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Sperm Donor Anonymity Sparks Controversy Among Offspring
Melissa Singer always knew she didn't want to get married. It wasn't that she didn't like men, or relationships; she just never felt the desire for constant partnership. What she did want, however, was a child.
"Motherhood was the thing I wanted to do most in the world," said Singer, who lives in New York City. "I wanted to have a child. I wanted to be able to pass along the traditions that my family had. I wanted to be able to give my parents a grandchild."
So, in her mid-30s, Singer went to her doctor and said she wanted to start a family. The doctor gave her the phone number of a local sperm bank. After nine months of trying to conceive, Singer became pregnant with her daughter, Jacqueline, now 14.
Stories like Singer's have gotten a popularity boost in pop culture this summer with movies like "The Back-Up Plan" and "The Switch" focusing on parenthood via donor insemination. The latter movie sparked a minor feud between lead actress Jennifer Aniston and conservative pundit Bill O'Reilly, who said in August that Aniston's comments on women's ability to become mothers without men were "destructive to our society," and diminished the role of the dad.
Singer mostly rolls her eyes at what she calls "the same blather we've been hearing for decades." And most scientists who've researched "choice moms" who deliberately decide to raise children alone say that the kids do well. There are some reasons why: Most choice moms are highly educated, well-off financially, and, by definition, very deliberate in their decision to have a child — all generally good things for children.
The question now, many parents and researchers say, is not whether sperm donation is a valid way to have a child. It's whether the anonymity of sperm donation ultimately hurts the donor's offspring.