I want to talk about sperm

There has been a lot of talk about this article. When Ben Seisler was in law school, he became a sperm donor. Later, he registered with the Donor Sibling Registry and discovered that his sperm was used to create 70 children and counting.

As someone who has used an anonymous sperm donor to help create my family, I found this article interesting. I’m kind of addicted to internet comments, and I read nearly all of them associated with this story. A number of people expressed concern that 2 half siblings could meet each other and fall in love without realizing their biological link. In real life, I’ve had a few people ask me if this is something that I am concerned about.

Honestly, I think it’s a ridiculous concern. There are over 300,000,000 people in the United States. The chances of two of the 70 siblings accidentally meeting are incredibly small. And even if they do meet, what are chances of two people falling in love? Even if all 70 children resided in Boston, which has a population of 600,000, the chances of meeting one of your siblings is still miniscule.

I did find one story on the internet about siblings accidentally marrying. It happened in Britain. It did not involve sperm donors. They were twins and separated at birth. They met and fell in love without realizing they were twins. I’m sure this was a traumatic, but this case is really an outlier.

A few people have expressed what I think is a more reasonable concern. That is the sperm donor may not know their entire genetic health because sometimes problems turn up later in life. So if a guy has a proclivity towards heart disease, he might not know until he is in his fifties. Then it turns out he just passed down this genetic defect to a slew of people.

But the fact that people focus on the more remote possibility of two siblings falling in love makes me think that this is more of a culture shock than anything else. After all, other than kings and conquerors, who in human history has been able to pass on his genetic heritage in such a grandiose way?  I do support limiting the number of children any one donor can help create because of the health issue. But I think most people are grappling with the staggering possibilities that modern science has given us.


One thought on “I want to talk about sperm

  1. I respectfully disagree that the likelihood of two children from sperm donors meeting and falling in love is small. In my opinion network theory comes into play and does narrow this down significantly. Kinda like the 6 degrees from Kevin Bacon thing.

    When my partner and I sat down and had mandatory counselling to access sperm we were told the same thing, the chances of the children meeting were really small. In my state 10 families are allowed to access the same sperm donor, so there are approximately 10-40(ish) children in my state that may have come from the donor. State law also mandates that the sperm can only be sold to the one clinic, so this narrows the chances down to basically within my city (not always the case of course). Usually women who have accessed the sperm donor do so within the same period of time (because the sperm sells out so fast) and are working on a similar timetable to getting pregnant. So many of these women have babies at the same time. Where I live its very popular to be in mothers groups, where babies and their mothers get together. Within these groups are a subset of lesbian mother’s groups…. there is therefore a distinct possibility that at this point there is a chance that the siblings could well be playing with each other in one of these groups.

    This is one example of how the siblings could meet nor does it account for other factors that would again narrow it down, there are many other examples. Whilst it seems like a big world, I am not sure that it is. Therefore, I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to see that siblings could then fall in love (especially when we tend to be attracted to those that look like us).

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