever of the possibility of knowing him. I do not know his name, what he looks like, what his personality is, what his voice sounds like. I do not know my paternal grandparents, my aunts and uncles, my cousins.
I did not know, until I lost it, how much my sense of identity was rooted in my knowledge of who my parents were. Incidentally, discovering I was donor-conceived was in many ways a relief, since by that point "Dad" had been imprisoned for indecent assault of a child; but even though I was liberated from a genetic link with him, I was also cast adrift from who I thought I was, and from all the stories that make up a family's sense of identity. My sense of exile was all the more acute because, ironically, I had spent several years researching my family tree. It turned out that I had nothing to do with those illiterate peasants in Leicestershire after all.
The peculiar thing about donor conception is that on the one hand it privileges genetics: the fertile partner gets to be a real, biological parent. On the other hand, it says that genetics do not matter for the other half of the gametes, and that as long as a child is "wanted", he will have everything he needs.
Unfortunately, that is not true. I do not have a relationship with my father, and not just because of my mother's husband's criminality; I do not have a father because my mother, with the help of the medical establishment (and the law) deliberately deprived me of one. My mother claimed that her infertile husband was my father, so my birth certificate perpetuates a lie. Until I was married, my non-father was my next of kin.
I do not have a father, or the sense of identity that goes with one. I do not have any knowledge of half of my roots, my father, my medical history … so every time a doctor asks me, "Any family history of …?" I have to tell them I do not, and cannot, know.
And this deprivation, though diluted for my children, persists for them too. When my youngest daughter was diagnosed with cancer at one year old, I wondered whether this was another unthought-of consequence of the casual trade in gametes 40 years ago. My mother was assured, I presume, that only healthy young men were used.
Certainly things were different in those days. My mother told no one of our origins, and planned never to tell her children either. She insisted on family likenesses to a degree that is embarrassing in hindsight. I suppose this shows that she knew that origins mattered, even though ours were based on a falsehood.
Nowadays it is deemed to be an acceptable lifestyle choice for a woman to choose to have a baby using donor sperm, whether or not the baby will have even a semblance of a father figure. Birth certificates can even legally ratify the fantasy that a baby can have two women – or two men – as her two parents. Apparently it is enough for someone to want a child: that wish demands to be fulfilled, with scant regard for what the child might be deprived of.
I, and others like me, beg to differ. There is no Hollywood happy ending in sight for us.
Posted on: Thursday, March 24, 2016
By Helen Carroll for the Daily Mail
This article was first published at the Daily Mail on June 25, 2014.
Sitting on the stage alongside classmates during her school’s annual open day, Gracie Crane scanned the faces of the proud parents before her.
It was like a guessing game, matching each beaming, waving adult in the crowd to the pupil: a cut of a chin, a facial expression, a shock of pale hair. You could usually work out who belonged to whom.
Catching sight of her ginger-haired mother and fair-skinned father filing in, beaming at her, Gracie felt the usual pang of sadness and confusion. For no one in the hall would ever match the beautiful Gracie, with her jet-black hair and coffee complexion, to her parents, leaving her to ask herself once again a question no one in her life can answer: ‘Who am I?’
Loving: Dominic and Nita with their daughter Gracie, 16, who longs to meet her genetic parents, despite her family's unconditional love for her
Gracie, who is mixed race, was one of the first children in Britain conceived from a donor embryo, which means she has no genetic link to either of her parents.
As she was born in 1998 — seven years before amendments were made to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act allowing children born through donor conception to trace their genetic parents — she has no right to find out who her biological parents are. Or even whether there are any hereditary conditions which may affect her in the future.
Every year 2,000 people opt for egg, sperm or embryo donation in Britain — approximately 44,000 babies have been born this way over the past 20 years.
Having reached 16, and with the support of her clearly devoted parents, Gracie is speaking out because she wants anyone contemplating such a decision to understand just how difficult her life has been, despite being raised by a couple who adore her.
Miracle: After three failed IVF attempts, Nita and Dominic were delighted to give birth to Gracie via donor embryo
‘I would like to be a mother one day so I can finally have someone I’m genetically related to, but if I can’t have children naturally I would never have one through donor conception,’ says Gracie. ‘I wouldn’t put anybody else through what I’ve been through.
‘Knowing that the two people I love most don’t look like me and that I am not biologically related to them has been really tough.
‘There are times I’ve wished I’d never been born — as much as I love my parents, it’s just so sad not knowing who I am and where I came from.’
Gracie — the first British child of an egg and sperm donor to speak publicly about the complications such a start in life can cause — is eager to spread the word about the challenges facing donor-conceived children, but finds the subject so painful that she breaks down in tears several times during our interview.
It is upsetting to see both her sadness and that of her parents, Nita and Dominic, who have done everything within their power to create the perfect childhood for Gracie and their two adopted children, Ellie, 14, and Marcus, ten, who are genetic siblings and also mixed race.
Identity crisis: A cheerful Gracie aged three and the confused teenager today
Gracie is severely dyslexic and they spent £7,000 on solicitor’s fees securing her a statement of special educational needs that has enabled her to attend Maple Hayes Hall school, a Hogwarts-style manor house in Staffordshire, for children with dyslexia, where she has just sat eight GCSEs.
The Cranes’ ramshackle three-storey house, in a leafy suburb of Birmingham, is the perfect middle-class idyll, strewn with musical instruments, and containing two huge family dining tables.
But Nita, 62, a fostering advisor and exam invigilator, and Dominic, 54, who supplements his earnings as a singer-songwriter by working as a tiler, have had to accept that all the music lessons, holidays and family dinners in the world will never be enough to make Gracie truly happy.
Outsider: Gracie feels the lack of physcial resemblance between her and her parents means she is not truly part of their 'pack'
Observing the three of them together, they are like any other loving family, recalling caravan breaks by the sea one minute, and squabbles between Gracie and her sister the next. They share the same soft West Midlands accent and laugh at anecdotes which have, no doubt, been recounted many times before.
However, there is no denying the stark difference in physical appearance between Gracie and her parents. And here, as far as Gracie is concerned, lies the rub.
‘If I cannot be looked after by somebody I am genetically part of then I don’t feel I’m part of a family,’ she says. ‘Families are like packs, they look alike, but I don’t resemble anybody I know.
The live birth rate using fresh donor embryos rose from 29 per cent in 2008 to 34 per cent in 2009
‘I brought a friend home from school recently and I’d never told her how I came to be born, so when she saw my parents I think she was quite shocked. I tried to explain but it’s not like adoption, so people find it really hard to understand.’
Three years ago, in her quest to fit in, Gracie began dyeing her hair ginger, like her mother’s, and, more alarmingly, scrubbing her skin with a pumice stone to make it look white.
‘I thought I could change my appearance to look more like Mum and Dad but when we went on holiday to France my hair turned a horrible colour in the sun,’ recalls Gracie. ‘Scrubbing my skin didn’t make any difference and it set my eczema off.
‘Now I make do with having the same spectacles as Mum and we have our nails done the same. We both like music and art too.’
Gift from God: As an embryo, Gracie was almost thrown away by the fertility clinic until Nita and Dominic agreed to have her implanted in Nita's womb
Adopted children are provided with as many details as possible about their birth parents. But Gracie — like the 25,000 other people created using donor eggs, sperm or embryos before 2005 — knows nothing, and has no right to ever know anything, about the couple who conceived her.
All Gracie knows is that her genetic parents were a couple in their 30s: the ‘female’, as she refers to her, was a white housewife and the ‘male’ a machine operator who was half Afro-Caribbean, half white British.
In 1996, they had a son through IVF, using an embryo created from their egg and sperm. Three further embryos from the same batch were frozen but in early 1997 the couple told Midland Fertility Services in Aldridge that they had no plans to extend their family. The embryos were, therefore, due to be incinerated.
Before destroying them, however, the clinic asked the couple if they would consider donating the embryos to a couple who could not conceive using their own egg and sperm and, altruistically, they agreed.
Meanwhile, Nita and Dominic Crane had been trying for a baby for seven years and were recovering from their third failed attempt at IVF when a call came through from Midland Fertility Services.
By this stage Nita, whose damaged fallopian tubes had prevented the Cranes from conceiving naturally, was 46 and the couple were planning to use a donor egg with sperm from Dominic for their next attempt.
So, perhaps understandably, they considered the offer of a seemingly viable donor embryo to be ‘a gift from God’. They knew the male donor was mixed race, so that any baby was likely to be a different colour from them, but were unconcerned.
The following day, the Cranes told the clinic they would love to go ahead and all three embryos were implanted. Only one implanted successfully and Gracie was born, weighing a healthy 6lb 6oz, nine months later.
‘I can’t believe the clinic, which had never offered frozen embryo donation before, had been about to destroy the embryos,’ says Nita, reaching out to touch Gracie’s arm. ‘It was you, sweetheart,’ she adds.
‘Given how Gracie feels, perhaps we were naïve, but we wanted a family and believed this was the most likely way of achieving that — so it was like all our prayers had been answered.
‘I thoroughly enjoyed carrying Gracie for nine months and loved her from the moment I held her in my arms. She has always felt just like my own flesh and blood.’
In her quest to fit in, Gracie began dyeing her hair ginger and scrubbing her skin with a pumice stone to make it look white
Dominic believes that, back then, they couldn’t have been expected to know what impact their decision would have on their daughter’s life, as it’s only been in recent years that experts have raised concerns about children being brought up in families from a different race.
The irony is not lost on them that, before they were allowed to adopt their other mixed-race children five years later, they had to demonstrate a good understanding of black culture and how they would integrate it into their family. There were no such requirements before they had Gracie.
Also, the younger children know about the circumstances of their adoption and will have the option to trace their birth parents, something Gracie may never be able to do.
Quest: Gracie hopes that when she turns 18 she will be able to find her biological parents
Dominic and Nita’s advice has been sought by other couples considering donor conception, many of whom are concerned that they may not feel the same love for the child as if it was their own flesh and blood.
‘I tell them it’s an understandable concern,’ says Dominic. ‘But if you’re not going to have your own child, what would you have to measure it against?’
Nita advises would-be parents who find themselves in the same position to consult the Donor Conception Network, set up ten years ago, before making up their minds.
For her part, Gracie recently agreed to a request by the Network, which successfully lobbied for the law to be changed so that new donors no longer remain anonymous, to speak at a workshop for people considering donor conception.
‘I was honest about my feelings and found it easier than when I was asked to do a talk at school about donor conception a couple of years ago,’ says Gracie.
‘That time I stood at the front of the classroom and just cried. I didn’t want to tell the other kids about how I started life so they had to make do with reading the information I’d pinned to the walls behind me.’
This is news to Nita and Dominic, who look pained by her confession that she wept in front of her classmates.
It was in 2005 that the law changed to allow children born after that point to find out information about their donors, as well as having the option to contact their genetic parents once they reach adulthood.
However, the only hope that children like Gracie have of ever tracking down their biological parents is if the donors have added their details to a register, set up in 2005 by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.
She won’t be able to find out if they are on the list until she turns 18.
However, she is clearly excited by the thought that they may read her story here and try to make contact.
Although she is very open to the idea, it remains to be seen how easy it would be for Gracie to cope with coming face-to-face with her genetic family in reality.
In the meantime, even in the event of an emergency such as Gracie needing a matching donor kidney, the Cranes have no means of tracking them down.
Nita and Dominic had talked to Gracie from the day she was born about the unusual circumstances surrounding her birth, and her earliest memory is of being given a book in which her father had drawn pictures explaining how she had come to be, which she still has in her bedroom.
All-consuming love: Nita says she can't imagine how a genetic parent could feel a greater bond
‘So often I’ve wanted to scribble out the faces he drew of the donors and their son, my twin brother — how weird is that?’ says Gracie. ‘No one knows what they look like and I don’t want false pictures in my head.
‘I don’t want to be disappointed if I ever do get to meet them.
‘I want to see what they are like but I don’t know if they’ll want to see me. I’m hoping my twin brother will — I’ve always wanted a big brother.’
As the donors are likely to live in the West Midlands, having used a clinic there, I ask Gracie whether she searches faces in crowds looking for one that looks like her.
‘No,’ she says, without hesitation. ‘I couldn’t bear to get my hopes up.’
When I ask if there could be other genetic siblings, Nita explains that, of course, the donor couple could have separated and gone on to have children with other partners.
Gracie’s reaction takes Nita by surprise: she lets her long hair fall over her face and sobs again, telling her mother not to suggest such a thing.
This scenario is clearly unthinkable to Gracie, who has an idealised image of her uncomplicated genetic family, out there somewhere, living happily ever after. Any deviation from this is clearly one complication too many.
Despite her strong view that the circumstances of her birth were wrong, Gracie acknowledges that there is no easy way to prevent other children from suffering as she has.
‘Anyone considering starting a life which has already been started somewhere else shouldn’t just think about their desire to have a baby and take the fastest option,’ she says.
‘They should be as selfless as possible and think about how the child will feel growing up — speak to people like me and my parents.
Unconventional: Although Gracie's family did not have a typical jounrey to parenthood they are always there for her
‘If people are going to have a donor-conceived child, they need to match up the donors to the parents.
‘But then embryos that can’t be matched will be thrown away, and that’s not right either,’ she adds, her huge brown eyes welling up again.
Nita, meanwhile, says her love for her daughter is so all-consuming she can’t imagine how a genetic parent could feel a greater bond.
‘We thought that we were doing the best thing in having Gracie, and we still do,’ she says. But her worried expression as Gracie sits sobbing, her face hidden in her arms on the kitchen table, speaks volumes.
Reaching out a hand tentatively to her daughter, she adds: ‘We didn’t really think about the physical differences, but even if we were dark with brown eyes, we wouldn’t look like you, Gracie, because only your donor parents could look like you.’
At that moment, Arthur, the family’s rescue greyhound wanders into the kitchen. Gracie pulls him towards her, before heading out of the kitchen for some time alone.
Nita and Dominic are eager to explain why they didn’t put their arms around Gracie when she cried: ‘We’ve learnt over the years that Gracie likes to be left to cry it out,’ says Dominic. ‘But she knows that we’re always here for her.’
Unconventional though their journey to parenthood may have been, as mums and dads go, it’s hard to imagine lovelier ones than Nita and Dominic Crane. I’m sure that in time Gracie will see beyond the colour of her parents’ skin and appreciate them fully for who they are.
Posted on: Thursday, March 24, 2016
by Christine Dhanagom
This article was first posted on Life Site News on December 5, 2011.
There are only four things Alana Stewart knows about her father: he has blonde hair, blue eyes, a college degree, and his assigned number at the sperm bank where he sold half of Alana’s genetic code is 81.
She is one of an estimated 30,000 – 60,000 children conceived each year in the United States through sperm donation. A former egg donor herself, Alana is now a vocal critic of the practice, which she calls “the violent act of buying and selling a child.”
Her story, featured in the upcoming documentary Anonymous Father’s Day, is becoming more and more common. Many of the children conceived through sperm donation are now adults, and some of them are speaking out against the practice that brought them into existence.
Their stories are revealing that the experience of being a donor conceived child is not what many proponents of the technology expected it would be. Such children were supposed to think of the man married to their mother as their father, and of their biological father as just the man who masturbated at a sperm bank and walked away with a $75 check. But according to Alana, it’s not that simple.
“The biological parent’s absence is impossible to ignore because their presence is impossible to ignore - when you’re living in a version of their body and thinking in a version of their brain,” she told LifeSiteNews. “I do very much feel separated from not only my father, but my entire paternal relatives.”
Jennifer Lahl, the director of Anonymous Father’s Day, says she created the documentary to give a voice to people like Stewart, whose concerns are too often overlooked in a debate that has deep implications for their lives and identities.
“All we’re concerned about predominately is people who want a baby, is how we can help people who want a baby get a baby,” Lahl observed. But, she continued, there is a need for prospective parents and policy makers to think about “the larger implications of reproductive technology.”
For Stewart, those implications have included a sense of abandonment by her biological father and a rocky relationship with the man who raised her.
In Lahl’s film, she recounts what it was like to be raised by her mother and the man she refers to as “my mom’s first husband.” There was a noticeable contrast between his relationship with Alana and his relationship with Alana’s adopted sister.
“He felt purpose in raising [my sister], he felt like her father,” she relates. “With me, my biological relatedness to my mother just emphasized what I didn’t have in common with him.”
When the marriage fell apart, Alana recounts, he fought for custody of his adopted daughter but not of Alana.
Barry Stevens, another of the film’s interviewees, has a similar story to tell. Stevens did not find out that he was conceived through donor sperm until after the man he believed to be his biological father passed away. He says that even prior to the revelation, he and his sister had sensed that something was amiss.
“I had a sense that he didn’t really feel like my father,” Stevens explained. “And my mother later confirmed that. And there was this big secret in the family, and I think that hurt us.”
The identity crisis that this situation created for Stewart and Stevens is reportedly a common problem for donor conceived children.
My Daddy’s Name is Donor, a report released last year by the Commission on Parenthood’s Future, surveyed young adults conceived through sperm donation and compared their responses to those of peers raised by adopted parents and biological parents.
The study found that 43% of donor offspring compared to 15% of adopted children and 6% who were raised by biological parents agreed with the statement: “I feel confused about who is a member of my family and who is not.”
Moreover, 48% of donor offspring compared to only 19% of adopted children agreed: “When I see friends with their biological fathers and mothers, it makes me feel sad.”
According to Lahl, the differences between adopted children and donor conceived children should not be surprising.
“In the case of the adopted child, there was some reason why a parent couldn’t keep them,” she pointed out. “Versus with the donor conceived person where someone just gave away a part of their body, their egg or their sperm, without thinking that was their child.”
Strikingly, the report also found indications of a correlation between sperm donor conception and marriage failure.
27% of donor children parents are divorced compared to only 14% of parents of adopted children. The number of donor child marriages that fail is only slightly higher than the failure rate of a marriage with biological children - 25%. As the study points out, however, the comparison with adoptive parents is more significant because most couples do not consider fertility technology or adoption until later in life, when marriages tend to be more stable.
For Stewart, the finding is consistent with her own experience. “Mothers can say things like, ‘Well it’s not your kid anyways.’ The father is left constantly insecure about his place and role in the family,” she said.
She added that turning to sperm or egg donation to conceive a child can be evidence of a “materialistic” attitude on the part of the couple.
“They are people that find it difficult to accept not having something and often put their own needs before others (i.e. their need to have a child before their child’s need to have its father/mother), and these personalities often fail in marriage.”
Despite the heartache that many donor-conceived children attribute to the circumstances of their conception, the report found that the majority, 61%, still support the practice.
“I call it the value endowment. It is what lead me to sell my own eggs,” says Stewart “There is a skewed level of support among donor-conceived people in approval of the practice, mainly because they are regurgitating their parent’s values, are afraid of being disowned if they reject those values, and haven’t had the time, space, inspiration to reflect further on it.”
The remaining 40%, however, are becoming increasingly vocal. Stewart has founded a website, anonymousus.org, which provides a forum where all whose lives have been affected by donor conception can grapple with the issues it raises.
Lahl says she hopes the film will facilitate a similar dialogue, both in the public square and in the legislature.
There is, she says, a need to examine the “policy implications” that these concerns should have, since “right now in the United States pretty much, anything goes. If you have money, you can pay the doctor and the laboratory to do anything you want.”
Posted on: Thursday, March 24, 2016
By Frances Hardy for the Daily Mail and Diana Appleyard
This article was first published at dailymail.co.uk on June 24, 2010.
The act will have been brief, impersonal and utterly bereft of emotion - but 25 years on, the moment that Caroline Halstead was conceived is causing her lasting heartache.
For she was fathered by an anonymous sperm donor and, like a growing number conceived in this way, she has struggled to come to terms with the fact that she is the product of a scientific process rather than a loving union.
'I was conceived in a petri dish by artificial insemination at a Harley Street Clinic in London,' she says, describing the fertility treatment her mother sought when her husband was diagnosed as infertile.
'In my view, it is a horrible, clinical way to be conceived. All my life I've felt as if I'm only half a person.'
Resentment: Caroline Halstead feels like she is only half a person because she will never know who her father is
A Surrey housewife and mother who is expecting her second child in August, Caroline is haunted by the thought of her conception - and the fact that, unlike her children, she will never know or even meet her biological father.
Her feelings are far from isolated. A new study, the first of its kind into the effects of donor conception on offspring, reveals the complex and often troubling emotions adults born in this way can experience. They feel confusion, isolation and hurt, more acutely, even, than those who have been adopted.
Nearly half of those surveyed by the Commission on Parenthood's Future were disturbed that money was involved in their conception.
More than half admitted that whenever they see someone who looks like them, they wonder if they're related. And two-thirds affirmed the right of donor-conceived children to know the truth about their origins.
Compare Caroline's testimony with that of social worker Narelle Grace, 27, who lives in West London. She also views her conception, using an anonymous donor sperm, as a cold, medical transaction.
'I don't like the word "donor" because it sounds so clinical,' she says. 'This man wasn't donating blood; he was donating life.
'There are huge implications to this and I think every donor child should at least have basic information about their father - who he was, where he came from, what family he has.'
Since April 1, 2005, the law allows donor offspring the right to identify their biological parents when they reach adulthood, but this can't apply retrospectively. So many - like Narelle and Caroline - conceived before that date will never find the missing half of their identity.
Moreover, since the change in the law has led to a shortage of donors in Britain, many would-be parents travel abroad for donor IVF treatment to countries - including the U.S. and Spain - where there is no legal obligation to identify donors.
Each year since 1992, around 2,000 children have been born annually in Britain from donor eggs or sperm. So the identity crisis felt by donor children is set to worsen in the years ahead.
As it is, Narelle, like Caroline, knows only the sparsest of details about the person who gave her life, after her mother and the man she long thought was her father were unable to conceive naturally.
Coming to terms with her past: Narelle today, left, and aged three, has tried to trace her biological father without success
Narelle's student donor was brown-eyed, brown-haired and 5ft 7in, and would have been paid a relatively small sum. He also provided sperm that created eight other children; each of them a half-brother or half-sister to Narelle.
'Out there, in the world, is a whole family I will never know and who will never know me,' she says.
She often wonders whether the young man at the root of this spreading and convoluted family tree realised how important was his gift of semen.
'My biological father would have been younger than I am now when he donated his sperm, and I imagine he thought very little about the consequences of doing so,' she says. 'But here I am, a young woman who is desperate to find out anything I can about him.
'Adoption is very different - not only can you usually find your real parents, but also you don't have to cope with the psychological effects of knowing you were conceived in a test tube. That's unsettling and weird.
'Being a sperm donor child makes you question everything about your humanity.
'I can honestly say that no matter how desperate I might be for a child, I'd never use a sperm donor. I wouldn't condemn any child to grow up as I did.'
Caroline, too, is deeply angry with the man who gave her life, even though it may have been done with the best of intentions to assist couples who could not conceive naturally.
'It isn't fair just to go along and donate sperm and then not give a thought to the product of that sperm,' she says.
'He's my father, and I have no idea who he is. I think it would be easier if I was the product of a one-night stand - at least then there would have been a connection between two people.'
It is a view with which Josephine Quintavalle of Corethics, an organisation that comments on reproductive ethics, has some sympathy. 'A woman donating eggs goes through a potentially risky invasive procedure. By contrast, it is quick, easy and risk-free to donate sperm,' she says.
'So you can imagine that a sperm donor might make the decision to do so quite carelessly, especially when money is involved.
'There is the sense, too, with any conception outside the womb that you're creating a product in a laboratory.
'And the more these processes move into the IVF lab, the further we distance ourselves from the beauty and significance of the natural act of conception.'
So topical is the issue of donor sperm that a Hollywood film, to be released in Britain in October, will deal with the controversial fall-out.
The Kids Are All Right, featuring a lesbian couple played by Julianne Moore and Annette Bening, considers the story of their two teenage children who track down their sperm donor father and insist on forging a relationship with him.
But for many - Narelle and Caroline among them - there is no chance of such a meeting.
And to compound the disquiet that surrounds their conception, children are often not told the truth about their birth by the parents who raise them.
'Men often feel uneasy about infertility so where assisted clinical reproductive techniques are concerned, there is more secrecy about sperm donation than any other method, ' says clinical forensic psychologist Professor Robert Edelmann.
'But a family secret is never a good thing. And if suddenly a child - or worse an adolescent - discovers the man they thought was their biological dad in fact is not, it can have devastating consequences.
It can cause a major imbalance family and lead to the child's rejection of the non-biological parent.'
For nurse Chloe Proctor, 22, who experienced just such a revelation when she was 19, the results were overwhelming and destructive.
'I found out I was donor conceived in the middle of an argument,' says Chloe, who lives in Bolton with her partner Michael, 24, also a nurse.
'It was the worst possible way to be told - the man I thought was my father suddenly said: "That's it. I've had enough. There's something I need to tell you right now." '
The shocking news was then imparted with callous disregard for Chloe's feelings.
'My brother and I were told that we were conceived using donor sperm. We were shell-shocked, and it has affected me to this day.'
'Mum wasn't there at the time of the argument, so was completely unaware he had told us. I felt I'd been lied to - why hadn't we been told earlier? It was the pretence that got to me - people saying to me, ''Don't you look like your dad?''
'All that time I'd been growing up with an image in my head which was one big lie. That had a huge impact on me.'
Psychologist Professor Olga van den Akker, of Middlesex University, says: 'It's often not so much the fact a person is a donor offspring as the way they are informed that can create psychological problems.
'If they are told during a row or inadvertently, and given no subsequent support, bad feelings can come out. Increasingly, they may idolise their donor.
'But we have to put it in perspective. All these children were conceived with intent. They were all wanted. And ultimately, as cultures become more open, the mystique of sperm donation will disappear.'
In the end, it was Chloe's father's inadequacy as a parent - rather than the fact that she was conceived by donor sperm - that killed her relationship with the man she thought was her dad. When the rush of anger and resentment had subsided, she could look at the situation calmly.
'Unlike many other children, I had at least been wanted by my mother. Though things weren't done in what I'd call an ideal way, Mum was always there for me and loved me unconditionally.'
The man Chloe calls 'this fraud of a father' had been absent from her early life and has now been erased from her present one.
'In one moment he became irrelevant to my life and I've had no contact with him since,' she says.
Narelle, too, was a teenager when she found out that she and her elder sister were donor offspring. She was 15 when her loving parents gently broke the news to her.
And though she was raised in a stable, happy home, she was profoundly unsettled by the revelation that the kind and dependable father who had cared for her was not, in fact, her biological parent.
Before the law changed on donor identification, nearly 30 sperm donors were recruited each month. This has dropped to ten
'I remember sitting there with my mouth open, with no idea what to say,' she says. 'It took me several years to process the information, and I'm sure this was why I was a teenage rebel and was difficult.
'For a while I buried the information deep inside, and then, when I was at university, I became involved with supporting other donor conceived children. I feel passionately that much more support should be given to us.
'In many ways, it's much harder than being adopted, because the adoptive community is well organised, there are many ways of finding out who are your real parents and there are lots of support networks.
'But we are like the hidden community, the one that people don't talk about, and I find that frustrating. It's such a complex issue, and it's so hard to deal with not knowing half of my family.'
Narelle's views chime with those of Caroline, who is married to 26-year-old services manager Tom. She was told early in her childhood that she was a donor child.
'My mum made me feel as if this was our guilty secret; a secret that no one should ever know,' she says.
'I didn't even tell my best friend. I've only started talking about it over the past few years, because I feel I have to let it out.
'I have to acknowledge how it makes me feel. When I was younger, I tried to ignore it and bury my feelings.'
Caroline's relationship with her mother became the casualty of their 'guilty secret'. She feels closer to the man who raised her, though she was not his biological daughter.
She also confesses she is at times envious of her three -year-old daughter, Charlotte, born to two loving biological parents into a conventional, Home Counties nuclear family.
'Sometimes I do feel jealous of her - she's so secure knowing who her parents are, and she'll never have this sense, as I do, that something is missing.
'I look at Charlotte and I can see my features and Tom's. She's so certain of herself, of her place in the world. But when I look in the mirror, I see only half a person and that's a burden to live with.'
Like two-thirds of the adults questioned in the U.S. survey, Caroline agrees that her absent father is 'half of who I am'. In common with many of the 485 18 to 45-year-olds conceived by sperm donation who took part in the study, she wonders about her biological parent.
'Of course I wonder about him - who is he, where does he live, do I have half-siblings?
'I'm not a scientific experiment, I'm a person, yet I don't know half of my identity. I have my mum's hair and eyes, but the rest of me is a mystery.
'I was clever at school and got high grades, while my halfbrother (from my mum's first marriage) got only one GCSE. Do I get my brains from my dad? Was he academic?'
The stark fact is that Caroline will never know the answers to the questions that haunt her. She has only a hazy outline based on speculation and surmise.
From the information her parents gave her, she thinks that because her mother was a nurse and the donor was a medical student. She speculates he supplied his semen, 'to make money'.
'It probably only took him a few minutes and he thought nothing more about it,' she says.
Meanwhile, Narelle's 12-year quest to trace her donor has yielded practically nothing.
'I've done as much as I can and I can't let it drag me down,' she says. 'For me, inside, something will always be missing.'
The last word goes to ethics expert Josephine Quintavalle: 'All the time legislation is moving to accommodate the interests of the adult who wants a child, but the child's interests are most important.
'In the interests of political correctness, our society has decided that a father can be anyone or nobody. But did anyone ask the child how they feel about this?'
Posted on: Thursday, March 24, 2016
A new study shows they suffer.
By Karen Clark and Elizabeth Marquardt
This article was first published at Slate, June 14, 2010.
The Kids Are All Right, due out in July, is being praised for its honest portrayal of a lesbian couple, played by Julianne Moore and Annette Bening. But what seems most revelatory about the movie is its portrayal of their two teenage children who track down their sperm donor biological father and insist on forging a connection with him. Finally, we have an exploration of how children born from such procedures feel, because in fact it turns out that their feelings about their origins are a lot more complicated than people think.
Each year an estimated 30,000-60,000 children are born in this country via artificial insemination, but the number is only an educated guess. Neither the fertility industry nor any other entity is required to report on these statistics. The practice is not regulated, and the children's health and well-being are not tracked. In adoption, prospective parents go through a painstaking, systematic review, including home visits and detailed questions about their relationship, finances, and even their sex life. Any red flags, and a couple might not get the child.
With donor conception, the state requires absolutely none of that. Individual clinics and doctors can decide what kinds of questions they want to ask clients who show up at their door. They don't conduct home studies. No contacts are interviewed. If clients can pay their medical bills, most clinics could care less about their finances. The effects of such a system on the people conceived this way have been largely unknown.
We set out to change that. We teamed up with professor Norval Glenn of the University of Texas at Austin to design and field a survey with a sample drawn from more than 1 million American households. One of us (Karen Clark) found out at age 18 that she had been conceived through anonymous sperm donation in 1966. The other (Elizabeth Marquardt) has completed studies on topics such as the inner lives of children of divorce and has been profoundly absorbed by the stories of adult donor offspring since she first began hearing them in comments to posts she wrote on the FamilyScholars blog in 2005.
Our study, released by the Commission on Parenthood's Future last week, focused on how young-adult donor offspring—and comparison samples of young adults who were raised by adoptive or biological parents—make sense of their identities and family experiences, how they approach reproductive technologies more generally, and how they are faring on key outcomes. The study of 18- to 45-year-olds includes 485 who were conceived via sperm donation, 562 adopted as infants, and 563 raised by their biological parents.
The results are surprising. While adoption is often the center of controversy, it turns out that sperm donation raises a host of different but equally complex—and sometimes troubling—issues. Two-thirds of adult donor offspring agree with the statement "My sperm donor is half of who I am." Nearly half are disturbed that money was involved in their conception. More than half say that when they see someone who resembles them, they wonder if they are related. About two-thirds affirm the right of donor offspring to know the truth about their origins.
Regardless of socioeconomic status, donor offspring are twice as likely as those raised by biological parents to report problems with the law before age 25. They are more than twice as likely to report having struggled with substance abuse. And they are about 1.5 times as likely to report depression or other mental health problems.
As a group, the donor offspring in our study are suffering more than those who were adopted: hurting more, feeling more confused, and feeling more isolated from their families. (And our study found that the adoptees on average are struggling more than those raised by their biological parents.) The donor offspring are more likely than the adopted to have struggled with addiction and delinquency and, similar to the adopted, a significant number have confronted depression or other mental illness. Nearly half of donor offspring, and more than half of adoptees, agree, "It is better to adopt than to use donated sperm or eggs to have a child."
The stories that donor offspring tell about their confusion help to illustrate why they might be, as a group, faring so much worse. Christine Whipp, a British author conceived by anonymous sperm donation more than four decades ago, gives voice to the feelings some donor offspring have of being a "freak of nature" or a "lab experiment":
My existence owed almost nothing to the serendipitous nature of normal human reproduction, where babies are the natural progression of mutually fulfilling adult relationships, but rather represented a verbal contract, a financial transaction and a cold, clinical harnessing of medical technology.
Lynne Spencer, a nurse and donor-conceived adult, speaks eloquently of losing trust when her parents did not tell her the truth about her origins, and she suspected the secret:
When you grow up and your instincts are telling you one thing and your parents—the people you are supposed to be able to trust the most in your life—are telling you something else, your whole sense of what is true and not true is all confused.
Others speak of the searching for their biological father in crowds, wondering if a man who resembles them could be "the one." One donor-conceived adult responded to an open-ended question on our survey by writing: "Sometimes I wonder if my father is standing right in front of me." Still others speak of complicated emotional journeys and lost or damaged relationships with their families when they grow up. One wrote at the end of our survey: "I still have issues with this problem and am seeking professional help. It has helped me to become a stronger person but has scarred me emotionally." Another said, "[I am] currently not on seeing or speaking terms with family because of this."
Listening to the stories of donor-conceived adults, you begin to realize there's really no such thing as a "donor." Every child has a biological father. To claim otherwise is simply to compound the pain, first as these young people struggle with the original, deliberate loss of their biological father, and second as they do so within a culture that insists some guy who went into a room with a dirty magazine isn't a father. At most the children are told he's a "seed provider" or "the nice guy who gave me what I needed to have you" or the "Y Guy" or any number of other cute euphemisms that signal powerfully to children that this man should be of little, if any, importance to them.
What to do? For starters, the United States should follow the lead of Britain, Norway, Sweden, and other nations and end the anonymous trade of sperm. Doing so would powerfully affirm that as a nation we no longer tolerate the creation of two classes of children, one actively denied by the state knowledge of their biological fathers, and the rest who the state believes should have the care and protection of legal fathers, such that the state will even track these men down and dock child support payments from their paychecks.
Getting rid of the secrecy would go a long way toward helping relieve the pain offspring feel. But respondents to our study told us something else too: About half of them have concerns about or serious objections to donor conception itself, even if parents tell their children the truth. Our findings suggest that openness alone does not resolve the complex risks to which children are exposed when they are deliberately conceived not to know and be known by their biological fathers.
At the very least, these young people need acknowledgement of reality as they experience it. Donor offspring may have legal and social parents who take a variety of forms—single, coupled, gay, straight. But they also have, like everyone else, a biological father and mother, two people whose very beings are found in the child's own body and seen in his or her own image reflected in the mirror.
Posted on: Monday, February 22, 2016
There is a hole in the hearts of people whose biological fathers have been erased from their lives.
by Stephanie Raeymaekers
This article was first published February 3, 2016, at Mercatornet.com.
Stephanie Raeymaekers is an advocate for donor-conceived children in Belgium. MercatorNet spoke with her recently about her work.
The Belgian advertising industry recently launched a campaign to support sperm donation. Award-winning men donated theirs to boost national creativity. As the child of an anonymous donor, what did you think of it?
I found it an appalling campaign for many reasons. In the first place, their claim is pure nonsense. A creative gene does not exist. Studies prove that the environment where one grows up is more likely to contribute to one’s creativity. Stating that you can create creative people by letting “creative” men donate their sperm is utter fiction. In a YouTube video clip you can see the head of a genetics department supporting this fiction. Because of this I filed an official complaint against her hospital: they are actually lying in the hope of attracting more donors and clients.
It is selling out on so many levels but up mostly it is a sell-out at the expense of the children that are going to be conceived by this sperm. Those children will not be allowed to know whom they descent from and will live their lives trying to fill the gaps in their identity. They will have a huge hole deliberately inflicted by others. They will have no access to their full medical record and will have no means to track down their biological father and potentially a dozen siblings.
Imagine you are one of the donor-conceived persons that was created by one of this guys’ sperm. You will have to live with the knowledge that your biological father did this purely to get his five minutes of fame. The child will end up in a family knowing that his own biological father preferred to give him away to total strangers than to raise his own child.
These young guys clearly didn’t think it through whilst brainstorming on their bright coloured Fat Boys. I sincerely hope their sperm wasn’t good enough to be used. But if so, we have gathered all the information we could find on them and put it in our database of potential donors. It will at least make the search of some children that much easier.
What is your own background?
My name is Stephanie. I am Belgian, 37 years old and donor-conceived. My story starts with two persons: my mother and father. My mother wanted to have children. They desperately tried to conceive. When they didn’t get pregnant they went to see a specialist.
This doctor diagnosed infertility in my father and suggested a “fertility treatment” with the sperm of a man who resembled my father. They paid a lot of money and signed a document. My mother got hormones and they were told that if they did conceive, they should never to tell the truth to the child and even the people around them.
I am an “end product” of the first official sperm bank in Belgium.
My mother was inseminated in the spring of 1978 and in January 1979 I was born. But I wasn’t alone: a brother and a sister joined me. We are triplets. We often cynically joke that they got three for the price of one.
I always experienced a distance between my father and myself. Somehow I could not connect with him. As child you long for the acknowledgement of your parents; you want to be loved, cherished and accepted. But for whatever reason we had very little in common: we didn’t resemble each other and we had different interests. He didn’t grasp my being, my sense of humour. The love I felt for him, however, was unconditional.
As a child you don’t question the reality that is presented by your parents. I never questioned our ancestry. I even wasn’t aware that a treatment with the sperm of someone else was possible.
The discovery must have been shattering for you...
We uncovered the truth when we were 25. It was a surreal experience, that is for sure. Everything changed that day, yet it also stayed the same. It was weird. And as you do regarding significant moments in your life, to this day I can still remember where was I was, who was there and what the place looked like.
Our parents didn’t tell us. The secret was broken to us by our triplet brother who had found out because an aunt had confessed it to his girlfriend. Although the aunt had begged the girlfriend never to tell, she informed him about it.
My brother immediately decided to tell us. You see, we all had suffered from that inexplicable distance from our father. We always assumed that it was because we were not good enough, or smart enough or kind enough to deserve his love. We felt like there was something wrong with us. It has affected our self-esteem and relationships with others.
My identity was partly shattered … you realize that you have falsely identified yourself with someone who you are not biologically related to, someone who lied his whole life to his children making us believe we were related. It was uncovering a fundamental truth about yourself which had been hidden by the two people whom you trusted the most.
It was a lot to take in, and it took some time to come to terms with. I am glad that I know because it gave me an answer to one big question I had (why my father couldn’t love me) but it generated a whole lot of other questions.
You have founded an organisation with a website and blog for donor-conceived children. Can you tell us what you want to achieve?
Back in 2012 the original idea was to create the first safe platform for donor-conceived men and women in Belgium to get in touch with each other. In our group I see that connecting with others enables people to talk about their feelings and issues. Most of them are not able to speak freely about being donor-conceived because they don’t want hurt their parents, or their parents can’t cope with the questions their children are asking. There are a lot of people who found out by accident who are not allowed to talk about it because the other siblings or the rest of the family don’t know the truth. But within the group there are also who have known the truth from the beginning.
With others I started to do a lot of research. I realized soon enough that an industry is the thriving force behind current unethical practices. For over 60 years nobody had bothered to question them.
Over the years we started a lobby. We are very active in creating awareness about the issue and about the implications for the children and the parents but also for the donors.
I want to change the law in our country. I want a total reform. I want ways children can access all the information they need. It is offering them the choice they don’t have now.
I want a national and international register. I want politicians to take their responsibility towards these children and to reduce the power that clinics and doctors have. But I also want to achieve greater awareness so that this complex issue can be addressed more correctly, offering tools for all parties involved.
You must have met many people with a similar background. How do they feel after they have become adults? Accepting? Angry?
I know a lot of donor-conceived people. Some young, some old(er), from all over the world, those who were told from the beginning, those who found out at a later age and from all different types of families.
Till this day I find it still strange when I meet these people for the first time, how similar our questions and issues are. We have donor-conceived people in our group who have no issues about being donor-conceived. Some of them do experience a curiosity about possible siblings. But we also have a number of people who are tremendously affected by the fact they were created with the genetic material of an unknown person.
Most of them suffer in silence, because nobody takes them seriously. We often get presented the terms the industry has created so we can distance ourselves from the issue.
But it is what it is: the deliberate creation of people with the genetic material of someone who will not raise his children nor be a part of their lives. Doctors, but also parents, overlook the fact that there was a third party involved. Someone who contributed an equal part in the actual existence of a person. Erasing him or her can be more convenient for them, but that doesn’t mean that the child does not miss this person or has a fundamental need to know who that person is.
They often state that a donor-conceived child is so deeply wanted, longed for and cherished … if so, why do we intentionally ignored its needs to comfort its parents? There is no love, or justice in that whatsoever.
What do you think of businesses like Cryos, the Danish company which ships “Viking sperm” around the world? They argue that most donor-conceived children are happy and that they should be grateful for having been born…
I saw Ole Schou, the managing director of Cryos, at a conference last summer in Ghent. His presentation was what you expect from a macho businessman.
At the conference he said that most donor-conceived people and their families are happy. He told us that children were not commodities and that he was only offering a service to those who wanted a child.
Afterwards we were allowed to ask questions. I introduced myself and told him that not all donor-conceived people are that happy with their status. I referred to the case of the Cryo donor 7042. This was a sperm donor who had a genetic disease. I told him that I was the one who uncovered the Belgium part in this scandal.
(The first diagnosed baby was a Belgian baby. The Belgian clinic alerted the Cryo bank. However they decided not to inform all the other clinics because they assumed the defect was created in the womb and not by the sperm donor. Due to other diagnoses of babies all over the world, the Cryo bank decided to examine the donor. It was proven that the donor was the carrier of the NF1-gene and six months after notification of the first case other clinics were informed and the sperm was destroyed. You need to know that during those six months other women conceived children with this sperm.)
I told him that at least the lives of 50 children and their parents were shattered due to this terrible disease. His “everybody is happy” argument is a non-argument to justify the injustice that is created when there is a system that inflicts a fundamental suffering on those who are being conceived that way.
I also told him that he was liar when he stated that he doesn’t consider children as commodities. I referred to the Cryos website where you can shop for sperm like you would go online to find a new pair of shoes. Browsing through a catalogue of baby pictures of potential biological fathers, stats of their height and intelligence, the colour of their skin, eyes, hair and so on. And when you think you have found your perfect match, you can add your choice in to a basket which is the symbol of a baby pushing chair.
With a swipe of a credit card, you can order your sperm online and get it delivered to your home. It is hypocritical to say that you don’t consider children as commodities when you enable a total commercialisation of having children and refusing to take any responsibility towards them.
In some jurisdictions, like the United Kingdom, donor anonymity has been abolished and children can contact their biological father (or mother) after they turn 18. Is that a solution?
At first glance, the policy in Britain seems a perfect example that could help my country and others to finally modernize but also humanize the current policy. They seem to have everything in order: the right to know one’s parents, a register, a DNA database, a huge support network, research, better guidance for children, parents and donors, donor families …
But still it is not good enough to counter the inevitable consequences of donor conception. For example: a person starts to build his identity from the beginning of his life. Can you really accept or justify that that person has to wait they turn 18 to be granted something that should be naturally available?
Donor conception is built on a pile of contradictions and kept together by the interest of others involved.
It is sid that it is in the best interests of a child to be raised by its biological parents or family. Donor conception generates a direct conflict with this specific interest because it deliberately withholds from the child the possibility of being raised by both of its biological parents as well as denying him or her the possibility of building a meaningful relationship with them.
Donor conception comes forward due to the demand of intended parents with a desperate desire of having a child and an industry that makes money out of this. There is a huge conflict of interest due to the fact that the best interest of the child is inevitably undermined by it.
In the UK the right to lineage for donor-conceived people is endorsed in the law, but not automatically granted nor guaranteed. Parents can conceal a child’s real origins. If a child is not told, there is little chance it will ever find out. That is unfair and unjust. The government has a responsibility to grant the truth about their origins towards the children that were created through fertility treatments with donor gametes. Birth certificates do not reflect the truth about the child origins. Not putting all, incorrect or partial information on it, is a form of forgery.
The suffering of infertility or inability to procreate is officially recognised. A huge support network has been established through private initiatives and at hospitals. The government financially supports some of those. On the other hand the suffering of donor-conceived people is still not recognized, nor are efforts being made to acknowledge it or actually to do something about it.
There are millions of pounds/euros/dollars pumped into the industry: fertility techniques, counselling for parents, aftercare, choices, research … but donor-conceived people in the UK are only offered 2.5 hours with a counsellor. In other words: there is money to create donor-conceived children but when it comes to taking responsibility or accountability for the direct consequences, hands go up in the air.
What do you think of surrogacy? It seems like a social necessity for gay couples to have children.
Surrogacy is the next level up in making it possible for those who are short of a uterus and/or eggs sperm of their own, to have a baby. A “treatment” not only at the expense of the child, but also at the expense of the surrogate. Surrogacy is also used by heterosexual couples and singles like Tyra Banks, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Ricky Martin.
I am against all forms of surrogacy, even the so-called altruistic kind. It is just another way of not wanting to accept that there is a limit to pursuing fulfilment of a personal desire by desperately trying to bend ethical, natural and juridical laws.
I went to a surrogacy fair in Brussels last year where everything was up for sale: sperm, eggs, surrogates, lawyers, gender selection … You just place an order and draft a contract where conditions are set. Prices are put on renting a woman’s body and the delivery of a child or children. It is a business deal where human lives are reduced to objects and human beings to services. It is the dehumanization of the moral values our ancestors fought so hard for.
Surrogacy should be banned, not regulated or facilitated. From the moment money is exchanged, even in the form of fee for expenses, it is the outsourcing of pregnancy where at the end of the line a child is traded. What will be next: selling and trading older children? Or do we only keep selling the smaller and younger ones?
And why if someone really wants to have a child, why don’t they have it themselves? They should consider a uterus transplant. If they are not willing to do this, how can they dare to ask a friend or a stranger to take on all the risk?
If anonymous sperm donation were abolished, it would be very difficult for single women and lesbians to have children. Isn’t there a right for people to have kids?
It is not true to state that when abolishing anonymous sperm donation there would be a shortage. In the UK they achieved a rise in the number of donors when they changed they law.
There is no such thing as being entitled to or having a right to have kids. I can understand the desire of wanting to become a parent. But somehow society shifted when they started to shift their reasoning. It is quite simple, though: it is called nature. Nature provided laws regarding procreation. We started to bend these rules to fulfil personal desires.
However you can never justify that by claiming that you are suffering a self-proclaimed injustice and that as a person who is infertile, single, lesbian or gay, it is all right to inflict an actual wrong on the innocent human being that comes out of this. You don’t remove an injustice by deliberately creating an even greater injustice.
If you don’t include all the interests of the child, then it has never been about that child but only about a personal egocentric longing. Real parenting lies in the fact that you are able to put your child’s needs first. Most of the time I blame the industry for this. They are the ones who tell intended parents that love is all the child needs. They mislead them at a very vulnerable stage in their lives. They tell them it is OK to seek treatment with anonymous gametes or they make them believe that by following their guidance they will get a child out of this.
American stand-up comedian Bill Hicks once said: “We’re a virus with shoes”. Well, we are an even greater virus when money can be made out of the desperation of someone else, leaving the bill to be picked up by the children.
You have two children of your own now. How has the experience of raising a family shaped the way you feel about the fertility industry?
For me, becoming a mother was my point of no return. At first you need to know that my partner and I struggled to get pregnant. We did undergo fertility treatments with our own genetic material. It was very hard and it gave me an insight into the emotional rollercoaster you end up on when you really want to become a parent.
We had set our personal limit on these kinds of treatments, and for us it was never an option to use the sperm or eggs of someone else. If it didn’t succeed with our own material we accepted that we would live a life without children.
Eventually I got pregnant. For me was very strange because it was the first time that I could see myself in another person. I am adding this picture so you will what I saw. Looking at my children made it all so obvious. It was nature speaking out in its clearest voice. It made my missing part undeniably visible.
In the image above, at the top left is a picture of my husband when he was a child. To the right you see a picture of our daughter. On the bottom left you see a picture of our son. Beside him is a picture of me when I was little.
Becoming a mother made me also realize that being donor-conceived not only affects me as a person, it also affects my children, my relationships, my family, and when my children have children, it will also affect my grandchildren.
My children should also have the right to know their biological grandfather; he is also a part of them. They also should be allowed to get access to vital medical information. And there is another thing that people should be aware of: it is possible that my children will cross the paths of other children descended from a donor-conceived person who is the offspring of the same donor. My children and their partners are going to be tested to see if they are not related. As a mum I cannot take the risk.
My children are nine and seven years old now. They are aware of the work that I am doing. It is sometimes hard to explain the world where we live in. But I do my best and try to teach them the values that makes us human: to live free and not at the expense of others.
Posted on: Monday, February 22, 2016
An adult speaks out about the anguish caused by her lack of a biological father.
by Elizabeth Howard
This article was first published at Mercatornet.com on February 22, 2016.
The anguish of infertility is well known. Most people know someone who has struggled to have children, and no one would deny the pain people endure when they know they cannot have children of their own.
This desire to have children is so strong, so fundamental, that scientists seem to acknowledge almost no limits to the quest to cure infertility, and give infertile couples that which they most desire: a child.
So it is that the desire to have a child of one’s own has become a de facto right, or so it seems. Yet this “right”, when it uses so-called “donors” in order to be achieved, tramples over the rights of the children who are born in this way. Because if a child is born of “donor” gametes, he or she will be deprived of the chance to know and be brought up by his or her biological parent or parents.
There is no legal right to have children. But there is a legal right (under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) to a family life. The full enjoyment of this is denied to donor-conceived children. There is also an outright ban on slavery. But when gametes and even embryos are bought and sold, what is this but slavery? People sell their own children—or their gametes, with the express intention of creating children that they will never know. This is strong language, I know, but people who do this can’t really be blamed. The donors are told that they are doing something altruistic, and the would-be parents are told that this is a perfectly acceptable way to overcome infertility.
The fact remains, however, that society condones the primacy of the older, stronger and richer party over the younger, smaller and voiceless party.
I feel this not just intellectually but viscerally, since I am one such product. My mother’s husband was infertile, so she went to a London clinic and paid for artificial insemination using donor sperm. The donor was anonymous, possibly a medical student earning beer money—but no records remain of who he was, and donor-conceived adults like me have no legal right to learn about their real parentage.
The iniquity of this situation was officially recognised in 2005, when, after a legal challenge by a donor-conceived adult, the Department of Health was forced to end donor anonymity. All donor-conceived people born after that date in the UK have the right, once they turn 18, to learn their genetic parents’ identity, and the last known contact details for them.
This hard-fought right is obviously very limited. It relies on the social parents of the child disclosing the truth of the child’s origins. For very many people (including me) this simply does not happen—at least not intentionally. The deception involved gives the lie—literally—to the research that claims that “the kids are ok”, since “the kids” are often kept in a state of ignorance. Not only that, but it is likely to be very difficult to track down a donor using contact information that is 18 years out of date. And finally, a “reunion” at 18 hardly compensates for spending one’s entire childhood cut off from any contact with a genetic mother or father.
For the people born before 2005, the situation remains that we have no right to learn anything at all about our genetic parents. It is hard to describe how strange and unsettling it is not to know half of where you come from. I do not know my father’s name, so I do not really know mine. I do not know where my features and characteristics come from, or those of my children. And crucially, I do not know half my medical history, so when my baby daughter was diagnosed with cancer, I could not answer many of the doctors’ questions about my family history. Those who say that DNA does not matter do not know what they are talking about.
Apologists for assisted human reproduction argue that “only love matters”, and that genes are irrelevant as long as the family is loving. Much of the research on which this is based focuses on very young children who are bound to defend the family they know. None has been carried out on the effects of donor conception on adults, particularly when they become parents themselves.
The fertility industry is big business. There is a lot of money to be made out of the misery of infertility, and the industry is adept at doing so. From the posters of dewy babies on the Underground, to the glossy expos which seem more akin to the Ideal Home Exhibition than to a consideration of the creation of human beings, the message is clearly geared to “fixing” infertility with no regard to the effects of the procedure on the children involved.
Sadly, the promise is a lie. An infertile couple using donor gametes remains infertile. They have simply given birth to someone else’s child. But the lie becomes truth when it is written on a birth certificate. The birth certificates of donor-conceived children reflect the adults’ desires, rather than biological reality. (It is bizarre to note that the product of a one-night stand is legally recognised as the legal child of his father, who is obliged by law to provide for him; but the child of a sperm donor is deemed to be legally the child of someone else altogether.)
My own childhood was not happy, and my social father ended up in prison for child abuse. I know that not all donor-conceived adults are so unlucky. I also know that not all biological families are happy—far from it. It is true that some donor-conceived adults are untroubled by their origins, and incurious about their genetic background. However, many of us—even those who were blessed with a happy childhood—feel a disconnection from our parents, and a deep longing to know where we come from.
Science divorced from ethics created the problems I outline here. But science may also provide donor-conceived adults with a crumb of comfort. DNA testing sites are now available to anyone who is curious about his or her origins. These sites give details of other family members who have tested—usually not close family, but cousins of varying degrees. With some luck, persistence, and the help of web-based support groups, many people have traced their biological origins using DNA. Donor-conceived adults may not get family life as others know it, but they may at least get a family tree.
Posted on: Monday, February 01, 2016
What is IVF? In vitro is Latin for “in glass,” and during IVF, egg follicles are removed from a woman and mixed with a man’s sperm in a petri dish with the aim that they will fertilize. Upon fertilization, one or more of the embryonic children created are then transferred into a woman’s uterus in hopes they will implant. Because there is only a 29.4 percent success rate of implantation*, doctors usually create several children “in glass” at once to have more on hand for further implantation attempts.
What about these embryonic children “in glass”? Did you know they are genetically whole human beings—they are no longer their father or their mother but have a material composition and behavior pattern distinct from both parents—yet they have no legal rights of their own in this country? That is, they have the right to be created but not the right to live. At the whim of a parent, a doctor, a technician, or a divorce court judge, these children can be:
These children also, because of a complete lack of regulation in the fertility industry, have no legal right to know who their biological parents are, nor do they have any legal access to their genetic medical history. At the very least, IVF disrespects the personhood of these children created “in glass.”
The Office of Population Affairs currently estimates there are more than 600,000 of these children frozen in the United States today. That number does not take into account all of the IVF children who have died from failed implantation, being selectively terminated in the womb, being disposed of at the hand of a technician, or not surviving the thawing process.
How did this happen? How did we as a culture begin creating extra human beings and then freezing and disposing of them for our own advantage? Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse of the Ruth Institute explains in an interview with Todd Wilken on the radio program “Issues, Etc.”:
[N]obody ever sat down and said to themselves, ‘You know, I think it would be a great idea if anyone with money could do anything they want as far as bringing a child into being…’ We just kind of drifted into this position, and the in vitro fertilization industry is pretty much unregulated…[P]eople seem to think that as long as the adults get what they want, they don’t really have to think through what they’re doing to the individual child…I think it is really quite appalling that what we’ve got is a system that is being driven by two things…One, it’s being driven by the passions of the infertile woman, and, two, it’s being driven by the greed of the infertility industry…There’s nothing built in to in vitro fertilization and the industry around it that stops people from going too far. Absolutely nothing.
IVF also now lists third-party reproduction among its top abuses. With enough money, American citizens can purchase every ingredient needed to produce a child—sperm, egg, hormones, womb, you name it.
In a recent article by Tamar Lewin in The New York Times, Dr. Earnest Zeringue of Davis, California, admits to buying eggs and sperm “from donors whose profiles are likely to have broad appeal” then using them to create embryonic children which are then distributed to three or four families at a time.
Besides the obvious concerns raised about the eugenic leanings of such a practice, doctors, lawyers, and other conscience-stricken citizens struggle against the real fear that these farmed children may, unawares, grow up to someday marry their own siblings.
There is no question these children are vulnerable and in need of protection, but Alana S. Newman writes in the Witherspoon Institute’s Public Discourse that “the rights of children are in direct conflict with the agenda of the fertility industry and its clients.” They are also in direct conflict with the abortion industry, and any attempt to legalize the personhood of these children and to defend their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness will meet great resistance.
Yet defend them we must, because IVF and third-party reproduction is human trafficking, only on a much bigger, legally sanctioned scale.
*The success rate for implantation rises and lowers in correlation with a woman’s age and health.
Posted on: Thursday, October 29, 2015
(October 29, 2015) Dr J is in Salt Lake City! She traveled there to be part of the 9th annual World Congress of Families. She's speaking at their plenary panel "Assessing Damage and Restoring Family Values" on all of the different types of people who have been harmed by the sexual revolution.
Posted on: Wednesday, October 14, 2015
(October 14, 2015) Dr J is once again Todd Wilkin's guest on Issues, Etc. They're discussing the Catholic church's worldwide Synod on the Family and the educational conference immediately beforehand in which Dr J participated.
Posted on: Tuesday, October 06, 2015
(October 12, 2015) Dr J is in Rome! She traveled there to be part of the Courage Conference at the Angelicum. Courage put on the conference in anticipation of the upcoming Synod on the Family. She's speaking on the injustice of alternative family structures to the children growing up in them.
She takes questions afterward, too--those will be available on the Ruth Refuge.
Posted on: Monday, October 05, 2015
Posted on: Sunday, October 04, 2015
Are any of you single mothers, raised by a single mother, or have friends or family members who are single mothers?
Are any of you Donor Conceived?
Many Danish women have given up on finding the right man and are opting to raise children on their own through donor conception.
What do you think of that? Good idea or bad idea?
Can you relate to their difficulties in finding the right man?
Do you think they should be patient and just keep looking, or not fight the biological clock?
This article appeared in Mercatornet.com on September 18, 2015.
I just read an article in The Guardian about how more Danish women are opting to become single mothers via sperm donation, and now I feel a little sad. Because while I think the author wanted to make it sound like an upbeat, promising and independent-women trend, too many lines give away the fact that it is actually not a good time, so to speak.
But first some background: since 2007 in Denmark, from when single women have been offered free fertility treatment, there has been a huge increase in single mothers by choice (known as “solomor”). Now, one in 10 babies conceived with donor sperm is born to a single mother, which says a lot in a country which has the highest number of births by assisted fertility treatment in the world. And it seems that the trend is so present that the stigma is supposedly starting to shift.
Now usually I’d have to voice my opinion in my own words, but this article just gives away all the sad stuff. Here are some excerpts and my thoughts:
It’s a last resort decision
“The majority say that becoming a solomor was Plan B,” says Lone Schmidt, associate professor at the University of Copenhagen Department of Public Health: “Two thirds had been in a relationship and wanted to become pregnant but their partners weren’t ready… In other words, women are waiting it out, and when it becomes clear that there isn’t going to be a man in the picture, they’re taking action themselves.”
No one dreams of being a solo parent. As one interviewee in the article admitted, after her partner at the time didn’t want children, she thought about adoption (too long and expensive), having a baby with a friend (too complicated) and one-night stands (that would be stealing sperm) before deciding on donor conception. And why is it a last resort? I think it’s because we all intrinsically know that the most ideal, and least complex, situation for a child to come into the world is in the natural way - with a mother and father who love each other.
Who needs men anyway?
“Everyone I talked to was really supportive, apart from my dad who found the idea weird at first – as though it was negating the role of ‘fatherhood’.”
“My dad was funny about me using a donor at first – he’s from an older generation and I think it made him feel a bit redundant, as a man.”
I find it interesting that more than one interviewee’s father had a problem with the whole solomor situation. Because to be honest, anything that makes a whole gender redundant seems unnatural, doesn’t it? However, the dads in question make a very valid point. Yes, there are irreversible situations where a father is no longer present, but overall a world without present fathers would not be a good one. There are so many studies that show the importance of a father in their child’s life, and I hope anything else is never in style.
On the flip-side, the solomor trend commodifies men. In a subtle but sure way, it reduces them to their sperm.
The child’s needs come last
“I’d still love to meet someone and give my little girl a dad. For me, a father is so much more than a blob of sperm. A father is someone who makes the lunch boxes, says, ‘Good morning,’ and kisses good night. He’s the one who is always there for the child during its upbringing. I just haven’t met him yet.”
“Of course, the children of solomor may face other issues – like not knowing the identity of their donors. But Golombok’s research suggests that this needn’t be a problem if they’re told about how they were conceived early enough.”
Right, because learning about your conception nice and early will void all need of a father and replace the paternal role. And having a new dad will make you stop wondering about your biological father. Unfortunately, I don’t think so.
Yes, the solomor concept does present a better situation financially than a single mother who is not so by choice, and I think the women feel that they’re doing the right thing. But still, I find it somewhat selfish. A defenseless child’s needs should come first, whereas this sounds like it’s all about what’s convenient for the mothers in question.
Difficulties of assisted fertility
One thing that wasn’t mentioned is the difficulty and trials of fertility treatment. The article makes it sound so easy breezy to get pregnant this way, but from what I know, it’s invasive and can often take multiple attempts. And I’d assume there’d be quite a lot of stress and anxiety throughout the process.
We can see the consequences of other unhealthy trends
“My child won’t have a father,” says Christensen, “but lots of people grow up without a dad - my parents divorced when I was five. You never know how life will turn out.”
“I’d always dreamed of having three or four kids but the man I was in a relationship with in my 30s wasn’t ready. I met other men who mostly seemed to be interested in their careers – or their PlayStations – so I began to lose faith. I wasn’t anti men: I adore men! I just couldn’t find one who wanted kids. I saw lots of friends choose to become pregnant with boyfriends they knew wouldn’t last – purely because the desire to have a child took over. I also saw ‘traditional’ families breaking up all around me, so I thought, ‘Maybe I should just make this happen on my own.’”
These quotes, clear as day, show how other unhealthy trends have led to this. The first is divorce: it’s so common that people don’t realise the importance of two present parents; and everyone seems to assume it’ll happen anyway. What a sad way to be living! And the other trend: “man boys,” or men that don’t seem to ever grow up. Because as we now see, women are getting sick of waiting and are taking matters into their own hands, with potentially negative consequences.
Posted on: Thursday, October 01, 2015
(March 7, 2015) This is Dr. Morse's talk from the 2015 "Bringing America Back to Life" convention in Cleveland, Ohio. It's entitled "The Impact of Redefining Marriage on Children and Society." Special thanks to Molly Smith and From the Median for this audio.
Posted on: Wednesday, September 30, 2015
(September 30, 2015) Jennifer Johnson is Molly Smith's guest on "From the Median" to discuss how divorce and family breakdown affect our children.
Posted on: Monday, September 28, 2015
A powerful moving speech by a *sperm donor child* of two lesbians who talks about her upbringing (starting at 2:12 in this video).
Posted on: Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Ruth Refuge members, are any of you single mothers, raised by a single mother, or have friends or family members who are single mothers?
Are any of you Donor Conceived?
Many Danish women have given up on finding the right man and are opting to raise children on their own through donor conception.
What do you think of that? Good idea or bad idea?
Can you relate to their difficulties in finding the right man?
Do you think they should be patient and just keep looking, or not fight the biological clock?
Give us your thoughts.
You can read more on this situation in an article here.
Posted on: Friday, August 21, 2015
(August 21, 2015) Dr J is one of the keynote speakers at the California Association of Natural Family Planning Conference, where she talks about "The Sexual Revolution and its Victims." She takes questions afterward, too--check out the podcast stream over at the Ruth Refuge for all of her Q&A sessions.
Posted on: Tuesday, August 18, 2015
(August 17, 2015) Dr J is once again Molly Smith's guest on "From the Median," offering a recap of Dr. Morse's participation in the Courage conference in Detroit. Dr. Morse and Molly discuss how we got to where we are culturally on sex, marriage, and family--and how we can move forward to a kinder, more Godly understanding that promotes healing from all the damage that's been done.
Posted on: Friday, July 17, 2015
(July 14, 2015) Dr J was invited to speak at Summit Ministries' conference in Dayton, Tennessee, to a group of high school students. Here she's giving a talk on the difference between kinship and contracts. Incidentally, this is her first talk after the Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges mandating genderless marriage in all 50 states. This is the second part of her talk--if you missed the first one, check out the previous podcast--and she also took questions, which are available for download over at the Ruth Refuge.
Posted on: Friday, January 09, 2015
(January 9, 2015) Dr J is once again Todd Wilkin's guest on Issues, Etc. They're discussing GOP presidential hopeful Jeb Bush's recent statement about same-sex unions.
We are adding to our library of resources all the time. If you know of an organization that provides assistance to a Donor Conceived Person please share that information with us. Click here to submit a link. Or submit an article, podcast or video with helpful information for a Donor Conceived Person.