The following is an excerpt from Jackie Morrison’s first fiction novel “Capturing Captain America” and gives a glimpse into the plot’s protagonist: Tara Bender, a San Francisco Vet.
Fertile Thoughts, a new blog series on baby making by Tara Bender, DVM
I’m having my baby. The old Paul Anka song found a revival of sorts when it became a cover song on the TV show Glee. I remember that episode well. High School sweethearts Quinn and Finn were faced with a teenage pregnancy and used the lyrics to break the news to her parents. Out of curiosity I decided to listen to the original version on YouTube. What a surprise when I found my eyes tearing up. Was I sad for myself? No. I was feeling blue for my mother. She was neither in love or even smitten by my father. They never met.
My mother had decided on her 30th birthday that she wanted a child. Being a fan of genetics she knew the personality and physical traits she wanted to pass onto her offspring. So, like the mathematician she is, my mother scheduled an appointment at the Sperm Bank of California in 1982. She promptly selected the donor of her dreams and conceived my sisters and I. We are the products of a transactional exchange for genetic material. We were all born “out of wedlock” but none of us qualify to be called a “love child”. Love children are conceived in love, not via reproductive medical science.
Last month I celebrated my 30th birthday and it was clear to me that day how much I am my mother’s daughter. I’ve made the decision to follow in her footsteps. Being single, financially independent, and a homeowner, I’m in the position to give a child a good life. My romances have not turned into marriage or a long-term committed partnership and I simply can’t wait any longer. So instead of hiring a matchmaker I’ve decided to undergo the expense of artificial insemination. My dream donor is still being decided upon but this endeavor does not sadden me. I know I will love my children just as much as any mother. Growing up without a father is not ideal but it’s not a terminal disease either. This is San Francisco. Anything still goes. So yes, my kids are going to be “love children”. Deal with it if you disagree.
Many women want marriage and children. In the past it was socially unacceptable to become an unwed single mother. Before the option of artificial insemination it was impossible to have a child if one did not have an intimate relationship with a man. Now, the complications of a broken romance and the consequent drama of a custodial arrangement can be forgone with reproductive medicine. The advent of Sperm Banks in liberal San Francisco and elsewhere in California means that women can become mothers when they want and can exercise complete choice in the paternal DNA desired. I have narrowed my criteria to a select combination of personality and physical characteristics to ensure that my offspring will be smart, musical, and athletic. I see nothing wrong with this approach. The best police dogs are also the most carefully bred. Darwin would be proud of them and probably would consider sperm banks as beneficial to human evolution.
Dr. Tara Bender is a San Francisco Veterinarian and Equine Specialist who runs a clinic in Pacific Heights and is an associate professor at UC, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Bender is active in several animal welfare organizations, such as the San Francisco SPCA, The Humane Society of Marin, Veterinarians without Borders, Muttville, and Golden State German Shepherd Rescue. She is also a commissioned Vet for the SFPD and has treated injured K-9s and Police horses. In her spare time, Dr. Bender is a blogger for Huffington Post Pet. Fertile Thoughts is her new blog column chronicling her path to motherhood on her own terms.