Kids conceived with the help of a cryobank are now old enough to ask questions about how a modern family is made.
In The Delivery Man, a feature film that opened last week, Vince Vaughn’s character David Wozniak sets out to meet the 533 kids he fathered through a sperm bank. Monday night, MTV premiered a reality series Generation Cryo, which introduces us to Breeana—Bree, for short—the 17-year-old daughter of a lesbian couple, who goes to meet her half-siblings and, ultimately, her sperm donor. If only Vince Vaughn’s fictional character was Bree’s real-life donor dad than we could have a quick, happy Hollywood ending. But thankfully, MTV didn’t give us that show.
Bree was conceived with sperm from the California Cryobank, and after doing a search on the Donor Sibling Registry (DSR), she found out that she has at least 15 half-siblings from the same donor: No. 1096. So begins the search for her biological family, and in 2013, what better way to do it than on national TV? The MTV-watching set—I’ll include myself among them—has been waiting for a show like this. Even before The Delivery Man, Hollywood gave us The Kids Are All Right, The Switch, and The Backup Plan—about sperm donations and the fraught emotions tied up in them, including donor-baby identity issues, something Bree is finally ready to confront on Generation Cryo. “I learned a lot about myself, which really helps you be more secure with yourself.” She said in a recent interview with the Daily Beast. “I started dating this girl who I eventually got into a relationship with, focused on school, and stopped hanging out with people who were bringing me down. I have this big family now, and I know the kind of people I want in my life.” For a whole new generation led by donor kids, family no longer means the picture-perfect mom, dad, two siblings and a dog. In the same Beast article, Hilit, Bree’s half-sister, said she went on the search with Bree to support her family, “I was more in it for my half-siblings, since I support them 100 percent in what they want to do,” she said.
America is starting to obsess over these unconventional family stories, and with reason. According to recent studies, 40 percent of same-sex couples between the ages of 22 and 55 are raising children, but only about 5 percent of those kids are adopted. Add to that all the same-sex couples who can’t conceive and opt for sperm donation from a bank and you have hundreds of thousands of kids in the same situation as Bree, possibly feeling unfulfilled without access to biological fathers or at least intrigued by the mystery. Now they’re finally old enough to do something about it, and a generation created by technology is now using it to further their understanding of family. But is this something the rest of the world should be gawking at? The money and network support of Generation Cryo has helped bring new families together, but let’s hope the quest stays on the tasteful, and often less occupied, side of MTV reality shows. Generation Cryo might just influence a whole new group of kids to seek their donors, so let’s steer clear of Real World–Jersey Shore fare and keep it classy, MTV.
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