written by Dr. Todd Daly
Imagine that one day you wake up and no longer know who you are, or, more precisely, whose you are. Imagine too that unlike the gradual eroding of cognitive decline that accompanies dementia or Alzheimer’s, where it may not be possible to fully realize that your own identity has been compromised, you are fully aware that you no longer know who you are, or who you belong to. Sheila is one of thousands of young people living this nightmare. There is currently no known cure for this malady. It has no formal name. There are no formal diagnostic procedures surrounding it. It is not actually a disease. In Sheila’s case, she found it somewhat odd that she didn’t resemble either of her parents. When she was finally told why, it proved devastating, as if every moment of her life had been a lie, as if she had been tricked in a cruel game.
Jennifer Lahl’s award-winning documentary Anonymous Father’s Day, chronicles the lives of several children like Sheila who are struggling to realize their identity after they discover that they were conceived via a third-party anonymous sperm donor. What is it like to know that your biological father is known to you only by a number? How is one’s identity, self-perception, and view of the world shaped by not knowing who you come from? What happens to children who are the product of technological prowess of the fertility industry coupled with the celebration of having children of “one’s own” by any means necessary? Lahl’s documentary explores these issues in uncovering the hidden costs of our fertility revolution, helping Christians understand how to develop appropriate responses to the expanding possibilities of having children afforded by the continual advance of medicine.
Jennifer Lahl is founder and president of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network, coupling her 25 years of experience as a pediatric critical care nurse, a hospital administrator, and senior-level nursing management with a deep passion to speak for those who have no voice. Lahl’s writings have appeared in various publications including the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, and the American Journal of Bioethics. As a field expert, she is routinely interviewed on radio and television including ABC, CBS, PBS, and NPR. She was recently featured on the Dr. Oz program to speak of the dangers of egg donation, and is often called upon to speak alongside lawmakers and members of the scientific community, including members of the European Parliament in Brussels to address egg trafficking. Lahl serves on the North American Editorial Board for Ethics and Medicine and the Board of Reference for Joni Eareckson Tada’s Institute on Disability. In 2011, Lahl produced the documentary film Eggsploitation which has been awarded Best Documentary by the California Independent Film Festival, has sold in over 20 countries, and is showing all over the U.S.
Urbana Theological Seminary and Carle Foundation Hospital will be co-hosting a public viewing of Anonymous Father’s Day with Jennifer Lahl on Saturday, September 8th at the Champaign Public Library in Robeson Pavilion Room C at 9:30 AM with a discussion to follow. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to speak with one of the world’s leading experts in bioethical issues surrounding fertility.