“Those who make as if children born of artificial insemination with donor sperm can be intensively worried about the story of their conception are idiots.” This is how Arthur tells it, straightforwardly. Nor physicians, nor specialists of a Cecos (Centres for the Study and Conservation of Eggs and Sperm), he is “the only one” among these 50,000 children born of an artificial insemination with donor sperm (IAD) since 1973 and one of the first who dares to speak publicly. Today at 24 years old, Arthur Kermalvezen, psychopedagogist, has been fighting for 2 years for the quest for his origins. He fights for removing the anonymity of the gamete donation in France, within the association called medically anonymous procreation. He wishes that this anonymity removal takes place at 18 years old, so that “children have the choice to consult or not their file. A file in which could appear a name or a picture, a job position or even the story of the donation motivations“.
In Né de spermatozoïde inconnu, Arthur Kermalvezen 1 tells his story, that of his infertile father, of his parents who are convinced that the IAD can resolve their problems, that of his development having the feeling that a part of him is prohibited… He tells the pain of his parents, and particularly of his father, with the irruption in the centre of their couple of a “second man” and the difficulty to communicate about this subject with people around them. He shows how, since he was a child, he developed himself around this “absence“, which became omnipresent and invasive in his relationship to others. He insists on the very strong relationship he has with his parents to well indicate that by searching “his biological donor” he is not searching a father, explaining how difficult it is to “develop with blurred origins” and to consider his own paternity. It is difficult to recognize his body whose half part seems to be stranger to him, when he was a teenager, it was impossible to physically project himself into his father, perpetual anxiety to meet his biological father at school, in the street, at his girlfriend’s, terror of unconscious incest… From that a revolt developed regarding adult’s world, particularly regarding those who represent the masculine authority, because among them he could find his “genitor” and they may have invented this silence world which hurts him.
Unfairness and infantilisation
In the centre of his disquiet, he found the bitter feeling of being a victim of an organisation which ignores his parents and him. He tries to feel his way along like in a labyrinth where the leaders wearing white collar, instead of helping him, prohibit him to find the way out. All along his investigation of his origins, we can find the emblematic face of Cecos’ physicians, holder of the more intimate secret of his being they do no want to reveal him: That of the beginning of his existence. Added to the pain of the “absence” the unfairness: Why do the physicians know his secret whereas he and his parents are not authorised to know it? They are the first concerned. “Only the Cecos know who the donor is: This contributes inevitably to put our parents in position of children compared to those who know and also compared to their own children.” Everything seems organised to “deprive of maximum responsibility the couples who, because of their pain, are grateful to physicians to the point of forgetting to think.” “The infantilisation of the people concerned can achieve unbelievable proportions.” “At that time Daddy and Mummy were even not conscious that the sperm of the donor was something alive. The fact that it comes from a person or a thinking subject totally escaped them. All Cecos’ organisation contributes to this delusion.” He has the feeling they were taken hostage.
Secret or lies?
The author wonders about the deep reasons of the willing to maintain anonymity. He sees in it a more or less conscious desire of Cecos to reinforce their power. “In our case the separation between sexual relation and procreation to which is added the necessary intervention of a third party who resorts to masturbation to be a sperm donor, transforms rapidly the physician, officer of the scientific experience into God in person. That’s he is not at all. This approach which reinforces the ego and the medical almighty is unbearable to me.” Between secret and lies: the border is thin and worried. At the crossroad of biological, affective, and “educative” paternities, to let believe that the biological side is not important, is not deceiving the donor and the recipient and closing the child in a prohibited quest? As if only the secret could contain the contradictions of the system.
Some examples gathered all along the pages invite us to think about the ontological status of the gametes. Arthur’s mother accepts the gamete donation without thinking that it is a donation of “heredity” and yet, thinking about being inseminated by her stepfather’s sperm (considered possibility), she is terrified and refuses absolutely. The parents are pleased their three children are the fruit of three different donors, because a single donor would have taken too much place within the family… Why does the law require that the wife of the sperm donor signs her consent each time? If the sperm donation is a little commitment for the donor and for the child conceived, why surrounding it with so many mysteries, why using so many precautions? Do we fear that one day the attraction of the donor for the child he contributed to generate or of the child for his/her biological father would be too strong? Is it not the admission that the sperm donation is a “heredity” donation and that the fact to admit it would result in shaking the entire machine?
The author wonders about the motivations of the one he calls “the bastard donor”; the generosity of the “donor” displayed and praised by the Cecos, for him seems to be a mockery. Among the main reasons given by the donors he met during his investigation, he noted the desire to carry on existing through his descendants, to give birth to several children (up to 10) without modifying the size of his own family and the interesting “deep desire of “repairing” the accumulated spermatic residues” by giving to the sperm its real purpose: the procreation.
Arthur Kermalvezen feeds his fight for removing the anonymity with his revolt faced with lies. But maybe some people will see an even larger fight, because the author’s disquiet seems, without being aware of it, to be related to his mode of conception and also to the secret which surrounds him. “I knew that I was the result of a cleverly orchestrated programming, of a scientific experience which was little worried about the consequences on us, the children. We were guinea pigs…” “My parents (…) in a certain way committed a perfect crime“.
1. Né de spermatozoïde inconnu, Arthur Kermalvezen – Presse de la Renaissance – Février 2008