7th May 2014
Dear mister President of the United States of America,
Dear mister Barack Obama,
My name is Stephanie. I am 35 years old and live in Belgium.
I am writing you as a daughter, sister, friend, aunt, wife and the mother of two beautiful children. Life hasn’t always been easy for me, but I managed with the love of family, friends, teachers, colleagues … to become the person I am today.
My journey has thought me how important children are, what an honour it is to be granted a place in their lives, cherishing them as we walk side by side. We owe the next generation better chances and a better world, so that one day they can do the same for their children. Call it the circle, or even the meaning of life.
The reason for contacting you is that of all the leaders in the world you are the most inspiring, down to earth person I can connect with. Not only do you have reason, common sense and a good sense of humour, you also have a kind and honest heart. Always keeping the bigger picture in mind, trying to achieve better conditions for a whole nation, so that all children can have better chances in life.
I try to teach my children to be kind, look after one another and others, never to take things for granted, reflect, show respect, work hard, enjoy life, dance, share, help, reach out, connect, preserve nature, stand up to injustice, believe, laugh, think, speak out, try to make a difference and aim for the sky never letting boundaries restrict them.
Well, I will practice what I preach, knowing that there is a little chance of really coming in contact with you, but I owe it to them, myself and others.
So here goes:
I am a donor conceived person. I was created when my parents couldn’t conceive naturally. Not only was I conceived: I became 1/3e of a triplet, a title I share with a brother and sister.
In my country DC offspring aren’t granted their human right to know whom they originate from. Due to the lack of a register or a Donor Sibling Registry, we have no means of finding half siblings, or the possibility to know the medical or personal history of our donors.
Two years ago my sister and I went public with our story, hoping to reach out to our donor and others. What started with a Facebook page, soon grew in so much more: first gatherings with other DC offspring, political lobby, connecting with donors, families and foreign DC organizations …
We started to collect and share information about donor conception, its history, how things are regulated now …
In May 2013 a Danish mother who had unveiled the huge scandal about a Cryo donor 7042 aka ‘Ralph’, a donor with the genetic disease NF1, contacted me. His sperm was sold worldwide, also in the United States by the California Cryo Bank.
When the first child was diagnosed and reported to the Cryo Bank in June 2009, the sperm bank waited 6 months to alert all the clinics where the sperm was delivered. There are also reasons to believe that the sperm donor wasn’t properly screened.
The Cryo Bank refuses to come forward with the exact numbers of offspring from this donor. According to our collected information the amount of DC offspring, yet known, is a staggering 99 children worldwide, of which 34 conceived in your country.
We know for a fact that 19 children inherited the disorder but not all children were tested on the disease.
With the help of Danish mothers we could unveil in June 2013 that the first child diagnosed with NF1 was a Belgian DC child and that in total 20 children in my country were conceived with the sperm of Cryo donor 7042. We also uncovered that the involved Belgian fertility clinics kept this information from our government and public for over 3 years.
With the aide of some Belgian politicians we were able to confront our minister of Health with this news and got the subject on the European table.
Fertility treatments with donor gametes are a big business worldwide. It is literally a billion dollar industry that thrives on the despair and hope of parents with the desire to have child.
We are not against treatments with donor gametes, although we do feel and think there is a necessity for a better and mutual regulation, control and guidance of parents, donors and donor conceived offspring.
We understand the desire of wanting a child, but it is not fair on the persons created throughout such treatments to deny their right on knowing information about the person(s) from whom they descent from. It is information that concerns us. The choice of knowing (or not) should be ours.
What kind of society, government and adults are we, if we only see children as a fulfilment of a personal need or desire, not taking their human rights in account? It is like treating us like less than human beings, a product that was bought because marketing tools led our parents to believe that children wouldn’t feel the need to know who supplied the half or more of their entity.
A part from that, there is a great danger in the lack of a global register. Gametes are sold all over the world, parents cross country borders to avoid own laws … nobody knows how many DC offspring are out there. It is possible that half siblings meet, without knowing that they have a genetic link, maybe fall in love, start a family…
Or what when a genetic disease is diagnosed, like the case of Cryo donor 7042?
It is incomprehensive that we have strict laws regarding food industry, but when it comes to creating human beings, there is little regulation or actual control. The fertility lobby and sperm banks are holding the steering wheel of this industry.
The amount of DC offspring will only grow due to the fact that infertility among people is rising. Also more single women and gay couples are able to undergo a treatment with donor gametes.
It is about time that governments and Europe to take a stand, and create a policy where the interest of the people involved (parents, DC offspring and donors) are defended, protected and granted. The well being of the children should be our priority number one.
I know that you will visit Brussels next month to attend the G7. If there is any possibility to address and discuss this subject with other leaders, that would mean the world to us.
In the end it is about people: children, parents, donors, grandparents, sisters, brothers…
It is our job to make a difference for those who don’t have a voice, creating a correct policy and granting them their human rights.
If you, or members of your staff, would like to meet, feel free to contact me. On this road called life I met some wonderful an interesting people from all over the world who can contribute on the subject. They made me realize that only together, and with an open mind and heart the strongest bridges can be build.
With kind regards,
Donorkinderen België (translation: DC offspring of Belgium)
- Case report Human Reproduction, 10th Feb 2012
- Daily Mail, Sept 2012
- Clip of Bio ethics where the case is mentioned, April 2013
- New unveiled information about Cryo donor 7042 by us, Feb 2014