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Experimental kids

"Experimental kids" Continued...

Issue: "Looking at India," Dec. 9, 2006

Stefanowicz, on the other hand, has already received physical threats and profane e-mails for going public with her very un-PC account of growing up in a gay-parented household. "That is why so few of us will ever go public. It is not a big, safe, supportive, and 'happy' family that surrounds us as children-something the media portrays."

Still, the negative views of some adult children are bubbling to the surface. Some born into same-sex parenting situations call themselves "queer spawn," according to Elizabeth Marquardt's research, while some donor-conceived young people refer to themselves as "lopsided" or "half-adopted."

"We all feel some loss of kinship, a lot of the same things that adopted people feel," Clark said. But while adopted people usually come from difficult circumstances then find healing once taken into a loving home, donor conception is encouraged as a brave new way for people to form families who would not have formed families before-purposefully creating in the process a crop of biologically rootless kids.

Donor conception "robs the birthright of a person to know who their parents are," Clark said. "Ethically, I see something wrong with that."

Driven by her desire to know her blood origins, Clark in 2004 contacted the "cryo-bank" that provided the sperm that helped make her. But personnel there threw administrative spike strips in her path. After trying a couple of other avenues, Clark found a "donor and offspring" registry on the internet, where the donor-conceived children could connect with donors willing to reveal their identities. Scrolling down to the date the college student had probably donated his sperm, Clark found a likely candidate and e-mailed him. Within two days, the man e-mailed her back with three pictures of himself attached.

It only took one. "When I saw the first picture, I just started to bawl," she said, noting the family resemblance. "I knew that he was my father."

That was February 2006. In March, after a DNA-matching test came back 99.9902 percent positive, the man revealed his name, as well as a basic medical history of his family, something most donor-conceived children lack.

Clark and her biological father began to talk on the phone about once a week, then even more often, and she began to hope for some kind of relationship. But this fall, the contact waned. "He's not comfortable with the situation," Clark said in a tone so mature it's easy to forget she's still a teenager. "I don't know how to make him more comfortable. He hasn't told his parents and siblings about me. . . . He said he would when he felt comfortable with it. I don't know when that will happen. It could be the day he dies. I'm trying to understand his perspective, but it's very difficult to do that. I'm not a donor."

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