I’m in a lot of facebook mom groups. Hippie moms of the hippie town, hiking group, babywearing group, ect. A friend recently added me to one that I am unsure about and I encountered an issue there that I have encountered in other groups but never taken the time to dissect.
The practice of calling a deadbeat dad a sperm donor.
The post normally is looking for advice on something and goes something like this: “Hey mamas, I need your help. My son’s bio dad, or sperm donor as I like to call him, showed up and wants contact with my son…” It’s meant to be harmless and I see where the mom’s posting are coming from. It’s not ill intentioned but whoa does it irritate me. Today I thought about (and googled about) why.
A deadbeat dad is not a sperm donor. A deadbeat dad is someone who had a child with someone and decided not to raise that child. Even the term deadbeat dad is harsh at times I think but for the sake of clarity I’m using it here. When people use the term sperm donor to refer to a man that did not fulfill his obligations it is an incorrect use of the term. In reality, a sperm donor is a man you had an agreement with and that man was to provide a service to you.
My son has a sperm donor. That sperm donor is someone who was paid for a service he provided. We are all following the terms of our agreement. To use the term sperm donor in the capacity these people use it in gives it a negative connotation that makes me uncomfortable. A sperm donor is not a bad thing, he is a biological fact for some families.
So I commented as much. I told her I was sorry for what she was going through and wish I could help but I wanted to point out that using sperm donors in that way is hurtful to families who choose sperm donors. That by giving it a negative connotation you are doing a disservice to my child and his peers. Your son was not conceived via sperm donor. Your son was conceived by someone who turned out to not want to be a dad. The poster apologized for offending me – I told her I wasn’t offended just asked that she think about her words.
A few others in the group thanked me and told me they hadn’t thought about that before. I really believe this is what it is – not thinking about the words you use. Not thinking about how it could be hurting other families. I’ve heard these comments for years and it has always bugged me. My goal is to not build our sperm donor up to be something he’s not. We will not tell Gus that he is an incredible man who gave us a gift. We’ll tell him that he is a man, a set of three numbers and a letter to us, and that because of him we were able to have Gus, our biggest treasure. We are forever grateful to him and hope that he is happy and healthy. But in that I do not wish to demonize him either. He did not desert his son. Gus is not his son. Gus is our son, mine and Lesley’s, and this man did not let anyone down.
And so, I commit to standing up to this verbiage when I see it. It’s seems so small, yes, but by giving these words negative connotations people are placing value judgements on my family. And that’s not small at all.