Too many siblings

By | September 6, 2011

“Never have sex with a close relative.”

That’s one of those things we learned way back in our lives: Incest is against the law, and it’s just a bad idea since it increases the risk of genetic defects.  So don’t get married to a cousin or a half-sibling.

Now, it seems, that could be a bigger problem than one might think — especially when you just might have 150 half-brothers and half-sisters.  Or more.

Children of sperm donors face just that problem. A New York Times health article from Sept. 5, 2011 contains the following excerpt:


“No one knows how many children are born in this country each year using sperm donors. Some estimates put the number at 30,000 to 60,000, perhaps more. Mothers of donor children are asked to report a child’s birth to the sperm bank voluntarily, but just 20 to 40 percent of them do so, said Wendy Kramer, founder of the Donor Sibling Registry.

Because of this dearth of records, many families turn to the registry’s Web site,, for information about a child’s half brothers or half sisters.

Ms. Kramer, who had her son, Ryan, through a sperm donor, started the registry in 2000 to help connect so-called donor families. On the Web site, parents can register the birth of a child and find half siblings by looking up a number assigned to a sperm donor. Many parents, she said, are shocked to learn just how many half siblings a child has.

“They think their daughter may have a few siblings,” Ms. Kramer said, “but then they go on our site and find out their daughter actually has 18 brothers and sisters. They’re freaked out. I’m amazed that these groups keep growing and growing.” “


Another woman found that her seven-year-old son has at least 150 siblings. One donor learned he had 70 children and has a spread sheet to keep them all straight. To read the entire article, visit the Times site .

All this just emphasizes what the church has said all along – children should be born from the married and committed union of one man and one woman.  

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