By John Norton
A recent article in the journal Human Life Review paints a chilling picture of a society in which fathers are very nearly irrelevant.
It cites the example of groups being formed in online social networking forums with this sort of description: "This group is for families who conceived with NorthWest Andrology and Cryobank Donor #188G. Membership is by invitation only and for those who have children by Donor 188G or are pregnant by this donor."
You may have guessed it: Donor 188G is an anonymous sperm donor. His offspring have come together presumably to trade notes about physical and psychological similarities that bind them to their common "father." This is an increasingly common phenomenon, as children conceived in the first boom of artificial insemination in the late 1980s have come of age, and are asking questions.
"I'm here to tell you that emotionally, many of us are not keeping up," wrote one donor-produced woman, Katrina Clark, in a Washington Post column several years ago. "We didn't ask to be born into this situation, with its limitations and confusion. We offspring are recognizing the right that was stripped from us at birth -- the right to know who both our parents are."
And the right to have a father. Clark wrote that from early childhood she longed for a father, but that she lashed out at the man her mother eventually married.
"That was when the emptiness came over me," she said. "I realized that I am, in a sense, a freak. I really, truly would never have a dad. I finally understood what it meant to be donor-conceived, and I hated it."
Perhaps like no time before, society needs to reassess the importance of fathers for the physical, emotional, psychological, intellectual and spiritual wellbeing of the next generation. But because of the decline of social appreciation for fatherhood in recent decades, young fathers today may find themselves poorly equipped in that role.
But help is at hand. The Knights of Columbus has launched a new website, www.fathersforgood.org, that is loaded with resources for fathers and their families. It includes a monthly in-depth examination of an issue related to fatherhood; a "Father's Bookshelf" of recommended texts on marriage, faith and family; stories of everyday dads that are meant to inspire; a blog; and a Facebook group to connect with other fathers.
The site's editor, Brian Caulfield, said that it "addresses the questions that are central to a man's life: faith, family, finances, the economy, the domestic church, teens and sex, love and marriage, grace and God. All of these topics and more are covered on the site in a contemporary, yet decidedly Catholic, way."
As always, I await your input at email@example.com.
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