Archives: June 2010

‘Sperm Donor Kids Grow Up’ on New Hampshire Public Radio

06.30.2010 3:01 PM

Listen to “Word of Mouth” host Virginia Prescott interview me and Alana S. earlier today.

Each year, tens of thousands of children are believed to be born from donor insemination. The numbers are uncertain, and so are their outcomes. The fertility industry knows little about what happens after children of sperm donors grow up, nor how they feel about the method of their conception.

A new report opens a window onto this population. Family scholars surveyed more than a million households to find out how donor children fared compared with their peers. The study revealed that children of donors face greater risk of depression, feelings of isolation, trouble with the law, addiction and mental illness.

Author and researcher Elizabeth Marquardt is co-investigator of the report called “My Daddy’s Name Is Donor.” She joined us today.

Alana S., an adult child of a sperm donor, and blogger at, also joined us.

Trust and IVF

06.30.2010 12:31 PM

Another IVF mix-up, this time at a Connecticut clinic (the woman implanted with the wrong embryo elected to take the morning-after pill). These mix-ups happen a lot. The thing with IVF is, you’re trusting mere mortals to implant you with the correct microscopic organism, something that you cannot see with your own eyes. Lotta trust required here.

‘Interfaith Parenting’

06.30.2010 11:28 AM

Baha’i Thought blogger Phillipe Copeland has a new post on interfaith parenting, making reference to recent data from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life: Read More

COLAGE Releases Donor Insemination Guide

06.29.2010 9:55 PM

I learned tonight that COLAGE, now celebrating its twentieth anniversary, just a few weeks ago released the Donor Insemination Guide by COLAGE fellow Jeff DeGroot.

The publication:

…captures the perspectives of donor-conceived youth and young adults who were raised by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ) parent. The DI Guide offers testimonials in order to answer the questions and address the concerns of current and future generations of donor-conceived children.

I just ordered a copy and look forward to reading it.

New Large-Scale French Study: Twice the Rate of Birth Defects with IVF

06.29.2010 11:05 AM

Studies keep finding this over and over.

Ladies, freezing your eggs and relying on IVF down the road is just not a good solution to the cultural problem of when it’s considered acceptable to get married and have your babies.

…Scientists carried out a survey of 33 French centres collecting data on more than 15,000 births from 2003 to 2007.

The study, the largest of its kind, found evidence of a higher than expected rate of serious congenital abnormalities.

Research leader Geraldine Viot, from the Maternite Port Royal Hospital in Paris, said: “We found a major congenital malformation in 4.24% of the children, compared with the 2-3% that we had expected from previous published studies.

“This higher rate was due in part to an excess of heart diseases and malformations of the uro-genital system. This was much more common in boys.

“Among the minor malformations, we found a five times higher rate of angioma, benign tumours made up of small blood vessels on or near the surface of the skin. These occurred more than twice as frequently in girls than in boys.” …

‘Sperm banks at center of discussion about emotional effects on children’

06.29.2010 10:22 AM

Cleveland Plain Dealer health reporter Angela Townsend interviews me and others about the discussion launched by My Daddy’s Name is Donor.

“Our aim is to reframe the national discussion,” says Marquardt, director of the IAV’s Center for Marriage and Families. It’s not just about making babies, but “making people. [Donor offspring] have just as much of a right, if not more of a right, to be leaders in this conversation.”

Mona Charen on ‘The Meaning of Orszag’

06.28.2010 11:45 PM

I’m not with Charen on the snarky intro grafs re: health reform, but her take on the Orszag saga is a good one:

Peter Orszag was hardly the first prominent Washingtonian to lead a complicated personal life — but he may have been the first to achieve celebrity because of it. In January, Orszag made the gossip columns twice. His first accomplishment: The divorced father of two had just become a father again with ex-girlfriend Claire Milonas. Just weeks later, the father of three announced his engagement to ABC News correspondent Bianna Golodryga.

The Washington Post gossip column gushed: “Peter Orszag! What is it about that guy, and how did he become the Tom Brady of D.C.? . . . The romantic drama heightens the mystique surrounding President Obama’s youngest Cabinet-level appointee, who, in a city full of wonks, enjoyed a brief unlikely reign as Washington’s most eligible bachelor before his engagement. Something about those Harold Ramis-in-‘Ghostbusters’ looks, on a 6-2 marathoner’s frame, inspired Internet fan pages like ‘He made nerdy sexy,’ Rahm Emanuel told the New York Times last year. Read More

An Open Letter to the New York Times public editor from Elizabeth Marquardt, Jean Bethke Elshtain, and David Blankenhorn regarding Frank Rich

06.28.2010 4:23 PM

This letter, messengered to the public editor of the New York Times on June 24, 2010, opens as follows:

We wish to bring to your attention the fact that, on three separate occasions since February, Frank Rich in his op-ed columns has violated the Times’ standards by irresponsibly calling David Blankenhorn an anti-gay bigot.

The letter addresses three questions:

1-Is Blankenhorn Qualified?

2-Did Mr. Boies “demolish” Mr. Blankenhorn?

3-Is Mr. Blankenhorn an anti-gay bigot?

The letter includes statements by fourteen leading scholars in the U.S., including prominent public advocates of same-sex marriage, about David Blankenhorn’s credentials.

The 12 page letter is available at

How to Procure a First Choice Family

06.28.2010 1:48 PM

I shared a milkshake two nights ago at a midtown diner with a new friend who invited me out for a discussion- on marriage, family planning, and the causes and implications of the new trend of delayed marriage in America.

One of the big questions was: Why are we waiting so much longer to start our families? Some would say its a prolonging of childhood and a generation of perpetual kids that can’t or won’t grow up. But what does it mean to be a grown up? Is it important to identify as such a creature before attempting to raise your own  hellion or two?

My new friend asked me, “Alana, what do you need to have in place before you start a family?” My answer:

  1. A father for the kid.
  2. Some money.

Attracting a suitor is not a main reason for the delay in marriages- even our most charmless sisters and brothers are bringing a warm body home tonight to cuddle with. But this question of money: when the average American has a negative savings rate at .5%, are we delaying marriage because we’re bank beat and broke?


This concerns me mainly because a huge number of women are seeking out egg donation services because they’ve waited into their 30′s, 40′s, and yes, 50′s to have children. They’re spending gobs of cash for younger women’s eggs (who are selling because they’re desperate for money), when what they really want is their own eggs, and to keep their money. What is different? Why do our women feel the need to wait so long to the point of infertility before they feel prepared for motherhood?

I spent my summer in Iceland and I was shocked at the number of beautiful, healthy babies everywhere being pushed around by their spritely mothers, all in their twenties and no nanny in sight. My boarder-turned-friend was one of these mothers. At 24, only a few months older than I, she had a beautiful one-year-old boy named Joi (pronounced Yo-ee). Healthy as could be and the joy of her life, Joi was unexpected and was not exactly prepared for by two “grown-ups”. But on this little island in the arctic, when a kid comes, it is welcomed into a society that has made it easy to be a parent. Read More

‘The Guardian’ Seeks to Answer the Question — Who Are These Guys, Anyway?

06.27.2010 7:05 PM

“Europe’s most prolific sperm donor.”

With Two Wings

06.27.2010 6:50 PM

At an airport today while waiting to buy some chocolate I saw this month’s Atlantic magazine cover. It features the question, “The End of Men?” (Brad blogged about one article in it, here.)

The question put me in mind of a song we often sing at Baha’i children’s classes, which I co-teach weekly during the school year. Written by the marvelous song-writer Red Grammar, it is inspired by the words of Abdu’l-Baha, a central figure of the Baha’i Faith. Among the core principles of the Faith is the equality of women and men. Abdu’l Baha said, “The world of humanity is possessed of two wings: the male and the female. So long as these two wings are not equivalent in strength, the bird will not fly.”

The lyrics of the song are:

“With Two Wings”

by Red Grammar


With two wings, we can soar through the air

With two wings, we can go most anywhere

With two wings, we can sail through the sky

With two wings, we can fly

(Boys and men):

I am one wing, father and brother

By myself all I can do is flutter

I’m only one wing I need the other

For the dove of peace to fly


(Girls and women):

I am one wing, sister and mother

By myself all I can do is flutter

I’m only one wing I need the other

For the dove of peace to fly


The end of men? I hope not. We need them.

‘The Divided World of the Child’

06.27.2010 6:30 PM

The lead author sent me a nice note about this new peer-reviewed article, saying, “Elizabeth, this has been a long time coming out …[it was] your book [Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce], the core ideas of which led to this analysis and this article.” My thanks for the kind heads up and the note!
The Divided World of the Child: Divorce and Long-Term Psychosocial Adjustment
Gordon E. Finley 1 and Seth J. Schwartz 2
  1 Antioch College and Harvard University
  2 Florida State University and Florida International University

Copyright 2010 by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts


This study evaluated the extent to which divorce creates the “divided world of the child,” as well as consequences of this “divided world” for long-term adjustment. An ethnically diverse sample of 1,375 young-adult university students completed retrospective measures of parental nurturance and involvement, and current measures of psychosocial adjustment and troubled ruminations about parents. Results indicated that reports of maternal and paternal nurturance and involvement were closely related in intact families but uncorrelated in divorced families. Across family forms, the total amount of nurturance or involvement received was positively associated with self-esteem, purpose in life, life satisfaction, friendship quality and satisfaction, and academic performance; and negatively related to distress, romantic relationship problems, and troubled ruminations about parents. Mother-father differences in nurturance and involvement showed a largely opposite set of relationships. Implications for family court practices are discussed.

Paglia on Sex: Talking, Not Doing

06.26.2010 9:00 PM

“No Sex Please, We’re Middle Class,” Camille Paglia:

…In the discreet white-collar realm, men and women are interchangeable, doing the same, mind-based work. Physicality is suppressed; voices are lowered and gestures curtailed in sanitized office space. Men must neuter themselves, while ambitious women postpone procreation. Androgyny is bewitching in art, but in real life it can lead to stagnation and boredom, which no pill can cure.

Meanwhile, family life has put middle-class men in a bind; they are simply cogs in a domestic machine commanded by women. Contemporary moms have become virtuoso super-managers of a complex operation focused on the care and transport of children. But it’s not so easy to snap over from Apollonian control to Dionysian delirium.

Nor are husbands offering much stimulation in the male display department: visually, American men remain perpetual boys, as shown by the bulky T-shirts, loose shorts and sneakers they wear from preschool through midlife. …

Caitlin Flanagan had an excellent piece on this theme several years ago.

Second Parent Adoption

06.26.2010 9:46 AM

Good year 2002 statement from AAP on why access to second parent adoption is important for children raised by gay/lesbian parents.

*This* is the child-centered route that advocates should be pursuing for children raised by gay/lesbian persons. It does not create more intentionally-fatherless or intentionally-motherless children (as in donor conception using third party donors) and it does not redefine marriage such that we are unable in law and social norms to say that children, the vast majority of whom are raised by heterosexuals, need their mother and father (as legalizing same sex marriage requires us to do).

“Dads, Don’t Go”

06.25.2010 3:19 PM

From First Things online, an honest, strong essay on fatherhood from Joe Carter.

India Triplets

06.24.2010 10:59 AM

The scariest thing is not that a 66 year old woman in India has just given birth to triplets — which is scary enough. By far what is scarier is that stories like this seem to come out of India about once a week.

Gary and Tony Have a Baby!

06.23.2010 10:06 PM

CNN is doing a documentary on one gay couple’s journey to have a family using donor eggs and surrogacy. It airs tomorrow night at 8 pm EST. The teaser lays down a history of Gary and Tony’s twenty-year-strong bond. The two men are committed. They are likable. They appear to be great candidates for fatherhood.

The only problem is… neither of them have a functioning uterus. Or eggs. But that’s not a problem a little cash can’t fix. Read More

Correcting a Letter to the Houston Chronicle

06.23.2010 10:30 AM

A letter by Sharon E. Macha to the Houston Chronicle, in response to Kathleen Parker’s column on My Daddy’s Name is Donor, misstates the study reported therein. In fact, the three groups studied were donor offspring, adoptees, and those raised by their biological parents. As endnote 10 of the report explains, “All three of these groups can include persons whose parents were married, divorced, or never-married.” Footnote 1 on Table 3 makes the same point.

Two other letter writers to the Houston Chronicle had positive reactions to the Parker column and the study.

Rebuttal to The Nation

06.22.2010 2:51 PM

After some apparently perfunctory throat-clearing, Utah physician Jenifer Lingeman writes a fantastic letter to The Nation about the issues at stake in the “My Daddy’s Name is Donor” discussion.

And my response to her:

Dear Dr. Lingeman:

Thank you for your courageous advocacy for the voices of donor-conceived people. I wanted to share with you what you probably did not read about the study’s methodology, that it was developed and executed by a team led by one of the nation’s most respected family scholars, Prof. Norval Glenn of the University of Texas at Austin. One study cannot settle every question, but this study is an extremely serious attempt to address a fresh question. Thanks for your interest in these issues.

Elizabeth Marquardt

Coach Wooden on Marriage

06.22.2010 11:35 AM

Over at First Things, Joe Carter posted a video of legendary basketball coach John Wooden, who passed away recently. Wooden’s wife passed away 24 years before he did, but he honored his wife’s memory by writing her a love letter on the twenty-first of each month–a total of 300 love letters. Watch the video here. You want to strengthen marriage? Show this video. As G.K. Chesterton said, “It is the nature of love to bind itself, and the institution of marriage merely paid the average man the compliment of taking him at his word.”