Monday, May 21, 2007

Sperm donor father meets his six offspring...???

Source: Times Online
Date: February 15, 2007
Author: Devika Bhat

As family reunions go, it is sure to rank among the less conventional. Six teenagers across America conceived from the same sperm donor have finally met their biological father after he decided to reveal his identity.
Jeffrey Harrison, whose offerings once ranked among California Cryobank’s most sought-after specimens, made himself known after reading a newspaper article about two teenage girls who had found out they had both been conceived with sperm from “Donor 150” – and wanted to get in touch with the man in question.
With a profile billing him as a blue-eyed, 6-feet-tall lover of philosophy, music and drama, Mr Harrison, now 50, made $400 (£200) a month as Donor 150 with his twice-a-week donations in the late 1980s.
But 15 months ago he “choked on his coffee” when he read an article in The New York Times carrying the headline: “Hello, I’m Your Sister, Our Father Is Donor 150.”
Initially, Mr Harrison was reluctant to come forward, fearing that his newly-found offspring would be disappointed by his unconventional lifestyle and humble existence living with his four dogs in a motorhome near Venice, Los Angeles, where he earns a “meagre living” doing odd jobs.
And in any case, he says, he hit a stumbling block, with California Cryobank – which promises anonymity to its customers and donors - not responding to his requests for help when he first read the article.
But this year, as Valentine’s Day neared closer, he finally went online to the Donor Sibling Registry website, where Danielle Pagano and JoEllen Marsh had met, only to discover that four more teenagers conceived with Donor 150’s samples had since surfaced.
“It’s a short life and these children need to have some kind of resolution,” Mr Harrison told The New York Times. “I thought I could send a little Valentine, kind of, to everyone, just saying hello.”
On Saturday, he confirmed his identity to the website, which helps donor-conceived offspring find their sibilings, leading daughters Danielle and JoEllen to call him together the next day.
He met a third daughter, Ryann, in Los Angeles yesterday, and has been in touch with his other children by e-mail, finding out that they shared a love of animals and a distinctive forehead.
“The first thing he said was, ’Holy moly’,” Danielle, 17 told the newspaper. “He’s sort of a free spirit, and I don’t care what career he has. I got to talk to his dogs.” She has since spent several hours on the phone to her newly-discovered father.
Mr Harrison has also been able to enlighten his children, who live in Colorado, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania, with some paternal family history. Their grandfather was an Ivy League-educated retired financial executive, while their grandmother used to be volunteer president for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Wendy Kramer, founder of the Donor Sibling Registry, said that several dozen donors had contacted offspring via her website, but until now none had been brave enough to take on such a large group of teenagers.
“You don’t know what to expect,” she said. “How do we define this family, and what are we to each other?”
The story may not end there. It is possible that Mr Harrison has other children, because women who buy sperm are not required to report when they have a baby.



At 1:16 PM, Blogger DI_Dad said...

Unclear if this is "the" family of the future but certainly will be among the several versions of what family may be. I don't want to say the prototypical family unit is behind us as it is clearly not but as time goes on definitions adapt.

At 8:39 AM, Blogger Paul Pettit said...

Thanks for your interesting comments, di_dad. I appreciate your insights. -Paul


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