In this world of social media and technology making our world smaller, I would like to thank twitter for connecting me with as much knowledge and as many great people as I have. When I initially signed up for twitter it was to get sports news quickly because I’m a sports nut like most men. But once infertility hit, it became a vital resource for me connecting with people that have helped me learn so much on my journey.
I would not have the knowledge nor would I have the network of support if it wasn’t for twitter. While it may not seem like it could, 140 characters have more power than anyone can quantify. For those of who aren’t following me or someone I don’t follow, I am @gsmwc02 on Twitter. If you aren’t on twitter, you need to. You will gain much value from it.
As big of an advocate of the infertile community and the issues that impact us I am, I am also very interested in the children who grow up in families via adoption or third party reproduction. The only way we as a society can learn as to how to better parent these children is by hearing the voices of adults who were children in these families. So I was very interested when I saw that for once MTV wasn’t doing one of these trashy shows like “16 & Pregnant” or “Teen Mom”. Instead they were going to do a show on a group of donor conceived children siblings who are in search of the man who donated his sperm that conceived them called “Generation Cryo“.
The group of children come from all different types of families. Bree, who is the main character of the show has two parents who are lesbians. She is the child who is really driving the search for their sperm donor. There are two other families who had an infertile father. Though one of the couples was actually able to conceive a daughter after they used the same donor sperm to conceive their son. That was an interesting situation where I would be interested to know what their dad’s diagnosis was. And finally there were two other families with children whose single mothers used the same donor sperm to conceive their children.
The level of interest in finding the man responsible for donating the sperm varies in each child. Unlike donor conceived children in the past all of the children on the show were told of their conception story at a young age and for the most part are comfortable with it. Though the main character of the show appears and one other child appear to have some hurt over their conception. The main issue the show is bringing awareness to is not only donor conception but more specifically anonymous sperm donation.
As a viewer I really feel for the kids that have an interest in who was the man that makes up 50% of his DNA. I don’t think it’s right that they should have to go through an extensive search to find out who he is. But on the other hand thus guy donated his sperm under the agreement that he would be anonymous and not responsible in any way for the children that might have been conceived from his sperm. It’s a very emotional show on an emotional topic.
The parts of the show that hit home for me were the segments involving the infertile dad’s and how much they care for their children but at the same time still hurt from their infertility. I have to admit there were times during these segments that I teared up thinking about my own pain. It was a reminder that regardless of whether my wife and I become parents the hurt will always be there for me.
Overall the show is very well done. MTV deserves a lot of credit for putting together a show like this and not making the show trashy like they’ve done with other shows. I think it’s an important show for people to watch. I hope it doesn’t become a show where people turn to hate and judge infertile couples, same sex couples and single women who choose to build their families this way. Instead I hope our society first learns that changes are needed to how sperm is donated, second that they empathize and support these donor conceived children and third that they realize the demand for children for those who for whatever reason are unable to conceive a child.
Over the last year I’ve met so many wonderful people in the infertility community online who I’ve learned so much from. The majority of them are women but there are a small group of men of connected with who have influenced me being open. Back in February just after I learned that I would never be able to conceive a child I found a blog called “Life as a Dad to Donor Insemination Kids” it’s written by Eric Schwartzman who as the title of the blog says is a dad to two children who were conceived through donor sperm. I was really intrigued by it as it was the first blog or resource I came across that was written by a man who dealt with male infertility.
It was through this blog that Eric referred me to his yahoo group that he created called “DI Dads“. This is a men only yahoo group made up of men that are either dads of children conceived through donor sperm and men who are infertile that are considering starting a family through donor sperm. You won’t find a more supportive group of men any where on a topic that is as sensitive as male infertility is. This was my life line early on in being able to connect to other men who knew exactly what I was going through emotionally. Although my wife and I have not decided to pursue this route, I can’t thank Eric and the members if this group enough for the support and guidance they provided me. IMO, any man who is dealing with infertility who is considering building their family through donor insemination should join this group.
With there being few resources and support groups for men going through infertility, Eric Schwartzman is a pioneer in this field for providing something that is lacking. Though I am not one to tell other men they should be as open as they are with their infertility as I am, I wish there were more guys like Eric out there to provide more resources and support groups for men like us.
I’ve decided to expand this blog and add a resources page. This page is a collection of blogs and other websites relating to infertility and the issues relating to different types of alternative parenting (Adoption and Donor Conception). Although the alternative parenting resources are not related to infertility many couples look to these ways to parenthood due to infertility.
I hope these links are of value to those who read this blog as they have been to me. If you have a blog or website relating to infertility or alternative parenting, please let me know as I would be happy to add your site to the page.
In our society there is ignorance (being uninformed) on many topics that lead to problems others suffer from. As a child I was unfairly stereotyped as a learning disabled child who should be coddled rather than challenged. The ignorance there was board of education leaders not understanding that every child is different. If it weren’t for my parents I would have suffered by never being challenged.
Now as an adult dealing with infertility with my wife we are dealing with a different type of societal ignorance and that is being childless. Time Magazine has published an article about those who choose to live a ChildFree lifestyle. While the article does hit on some key points how times have changed it does miss on other aspects such as missing the class of women who are childless by circumstance not by choice.
Pamela Tsigdinos a blogger an author of the book “Silent Sorority” dissected this Time article in her blog. I am a big fan of her work. In this piece Pamela points out how the Time article missed on the childless by infertility aspect, especially in the below part;
… especially when 33% of Americans believe having children increases social standing. Really? That’s the first time I’ve seen that lovely statistic. So those of us without children are seen by a third of Americans as having diminished social standing? Now that’s just cold.
This statistic doesn’t surprise me as those who are childless tend to be outcasted and made to feel inferior. In my IF journey I’ve done a lot of research on donor conception and adoption. Many of the issues in these communities are driven by the demand for babies that exist from those dealing with infertility. However, it is largely ignored by these communities that childless couples/people are outcasted and made to feel inferior in society. Being a parent is a privilege not an entitlement. But those who have that privilege are not superior to those who don’t. Granted this doesn’t excuse the parents who choose not to their child conceived through donor gametes or the parents who close their child’s open adoption or the hopeful adoptive parents who will say and do anything to acquire an expectant mother’s child. I don’t defend these actions. So I do understand why these communities would balk at this idea on the surface. But what this idea does is expose the underlying issue that leads to these actions.
If our society recognized the pain that comes with infertility, didn’t assume couples were childless by choice and didn’t outcast the childless and childfree communities many of the issues in adoption and donor conception can be prevented. There are many in these communities who feel the supply needs to be decreased to eliminate the problems. While I do agree it will help, it will only do so to a certain extent. But if you take away the supply you still have a group of outcasted childless people who go uncared for. What will truly achieve success is by addressing both the supply and demand sides of the picture. The fewer infertile couples that are outcasted from society the lower the demand for infant adoption and donor gametes. Makes sense doesn’t it?
That’s why those in the adoption and donor conceived communities should care about this and have it become a part of their platform. They would be the ones who would benefit from a societal change more so than any group. This change would help them achieve their communal goals.
As I said earlier I understand why these communities would balk at this on the surface, the entitlement of infertile couples to have children has led to many issues. But these people for the most part conceived children of their own. They would not understand the motivation their parents had to become parents. But what they can do is recognize it and have it become a part of their platform. It’s a way they can address the demand in America for couples to become parents.
I have come to an important decision in my IF journey and that is closing the door on my pursuit of parenthood. What that means is I will not be pursuing adoption or donor conception with my wife in the near future and maybe not ever. That’s not to say that things can’t change and that door couldn’t reopen but for now it will remain closed.
How I came to this point is due to the fact that this pursuit of parenthood has become a distraction and obsession for me. It’s weighed heavily on my personal life most importantly marriage. It’s caused me to lose sight of the thing that is most important to me in this world and that is my wife. This hurts me more so than my inability to conceive a child with my wife. It’s something that those who have never gone through infertility would understand. The effect it has on that individual is sometimes recognized but the impact it has on that person’s spouse or partner is almost never thought of on the surface. I’ve been a miserable person and no other person has felt that more than my wife and she deserves better than that.
Regardless of whether or not we become parents I desire to be with my wife for the remainder of my time on this planet, however long it is. I need to be a better husband and partner than I do becoming a parent. I’d rather be childless with my wife than a single dad. That’s not to say that I’ll be happy or lead a fulfilling life childless. Right now I doubt that I would. But the chances of happiness and fulfillment are better with my wife than without her.
The goal for me was for us to become parents together not for me to be a parent by myself. That wouldn’t be something I could live with. I couldn’t imagine my life without my wife. She has had more of an impact on my life than anyone besides my parents.
I know there will be some (not all) people in the adoption and donor conceived communities that are happy to read/hear that we won’t be pursuing parenthood in the near future. They are glad to know that we won’t be contributing to what they feel are flawed systems. What they need to recognize is that I don’t
give a shit care what they think about the decisions my wife and I make. As much as I appreciate them sharing their experiences (which I am empathetic to), providing feedback and their kindness I won’t let them shame me into making decisions that impact my families lives. When they walk in our shoes then they can judge our decisions. I don’t need their approval or support on the decisions my wife and I make in our lives. The only people we need approval from are ourselves. The decisions we make are our own.
Are these people going to be there for me when we’re hurting from infertility? No. Are they going to be there for me if living childless becomes more difficult than I can handle? No. These people have their own agenda’s and issues in their lives that they are working through and I respect that. But you know who will be there for me? My wife. I will be there for her as well. That much I know.
The below picture is of me at Luxembourg Gardens in Paris when my wife and I went with my in laws in December of 2009. The picture has significance because its the exact spot that I proposed to my wife on March 5, 2006. I like to joke with her that its where I gave my life away. But the reality is its where I began the next chapter in my life. Whatever that chapter is in my life I want my wife to continue to be as important a part as she has been since she became a part of it over 13 years ago. I don’t want to be by myself as I am in this picture. Closing the door on my pursuit of parenthood for now will prevent myself from being alone. If I am privileged to become a parent the pursuit of it will be with my wife not on my own. I need to get back to what’s most important in my life right now.