My sports club is currently enjoying a number of foreign visitors over for the olympics. Last night, over my nth post-sport-beer, my conversation with a gay American couple shifted to that of male circumcision (don't ask me how we got onto it, I really have no idea).
There's been a lot of press recently over a German court banning any non-medically-necessary circumcision of children. Well, 'a lot' may be an exaggeration but how often do we read about the actions of German courts in the Daily Mail?
So what has this got to do with sperm donation? Rights. I'll explain...
When you sign up as a donor there's a box asking if you want any restrictions placed on the use of your sperm. That's really about it as far as donor rights go. Sure I could ring up later having change my mind about the whole thing and they'll destroy my donations but I can't say 'ok sure you can have my sperm but I want you to dress any children conceived from it only in organic cotton and I want you to read them The Very Hungry Caterpillar twice weekly'.
And I certainly can't dictate that they are under no circumstances allowed to circumcise any male children.
This was my biggest sticking point in being a donor: the giving up of control and responsibility. Basically, what happens when a product of my loins rocks up on my doorstep in 19 years time and I'm either disappointed in them or disagree with the way they've been brought up?
I understand enough about genetics to appreciate that despite whatever genetic advantages (or disadvantages) they may receive from me, they'll end up the way they'll end up. But the parents are a different matter. They're people I can disagree with and get angry about. What if they raise my sperm-child to believe that spicy food is bad for you? What if they never raise the child to see the wonder in the world around us or to encourage them to seek out every opportunity for growth and adventure?
And as a Humanist-cum-militant-atheist, I (very) briefly contemplating asking if I could put a restriction in dictating that only non-religious people could conceive using my sperm.
Of course I realised it was futile to worry about what may be. Sure I may end up being disappointed in them but what parent doesn't worry about this. On the flip side the young adults that seek me out later may put me to shame having done, seen and achieved more than my feeble worries could ever imagine.
So I have no rights but what about influence?
As a donor I was encouraged to write a 'letter' to any children who want to know more about their donor, going into detail about my life, childhood, personality and so on. I think it's probably the most difficult thing I've had to do since I left university! I wanted to write something that would inspire them to live life whilst giving a taste of what it is that is me and where any annoying personality traits they have may have come from. Yet at the same time trying not to come across as too 'cringe' (and I couldn't help but fret about what Toyin would think typing up my letter!).
I have no idea if my letter will do any good or if anyone will read it or even understand it! So now it's over to their parents...
Post written by a current London Sperm Bank donor: IT Consultant working in the city