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Review of TV Documentary, Sperm Donor: 74 Kids and More.

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Caught an interesting program on BRAVO on Saturday; Sperm Donor: 74 Kids and More.  Years ago a student worked his way through law school in the Boston area by making deposits to a sperm bank, earning $900 per month.  Now in his early 30s and planning his marriage, Ben signs up with a Donor Sibling Registry to see if he’s actually got children ‘out there.’ He finds 74, with the potential of even more(!)  There’s no obligation that Ben meet with any of these offspring, but being a good and gentle Ben, he agrees to make himself available to answer questions about medical conditions at the very least.

A woman in northern California has discovered Ben is the donor of her two children: a girl, age 8 and a boy, age 4.  With the support of her parents, she decides to take the children from CA to MA for a weekend visit.  She prepares the kids:  the daughter nods and smiles smugly when asked:  “Do you think you look like him?”  (The viewer sees that she does, as does her brother!)  Her mom tells her that this man is getting married soon and they are going to fly to Boston to meet him.  The daughter asks in all innocence:  “Does this mean he’s breaking up with you?”   So much for ‘old enough to understand.’

Meanwhile, the donor is explaining to his bride-to-be.  “How many more are going to come looking for you?”  No doubt she’s imagining the phone calls to set appointments with 70 or more children who want to ‘get to know him.’  The skepticism in her eyes tells us she’s discovered there’s more to Ben than she’s prepared to face.

In a lighter vane (and on the same program) the Donor Sibling Registry has connected two girls who are half siblings through their SD dad.  Both girls were raised as “onlies” and have no siblings. The older one, now in her early 20s is touched to learn that her younger half sib has been orphaned by the early death of her mother, and decides to fly to Arizona to play Fairy Godmother:  to take her sister shopping for her prom dress, get her nails and hair done, and see her off to the high school prom.

In one poignant scene, the sisters stand before a huge mirror, comparing faces.  “We have the same smile!” exclaims one.  As the day wears on, they notice gestures and other similarities, and although their facial features aren’t so much alike, they do have similar coloring.  This relationship has a chance of developing into something meaningful.

As off-putting as it is to think of having 70 or more half-siblings, this documentary brings the human element to a fact of modern family-making.  Nothing short of seeing the physical similarities between Ben and his biological offspring in the first story and the deep longing for family in the second can prepare someone for the issues that real families made by extraordinary methods must face.

Thanks to the company that brought this documentary to life! Watch for it on cable!

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Written by bethkoz

November 15, 2011 at 6:31 am

2 Responses

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  1. What did this guy have that made him so attractive as a donor to 70+ women? Maybe the good-guy thing that led him to make himself available to the children? Still – the idea of 70+ half-siblings is creepy!! I had enough trouble with just one.

    Marcie Brock

    November 16, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    • One idea is that this is a way to show that sperm banks need to adopt ethical steps such as limiting the number of times its donors can be used. I agree, Marcie, that 74 simply boggles the mind!! It hasn’t been long since all donors had to be kept anonymous; only recently have some started to let their donors be known.

      bethkoz

      November 16, 2011 at 10:20 pm


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