With genealogy research and ancestry testing becoming more common today, a lot of people who previously didn’t have complete information on their families are able to find out about long-lost relatives. Sometimes, their paternity comes as a shock. This happened to David Berry, who started out interested in learning about his grandfather on his father’s side.
He soon discovered that his father wasn’t actually related to him, and his parents revealed they had used an anonymous sperm donor. Berry also discovered he had at least 10 half-siblings, some of whom he reached out to and met, and eventually, he found the name of his anonymous donor, Dr. Morris Wortman, who was his mother’s fertility doctor. Wortman was still practicing, and had never told Berry’s mother he used his own sperm to impregnate her.
There were shock waves in Berry’s family, and also in Wortman’s. Additionally, some of the other half-siblings were shaken by the news. Morgan Hellquist, a half-sister of Berry, was specifically troubled by the discovery. Dr. Wortman had been her gynecologist, and has treated her as a patient without ever being upfront about his biological relationship to her.
While Berry’s story is surprising, it’s not as uncommon as many people may think. More than 50 doctors in the United States have been accused of this practice over the last few years, as what they’ve done has come to light through genetic testing. Many patients who discover this deception are suing their former doctors, seeking compensation for the emotional distress the discovery has caused.
Other doctors who’ve been discovered due to DNA testing have spoken about the issue, and how they were donors in the past because time was of the essence for women trying to conceive children. Time will tell how many more doctors engaged in this practice, and whether there will be any legal recourse for them or compensation for their children and former patients.
Our thorough contracts establish the intent of the parties regarding parental rights, identify the parties’ financial responsibility, and ensure all parties are aware of the importance of informed consent, providing our clients with further peace of mind as they navigate their third-party assisted reproduction journey. To learn more about how to work with The Surrogacy Law Center, contact us today!