Last month The Washington Post published a remarkable essay by a young woman entitled, “My Father Was an Anonymous Sperm Donor”. I’ve been thinking about it ever since. These paragraphs are particularly striking:
I was angry at the idea that where donor conception is concerned, everyone focuses on the “parents” — the adults who can make choices about their own lives. The recipient gets sympathy for wanting to have a child. The donor gets a guarantee of anonymity and absolution from any responsibility for the offspring of his “donation.” As long as these adults are happy, then donor conception is a success, right?
There is a huge danger in my posting any excerpts from the piece because it would be too easy to jump to the wrong conclusions – particularly that this 18-year-old isn’t happy and grateful to be alive no matter what because she is. She also makes it clear how much her mom is her hero.
At the same time, however, she brings into sharp relief the huge moral and philosophical questions about rights and consequences and medicine and technology and all things that go along with all of these things. In particular I am struck that she challenges our self absorption. Are there limits to what we are willing to do to make ourselves feel good or fulfill our desires?
Maybe the answer in this case (and all cases involving kids) is that our desires to have children are selfish desires. We want to bring life into this world and we want to be parents. We want to see little bits of us running around. The great trick, however, is that even if we approach it selfishly we soon discover – by way of diapers and bottles and such – that our selfishness has tricked us and requires any selfishness to rapidly disappear into selflessness because another life requires it.
Mind boggling issues really.