20 kids, 11 women, and 1 “dad”

Imagine having 20 children with 11 women, but having intimate relations with none of them! It’s happened, thanks to the "miracle" of modern science!

And as Dan Simon mentioned, these kids and their mothers are finding each other and hooking up.  And the kids look alike- unsurprising, I guess, since they share the same paternal genes.  Simon mentions that these kids and their mothers "become fast friends," despite coming from very different backgrounds.

Simon then poses this very interesting question regarding these children:

"So are they all really members of the same family? Are these kids actually brothers and sisters in any meaningful sense?"

One thoughtful poster has this to say:

Family is about relations. So are brothers and sisters. That man is merely a sperm donor; he’s not those kids’ father. Since those kids don’t share the same parents, they can’t be siblings in any meaningful or unmeaningful way. On the other hand, kids in adopted families are siblings even though they don’t share the same biological traits.

Another disagrees:

I feel that they are brothers and sisters. Just because the donor doesn’t have intimate relations with the ladies means nothing. . . [I]f this man does this over and over then chances are he could have multiple children, from different ladies. They are all related. And they should all get in touch with each other too.

Well this is an interesting quandary.  In a biological sense, they are closely related family so that one would hope they would not meet by chance, fall in love, and so on.  Imagine the inbred children that could result! So on that level, it’s probably good that they are finding each other.

It is also good in case one of them needs an organ transplant, a blood transfusion, etc. 

But are these people actually family on a deeper level? Does their biological relation necessarily translate into a familial one? I have heard people claim that they always felt a connection to a biological mother/father/sibling that they never met before, such as adoptees who feel some connection to their biological mother. Is there a God-given connection here?

I am not sure there is a God-given connection in otherwise biological families, and my thoughts tend to lean towards the idea that those who claim to feel such DO feel such a connection, but that it is in their mind.  To me, this leads to the deep question of where familial bonds originate- from heaven? from biology? socially, from being around the same people for all those years?

One possible answer might be that this dilemma is solved in the sealing powers taught by our Church.  When a child is adopted, he/she can be sealed into a family unit, which I believe is recorded in the heavens.  That is how the familial connection is made.  Or when a child is born in the covenant- a familial connection.  Perhaps this is one way in which the gospel will make order out of the familial chaos we seem to delight in as a society.

I understand that the majority of people on Earth are not LDS and that they still have family ties- so the question remains as to what physiological force brings those ties to bear.  However, in the eyes of the Lord there will be no chaos, in my opinion, because of the sealing power.

So what do others think about such situations? Where do family ties come from? Are they ingrained into us by society, biology, the Lord, etc.?

7 Responses to 20 kids, 11 women, and 1 “dad”

  1. Well, these kids are going to inherit temprament and other characteristics, much like members of a sept or clan often share personality trends.

    Interesting thoughts.

  2. Jordan says:

    Are temperaments really biologically inherited? I am not a scientist and I have read nothing about the subject, so I have no educated opinion. But it seems to me that temperaments are somewhat a function of how one is raised.

    Don’t get me wrong- I have kids and I definitely see differences in their personalities, so I have no doubt that some personality issues are inborn. However, I am not sure that they actually stem biologically from me or my wife, and to the extent I do see behavior trends that are similar to those exhibited by me or my wife, how do I know they haven’t just been picked up by observation?

    It would be an interesting science experiment to observe the temperaments of these artifically conceived offspring and see if they are similar to the father’s.

  3. Susan M says:

    When I was studying early childhood education I was taught your temperament is something you’re born with, and it doesn’t change. ttp://ohioline.osu.edu/flm02/FS05.html

  4. Jordan says:

    Thanks for the link, Susan. It did shed light on temperaments being inborn. But are they inherited from parents, like genes for other physical traits?

  5. Kim Siever says:

    It reminds me of my half sister who I haven’t seen since she was still in diapers and who has now given me a niece. She considers me her brother in every sense of the word despite the fact that she has no memory of seeing me and we come from different mothers.

  6. Sarah says:

    Maybe it’s because I’m a girl, but I think that if I’d given birth to someone, I’d consider them my child, no matter how little contact I had with them after that point. Also, I’ve only spent a handful of hours with two of my half-siblings and my older stepbrother in the last few years (him since 1990, the younger two since 2001 — and not that much time with any of them before those points) but we’ll still be calling then “Uncle James, Aunt Mary, etc.” when I have kids. Sort of like how I love learning about the great-grandparents I never met, and the grandfathers who died when I was a toddler.

  7. Anita says:

    I saw a similar article recently (some magazine waiting for a haircut) about how adopted Chinese girls are finding biological siblings in the United States, even including a pair of fraternal twins! They’ve matched photos and then done DNA testing on some twenty-odd sibling pairs so far discovered (a Chinese family would give up one daughter, and then later another, and American families would adopt from the same orphanage and make the connection). Similarly, some families feel that their adopted children should vacation and bond with their biological sisters, others don’t. Interesting quandary.

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