FRIDAY, June 25, 2004
Session 7: Public Comment
CHAIRMAN KASS: We have only one person who
has asked to make comment in the public session. So I'd
ask Council members not to break here. We'll have that
comment, and then we will adjourn.
We welcome Joan Wheeler, who is a member of the International
Adoption Reform Movement and the American Adoption Congress.
MS. WHEELER: Hello. I deeply regret
not being informed of your meetings in prior months or years
on reproductive technologies. It is because of March's
production, your booklet on reproductive technologies, that
I am here today.
I represent the children created by reproductive technologies.
Those of us who were adopted know the pain of loss. We were
relinquished into secrecy, victims of traditional closed adoption.
We were given new families, and we were told we were ungrateful
if we wanted to know our origins.
As an adoptee reunited with my birth family for 30 years,
I strongly oppose the blind use of donor gametes, and I agree
that regulation is needed.
Adoptees from traditional closed adoption suffer low self-esteem
and identity confusion from being given away and lied to.
Children of donor parents face similar problems. These children,
now adults, are organizing around the world to seek out their
donor fathers. They suffer long life consequences for the
actions of both sets of parents.
Donors are not fully educated as to the consequences of
their actions. Young men believe masturbate and get paid?
Great way to make money. I'm a medical student. I'm
a genius. Someone can benefit from having my genes. Oh,
and I don't even have to pay child support.
Young women believe, sure, I'll help infertile couples.
I want to give the gift of life to a couple waiting for a
child. It's not as if I'm actually handing over a
real baby. Once she's pregnant, it's her kid. Besides,
I can use the money.
Being that gift of life is a psychological burden that no
one should have to bear. I can hear it now. Why do you want
to know your genetic mother? I carried you for nine months.
I went through 20 hours of labor for you. I'm your mother.
She's just a donor.
Forty years ago adoption was in the best interest of the
child. Now the perceived rights of infertile people take
precedence. Recipient parents of donated gametes desperately
want to have a child of their own. They have no intention
of telling their children. They don't need to. They
are safe to raise the child under false pretenses. This is
an extension of closed adoption practices.
Internet adoption agencies boast of total anonymity. This
instills false beliefs in the donor recipient parents. They
fiercely defend their rights and deny the existence of other
parents. The recipient mother gestates and gives birth.
So it is assumed she is the child's only mother.
There is no documentation and no identification of the donor
parents. No legal adoption takes place, and no one need know
the truth, especially not the child. Birth certificates are
Couples who claim to be infertile are often very not infertile
at all. Lesbians are leading consumers of the sperm donor
industry. They don't want a man in their life. So they
opt for anonymous sperm. These mothers will some day have
to face their children's questions. Mom, you fought for
the right to marry your same sex partner, but will you honor
my right to know my father? Who is my father? Why don't
you know who my father is?
With two sets of parents conspiring against the donor child,
this situation is far, far worse than traditional closed adoption.
Parents are not only not the only conspirators. Fertility
doctors are in control. They determine where a donor's
semen is shipped, and then embryos and eggs are traded like
stocks and bonds. This determines the gene pool to avoid
consanguinity, as if biological relatedness is only science.
They don't want sisters and brothers to interbred.
So they spread donor gametes far and wide with no record keeping.
This is social and genetic manipulation.
It is troubling that the Council buckles to popular demand
to take out the recommendation to track every embryo made
because that could be a political agenda. I ask the Council
to reconsider. Tracking gametes and embryos is not a conservative
Republican or liberal Democratic agenda. It is a human rights
Because of the opposition to openness, the issues I bring
before the Council could be considered radical. Imagine donor
children have the same rights as normal children. Adoptees
have the same rights as non-adoptees. Civil rights for children?
These are radical concepts.
Regulation, tracking and disclosure of identity of donors
and medical histories should be expected, demanded, and enforced
by federal law. Genetic parents and legal parents should
be clearly identified on unsealed birth certificates.
Parents who use reproductive technologies need to accept
and respect their child's full circle of parentage. When
alternative, nontraditional families are created, honesty
is the best policy. Therefore, I urge the President's
Council on Bioethics to strictly regulate the fertility industry.
Tracking every sperm, every egg, every embryo is not only
possible, but it is in the best interest of the children to
CHAIRMAN KASS: Thank you very much for
an eloquent statement.
Anybody have any final business?
CHAIRMAN KASS: Thanks to everybody.
We will be in touch about follow-up on both the topics of
discussion yesterday and the topics we have broached today.
Anybody who has afterthoughts after this meeting both of
substance and of procedure, please let's hear from you,
and we'll be in touch with you shortly.
Thank you all for coming. The meeting is adjourned.
(Whereupon, at 11:57 a.m., the meeting