Question: My husband and I found out that he cannot have children. We both want a family. We now have three choices. We can adopt, we can get an anonymous sperm donor or we can ask his brother to donate sperm.
We are trying to consider what would be best for the child. My husband really wants to ask his brother. I know that this has its complications. I also wonder if it is fair to ask this of my sister-in-law. We are very close, and she wants us to have a child but is this asking too much?- Atlanta, Ga.
Dr. Laura: I think your instincts are right on. Adoption makes you a "new" family without an ongoing sense of dual relationships between any of the parts. Although there eventually is knowledge of a prior set of "parents" (biologically speaking), there is no ongoing intervention and confusion to loosen the primary bonds you would be trying to establish.
With a sperm donor (anonymous), the same is true. Frankly, though, I don't recommend that option when everybody knows about the situation. Adoptees at least have a sense of history, where someone thought of their best interest in giving them up. When you are the product of some anonymous fellow ejaculating into a cup for $100, there isn't the same pride of history - nor is there anyone you could "meet" in the future if there were a desire to put closure on curiosity. This is why I recommend this procedure only when "no one is ever going to know," except the two of you and the M.D.
The problem with using the uncle is that the uncle is the dad - and don't think there won't be complicated psychological issues later, as uncle/aunt (dad and step/mom) feel a sense of connection and power inappropriate to the realities. Also, their children are no longer cousins; they are siblings . . . and so it goes.
Wouldn't you, in their position, feel more of a right to comment, intervene, etc., because the child is "yours"? Might not the child have some difficulty with this dual identity (uncle equals dad), since the interactions would be continuous?
I really vote for adoption - it is emotionally the cleanest, considering all the circumstances. I realize your husband might be feeling an ego problem with the sperm of a stranger and that the uncle alternative is close to his own genes . . . but the ultimate price is too iffy.
Question: I'm 39 and my wife is 37. We've been married for 18 years and have four children. I knew my wife and her family before we started dating. She knew I wanted to marry a virgin and she told me she had had no intercourse. Recently, my wife told me she was not a virgin when we got engaged. She feels very bad about it, and it has depressed both of us, but we are making progress. Is it normal to feel so hurt and cheated one day and so lucky the next, because I have a wife who feels she can talk to me now?
- Madison, Wis.
Dr. Laura: I'm of the impression you've answered this yourself. Yes, it is regrettable that she lied, but if she hadn't, you would have missed out on your not-perpetually-perfect (whose is?) but wonderful family.
If she had lied about ongoing behavior, she'd be a lousy person today, continually destroying your family life. She lied about an event, an event over which she feels regret and which she has not repeated. Keep focused on the difference.
Everyone wishes for a perfectly clean slate when life gets routine or difficult . . . but why does that clean slate only include cleaning away the "other" person, hmmmm?
Question: I'm 30 and have been dating a guy, also 30, for almost a year. He is great and I am in love with him. We have been talking about getting married, but I am not quite ready yet. Yesterday, he called and said he was going to buy a new Grand Cherokee for me; he plans to pay cash and take care of all expenses, so I wouldn't be responsible for something I can't afford. When I asked him why he wanted to do this, he said he wants to make me happy. I told him I was a bit overwhelmed and would have to think about it. All of my friends tell me to take the car and be grateful for such a generous boyfriend. I would love to take it, but I am not sure it would be appropriate for me to accept such an expensive gift. What are the guidelines for receiving and giving gifts while dating?
Dr. Laura: A basic guideline is that you don't do anything to make the other person uncomfortable. Since you are enamored but "not ready," such a gift makes you feel uncomfortable because it puts you in the position of feeling obligated, dependent, etc. A gift of this nature is more appropriate within a committed relationship, where there is less question of manipulation.
Gifts are expressions of affection and intention. When they outsize what can be reciprocated, when they outsize the level of commitment, the intention is to gain power. Keep the field level, or you will find yourself doing, saying and being a way you are not comfortable with, simply because of that gift - and not because of the truth of your feelings.