Saturday, March 31, 2007

"My Fears" - Second Submission to International Infertility Film Festival

no. 347

I actually filmed this video for the IIFF before putting the montage together. In summary I am reading about two pages straight out of essay in the Voices of Donor Conception book Behind Closed Doors: Moving Beyond Secrecy and Shame.

I am the only donor conception (with child) piece in the festival that I know of. For other videos submitted please visit:

Friday, March 30, 2007

"My World" - One of Two International Infertility Film Festival Submissions

no. 346

This video can also be seen on YouTube by clicking here. For links to other submissions to the International Infertility Film Festival click here .

You can also go to the link

I am currently uploading what was my supposed to be my first submission to YouTube now.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

May 2007 Conference re New and Reproductive Technologies

no. 345

"Nobody's Child, Everybody's Children"

I don't know a whole lot about this conference and whether it will present all sides of the issues surrounding donor conception. But it does appear, from the agenda, to be quite comprehensive. I do know that Mikki Morrisette is to be part of a parents panel.

For more information click here or go to:

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Give A Toss: Further Reactions

no. 344

In response to my post 342 I received the following e-mail from Eric Blyth, who co-authored the BioNews commentary on the Give A Toss Campaign. I have published the full text of the commentary on the Annex as well as an earlier BioNews October 2006 commentary discussing earlier efforts at increasing the number of donors in the UK following the law change abolishing donor anonymity.

Hi Eric

We met in Toronto in 2005 at a conference organised by Diane Allen you may recall.

I am one of the authors of the BioNews commentary that is critical of the NGDT "Give A Toss" campaign.

I tried to contribute a comment on your blog, but it required a Google password that I don't have.

Clearly, we have different views on the "Give A Toss" campaign. Fair enough, it's a free world. Like you I don't believe the campaign set out to disrespect people, but that's what it does.

I was also sorry to see that you had chosen to repeat that assertion that:

"the switch disallowing donor anonymity in the UK resulted in a severe drop in men donating sperm for use by couples and individuals looking to conceive children."

"All" reports do not confirm this, as we pointed out in the BioNews Commentary.

Had you undertaken more thorough research before making your own comments you would have found otherwise.

We also drew attention to the work that has been undertaken in Manchester to recruit identifiable donors to positive effect.

Yours Sincerely
Eric Blyth CQSW BA MA PhD
Professor of Social Work
University of Huddersfield

I will admit I am no expert in the determination that the law abolishing donor anonymity was the sole cause, the leading cause, or even a contributing factor in the drop in the number of UK donors. My printing the statement refered to was prompted by reactions I received from reading many UK news articles online (tabloid and mainstream media) and even the comments I believe from Richard's blog that no donors were to be found anywhere in Britian.

As for my views of the campain I believe I made it clear that while I was amused at the concept I had felt it was a risky venture and I recognized that the campaign could be / would be offensive to some. I also stated that it appeared that the NGDT took on this tack only because they felt alternative efforts were not working. The October 2006 BioNews commentary referred to above and in the current BioNews commentary the writers (Eric Blyth and Irene Ryll) apparently feel and point to proof that alternative do exist and have worked. Not being part of the NGDT I can't say how their decision was made to go ahead with Give A Toss just that they did and felt warranted to do so. I still think it was a gutsy move as they must have realized the possible impact.

In the last day since I posted my initial reactions to the Give A Toss campaign I traded emails with Olivia Montuschi of the Donor Conception Network as I wanted her reaction to the campaign and the site. In short her reaction was one of fear that the site and the NGDT campaign may have set back by years the work done (by the DCN, the NGDT and others) trying to erase the stigma of what donating is seen as, the view of donors, and consequently the view of donor conceived persons.

It is this last part of the equation that I worry about I guess. If the current campaign results in additonal or reinforced stigna attached to the persons created by the DI process it becomes a question of was it worth it. Certainly for the added families who end up conceiving a child the answer for them will be yes but again that looks at the whole puzzle from the parents perspective and not the individuals created.

I am not trying to walk both sides of the fence here ...I am only trying to think things out as they hit me. I am certainly no professional pundit but I also realize as one of the few individuals who focuses his writing on the topic of donor conception this blog keeps coming up on Google searches on the topic and that requires me to record my views honestly and to write responsibly.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Donor Conceived as TV Character Back-story

no. 343

As reported on the March 19, 2007 TV News webpage:

"Kyle Bornheimer, Jonathan Chase and Rick Hall have boarded the CW's comedy pilot Dash 4 Cash, which is set behind the scenes of a racing reality competition series; Bornheimer will play a twentysomething odd duck who joined the race after tracking down his sperm donor father and demanding a place in the family. Chase will play another contestant in the race who has issues with his father (Hall)."

It will be interesting to see how this show plays the DI conceived story as comedy or a fact to give this character some depth. I don't know the actors so I am unsure what their histories are. As reality shows seem to be fading somewhat and given the failed attempt of The Sperm Donor it is unlikely any of us will ever see this show on the CW prime time schedule.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

NGDT's "Give a Toss" Sperm Donor Campaign

no. 342

The UK National Gamete Donor Trust has embarked on what is probably their most ambitious and most controversial campaign to recruit new sperm donors. The campaign titled "Give a Toss" linked here and above and as evidenced by the image quite racy and has been designed to obviously attract attention in markets they have not been able to reach previously with their message.

According to all reports the switch disallowing donor anonymity in the UK resulted in a severe drop in men donating sperm for use by couples and individuals looking to conceive children. This new campaign by the NGDT is another attempt to reverse that trend. The goal obviously using humor and sex is to bring men to the door and then to seriously discuss what it means to be a donor and the possibilities that their donations can provide couples.

As soon as I saw a link to the campaign site in Richard's blog I e-mailed Laura Witjens of the NGDT with my reactions and in her replies she herself noted that the campaign has stirred things up and already resulted in 46 registrations which may not translate into 46 donors but it represents a start. Laura indicated that 46 may seem a small number but that number is usually their best count for 2 to 3 weeks as compared to the much shorter period that this campaign has been active.

BioNews critiqued the campaign in a recent commentary where they felt that the campaign was tacky and only reinforces the negative image of sperm donation. I would expect that many of the donor conceived persons out there will have similar reactions and be quick to denounce the campaign. I do not believe the campaign was designed with any disrespect to donor conceived persons in any way. It may be interpreted that way and feelings may be hurt but I am sure the idea was solely the most expeditious way to get the message out as loudly as they could that there is a lack of donors.

I, myself, found the site in of itself quite humorous. The game and a few of the scrolling "facts" crossed a few lines farther than I would have dared but I think the NGDT is really trying to fulfill their mandate and believes it is time to take drastic measures to fulfill its goal of helping families affected by the lack of available donors. I believe the fact that they are trying to be inventive, even risking severe criticism, shows that the situation is dire from their perspective.

I wish the "Give a Toss" site had a more direct link to the more serious NGDT website as while the "Give a Toss" site is obviously tongue in cheek it may help to temper the reactions and remind men of why they are being asked to donate. The "facts" link has some info but could use a bit more but perhaps to do would have weakened the "shock" value of the overall concept.

For those individuals and entities that state there are better ways of attracting donors they should volunteer their time and efforts to the NGDT. From what I have seen, this campaign while risky, has been the best effort to date to attract widespread attention. Granted not all of it will be good, there will be some backlash, but as I was recently told when the canoe is already headed towards a waterfall you give its occupants the biggest paddle you can find and hope for the best.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Blogs Against Donor Conception

no. 341

It’s been a while since I have highlighted blogs which address donor conception as an avenue to family creation to be avoided. So here are two I have not highlighted previously.

One such site is Children Have Rights – Say No to Reprotech. The blogger Veronica Thomas has many strong opinions but provides little opportunity for discussion of both sides to any topic she focuses on but she does address many of the relevant topics worthy of discussion. Veronica critiqued My DI Dad blog back in January 2007 without holding back any thoughts which can be linked to here. Veronica is quite passionate in her views and posts yet we never learn of her connection or interest in the topic (to my knowledge) except for belief that it is wrong.

Another anti – donor conception site is one created by former donor Michael Linden of Australia. This new site is titled The Donor Who Dared to Say Don’t. Like Michael’s earlier blog it is not updated frequently but offers another platform for Michael’s views.

I have never stated, to my knowledge, that I am pro donor conception. I believe my views have always been that it is the path we chose and today my blog exists to explore my thoughts on being a DI Dad and to present info as I find it on the topic. If that is seen as pro-donor conception so be it. As I wrote in a post to the DI Dads Yahoo group today one of my purposes is also to discuss as a DI Dad how we address DI with our kids to help them process their conception and life story. I also try to provide interested parties access to topical resources so they can make their decisions accordingly. Do I wish other couples, individuals success if they have decided to use DI, yes I do. Do I actively counsel couples not to use I do not. Again if that is seen as by default my being pro-donor conception so be it. My wife and I made our decision others have to make that same decision. May G-d help us help our children live with those decisions.

Friday, March 16, 2007

PC Crashed - No New Posts Until Next Week

no. 340

I know I have not been posting as frequently lately and for that I apologize.

This week our home PC crashed in an ugly fashion but I had backed up all our photos and videos a short 20 minutes earlier so I am not totally crazed by this (although I am) as I know I have not lost these memories forever. I will say buy a back up drive (i,e, Maxtor or whatever)immediately if you have not made other arrangements and have all those photos and personal records off your base PC.

The DI Dads book is going slowly as only a few dads have submitted essays to me. My video submission to the IIFF has stalled. I may just video me talking for a few moments. I had hoped once I updated my PC (yes that is when it crashed, tragic I know) I could then download MovieMaker and really get into my submission.

Sometimes my nickname of Charlie Brown appears accurate. At least I am able to forward my and my wife's e-mail to my blackberry. Feel free to say hello. I can't even moderate the DI Dads Yahoo group this weekend although between my two moderators I figure it has some coverage. Max, Bob - Please look in on the group this weekend if you can?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Fighting Cousins

no. 339

One of my earliest posts titled "Kissing Cousins" addressed the fact that my kids are not blodd relatives to my nieces. This post has the same theme but with I think a reverse twist.

We spent yesterday at my sister's house with my family celebrating a birthday. My son was the only boy playing with his cousins and his younger sister. My sister's house does not have a lot of boy centered toys and usually the toys he selects to play with his cousins are not thrilled with him touching. Consequently thess visits usually end up with the girls wishing my son would go home early. Maybe not consciously but subconsciously.

My wife asked me when we finally did get home whether my sister ever explained to her kids how their cousins were created. I guessed that she had not as they are only in kindergarten and second grade. But I wondered if she had would my nieces ever say anything to my kids (especially my son) when my kids are getting on their nerves.

It's one thing when you tell family, the adults, of the use of donor conception but you never know how kids react. They may not care or they will interpret what they think they understand in some unexpected manner. Eventually we shall see.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Competing Donor Conception Projects

I am competing with myself for my time. By the end of March I need to have written my own essays for the next book in the Voices of Donor Conception series. This volume is focusing on the DI Dads and men considering DI. Yes, we have started the book.

The second project competing for my time is my submission to the International Infertility Film Festival. I have not truly nailed down my premise for my submission. I know it should address MFI and Donor Insemination / Conception but how is my issue and what message am I to send. Do I need a message? Perhaps not. I can't speak from one of the pain of TTC as I am no longer at that point.

I tried filming a short series of comments the other night as my submission but close ups of me after midnight is only a view my wife should be stuck with. And what I was saying sounded preachy. I need to write and film something closer to home.

As for the book we are shooting for a June publish date, hopefully in time for Father's Day and also leave time prior to that date for some publicity of the volume.

I plan to invest my own money in this project, although my wife is not thrilled, even though we have many other expenses ahead of us including school for our son for next year. Another topic altogether but it's a real possibility he is going to Day School if I can figure how to swing it even with the discounted rate the school is offering. Discounted but not free by any means. Again another topic. We have 10 days to accept their offer.

Should be an interesting and stressful month.