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Thursday, April 29, 2021

My Donor Offspring Research


Thesis for MA in Humanistic and Clinical Psychology, 2000

Center for Humanistic Studies (now the Michigan School of Psychology)

Donor Conception areas of concern:

  1.        Secrecy – regret, anger, feeling of injustice
  2.       Feeling different, discomfort telling others due to lack of understanding by others of the donor conception experience
  3.      Feeling of not fitting in family, differences with social family and importance of acceptance of donor offspring for who they are
  4.        Identity confusion – Who Am I? 
  5.        Search for donor and family, need for ancestral connection
  6.        Search for half-siblings, feeling a connection with them
  7.        Concern about next generation and inherited medical concerns
  8.        Feeling alone, having a need for contact with others and support
  9.        Finding support and similar experiences in adoption groups
  10. 10.  Need to seek out information about donor conception
  11. 11.  Positive feelings:  being special, interesting, wanted, grateful to be alive
  12. 12.  Negative thoughts and feelings:  trouble, angry, injustice, loss, nonexistence, split feeling
  13. 13.  Wanting to normalize being donor conceived or parent, accepting the reality
  14. 14.  Belief that knowledge of genetic and medical history are a birthright 
  15. 15.  Becoming an activist, finding a sense of purpose, duty to speak up
        For further information:

Monday, January 18, 2021

Detroit Jewish News about history of Detroit sperm donors

Monday, October 19, 2020

Donor Conception Book Bibliography

Almeling, R.  (2011).  Sex Cells; The Medical Market for Eggs and Sperm.  Berkeley, California:  University of California Press.

Baran, A. and Pannor, R.  (1993).  Lethal Secrets: The Psychology of Donor Insemination; Problems and Solutions.  New York:  Amistad Press, Inc.

Barratt, C., and Cooke, I.  (1993).  Donor Insemination.  Cambridge, UK:  Cambridge University Press.

Blyth, E., Crawshaw, M., Speirs, J., ed. (1998).  Truth and the Child 10 Years On:  Information Exchange in Donor Assisted Conception.  Birmingham, UK:  British Association of Social Workers.

Blyth, E., Landau, R., ed.  (2004).  Third Party Assisted Conception Across Cultures; Social, Legal and Ethical Perspectives.  London:  Jessica Kingley Publishers.

Cahn, N.  (2013).  The New Kinship; Constructing Donor-Conceived Families.  New York:  New York University Press.

Cooper, S., Glazer, E.  (1994).  Beyond Infertility; The New Paths to Parenthood.  New York:  Lexington Books.

Copeland, L.  (2020).  The Lost Family; How DNA Testing is Upending Who We Are.  New York:  Abrams Press.

Creighton, P.  (1977).  Artificial Insemination by Donor; A Study of Ethics, Medicine, and Law in our Technological Society.  Toronto:  The Anglican Book Centre.

Daniels, K., and Haimes, E., ed.  (1998).  Donor Insemination; International Social Science Perspectives.  Cambridge, UK:  Cambridge University Press.

Davis, L.J.  (2009).  Go Ask Your Father; One Man's Obsession with Finding His Origins Through DNA Testing.  New York, NY:  Bantam Books.

Dorfman, A.  (2017).  I've Got Dibs:  A Donor Sibling Story.

Fox, D.  (2019).  Birth Rights and Wrongs; How Medicine and Technology are Remaking Reproduction and the Law.  New York:  Oxford University Press.

Frank, D. and Vogel, M.  (1988).  The Baby Makers.  New York:  Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc.

Guichon, J.R., Mitchell, I., Giroux, M., ed.  (2012).  The Right to Know One's Origins; Assisted Human Reproduction and the Best Interests of Children.  Brussells:  ASP - Academic & Scientific Publishers.

Hertz, R. and Nelson, M.  (2019).  Random Families; Genetic Strangers, Sperm Donor Siblings, and the Creation of New Kin.  New York:  Oxford University Press.

Kramer, W.  (2018).  Your Family:  A Donor Kid's Story.  The Donor Sibling Registry.

Kramer, W., and Cahn, N.  (2013).  Finding Our Families; A First-of-Its-Kind Book for Donor-Conceived People and Their Families.  New York:  Avery.

Lorbach, C.  (2003)  Experiences of Donor Conception; Parents, Offspring and Donors through the Years.  London; Jessica Kingsley Publishers Ltd.

Mason, M. and Ekman, T.  (2017).  Babies of Technology; Assisted Reproduction and the Rights of the Child.  New Haven, Connecticut:  Yale University Press.

McWhinnie, A.  (2006).  Who Am I?; Experiences of Donor Conception.  Warwickshire, UK:  Idreos Education Trust.

Morrissette, M., Ed.  (2006).  Voices of Donor Conception.  Behind Closed Doors:  Moving Beyond Secrecy and Shame.

Mroz, J.  (2017).  Scattered Seeds;  In Search of Family and Identity in the Sperm Donor Generation.  Berkeley, California:  Seal Press.

Noble, E.  (1987).  Having Your Baby by Donor Insemination; A Complete Resource Guide.  Boston:  Houghton Mifflin Company.

Plotz, D.  (2005).  The Genius Factory; The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank.  New York:  Random House.

Robertson, J.  (1994).  Children of Choice; Freedom and the New Reproductive Technologies.  Princeton, New Jersey:  Princeton University Press.

Shapiro, D.  (2019).  Inheritance; A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love.  New York:  Alfred A. Knopf.

Spencer, L.  (2007).  Sperm Donor Offspring; Identity and Other Experiences.

Stotland, N., ed.  (1990).  Psychiatric Aspects of Reproductive Technology.  Washington D.C.:  American Psychiatric Press, Inc.

Swanson, K.  (2014).  Banking on the Body; The Market in Blood, Milk, and Sperm in Modern America.  Cambridge, Massachusetts:  Harvard University Press.

Trueblood, K.  (1998).  The Sperm Donor's Daughter; and Other Tales of Modern Family.  Sag Harbor, New York:  The Permanent Press.

Vercollone, C., Moss, H., and Moss, R.  (1997).  Helping the Stork;  The Choices and Challenges of Donor Insemination.  New York:  Macmillan.

We Are Donor Conceived.  (2020).  Welcome to the Journey.  We Are Donor Conceived.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Momentum and Possibilities

 Wow...the ball is rolling.  More and more people are advocating for DC/NPE/MPE people.  (Donor conception/not parent expected/misattributed parentage experience).  This is very exciting.  It has been such a Herculean effort to get people interested in what life is really like for people in these situations.

Some great websites:



Relevant podcasts:

* Everything's Relative

* Sex, Lies & the Truth

* Three Makes Baby

3rd Annual Michigan Psychological Association Health Psychology Symposium

* I will be presenting either a talk or a poster to explain the realities of donor conceived people and ethical issues of donor conceptions.

23andme is working on getting media attention in Michigan, in particular about my family DNA story.

Court cases  There are more people issuing court cases in their states, e.g. for fertility fraud.

The circumstances of donor conceived people have been intentionally kept in the dark for so long.  It is exhilarating to see all of the work people are doing to bring forward the realities of being donor conceived so that practices can become more ethical and take into consideration our needs and rights.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Free Bioethics Course about Reproductive Technologies

Harvard is offering a free 10 week online class about the Ethics of Reproductive Technologies starting May 12, 2020. Free to audit or $99 for a Certificate. I'm glad to see that there is so much interest in this and people can learn more about it!

Friday, December 20, 2019

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child - 11/19/19

Donor and surrogate conceived people had a forum at the 30th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child at the United Nations on November 19th, 2019 in Geneva.  Their voices were heard.

Historically, decisions about donor conceived people have been made without the consideration of their rights and needs.  The practice has been shrouded in secrecy and shame.  More donor and surrogate conceived people are finding out about their true origins and speaking up about how it affects them and what the best practices are to meet their needs.

Donor and surrogate conceived people have a right to:
1) Know their identity
2) Have a relationship with or know their family
3) Not be bought or sold

"NOT ABOUT THEM WITHOUT THEM."  Don't make decisions about donor and surrogate conceived people without taking into account their rights and needs from their perspective.

Here are the links to the speeches:

Tuesday, August 13, 2019


We had our 2nd bigger gathering of our Heemsoth sperm donor family and it was amazing!

A little history first.  My sister and I (full siblings) found our first half-brother on 23andme in October 2014.  Then we found our half-sister.  It was the four of us for a long time.  We became HSC, the Half Sibling Club, named by our creative half-sister.  We all met in California.  Then the other half-siblings started rolling in.  We are now up to 46 half-siblings in our Hank Heemsoth group.  Four of them have passed away.  Some of them haven't responded.  Some of our group are struggling with adapting to this situation and/or have delicate family situations.  Some of us have fully accepted it.

After meeting the HSC, I met three more of my half-sisters.  We had our first big gathering in the summer of 2018, with 11 half-siblings, their families, and quite a few Heemsoths at the gathering.  It was also amazing.  Having the Heemsoths there to share family history, pictures, stories about Hank and the family was invaluable.  It made Hank seem more real.

This summer's gathering profoundly affected me in a different way.  It felt like we were family.  The comfort level grew.  We had Friday night and all of Saturday together...met at a brewery Friday night, hung out at a lake beach area Saturday, and then sat around the campfire Saturday night...12 siblings and our families.  We did things that families do...picnic, some of the next generation went paddleboarding, the youngest kids played in the sand and water, we made smores.  And we laughed together!!  A lot!  It was so much fun.  My brother lovingly picked on me for being "old".  (Remember the age spread of the siblings is 30 years, and our kids have a 31 year age spread and still going.  I am one of the older sperm donor siblings.)  It was a real family feeling.  We missed each other when we parted.  The language changed...we were brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews (without the "half" word preceding it).  We were family!

When we first meet up, we are nervous.  Most of us have expressed that, and I have felt it too.  In a practical sense, we are strangers.  We've never met each other before.  We've only recently connected through the DNA sites and had mostly online conversations.  And yet, something connects us.  We share our paternal genetics.  We look at each other and see who looks alike.  As you would imagine, there is a range of appearances because of the random draw of Hank's genes combined with our different mother's genes.  But there are so many likenesses!  When you look at our baby and toddler pictures, some of us could be twins.  A lot of us have olive skin and hazel eyes, the same nose, etc.  We also compare other traits.  The majority of us are introverts by nature.  Most of us love animals.  There is a tendency for aptitude with science/engineering abilities...

What an amazing gathering of introverts!  We are family!