February 20, 2007

Ryan Kramer - 6 1/2 years searching for a sibling or dad

So Ryan Kramer has finally made a match, becoming the 2910th person on his own website, the Donor Sibling Registry, to make contact someone who is genetically related to him on his father's side: a sister 3 years younger than him and born on his own birthday. Wendy Kramer, his mother, posted this information on their yahoo list on Feb. 2nd.

Incredible. So much time and effort searching for biological connections. But I thought biology didn't matter? I thought all that mattered was love? And surely, Ryan has lots of love from his wonderful mother.

Question for Wendy and all other parents of donor conceived children: How could you do this to your child in the first place?

The Donor Sibling Registry has as its motto "Redefining Family." As hip, progressive and neat as that sounds, it's not what they are doing. What they are doing in actuality is "Picking Up The Pieces, Scrounging for Any Remains of Real Family." Hoping against the odds to find real siblings or even, on a super long shot, real fathers. Yes - reality does not offer a catchy and trendy motto.


Anonymous said...

How could we not do it? Without this way of conception, there would not be any kids for a lot of us. Not all are SMC or in a same sex partnership, we had no choice because of the real fertility issues that we faced. To choose to go without having my kids is totally unacceptable, they are the best thing that ever happened to me, and I don't regret it for one moment. I don't think my kids would rather not have been born either. You shouldn't assume that all kids are bothered by the not knowing, some could care less. But not all people feel that biology doesn't matter. Why do you think that so many people trace their family trees? Love is the most important thing in raising a child, of course, but where you came from is just as important to some people. That is why there should be no more anonymous donors. And when the donors and the kids want to connect, they should be allowed to. Instead, everybody keeps saying, "It's anonymous, you can't do that." Things have changed over the years, and those who didn't have a choice in choosing a known donor (because there were none when they conceived) should have the restrictions looked at again, and there should be an opportunity to connect if both parties agree. More donors are getting curious as to who their offspring are, and they don't get their questions answered any better than those who used the donors to get pregnant. Sperm is not a swear word, even though people like to treat it as one. And being the child of anonymous sperm donation is not something to be ashamed or, nor is donating sperm to help other people. There needs to be more acceptance of this way of being born, and it is my hope that soon it will talked about as openly as adoption. To me, there is not a whole lot of difference (except that a lot of the kids who are adopted out are not wanted, they are kids that weren't planned, where conceiving with donor sperm is something that is wanted and planned for very much), and look at how far adoption as come.

LorMarie said...


You couldn't be more correct. I am still shocked at what I am reading on this blog...all in the name of children's rights. It is almost unreal.

Veronica Thomas said...

Hi Anonymous,

Thanks for your comments, I'm really glad to know that you support ending donor anonymity. I'll try to respond to your points.

First, you say that infertile couples have no choice but use repro tech, otherwise they'd be childless. Well, first of all, what about adoption? What about the option of rescuing a child that really is in need, and that would otherwise grow up without any parents, or bouncing between foster homes, or in an orphanage in a developing country? Or what about adopting already existing embryos, such as the Snowflake babies, that would otherwise not have life at all because they are "surplus" embryos destined for death by freezer-burn?

You also say that being childless is "unacceptable." Well, I understand the pain of infertility, I really do - I have it in my own family, and I'm not even sure I'll ever have children either. However, "accepting" is pretty much the only thing to do if you want to live an ethical life in this case. It can be quite liberating - because it can help you move on and do good things, like adoption. Not accepting the limitations of nature can only cause pain and more pain - not just for outselves, but for those we hurt along the way.

You say that your children are the "best thing that ever happened" to you. That's great, and it is as it should be. However, let's turn it around for a second. Are YOU the best thing that ever happened to your kids? You may think you are, and you may think your kids don't care about their biological parents. And indeed they may not care, YET. However, I am not making this up: there are a lot of scarred donor children out there who DO care. They have their own blogs, check them out. Their stories of pain are very similar to the stories of adoptees, whose searching for their bio parents is well known and documented.

You also recognize that there isn't much difference between adoption and donor conception. But there is one major difference. Adoption is good precisely BECAUSE the parents did not intend to give their child away when they created it; they made that heartwrenching choice later, due to very difficult circumstances. Adoption helps to fix a situation that was created unintentionally, and that people usually feel is tragic. No one celebrates the fact that these parents have to give their baby away - least of all the parents.

In DI, parents intentionally give their OWN children away, and they are cheered on by the infertility industry! Unlike adoption, this is an industry that celebrates the breaking up of natural bonds between parents and children. Thus, despite appearances, it is actually DI and not adoption where the children are TRULY unwanted by their own parents, who choose to give them away despite having the ability to raise them.

The problem is, children are not "gifts" you can give away when you feel like it (try to explain to one of your own children that you'd like to give him or her away to infertile strangers, as a "gift"). Their own parents had no RIGHT to give them away. Instead, they had a RESPONSIBILITY to raise them - a responsibility that was the mirror image of their children's RIGHT to be raised by their own biological parents.

Unknown said...

Hello Veronica,
Instead of hiding here on your own blog and talking about us here, why don't you be brave enough to ask Ryan himself those questions on the DSR Yahoo Group that you are trolling on? You obviously haven't done your homework or reading on Ryan or I, and relly should have.
If I didn't think that biology mattered, why would I spend the majority of my time (in addition to working a "real" full time job) devoted to helping biological family find each other? Why would I spend so much time talking with educators, researchers, the infertility industry, the public, donors,donor conceived and their parents? You are extremely ill informed about me, Ryan and the Donor Sibling Registry and what it is that we do. You and the others who spend your time blogging, passing judgement and speaking ill truths about others- maybe you could volunteer that time on the DSR to actually help make a difference in the lives of donor conceived people? I would be happy to have your help.
Just wondering, are you posted on the DSR? Do you hope to benefit one day from my hard work? Just wondering.
PS I won't be visiting here again. Since you're already a member of the DSR Yahoo group, please respond there.

Anonymous said...

You are so totally screwed up in your thinking. Adoption is not available to all people (age limits, hereditary problems, etc.), and it takes a lot more time and money in some cases than DI. Having your own child and raising it from day one is sometimes better than raising an adopted child, some with a lot of emotional problems. It is natural for a woman to want to have her own child, and that is the option that I chose for myself, it was the best one for me (also for the others who choose DI). Some people choose adoption instead, but they know that is what they want. Each person is different, and we are not put on this world to judge others for why they did or didn't do things the way we THINK is right. It is up to God to judge, and God alone. He is the One who made it possible to have kids through DI, the doctors are just a vessel to accomplish this great thing. If God had not wanted me to have kids through DI, He would not have let me get pregnant twice and carry both kids to term. If I had not been successful, then, and only then I would have looked into adoption. You talk about ethical. Would you get a blood transfusion if you needed one to save your life? That is someone else's donation, is it wrong? I don't think so. Would you rather I went out and slept with someone I wasn't married to so I could get pregnant? I don't think God would look kindly to that. Would you rather I got raped and pregnant? I don't think so. The only safe and moral (yes, I said moral) solution is to use donor sperm. I did not give my child away, nor did the donor. He stated on his profile that he is willing to meet with offspring and recipients if there was a chance someday. The sperm bank's anonymous donation laws are what is keeping my kids from meeting their donor, not me or the donor himself. There are donors who are TRULY happy to find their offspring, and they welcome them into their families with open arms. They feel bad for the years they missed, but because of the anonymous policies, there was no choice. Don't blame the donors for the stupidity of the sperm banks.
To answer one of your questions, Yes, I am the best thing that ever happened to my kids. I love them unconditionally, no matter what, even when people like you try to say they would be better off not being born. My kids are totally happy with who they are, and they totally accept everything that happens to them. If they meet the donor, then great. They have already met siblings, and the relationships they have formed are wonderful. They are so similar it is surprising they didn't grow up with each other. And each of them shares half of their DNA. That, in itself, is an amazing thing. It is a brave new world, and you should not try to downgrade such precious creation as God's children. Shame on you.

LorMarie said...

"First, you say that infertile couples have no choice but use repro tech, otherwise they'd be childless. Well, first of all, what about adoption?"

Respectfully Ms. Thomas, your biggest argument is that biology matters. Now you ask, what about adoption?" Perhaps the answer is, as you declare, biology matters.

Veronica Thomas said...

Hi Lormar,

"Respectfully Ms. Thomas, your biggest argument is that biology matters. Now you ask, what about adoption?" Perhaps the answer is, as you declare, biology matters."

Oh, okay. Well, right back at you: you agree with me that biology matters. It matters to you so much that you want to have your own biological child at any price. Even at the price of stealing that very same biological connection from your own child, who will be missing its own father. The very thing you want so much, you are willing to take away from your own child. Can you explain to me how that makes sense? Can you explain how that is fair?

Yes, I support adoption. This is CONSISTENT with believing that biology matters. Adoption is something that is done to help a child who would otherwise have NO parents, because they have already decided to give it up - the child would otherwise be in an orphanage, a group gome, a foster home, or even on the streets (in developing countries). So adoption is focused on helping (rescuing) a child in need - it is child-centered. There is no option there of having the child stay with its own parents: the harm has been done, and adopting the child is a compassionate and wonderful thing to do, because you are giving that child a family that it would otherwise NOT HAVE.

This is WOLRDS away from a situation like DI, where you are creating a child with INTENT of depriving it from its own biological parents. In effect, you are creating a situation that is LIKE adoption, except you are creating it intentionally - you are actually PLANNING to do the harm to this child.

Veronica Thomas said...

Hi Wendy,

You may not read this reply. However, I will post it anyway.

Thanks for commenting on my blog. I'm honored that you found it so quickly. This is a very new blog, and so your quick reaction shows me just how LITTLE this perspective is heard out there. It needs to be heard much more!

You do indeed work hard and you've made life a lot better for many DI children who were able to find their biological relatives through DSR. I support your work, because all children have a right to know their own biological parents, and you are helping make this possible.

You may have grown used to hearing a lot of compliments about your dedicated work (which does deserve them). However, I wonder if you have consdered the irony of what you are doing?

DSR is basically picking up the pieces that were INTENTIONALLY shattered. You broke the family picture for Ryan, then you spent 6.5 years trying to put it back together again. It's a great thing that you are trying to put it back together again, because he deserves that. However, it should never have been broken in the first place.

So it is obvious that you think biology matters - that's why you've worked hard searching for Ryan's real family on his father's side. The irony is of course, that you created the very problem you are trying to fix.

I'm not saying this to put you down. I don't have animosity towards you. I believe you are a good-hearted person and that you do your best as a mother, and that you just didn't think much about these things before you had Ryan. It probably all seemed so simple while the baby was just an abstract idea.

I'm saying all these things mainly so that others who read this won't go down the same path. Donor insemination is not the answer to our pain, because it passes the pain down to our children.

Veronica Thomas said...

Hi Anyonymous,

True, adoption is not available to all people. Perhaps there are good reasons for those limits? I wonder if such people should have DI available to them either. I seems to offend us that we may have to qualify to be fit as a parent. Well, don't the children deserve that?

True, adoption can take more time and money. However, when it is the ethical option, then this may be a small price to pay for a clean conscience and the good feeling that you are helping, rather than hurting, your child.

True, adopted children come with emotional problems. Well, at least you didn't create them, like in DI. Think about the CHILD for a second: in adoption, you are actually helping someone in need - a worthy and noble thing to do. In DI, you are screwing someone over so you can get what you want.

True, it is natural for us to want to have our own children. But is it ALSO natural for us to want to have our own parents. And where our desires clash with our children's needs, who is supposed to win? Perhaps you can answer that better now that you actually have a child.

So you are very honest when you say that DI was the option that was "the best one for me." It was best for YOU - but can you say the same of your child? You have what you've always wanted, you are complete. It is your child who is paying the price, by being incomplete.

The rest of my answer will come in an actual blog entry, because your points are very important and deserve a complete (and more visible) reply.

LorMarie said...

Respectfully Veronica,

Your argument is getting more and more flawed each time you post. Your comments prove that you aren't paying attention to what people are saying but grasping your own one-sided understanding. In prevous posts that you have read of mine, I mention that I will only choose open donors. An open donor is one who agrees to have contact with the child. Therefore, I won't be robbing my child of anything. In fact, I have become friendly with a donor who MAKES HIMSELF AVAILABLE ALREADY. My children will be just fine. A woman who does a good job raising her child, will have an emotionally healthy child.

As for the adoption issue, let me remind you of a comment you made on another blog:
Veronica Thomas said...
Beautiful and very touching. True nut just for adoptees but for the children of traditional surrogates. Makes it so obvious that it's a total crime to give biological children away - and so much more to sell them, as is in fact the general practice today. It's a huge injustice to the children of surrogate mothers, and I hope that history will recognize it sooner rather than later, even if it can no longer correct it for so many children.

Do you understand that you would be a party to a crime (your words) if you take a child "given away?" This has nothing to do with the child being sold or not.

You also argue that biology matters to a child but you go on to claim that adoption is somehow more moral. If biology matters to a DC child then it matters just as much to an adoptee. Your love and care will not change that. Your adopted child may still long for his/her "real parents."

If you are going to try and fight against DI, at least get an understanding of what it's all about. DI today has progressed from DI of previous generations. There are donors who wanting to be anonymous at first, are now posting ads asking bio children to contact them. To me, that is a beautiful thing.

Anonymous said...

As the (married) recipient of donor sperm, I wanted you to know that I do not take offense to your blog. I find it difficult at times to hear the criticism but I know it is true.

Biology does matter - always has. I guess I thought I could love my child (who is a young adult)enough that it wouldn't matter to her. Guess what? It matters to both of us.

Please continue to speak up.

Veronica Thomas said...

You say: "I guess I thought I could love my child (who is a young adult)enough that it wouldn't matter to her. Guess what? It matters to both of us."

Thank you for posting a comment about your experience. Your change of heart may open the eyes of many people, especially those who are willing to listen only to others who have lived through the experience.

Your realization is also surely very helpful to your DI-conceived daughter, who needs your support in grieving for what she has lost.