Pratten, conceived via an anonymous sperm donor, explained on FamilyScholars.org that she has yearned to know more about her father since she was told of her conception at age 5. “I never saw him as a sperm donor,” she said. “To me – instinctively – he was my biological father.”
Speaking of the flaws inherent in the system itself, she said, “When the parents using the technologies are called the 'consumers,' that means the resulting children are the 'products.'”
In an interview with CNA, Fr. Thomas Berg, Director of the Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human Person, explained that he believes “this will be a very hard-hitting study.”
“It raises all kinds of issues,” he said. “I think this is one of those 800-pound gorillas that's been sitting in the room for a couple decades now.”
Fr. Berg said he was not surprised by the findings of the study. “It makes a lot of sense to me,” he said. “The need for connection with the biological parents is a much more powerful kind of thing than many people realize.”
He explained that the assisted fertility industry has “grossly underestimated the need that people have to make that connection” and the result is “a huge gaping hole” in the self-understanding of those children conceived without such a connection.
“Human beings need to be grounded,” said Fr. Berg. “We need a story that tells us who we are and where we came from. The human person can't develop fully and normally lacking that narrative.”
For children whose history is tied to an anonymous sperm donor, “there is just necessarily a huge part of that foundation that's missing,” he said. “Part of the 'Who am I?' question never gets answered.”
“I think there's something about self-identity which is just disturbingly left unsettled for children who come into the world through sperm donors.”
Responding to the study finding that about half of the individuals questioned were disturbed that money was involved in their conception, Fr. Berg said society is reaping the fruits of the way “we have commodified life.”
“That just speaks volumes,” he told CNA. “These poor children have come to the realization that they themselves, from the very beginning, were treated as objects, about which there was monetary consideration.”
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To prevent causing further harm, we must eliminate the possibility of people coming into the world through sperm and egg donations, said Fr. Berg. This will require an entire change of mindset, as society must “rediscover the genuine God-given meaning of sexuality, marriage and family.”
Renewing our understanding of this three-fold relationship is essential, he explained. “The whole meaning, richness and importance of that for culture has been utterly disregarded.”