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Archive for April, 2010

Russian Adoption Debacle – the Alternative

Posted by avnerhershlag on April 16, 2010

  • International adoption is happening in large numbers.  The 3 leading sources of adopted children in the United States in 2009 (according to State Department figures quoted by the NY Times), were:
  • China – 3001 children
  • Ethiopia – 2,277 children
  • Russia – 1,586 children

United States citizens have adopted more than 50,000 Russian children since 1991!

Professor David Smolin, (Cumberland Law School, Ala.) writes on the NYT blog :

“Inter-country adoption, particularly of older children, and most especially of children from abusive families or neglectful institutions, is inherently a high risk process. Children coming from traumatic backgrounds commonly suffer from serious psychological, behavioral, cognitive and educational issues. The language and cultural transitions of inter-country adoption compound and complicate both the child’s trauma and therapeutic interventions.

The child welfare and adoption systems that have created countless cases far more tragic than this latest one are the real criminals.

Unfortunately, the adoption myth in the United States sends the message that the love and care found in any normal American home is enough to heal any child. This myth leads to numerous inadequacies:

  • Inadequate evaluation of children prior to adoption
  • Inadequate preparation, training and selection of prospective adoptive families;
  • Inadequate post-placement services.”


  • This tragic incident brings to light serious problems associated with adoption.
  • These problems, some delineated above by Prof. Smolin, are not limited to international adoptions.  Frequently, mothers who give up babies for adoption have had no prenatal care, and the American adoption agency pushes the couple to sign adoption papers before the mother is checked by a designated Ob/Gyn and the child – by a pediatrician.
  • a less discussed angle of the current debate is: Fertility Treatment as an alternative to adoption.
  • Most adoptions are due to infertility.
  • Some of the adoptive couples are not too old to have a baby.  They just choose adoption, because, “this way we’re sure we get the baby.  Fertility treatment is expensive, and you’re not guaranteed that you’d walk out with a baby.”
  • For those couples: please reconsider; fertility treatment is highly successful.  There are many new options available.  Yes, adoption may be successful.  But in many cases, psycho-social issues may complicate things, becoming a huge burden for a lifetime.
  • Other couples feel that they are too old to have a baby.
  • Men, by design, are almost never too old to reproduce.
  • Women, on the other hand, do experience “reproductive aging” in the middle of their life.
  • I call on women with reduced ovarian reserve: please consider Donor Eggs.
  • With Donor eggs, you get to choose your donor.  Your donor gets screened carefully: for infectious disease; genetics; and psychologically – by a standardized test and an interview with a psychologist.
  • “But this child will not be from my egg, doctor…”  True, but you will have optimal control over the physical, genetic and mental health of the egg donor.
  • The child will inherit half of the genetics of the couple, since your partner’s sperm will be used.
  • And you get to have the maternal experience by carrying the pregnancy and delivering the child.

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Posted by avnerhershlag on April 4, 2010

In a study by Walsh et al (Cancer, 2010), 22,562 men who were evaluated for infertility from 1967 to 1998 were indentified from 15 California infertility centers and linked to the California Cancer Registry.

A total of 168 cases of prostate cancer that developed after infertility were identified.

Men evaluated for infertility but not necessarily with male factors were not found to have an increased risk of cancer compared with the general population

Male infertility increased the chances aggressive prostate cancer by 2.6 times. The risk of slow-growing prostate cancer was increased by 1.6 times.


  • A message to men experiencing infertility: don’t panic!  Likelihood is that you will be healthy and never develop prostate cancer!  Why?
  • Because only 1.2 percent of infertile men developed prostate cancer in this study, compared to 0.4 of fertile men.
  • This means that your chance of NOT developing prostate cancer, even if you have a fertility problem and abnormal sperm, is 98.8%!
  • Also, what the media forgot to mention, is that men who were evaluated for infertility had normal sperm DID NOT have an increased chance to develop prostate cancer.
  • And yes, it is true that previous research by the same authors reported a 2.8-fold increase chance to develop testicular cancer,

But they had only 34 cases in over 22,000 men studied.

  • Both observations are interesting, demanding close attention and hopefully studies that will shed light on this association.
  • We are still in the dark regarding the genetics of male infertility.  There are also ongoing studies on the genetics of both prostate and testicular cancer.
  • Hopefully, in the not to far future, the genes responsible will be discovered.  It may be that they are, in some cases, evil neighbors on the same chromosome.
  • If we know the genes, we can check if patients carry them, and aim to eliminate them in your children (through IVF and genetic diagnosis of your embryos — PGD).
  • One of the researchers mentioned God and Darwin in this context… as if male infertility was a signal to stop certain men from reproducing.  I’d rather stay away from sacrilegious statements.  As far as Darwin goes — I’m sure that he’s modify his evolution theories had he lived today and saw all the wonderful new human being that we bring to life, bypassing infertility obstacles.
  • EVERY MAN WITH INFERTILITY SHOULD HAVE A CHANCE TO BECOME A FATHER!  It is the basic right of every human being.
  • So here is the message to you: a man with infertility, who’s lost sleep since this report came out:  Take charge of your health.  This is what you should do:
  • 1. If you and your wife have fertility problems, and you have normal sperm, you DO NOT have an increased chance to develop prostate and testicular cancer and you DO NOT have to see a male fertility specialist.
  • 2. If you have abnormal sperm test (semen analysis), SEE A UROLOGIST WHO SPECIALIZES IN MALE INFERTILITY.  He or she will examine you and in most cases will reassure you that you are healthy and that you can proceed with fertility treatment.
  • 3. Like all men, you should have regular, annual exams, including a prostate check.
  • And most importantly, we are now very successful in helping infertile men have a baby.
  • So the bottom-line: even if you have abnormal sperm, likelihood is the YOU WILL BE CANCER FREE AND THAT YOU WILL BECOME A FATHER!

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Posted by avnerhershlag on April 4, 2010

In her new movie Back-up Plan, a single woman (Lopez) turns to artificial insemination to answer her ticking biological clock only to meet the man of her dreams on the same day as her positive pregnancy test results.

In an upcoming film, The Switch, based on a New Yorker story by Jeffrey Eugenides (author of Middlesex, one of my favorite books), a neurotic and insecure man finds out his best friend (Jennifer Aniston) wants to have a child through artificial insemination. He surreptitiously replaces her donor’s semen with his own and is then forced to live with the secret that he is the child’s real father.

Now what’s happening in the REAL WORLD?  If you are a single woman out there, is artificial insemination by a sperm donor an option for you?

Here are some talking points:

  • Women increasingly take control over their reproductive future.
  • This is part and parcel of the EMANCIPATION OF WOMEN
  • As women climb up in the social ladder, spending as much time on higher education and career advancement as men, they come to realize that biology has not dealt them a fair share:  as years go by, HER biologic clock is not only ticking; the alarm keeps sounding off! And the man — HE doesn’t even own a biologic clock.  His fertility is always at a high.  He doesn’t have to juggle fertility and career.  And wait:  he doesn’t have to juggle motherhood and career either!  His bread is buttered on both sides.
  • So now you may realize why so many men who may finally seem to be “Mr. Right,” turn out to be “Mr. Not Right Now.”
  • So as you go up in age, the number of possible contenders dwindles, should you consider the alternative:  taking control over your reproductive future, before it is too late?
  • How much of a choice do you have when it comes to donors?
  • Anonymous.  Does it scare you?  How much will you know about your donor (you’ll be surprised)
  • How safe is it?
  • What do you tell my child?  When?
  • What if your child wants to meet his father?
  • Are you ready for single motherhood?

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Posted by avnerhershlag on April 4, 2010

Yes, top students reap rich rewards, even as egg donors

would-be parents want high scorers

Stephanie Ebert, Boston Globe (March 26, 2010)

The Harvard Crimson was one of three college newspapers that ran an identical classified ad seeking a woman who fit a narrow profile: younger than 29 with a GPA over 3.5 and an SAT score over 1,400. The lucky candidate stood to collect $35,000 if she donated her eggs for harvesting.

From a sample of over 300 college newspapers, findings revealed that almost one-quarter of advertisements offered payment in excess of $10,000, a violation of guidelines issued by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).


* Whether you’re trying to improve your offspring by genetic technology or by selecting a smart and/or good looking sperm or egg donor, the ethical question remain: is this right?

* The issue of PAYMENT for eggs or sperm, above and beyond the compensation given to the donor for their effort, is considered flawed and rides down the slippery slope of paying for body parts.

*But the question still remains: what’s wrong with prospective parents to try to “upgrade their child?” and how is the GAMETE DATING GAME different from the PEOPLE DATING GAME?

If you want to read more on this topic, please click on DESIGNER BABIES

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