From PBS: Sperm donors — such as Jeffrey in Donor Unknown (PBS's Independent Lens - tonight at 10pm) — have been in the news plenty lately: The New York Times broke the story of one man who is believed to have fathered 150 children via anonymous sperm donation.
That seemingly excessive number of progeny exposed something that many of the children of assisted conception have long known: The fertility industry, which is worth more than $4 billion a year, is mostly privatized and unregulated in the United States. Most donors are completely anonymous.
When in vitro fertilization and other assistive technologies became mainstream in the late 1970s and 1980s, there was suddenly hope for infertile couples, gay couples, and single people who wanted to raise children to realize their dreams. Their children would be special blessings, born out of determination, desire, and patience as well as love. Today the first wave of children of these miraculous conceptions is all grown up, and some of them want to know who their donor is, but cannot. What perhaps no one foresaw was the psychological impact of being a child conceived this way — not knowing and generally unable to find out a full half of your biological identity. Donor-conceived children often feel as adopted kids do: that the secrecy around their creation makes it feel taboo or shameful. Some feel intense anger or feelings of abandonment or that they were deceived if not told at an early age. (There are significant parallels to the adoption-rights movement).