There are some other deep questions. The obvious example is me: some women are willing to trade four inches in height to make sure that their children have specific genetic traits — in my case, Judaic roots. The implications are manifold, particularly as our knowledge of the human genome becomes more intimate. Soon, we’ll be able to select out all kinds of things, from disease-potential to shoe size. And the repercussions are scary: would my parents really have chosen to have a short, tobacco-loving neurotic for a son? I cringe at the thought. But heck, would I even choose to?
Rest easy, sperm seekers
The day after I visit CCB, I get a call from Kelly Fitzgerald, the Cambridge branch manager.
“So,” I say. “I had some problems in the collection room . . . .”
“Well, it looks like you fall within the 90 percent of the population that is normal,” she says. “Therefore, you failed.”
“We look for folks who have five times the normal range,” Fitzgerald says. She suggests I try again, but in the end I won’t. In a sense, I’m actually relieved; though when I talked to people in the industry or to donors like Sean, I couldn’t help but feel excited by the idea of a bunch of wee journalists running around, just the strength of that unexpected impulse creeped me out.
Because you know with something like that — something generated deep within yourself, but that sounds a drop off to your thinking parts — you know that it’s biological. That it wasn’t about the joys of children for me; it was simply about genes. That’s what instinct is, and progress comes from figuring that out, and then using what you figure out to make better choices. Like waiting to have a child until you want to raise one. Or like a potential recipient choosing adoption instead.
On the Red Line heading back into Boston after my stint in the collection room, something else was going on, too. The view of the Charles River from the bridge — it’s one that has affected deeply anyone who has seen it — all trees and sailboats and skyscrapers reflected bright off the water. But it was different for me that day. It was in some way sad. As was I, somewhere deep down.
The day was ending, the sun setting on both the city and, though I didn’t yet know it, my short career as a sperm donor. And the sadness: more than anything, I felt like I was involved in a business that really shouldn’t be a business at all. I was giving away something that should be, at its heart, amongst the dearest things to me on the planet: my fatherhood. And that, I was only beginning to realize, was something I just did not want to give away.
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David Andrew Stoler: firstname.lastname@example.org