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May 13, 2019 1:22 PM   Subscribe

The Trouble With Fathering 114 Kids A suitor on The Bachelorette says he is a sperm donor with 114 kids—is that too many?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero (40 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Is that too many? Yes.
posted by noxperpetua at 1:23 PM on May 13 [8 favorites]

Naw but they should bar code the little nippers so they can identify their half-sibs.
posted by sammyo at 1:26 PM on May 13 [8 favorites]

Close enough for dodgeball.
posted by y2karl at 1:27 PM on May 13

(snarking about the tatoo but some anonymized method of id'ing sibs should be available)
posted by sammyo at 1:28 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]

Did he win the Kentucky Derby and retire to a stud farm?

There's an app used in Iceland to keep people from accidentally dating their relatives, perhaps that would be useful here.
posted by peeedro at 1:29 PM on May 13 [13 favorites]

Citizens of Iceland have an app for their phones that allow them to instantly determine the degree of consanguinity of possible sexual partners due to the small population of the lsland. sammyo has the right idea, the kiddies need that app.
posted by Fukiyama at 1:30 PM on May 13 [7 favorites]

peeedro beat me!
posted by Fukiyama at 1:30 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]

Maybe we're related.
posted by peeedro at 1:31 PM on May 13 [67 favorites]

As the article says, cryobanks have family limits, generally to 25 families - though these are not legally binding and rely on self-reporting.

Can this not be a joke thread on donor sperm and eggs? Donor-conceived people are members here, as well as parents who have used donor sperm and eggs to conceive their children.
posted by valeries at 1:34 PM on May 13 [43 favorites]

[P]eeedro, have you ever seen that episode of Northern Exposure where Chris discovers he has a brother?

"Daddy was a travelin' man!"
posted by Fukiyama at 1:36 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]

I’m going to go against my gut instinct and say there is nothing wrong with this when all parties consent, the donor is tested to prevent passing on some known and massively bad health issue, and there’s a strong legal structure governing the various rights and obligations in place.

If I was the Bachelorette would I want to end up with this guy? Probably not...

Just out of curiosity, do we know of historical men who fathered high volumes of children like this?
posted by sallybrown at 2:02 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]

Yes: there shouldn't be anyone on the Bachelorette. One suitor is one too many. Frankly, I think the bachelorette should find herself a better project to get involved with.
posted by es_de_bah at 2:02 PM on May 13 [43 favorites]

From the article:
ASRM guidelines suggest no more than 25 births per sperm donor in a population of 800,000 people, to prevent accidental incest.
But the guy is from Atlanta, and the Atlanta metro population alone is over 5 million people, not to mention whether any of them are further afield. Unless my math is wrong, he actually seems to be... approximately fine, even by the recommended guidelines? Or is this calculated in some way other than what seems obvious?

It definitely feels like a weird thing to brag about, though.
posted by Sequence at 2:06 PM on May 13 [5 favorites]

historical men who fathered high volumes of children

Ghengis Khan is thought to have sired hundreds. His haplogroup is enormous, and there are a few people like that in history that we know of.
posted by SaltySalticid at 2:15 PM on May 13 [14 favorites]

Yes, it's too many - at least without an absolute guarantee that the children will grow up aware of the circumstances of their conception and have a lifetime ability to quickly and reliably check consanguinity with any potential sexual partners in the future and follow up regarding any heritable conditions that develop later in life.

I grew up knowing that I was donor-conceived but only recently found out exactly how many times my biological father donated. All in a single city. All at a single facility that predominantly served a certain community looking for donors from that same community. Almost all of the genetic half-siblings I've connected with so far didn't know they were donor-conceived until they signed up for a DNA service, but many of them grew up within this certain community. Some of them have since discovered they already knew people they've now discovered to be close relatives.

At one point, a concern was raised that our donor might be someone who had developed a highly heritable and terminal condition years after donating. Thankfully, this turned out not to be the case, but this was something that likely would/could not have been screened for at the time.

It's really not a good feeling to have to review your dating history and wonder if you possibly slept with a half-sibling, or worse. It's also not a good feeling to believe you may have inherited a serious condition and have no way to warn dozens or hundreds of other people that they need to get tested and get early treatment now. The decreasing number of men willing to donate now that there's less secrecy around the procedure is unfortunate, but the solution isn't to meet the demand with a less diverse supply without making sure that everyone knows the score and has the resources to deal with what may come of it.
posted by northernish at 2:15 PM on May 13 [44 favorites]

It definitely feels like a weird thing to brag about, though.

Yeah, that's really the only thing about this story I find bothersome. I get the impression that he thinks being a literal stud makes him a metaphorical stud. Especially since he tossed out such a specific number - clearly this is something he thinks about a lot.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:15 PM on May 13 [20 favorites]

> Just out of curiosity, do we know of historical men who fathered high volumes of children like this?

There are a few unusually successful haplogroups that can be identified by yDNA. Genghis Khan, Niall of the Nine Hostages and Somerled of Argyll are three examples. This doesn't mean that anyone with the right yDNA is a literal descendant of that historical figure of course - they could be descended from someone closely related to them.
posted by Leon at 2:22 PM on May 13 [3 favorites]

MetaFilter: His haplogroup is enormous
posted by Gymnopedist at 3:09 PM on May 13 [15 favorites]

His "talent" was chugging a gallon of milk. He's a management consultant. And yet more than 100 people looked at his donor profile and said, yes, this one. Proving that in this life the absolutely best thing you can be is tall and conventionally handsome? I guess?
posted by 1adam12 at 3:43 PM on May 13 [12 favorites]

His donor profile probably also had a check mark next to "Successful Pregnancies" -- just not how many of them.
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:48 PM on May 13 [6 favorites]

114 is fine, but 30 more would be gross.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:59 PM on May 13 [60 favorites]


the first king of saudi Arabia had 36 sons and 7+ (wikipedia only names these) daughters with at least 21 women.
posted by brujita at 4:30 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]

ASRM guidelines suggest no more than 25 births per sperm donor in a population of 800,000 people, to prevent accidental incest.

ASMR guidelines suggest sperm donors ejaculate into a large piece of waxed paper, then crumple it next to a microphone.
posted by taquito sunrise at 4:42 PM on May 13 [36 favorites]

Yeah, joking about this is really not cool.
posted by medusa at 4:46 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]

Could he actually have fathered 114 children at 25? I was under the impression banks had recently tried not to use one donor that much.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:48 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]

Yeah, joking about this is really not cool.

apologies, I was aiming entirely for "ASRM is ASMR with two letters swapped & jokes about ASMR are never not hilarious"
posted by taquito sunrise at 5:11 PM on May 13 [12 favorites]

This story should be read in tandem with this Reddit thread about a guy who did 23andme with his girlfriend and found out they're half-siblings.
posted by rhizome at 6:10 PM on May 13 [3 favorites]

We still believe in math, right? 114 people among 325 million - really unlikely that one would date a donor sibling.
posted by valeries at 6:25 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]

Oh come on, this dude has breeding/impreg fetish. It's the most consenual acting on it ever. He wants to donate. Women want donated sperm. Everyone is going into this willingly, not to mention legally.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 6:44 PM on May 13

The 114 kids though...If the facility letting him continue to donate and continue to dispense his sperm, that's on them.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 6:47 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]

I suppose it's a question of whether there should be restrictions on regional dispersal.
posted by rhizome at 7:32 PM on May 13

We still believe in math, right? 114 people among 325 million - really unlikely that one would date a donor sibling.

We do, which is why I have to quibble with your numbers. 114 people among 325 million is assuming random distribution throughout the country and equal likelihood of dating someone fifty years older than you as someone your own age. While some cryobanks may ship to clinics or fertility specialists in other places, those operations tend to put a much lower worldwide cap on donor conceptions. (There is in fact a bank in Atlanta that works internationally, but limits families to 15 per donor.) For smaller scale operations, the vast majority of donors and recipients live in the same area. So if this guy was telling the truth and not confused about donations versus conceptions, we could be hypothetically talking instead about 114 people within one metropolitan area like Atlanta.

Narrow that down by the fact that pursuing donor insemination is more common in some economic, racial/ethnic and religious groups than others. Narrow it down further by the fact that people who choose the same donor may have other demographic criteria or values in common that make it more likely that they'd choose similar neighbourhoods to live in and similar schools to send their kids to. For example, there's a strong racial divide between the north and south sides of Metro Atlanta. It is much more likely that this donor would be chosen by a white couple, a white single mother, or an interracial couple with a non-carrying white parent than by anyone else. Then shorten the odds even further based on the fact that people tend to date within a few years of their own age, most often within their own race and economic class, and start out their romantic lives dating people they know from school/church/local activities, and the number is much, much smaller than the millions.
posted by northernish at 7:45 PM on May 13 [22 favorites]

What if he's just a lying liar who lied on his bio for a reality television show, also a known hive of lying liars?
posted by axiom at 7:46 PM on May 13 [6 favorites]

We still believe in math, right? 114 people among 325 million - really unlikely that one would date a donor sibling.

Okay, so I believe in the math. Let's say you're a... 27 year old man in New York City, looking to settle down and have children. Here are four potential mates among the 325 million:
* A is a 78 year old Cuban woman living in Miami who likes salsa dancing.
* B is a 9 year old girl living in a suburb of Phoenix; her favourite My Little Pony is Fluttershy.
* C is a 25 year old woman in Brooklyn who likes craft beer and something else generic.
* D is a 43 year old man in the rural Dakotas who loves Jesus and his Harley in that order.
Do you still believe in biology and sociology? Because the 114 people among 325 million stat claims all four to be equally likely partners for dating.

So let's go back to Atlanta; 5 million. One of this guy's kids is looking for someone of the opposite sex, so we're down to 2.5 million immediately. His kids are all within a tight age range (since in general donor sperm is probably not stored that long, and in specific because this dude in the article is 25). Most people date in a close age range; if a man gets married at 27, there's a 53% chance his wife is 24 to 28 years old. So instead of 2.5 million people, we're probably looking at ~166k people in a 5 year age band.

Then, there's the fact that people tend to date people with a number of similarities that are genetically linked. For one, interracial dating is less common than statistics would suggest; so this guy's kids, who are at least half white, are more likely to date each other through that. There's a strong correlation between heights in partners, which has a strong genetic relationship. And so on. Let's say, as back-of-the-envelope, that you are three times as likely to date someone similar (for whatever similar means -- it's probably higher in real life) and that 25% of the population is similar (race, height, etc.). This means that half of your dates are in the "similar" category, as are all of your potential siblings.

In our back-of-the-envelope Atlanta example, we're now looking at half your dates in the similar group, which is about 42K people. If you have 52 siblings in this pool, you have a little over one in a thousand chance of dating a sibling. If you only ever date one person. If you date 10 people, then we're up to a 1% chance of dating a sibling. And this guy has 114 kids; if they all have a 1% chance, it's more likely than not that a pair of them date.

That's within these assumptions, of course; there are variations that decrease the odds, like kids moving away from Atlanta, and that increase the odds, like the remaining kids likely to be clustered in the same general part of town as the clinic, or people dating more than 10x. If the population is smaller, the odds go up much more. This could be geographically; the previous guy was in Indianapolis, or for other subgroups. I suspect that the kinds of parents who would seek out a Jewish donor specifically are also the kinds of parents who would tend to pressure their kids into dating other Jews, for example.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 7:50 PM on May 13 [37 favorites]

If it’s all going to nearby women then it’s more likely to be a problem than if the mothers were spread across the entire country, right? And can we suppose that the women who choose the same donor are likely to have similar taste, and so also share an ethnic or religious background (thereby shrinking the pool again)? Makes me pretty nervous about half-siblings.

(Also: eponysterical, I gotta say.)
posted by wenestvedt at 3:13 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]

Love all the digging into the numbers, but cryobanks ship all over the US, they are not marketed to a local area only, so your starting assumption is wrong.

Also, most donor conceived people (these days) know they are donor conceived, so if they were dating someone who was also donor conceived, they would likely compare notes - cryobank, donor number, etc.

Also, many donor siblings are in contact with each other - connecting through the Donor Sibling Registry or a cryobank's registry - which also reduces any possible accidental dating.
posted by valeries at 5:43 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]

As the non-biological parent of a donor-conceived child, I really don't like the use of the word "fathering". He didn't "father" these kids, no matter how many of them there are. He donated the semen, and that's literally it. Maybe this is because I don't live in an English-speaking country so I'm not familiar with all of the ways the word "father" is used as a verb, but here when people tell me my daughter looks such and such because her "father" is of whatever decent, it's somewhere between irritating and tone-deaf.

More to the point, we also live in a country without proper sperm bank regulations, and yeah, I honestly can't fathom why governments don't regulate this kind of stuff. Here (Israel) each bank sets its own limit on how many times a donor can donate, but no national registry exists to prevent the guy from going on to the next bank, and the next one... Worst of all, sperm donations are 100% anonymous for life, so there's no way of getting any official information about potential genetic half-siblings, or about the donor himself. But a lot of people get around this by comparing whatever little information they originally got and finding near-certain matches between siblings.
posted by alona at 8:39 AM on May 14 [7 favorites]

valeries - While many cryobanks do ship nationally or internationally, and many fertility clinics and specialists have outsourced to those large suppliers these days, this isn't the case for everyone. There are still many fertility clinics or doctors who supply patients from local donors, particularly hospital or university programs that have maintained internal systems rather than externally contracting.

Out of curiosity, I looked into the program I was conceived through, which thirty years ago only dealt with local clients and local donors. It still only serves local clients, and while they now bring in donations from two national cryobanks that ship all over the country...those cryobanks are in the same city as the program and only take donors who are able to donate in person and visit for a health screening. The result is that while those donors' donations may end up many places, clients using this program are still virtually guaranteed to get a donor who lives in the same city as them. Hence the importance of caps.

It's true that many more donor conceived person these days know they are donor conceived, and that's great! I'd be very surprised, however, if there weren't still some young people growing up who won't be told. It's a topic that can still be burdened with a lot of embarrassment about infertility or using the word 'sperm' and worry about family cohesion. Some couples using a donor because of sterility still elect to mix samples so they won't know for certain whether the child is biologically its father's or not. Without the worry that anything besides a DNA test would reveal the truth, it wouldn't surprise me if the rates of secrecy were still much higher than they are for adoption - but if anyone has current stats, I'd be interested to know for sure.

It's also not just a matter of hopefully knowing that you're donor conceived and your potential partner also hopefully knowing that. There are the donor's actual children to consider, as well as nieces and nephews, younger siblings, etc., who (if their relative hasn't just gone on TV bragging about donating) probably aren't walking around with that knowledge in their pocket.

More donor siblings are in contact than ever, and I definitely think cryobanks should have to maintain an easily accessible and updateable registry not just for clients but for their offspring once they're adults as well. The Donor Sibling Registry has done some important work, but none of the potential 100+ half-siblings of mine are on it except for me, and the total number of sibling matches it has resulted in for my country is still less than my single donor's total donations.
posted by northernish at 9:20 AM on May 14 [4 favorites]

We used a donor egg to conceive. One of the factors in choosing our donor was that the clinic told us she had donated the maximum amount (7 cycles). I asked them if they could tell me the pregnancy success rate of her eggs and they could not due to privacy policies. However the nurse hinted that they have pretty strict rules and high standards for egg donation and they would not have allowed this donor to donate so many times if her eggs weren’t pretty good if we knew what she was saying? We did.

I’m sitting here hoping my 6 month old sleeps more than 40 minutes for her nap as I type this.

(We also plan to be transparent with her about her conception. And in terms of running into her half siblings, I considered this but we did the procedure in America and we live in England and plan to stay here for the foreseeable future. It would be quite a coincidence! But not zero, thus the decision for transparency amongst other reasons like complete honesty with our kid).

(Also FWIW didn’t mind the ASMR joke, I smiled. But I appreciate the callout to ask people to be considerate in their comments)
posted by like_neon at 1:56 AM on May 15

As the non-biological parent of a donor-conceived child, I really don't like the use of the word "fathering". He didn't "father" these kids, no matter how many of them there are.

100% agree. We debated how we would refer to the donor to our child. There are some heated debates around phrases “biological mother” (which erases the fact that I grew, carried and birthed her) and “genetic mother”. We were uncomfortable with the use of the word mother. I’m her only mother. We settled on “egg donor”. It’s factual and as we intend to talk about the subject as matter of fact as we can, (as we would try to for any subject related to sex, procreation, etc) it should be non-judgemental as well. Ie “Your eyes are brown because your egg donor had brown eyes. Your hair is wavy because Daddy’s hair has a curl to it. You like Beyoncé because Mommy listened to her allllllll the time while she was pregnant with you.”
posted by like_neon at 2:10 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]

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