A Salt Lake architect takes his search for his natural father to the airwaves Friday, with an appearance on "Geraldo," the national television program.
Bill Cordray will be one of the guests on Geraldo Friday; the show airs on the cable station WGN at 10 a.m., and on Ch. 4 at 3 p.m. The subject is sperm banks.Cordray, conceived by artificial insemination at a Salt Lake clinic in October 1944, discovered the fact only when he was 37 years old. Until then, his parents - both now deceased - claimed his "social father," or his mother's husband, was his actual father.
Cordray said Wednesday he and his two brothers did not resemble their "father" and that this caused comments and created distress. The problem is a national one, with an estimated 30,000 children born yearly through artificial insemination, not including cases in which the husband's own sperm is used in a fertility treatment.
The Geraldo program was filmed last month. "The experience was very interesting," Cordray said.
"I was right in the middle of a deadline," involving plans for the new Salt Lake arena. "I got this opportunity to fly to New York, which was totally out of the blue."
He traveled to New York for the filming, missing two days of work, so he worked extra hours later. "It was a very bizarre feeling to be jerked out of my daily routine and fly to New York - I'd never been in New York."
Along the way, he met a man from Colorado also went aboard the flight to be on the same program. Eventually, the two decided to form HOPE - a group called "Helping Offspring Pursue Ethics."
Among the guests on the program were a couple whose child was conceived in such a clinic, supposedly using the husband's sperm. This kind of conception is done sometimes because of fertility problems that the husband has, which can be rectified by treatment of the sperm.
In this case, the couple says a blood test shows that the child is the husband's after all.
Also appearing on the show is the lawyer for a couple whose child turned out to be a different race, allegedly because of a mixup at the sperm bank, and a representative of that sperm bank.
Going on Geraldo Rivera's program was satisfying to Cordray because he felt that "finally my sense of being unjustly treated was something people could relate to."
Ever since he discovered he was conceived by artificial insemination, Cordray has been hoping to find out the identity of his real father - not because he would make any claim on his estate but because he wants to know about his true heritage. Children have a right to know "who they are," he said.
Often artificial insemination donors are chosen by sperm banks to match the "social father's" general looks. The idea behind that is that the parentage of the offspring is usually supposed to be kept secret.
Cordray thinks the lie told to a child about this most intimate relationship - with a supposed father - can be disastrous.
He is convinced that "the father ends up playing a very minor role in his (the child's) development, because he doesn't have the `right' as a genetic father." The child may sense an estrangement and not know the reason.
He thinks his biological father may have been a medical student in Salt Lake City during October 1944. He wants to know him, without any desire to be intrusive, because he feels he has a right to know his own heritage.