Accidental incest and prolific sperm donors.

My friend over at lilysgardner has provided me with a few links to news articles in recent years here, here, here and here, about just how many children a single sperm donor can sire, at times without his knowledge, and in one of these cases over eight hundred children.

In many of these cases, the sperm donors were assured that their samples would only be used to produce a small number of children, as one article explains:

Sperm donors too are becoming concerned. “When I asked specifically about how many children might result, I was told nobody knows for sure, but that five would be a safe estimate,” says a sperm donor in Texas who asked his name be withheld because of privacy concerns. “I was told that it would be very rare for a donor to have more than 10 children.”

He later discovered in the Donor Sibling Registry that some donors had dozens of children listed. 

Personally, I think this is very unethical behavior on the part of the Sperm Banks. They should be honest with their donors about how many children they are likely to be producing in this way.

Another article says:

“There are no rules or regulations about donor identification, testing donors, monitoring numbers of children or medical records,” Kramer said. “No one is watching. There are no laws.

“They recruit young college kids with no education and no counseling for the donors,” she said. “They are lied to and told there will never be any more than 10 kids out there. They don’t keep track.”

Again, that’s awful. There definitely needs to be more regulation of the industry.

I can fully understand a donors desire for privacy, and at the same time I can also fully understand a donor childs desire to know at least in the basic, who their biological father is. After all, everyone has the right to know who their biological family are… right? I am of the belief that it would be better if at the very least the sperm donors were asked a series of family health questions and perhaps provide blood tests so that the recipients of the sperm know about his genetic health and any potential inheritable diseases. This kind of information is vital for the resulting child who may need this information for their own medical files.

Interestingly, many families choose not to tell their kids that they were conceived in this way. This is understandable because the sperm donor is just that, a donor, not the man helping to raise the child. But at the same time it is withholding the truth from the child, as I have said, everyone has the right to know their own parentage.

So, what does any of this have to do with the subject of my blog? Quite a lot actually. One of these articles states:

The same sperm donor should not be used to create so many children because of the risk that two of the offpsring will unwittingly meet and start a family of their own, which could cause serious genetic problems in their children.

This can and does happen, it’s called ‘accidental incest’. As we have already explored on another essay on my blog, it has been scientifically proven that people are hardwired to find similar looking people more attractive. Of course when the Westermarck effect is absent, as it surely would be for two half-siblings who don’t even know that they are half-siblings when they meet, there can be an instantaneous and intense attraction between these two people and they would not realize that they are actually having some feelings similar to GSA in terms of them noticing their similarities. On occasion they may never know, especially if their respective families never even told them how they were conceived. Some may later find out and have their marriages annulled because of the incest laws.

Surely all of the secrecy that seems to come with sperm donation does have it’s downside and it can ruin families. Wouldn’t it be better if all children knew their real parentage to begin with? It would save people from this kind of pain. So if two siblings choose to be together, they can do so in full knowledge of the facts, including the genetic health of their biodad, as this will be ESPECIALLY important were a pregnancy to result. There is an increased risk associated with incestuous pregnancies anyway, but not as high as is generally believed. This said, all such pregnancies should be very carefully considered, and it is better if all the facts are known, including any family history of potential genetic nasties. People can only make sound reproductive choices if they do indeed have access to all the facts that they should have access to.

Transparency in the sperm donation industry is important for moral reasons and for medical reasons. But not ALL of the responsibility is on the sperm banks, some of it is also on the families who become pregnant using donated sperm samples, they should be honest with the resulting child about his or her biodad for all of the same reasons.

So what should a couple do if they do later down the line, after they have married and had children, discover that they are in fact half-siblings? I would imagine this would be quite the mindfuck to a lot of people, a complete and utter shock to the system. The options available to them are clear: They could split up, or they could stay together. I do not think it is right or fair for society to make this choice for them by annulling their marriages or throwing them in jail if they wish to remain a couple after the facts become known to them… remember these are people who have spent many years as husband and wife. Feelings don’t necessarily just vanish because society says that they should.

I think support should be available to people who have gone through the emotional turmoil of accidental incest, rather than condemnation. Support for these kinds of issues is something that is very uncommon in the world, and I think that this community should open it’s arms in support of these people and welcome them. We could surely help these people better than those who know nothing of consanguineous love.