Thursday, March 23, 2006

WANTED: Women Who Aren't Insane

Wanted: A Few Good Sperm

This is from the NY Times which means you may need to register to read it. Try Bugmenot for login info.

The only thing I can say about this article that does not involve expletives is THANK GOD I HAVE A REAL, ACCESSIBLE, DEVOTED AND LOVING FATHER. As much as I question decisions my mother has made I don't think she could ever be as selfish as the women chronicled.


Karyn said she hoped to join a population of women that everyone agrees is expanding, although by how much is hard to pin down because single mothers by choice (or choice mothers), as they are sometimes called, aren't separated statistically from, say, babies born to unwed teenagers. Between 1999 and 2003 there was an almost 17 percent jump in the number of babies born to unmarried women between ages 30 and 44 in America, according to the National Center for Human Statistics, while the number born to unmarried women between 15 and 24 actually decreased by nearly 6 percent. Single Mothers by Choice, a 25-year-old support group, took in nearly double the number of new members in 2005 as it did 10 years ago, and its roughly 4,000 current members include women in Israel, Australia and Switzerland. The California Cryobank, the largest sperm bank in the country, owed a third of its business to single women in 2005, shipping them 9,600 vials of sperm, each good for one insemination.

Buying sperm over the Internet, on the other hand, is not much different from buying shoes. (emphasis mine)

Karyn carried a wallet-size copy of the donor's photo between her MetroCard and her work ID. (She carries a picture around of this guy - she has developed some sort of emotional attachment to a freaking picture and yet she sees no problem with bringing a child into the world who will have no formative relationship with this man - THEIR FATHER.)

Last October, when I visited the Manhattan apartment of Daniela, a 38-year-old German advertising executive who had recently been inseminated with the sperm of a male friend, her guest room was peppered with toys belonging to the young son of a visiting friend who had broken up with the boy's father by the time he was born. "They got a child out of love, and the parents couldn't deal with one another," Daniela, who asked that I use only her first name, told me. "And now she lives in Germany; he lives here. He doesn't pay any money if he doesn't see the child. So there's a constant battle over it. The child is torn in between. She has to deal with the father. I won't have to deal with the father." (emphasis mine - but really this is just sick. It's not just about you, it's about the child's relationship with its father.)

She was also attracted by the idea of a donor of another race. "I believe in multiculturalism," she said. "I would probably choose somebody with a darker skin color so I don't have to slather sunblock on my kid all the time. I want it to be a healthy mix. You know how mixed dogs are always the nicest and the friendliest and the healthiest? If you get a clear race, they have all the problems. Mutts are always the friendly ones, the intelligent ones, the ones who don't bark and have a good character. I want a mutt." Her African-American friends questioned this strategy, suggesting that her child's life would be harder if he or she was perceived as nonwhite, but Daniela said: "If that's what I believe, I have to go by that. And it might help the world also if more people are doing it that way." (Okay - she is comparing her future child to a mixed breed dog - lovely.)

"I see so many women who are in unhealthy relationships, where they really just try to get married and then have a child and break it off," Daniela said. "If they would consider this as an option, I think they would be happier, and the children would be happier." (Their children would be happier fatherless. I bet. However, it is equally sick to get married in order to get pregnant and then initiate a divorce. I am truly staring to believe that everyone should be temporarily sterilized when they hit puberty and then have to pass some extensive psychological tests before they can plan to have children.)

"One of the things that was so powerful about deciding to have a baby on my own was saying, I'm taking charge of this piece of it; I'm not going to wait around for a guy to give it to me. And my feelings about what I want from men right now are really changed. I don't actually want a big relationship. Now I want occasional companionship and sex." (emphasis mine)

For all the comparisons between being divorced with children and having them alone, there are critical differences: an ex-husband who spends any time at all with his kids frees up pockets of time when a woman could potentially see someone new. Even minimal child-support payments would reduce the financial burden on her, and substantial ones could allow her to work less. Perhaps most important, a child with only one parent is immensely dependent on that parent, and the mother of such a child tends to feel her responsibility acutely. It can be painful — and expensive — to leave your child with a baby sitter after a whole day away, just to go out on a date.

"I want my son to have a full sibling," she said. "I want to feel like he has one person in the world who is a complete blood relative after I'm gone. I did not want my son to feel deprived, that the other sibling had a father and he didn't." (emphasis mine. This statement was from a woman who was using the same donor to bear a second child. How funny that she is so insistent her child have a full blooded sibling - but can completely ignore the need to have an available father.)

Q. is one of several people in the group with a keen desire to meet her donor one day. And they aren't sitting idle; one woman had magnified his baby picture, in which the donor is blowing out candles on his birthday cake, to the point at which a first name may be legible. Another mother has a hunch about the donor's provenance based on the way he pronounced certain words on his audiotape. At the Washington Single Mothers by Choice meeting, I met a woman who had easily identified the donor for her 9-month-old son using Google. "The person left specific enough information for me to just type in those words and click," she told the group. "But what to do with that information? I'm bound to keep him anonymous as per the contract, but what about when my son says: 'What do you know? Tell me anything about my dad."' (Okay - this is all just too much. These women went to a sperm bank to find an anonymous donor but are now searching out these donors... So maybe they don't so much want to do it on their own they just couldn't find anyone willing to knowingly impregnate them. Okay, that is cruel but jeez these men donated under conditions of anonymity. So these women don't care about the benefits that come from having children with a willing and involved partner - they also don't care about contractual obligations of anonymity AND they are admitting that their children will want to know about their other parent - that their children will be missing out compared to children in traditional families. BUT this was still the best thing they COULD DO FOR THEMSELVES so screw the long term.)

Whenever he was in earshot, Shelby spelled out the word D-A-D; lately Christopher had become fixated on the idea of a daddy. "He goes to a day care, and he's the only child of a single mother in his class. I think they spend a lot of time talking about Daddy," she told me. Christopher had referred to a neighbor as Daddy, as well as Regis Philbin. "Interestingly, he doesn't call my boyfriend Daddy; he's 'mamma's friend.' The other day, I said, 'Someone special's coming to see you today — do you know who it is?' I expected him to say [her boyfriend's name]. But he said, 'Daddy?"' The single mothers by choice I spoke with generally hold that the story of their children's origins should be told to them from the time of birth, long before the child is old enough to understand it. But Shelby feels that at 2, Christopher is too young to hear that he doesn't have a father. (the emphasis is always mine)

Her boyfriend usually visits on Sunday mornings. "A huge wave of relief comes over me," Shelby said. She can relax or do dishes or take a nap. "I feel, like, Wow, this must be what it's like to have a husband every day of the year. I can do my own thing, but I love to just stand across the room and watch them together."

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