In the midst of a global pandemic when people around the world are facing isolation, it’s no surprise to see the masses turning to social media to meet a lot of their needs. A typical social media user can find everything from witty memes to political discussions with just the click of a button on the worldwide web.
But increasingly, people are turning to social media for a completely different product: human sperm. Reasons abound as to why this might be. Sperm banks are running short on supplies due to recent lockdowns, and the global economic picture in the midst of COVID has many scrambling for more cost effective methods to begin their families. Says one couple, “We looked at sperm banks and realized it was way, way out of our range financially.”
Two online groups, in particular, have seen a recent uptick in engagement. Sperm Donation USA is a private Facebook group with over 14 thousand members. Ironically named, “Just A Baby”, is an app you can download on Google Play if you are seeking a sperm donor, an egg donor, or a surrogate to help you start your family. It looks much like a dating app, where interested parties can swipe right or left through various profiles in order to find a match.
It’s probably important at this juncture to clarify that the term “sperm donor” is, nine times out of 10, a total misnomer, as these aren’t genuine donations but contributions given for the sake of being paid. The truly altruistic donor is rare. Nevertheless, the sites exist and are gaining traction.
We investigated both Sperm Donation USA and “Just A Baby” and were concerned by our findings. Straight across the board, there seemed to be a startling lack of foresight or concern for the long term ramifications of the children born of these unions. The prevalence of men who clearly indicated no desire whatsoever to be involved in the child’s life was extremely high. As Bruce put it, “no co-parenting, no rights, no financial support, but maybe updates.” Mark’s profile was no better: “I don’t want to maintain contact with the kid,” he put it bluntly.
Statements like these reveal a shocking lack of regard for the long term rights and needs of any children produced through third party reproductive efforts. As members of the donor-conceived community, people like Nick Isel, consistently tell us, identity crises are common in these kids who grow up with major question marks on entire sides of their family trees and countless questions about who they truly are.
Another alarming trend on these sites was the complete absence of any kind of foresight or discretion about the potential donors. One donor reported that no one even bothered to check his ID or run an STD screening on him before enlisting his help. While we at the CBC are opposed to all sperm “donation”, the reckless nature of the process is even more extreme where social media donation is concerned. One woman in the Sperm Donor USA group frantically posted in the group looking for a man who would be willing to donate his sperm that very night in order to accommodate her ovulation schedule. There was no thought given to his psychological or medical history, his long term intentions when it came to interacting with potential offspring, no forward thinking whatsoever- only the panicked, desperate feeling that “I must have a baby this very second no matter what it costs.”
And if some were not concerned enough about this type of information, others went to the opposite extreme, citing IQ and eye color and pedigree as imperatives in their quest to create a designer baby. One donor named Wyatt marketed himself accordingly, boasting that the probability of meeting someone with his specific traits is just “.0012% out of the 7,600,000,000 people in the world.”
The theme, of course, in all these situations is the prioritization of adult desires at all costs, including the potential physical and emotional needs of the children involved. These are largely people who view the miracle of human life as little more than a transaction. They approach the trade of sperm in much the way they would approach the search for a second hand sofa. One mom actually bragged that she bought both of her babies for a total of $136. When we collectively treat human beings like commodities, it’s no wonder that we see this type of activity. After all, it’s “just a baby,” right?