Archive for Tuesday, September 27, 2011

He may be a father, but not a dad

September 27, 2011


Never one to put the Style Network and “thought-provoking” in the same sentence, I was struck by the sheer weird power of “Sperm Donor” (8 p.m.).

Over the past few decades, the use of donors by married infertile couples and single women has grown exponentially, creating a brave new world of family dynamics and ethical dilemmas.

This becomes glaring and apparent when we meet Ben. An astoundingly regular guy, Ben became a sperm donor during law school. Ten years later, he stumbled upon the Donor Sibling Registry. Most people on the site are the offspring of sperm donors who hope to find information about their “fathers” or to reach out to half siblings, born to other mothers.

After submitting his name to the site, Ben was startled to find out that he was not responsible for a child or two, or even 20. He was the sperm donor “dad” to 74 kids.

Ben’s reaction to this news, and the feelings of his friends and fiancee, go a long way toward showing the difference between men and women and comedy and tragedy. An old school pal laughs and exclaims, “You have a clan, man!” His fiancee worries about busloads of offspring crashing family reunions. It’s a nightmare.

Things get a little uncomfortable when Ben decides to visit one of his “kids.” Is this wise? Curiosity or grandiosity? And how fair is this visit to the other 73?

The 2010 drama “The Kids Are All Right” already found a great story in this powerful scenario. But that was about only two children in the same family. Imagine a movie about an everyday guy finding himself the unwitting patriarch of a virtual tribe! I can’t believe Judd Apatow hasn’t optioned the rights to Ben’s story.

• “POV” (9 p.m., PBS) presents the award-winning documentary “Last Train Home.” Every year, more than 130 million rural workers who have moved to China’s cities return to their villages for New Year’s celebrations. This “commute” represents one of the largest migrations in human history. “Train” uses the occasion to examine the cost of that country’s rapid urbanization and industrialization.

Tonight’s other highlights

• On “Dancing With the Stars” (ABC): last night’s action (7 p.m.) and a live elimination (9 p.m.).

• Schuster’s boot camp on “Glee” (7 p.m., Fox).

• “History Detectives” (7 p.m., PBS, check local listings) examines artifacts from the Prohibition era.

• The guys help Jess remove her things from her boyfriend’s place on “New Girl” (8 p.m., Fox).

• A new health crisis on “Downsized” (8 p.m., WE).

• Sabrina’s roots are showing on “Raising Hope” (8:30 p.m., Fox).

• A juvenile witness evokes painful memories on “Unforgettable” (9 p.m., CBS).

• Sarah feels cut off from Amber on “Parenthood” (9 p.m., NBC).

• Deer hunting can be deadly on “Body of Proof” (9 p.m., ABC).

• A new business venture looms on “Sons of Anarchy” (9 p.m., FX).


Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

It can be a very painful thing to know that you have a biological child out there somewhere when there is no way you can do anything to make your biological child's life better.

And, other men simply don't care at all. I have never understood that.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

Now that I've looked at it again, I think there is something glaringly wrong with the story line of “Sperm Donor”.

Adoption records are sealed to everyone except the adoptive parents, and that includes the adoptee, until the child reaches the age of 18. After the adoptee is 18 the records are available to only the adoptee in the open records states. In some states the adoptee cannot look up his own records, although that is rapidly changing today.

Kansas is an open records state, and always has been. That is, the adoption records are fully open to the adoptee after the age of 18 but not before. No one else can see them, although there are a very, very few extenuating circumstances.

I can hardly believe it is any different for sperm donors. As the story is told above, Ben registered with the Donor Sibling Registry after only ten years, and it is stated that most of the people on the Registry are the offspring of sperm donors.

None of them could be 18 years old!

shadowlady 6 years, 7 months ago

Has anyone thought of this kind of thing, where a man fathers 74 kids, they grow up and unknowingly marry their own sibling?? And by the way, the last I heard, the age of someone looking for relatives, the child has to be 21 now, not 18. Or am I wrong??

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

It's 18. Take a look at for verification. It is amazing how much of what people "hear" is not true.

And yes, the question of half siblings unknowingly marrying half siblings, full siblings, or biological cousins has come up before. And, not only regarding sperm donors, but adoptees as well. But there doesn't seem to any solution in sight, except for more open sperm donor and adoption records, which would require legislative action.

daddax98 6 years, 7 months ago

These kids are not adopted so there is no "record" to be sealed other then the parents medical records. This registry is just a form of social media where the parents voluntarily identify their children as the product of donor "X"

daddax98 6 years, 7 months ago

Or as the story says, the children identify themselves

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

I took a look at the Donor Sibling Registry and it says nothing about any age requirement, so it appears that you are correct, it is very unlike adoption records!

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