Petition to Conduct CBI Enquiry into Murder of Dr J A Mathan

Saturday, 24 September 2011

N D Tiwari's no to DNA test could lead to presumption he is father: HC

N D Tiwari's no to DNA test could lead to presumption he is father: HC
Sep 23, 2011
NEW DELHI: The Delhi high court today ruled that veteran Congress leader N D Tiwari cannot be compelled to give blood sample for his DNA test to determine a city youth's paternity but said his persistent refusal can lead to the presumption that he is his father.

"Tiwari cannot be physically compelled or confined for submitting a blood sample for DNA profiling to implement its December 2010 judgement," conceded Justice Gita Mittal while deciding 85-year-old Tiwari's plea challenging the December 23, 2010, order of the high court which had asked him to give his blood sample for DNA test.

Referring to Tiwari's persistent refusal to give his blood sample as per the court direction, Justice Mittal said "the refusal by Tiwari to submit blood sample is willful, malafide, unreasonable and unjustified. Such refusal is taken on record."

Justice Mittal said "the impact of this refusal by Tiwari while evaluating the evidence produced by parties, ...may be treated as corroborative evidence leading to the presumption that the result of DNA profiling of the defendant's blood sample would have supported the plaintiff's (Rohit Shekhar) claim (of being Tiwari's biological son)."
"The conscious and emphatic refusal clearly suggests that Tiwari does not wish to run the risk of providing the plaintiff with the evidence that would establish his case and is malafide. The refusal of the respondent(Tiwari) displays no good reason but bad faith," said Justice Mittal, disapproving of Tiwari's attitude.

The court, meanwhile, said plaintiff Rohit Shekar should have made his mother Ujjwala Sharma too a party in the case as her blood sample was required for DNA test.

The court further said even B B Sharma, to whom Ujjwala got married, should also have been a party in the case.

Tiwari had on June 1 refused to appear in the high court dispensary to give his blood sample for DNA test to ascertain Rohit Shakhar's claim of being his biological son, saying he cannot be forced to do so.

On a paternity suit by Rohit, a single-judge bench of the Delhi high court had on December 23 last year asked Tiwari to undergo the DNA test for ascertaining the veracity of his claim that he is Tiwari's biological son.

Refuting Rohit's claim, Tiwari had challenged the high court's single-judge bench order before its division bench which too had rejected his appeal, following which he had gone in for a second round of appeal to the apex court on February 28.

But the apex court had on March 14 refused to stay the high court's order for his DNA test. However, in a relief to him, the court said the result of the test will not be made public unless it is required.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Psychoanalysts and the inappropriate Doctor-patient relationships between Doctors and Patients: Sex, spanking and the bitter feud that Gustav Jung and Sigmund Freud took to the grave

Psychoanalysts and the Inappropriate relationships between Doctors and Patients: Sex, spanking and the bitter feud that Jung and Freud took to the grave, according to controversial new film
23rd September 2011

On a wooded hillside in a suburb of Zurich, Switzerland, a carriage drew up outside the imposing grey stone building that housed the Burgholzli psychiatric hospital.
Inside the carriage was an 18-year-old Russian girl named Sabina Spielrein, accompanied by her uncle and a police officer. She had been referred by another psychiatric hospital unable to cope with her behaviour.
When she entered Burgholzli it was not hard to see why.
Her admission notes, dated August 17, 1904, described how the patient ‘laughs and cries in a strangely mixed, compulsive manner. Masses of tics, rotating head, sticks out her tongue, legs twitching’.
Keira Knightley plays Sabina Spielrein in the upcoming film A Dangerous Method

The young psychiatrist who took the notes was Carl Gustav Jung. He would, in time, be recognised as one of the founding fathers of psycho-analysis, alongside his friend and mentor, Sigmund Freud.
For six years the two men corresponded and collaborated, before their friendship faltered and then turned to hostility as Jung became disillusioned with Freud’s theory that sex — and sexual repression — lay at the heart of all hysteria and neuroses.
But, in 1977, a box was discovered in a basement in Geneva that revealed another possible cause for the rupture between the two psychiatrists.
It contained a diary written by Spielrein, as well as letters from Freud and Jung and drafts of letters she had sent both men.
The papers appeared to confirm what some had long suspected: that Jung had had an illicit relationship with Spielrein.
Their affair played a part in the breakdown of Freud and Jung’s friendship, as Spielrein became caught between the two men.
The fascinating relationship between Freud, Jung and Spielrein is the subject of a new film, A Dangerous Method, based on a book of the same title, by clinical psychologist John Kerr.
Keira Knightley’s performance as the troubled Sabina has been tipped for an Oscar.
But is the film’s portrayal of a violent sexual affair, with scenes of Knightley being spanked by Michael Fassbender, who plays Jung, really an accurate depiction of their relationship?
Could Jung, the pioneer of psycho-analysis, have abused the patient-doctor relationship so flagrantly that he indulged in sado-masochistic sex with his vulnerable young patient?
Sigmund Freud was a friend and mentor to Carl Jung

What is indisputable is that Jung and Spielrein quickly moved from the doctor-patient relationship to one of some intimacy.
Jung diagnosed Spielrein as having psychotic hysteria and noted that her condition was so bad that she ‘did nothing else than alternate between deep depressions and fits of laughing, crying and screaming. She could no longer look anyone in the face, kept her head bowed’.
He described her as looking ‘oriental and voluptuous’, with a ‘sensuous, dreamy expression’, although she was convinced that she was ugly. She sat on a chair, he sat behind her and they talked.
At the root of her problems was her relationship with her parents. Although Jung could find no evidence of a sexual assault that might explain her condition, it was clear she was fixated by her father and in particular her memory of him spanking her naked buttocks.
A depressive, highly manipulative man, he delighted in inflicting punishment on his daughter, both physical and mental.
As late as the age of 11, he would take her into a separate room to beat her — possibly to relieve his frustration at being cuckolded by his wife. If Sabina failed to show him the affection he required, he would threaten suicide.
Sabina’s mother was equally manipulative, keeping her daughter in ignorance about sex, beating and humiliating her. Little wonder that Sabina felt confused and consumed by guilt, self-loathing and repressed sexual feelings, constantly fantasising about transgression and punishment.
Every other day she would sit with Jung for an hour or even two, pouring out her feelings. As she was able to confess her long repressed feelings, she no longer needed to give vent to them through her ‘devilish’ behaviour, and began to act more calmly.
It was clear to Jung that his patient was beginning to fixate on him, transferring to him the unhealthy, painful love she felt for her father.
When Jung was absent from the hospital for a day, Spielrein became unsettled.
The next day she told him that she fantasised about him hurting her and begged him: ‘I want this pain, I want you to do something really bad to me, to force me to do something that I am opposed to with all my being.’
In the film, Jung obliges by spanking her, just as her father had done. It seems incredible that he would have done such a thing in reality, but what is clear is that patient and doctor were becoming extremely close.
At times, Jung clearly tried to push her away, at others, he seemed to encourage her. She began to assist Jung in the psychological laboratory. Spielrein was extremely intelligent and educated to a much higher level than most Swiss girls were, including Jung’s wife, Emma.
Spielrein recalled how Jung confided that his wife did not understand him: ‘I was an exception, but his wife was an ordinary woman.’
The film explores the relationship between Carl Jung and his 18-year-old patient Sabina Spielrein

Within a year, Spielrein’s condition was so improved that she left the hospital and enrolled in medical school, hoping to become a psychoanalyst.
The success of her treatment appeared to confirm the efficacy of ‘talking therapy’ – psychoanalysis – as pioneered by Sigmund Freud.
Jung wrote excitedly to Freud, citing Spielrein’s case. He did not, at this stage, mention anything untoward in the doctor-patient relationship, referring to Spielrein only as a ‘Russian girl’.
The correspondence developed: Freud appreciating Jung’s backing for his theories, Jung basking in the older man’s approval, until their relationship became not just mentor and protégé but almost father and son. When they finally met in 1907 the two talked for 13 hours straight.
Spielrein was by now in her third year of medical school but she continued seeing Jung regularly — so she would not relapse, as he put it. The letters between them from this period are highly compromising.
He calls her ‘My Dear’, refers to her ‘saucy letters’, and fixes a time for them to meet alone in her apartment.
Jung had become obsessed with Spielrein as she was with him. When Spielrein went to Russia on holiday and did not immediately contact Jung on her return, he became ‘somewhat hysterical’,  he confessed.
She was no longer the girl he had first met, when she wore peasant dresses and plaits in her hair: now she dressed elegantly: the troubled young girl had become a woman.
He feared he was losing her and wrote plaintively: ‘Return to me in this moment of my need, some of the love and guilt and altruism which I was able to give you at the time of your illness. Now it is I who am ill.’
But whispers of the affair were beginning to be heard around Zurich. Spielrein’s mother received an anonymous letter — possibly from Jung’s long-suffering wife Emma — warning her to save her daughter.
In response, Frau Spielrein wrote to Jung that ‘having saved her daughter once, he should not ruin her now’.

'I want you to do something bad to me'

Paranoid and aware that the affair could spell the ruin of his career, just when he was beginning to be acclaimed, Jung wrote a letter that seems both candid and extra-ordinarily callous, threatening to charge her for the times he saw her daughter after she had left the hospital.
‘I did not feel professionally obligated, for I never charged a fee... you do understand of course that a man and a girl cannot possibly continue indefinitely to have friendly dealings with one another without the likelihood that something more may enter the relationship….’
He then announced: ‘My fee is 10 francs per consultation,’ before announcing that he would never see Sabina again.
In a second letter, he claimed: ‘During the treatment, the patient had the misfortune to fall in love with me… I have always told your daughter that a sexual relationship was out of the question.’
Hurt and confused by Jung’s apparent desertion, Sabina wrote in desperation to Freud, hoping perhaps that he might intervene on her behalf.
‘Four and a half years ago, Dr Jung was my doctor, then he became my friend and finally my “poet” ie my beloved… He preached polygamy; his wife was supposed to have no objection.’
Jung, in a panic, wrote to Freud pre-emptively that ‘a woman patient’ had been ‘systematically planning my seduction’.
He must have been highly relieved when Freud ignored Sabina’s letter.
But months after the affair was over, Jung reignited it again when he agreed to meet Sabina to look at her dissertation.

Jung lost his mentor and greatest love
Spielrein recorded in her diary that the secret meetings, ‘ecstatic kisses’ and ‘tenderest poetry’ quickly resumed, but fell apart again when Jung appeared to dismiss Spielrein’s thesis.
Angry and hurt, Spielrein left Zurich for Vienna, where she joined Freud’s circle of psychoanalysts. She was still deeply troubled by her affair with Jung, describing him as  ‘the man who had smashed my whole life.’ Freud agreed to become her analyst.
It was around this time that Freud and Jung’s collaboration turned into conflict. Jung was developing his own theories about the libido, which he believed was an energy force that could be expressed in different ways, while Freud remained insistent on its sexual nature.
Freud grew resentful of this ‘betrayal’ by his disciple, while Jung chafed at his one-time mentor’s insistence that sex influenced everything.
The Sigmund Freud Museum in Vienna, which was his apartment before he emigrated to Great Britain in 1939

In a letter to Jung in April 1912 Freud mentioned that ‘Spielrein had discussed certain intimate matters with me’. He implied that he would use her revelations to discredit Jung’s theories. Jung responded by making an oblique reference to Freud’s affair with his own sister-in-law.
Thus we have two of the great thinkers of the age, resorting to blackmail as a way of undermining each other’s career and using Spielrein as the pawn in their quarrel.
The irony was that, while Spielrein herself was now a talented psychoanalyst, neither of them gave her due credit for her own theories, which were both revolutionary and brilliant.
Instead, they stole these ideas, borrowing liberally from them in their own publications. In their different ways, both had used her.
Frustrated and hurt, Spielrein married a handsome Jewish physician named Paul Scheftel in the summer of 1912.

The girl was 'oriental and voluptuous'

Wherever she practised as a psychoanalyst she won acclaim for her methods and ideas. But she was unable to settle and in 1924 she moved back to Russia, where she was killed by the Nazis in 1942.
Jung and Freud’s relationship deteriorated still further. When they met in 1913 at a congress of psychoanalysts, they did not speak to each other.
The rupture was complete and for both it felt akin to bereavement. Jung came close to a breakdown. He had lost both his mentor and his greatest love.
In one of his last surviving letters to Spielrein, Jung tried to justify his behaviour to her.
Writing of himself in the third person he explained: that he had to break off their relationship ‘because otherwise it would have led… to delusion and madness… Occasionally, one must be unworthy, simply in order to be able to continue living’.
But he also credited their love with leading him to ‘things of the greatest importance.’
Despite this tribute, he never gave her public recognition: her contribution to psychoanalysis went unrecognised. He wanted Spielrein forgotten. Was this evidence of guilt over their affair?
Jung certainly had other, sexual, affairs, most famously with Toni Wolff, a beautiful, rich young girl whom he treated for depression and who later became his assistant and long-term mistress.
But he remained haunted by Spielrein, his great love and inspiration, whose tragic destiny was to be caught between two great egos.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Existence of death penalty warrants imposition in some cases of Honour killing, Hired Killings: SC

Existence of death penalty warrants imposition in some cases of Honour killing, Hired Killings: SC
Sep 14, 2011

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that that the presence of death penalty in the statute book means that it can be imposed in heinous and gruesome murder cases, such as those relating to honour killing, dowry death, fake encounters and hired killings.

This ruling was handed down by a bench of Justices Markandey Katju and C K Prasad while upholding death penalty to one Ajitsingh Harnamsingh Gujral who killed his wife and three grown up children in Mumbai in April 2003.
The death sentence coincides with a renewed debate on death penalty in the wake of efforts to whip up resistance to the impending hanging of death row convicts: from those held guilty of assassinating former PM Rajiv Gandhi to Khalistani terrorist Devendra Pal Singh Bhullar to Parliament attack plotter Afzal Guru. The court noted that globally the movement was away from death penalty, but said that the judiciary cannot stop using the capital punishment for "rarest of rare" cases so long as it was provided for under the law.

The bench held that the court's failure to impose capital punishment for heinous crimes falling in the rarest of rare category would amount to "repeal of death penalty by the judiciary".

Gujral had a fight with his wife, as they routinely did every day, in the dead of the night at his Sher-e-Punjab colony in Andheri on April 9-10, 2003. Enraged, he poured gallons of petrol on all four and set them on fire before fleeing. He was caught in Madanganj in Ajmer district, Rajasthan, four days later.

Discussing a whole gamut of Supreme Court judgments dealing with death penalty and laying down the rarest of rare category guidelines, Justice Katju said: "In our opinion this is one of such cases. Burning living persons to death is a horrible act which causes excruciating pain to the victim, and this could not have been unknown to Gujral."

"A person like Gujral who instead of doing his duty of protecting his family kills them in such a cruel and barbaric manner cannot be reformed or rehabilitated. The balance sheet is heavily against him and accordingly we uphold the death sentence awarded to him," the bench said.

The apex court also examined the trend of death penalty worldwide and noted the divergence -- 96 countries have abolished it, 34 have not used it for a considerable period of time while 58 countries still retain it.

Among the European countries, Italy abolished death penalty in 1947, followed by Germany (1949), UK (1973) and France (1981). Canada did it in 1976 and Russia has not imposed death penalty on anyone since 1996. Australia last did in 1967 before formally abolishing it in 2010.

Quoting Amnesty International data, Justice Katju said: "China executes more people than all the rest of the world put together. It has death penalty for a variety of crimes -- aggravated murder, drug trafficking, large scale corruption etc."

He said the UN General Assembly in 2007-08 passed a non-binding resolution for global moratorium of execution with a view to eventually abolishing it. "However, 65% of the world population lives in countries like China, India, Indonesia and the US which continue to apply death penalty, although both India and Indonesia use it rarely," the bench said.

In the Indian context, the bench said only the legislature could abolish death penalty and not the courts. "As long as the death penalty exists in the statute book it has to be imposed in some cases, otherwise it will tantamount to repeal of the death penalty by judiciary," it said.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Stealing the affections of sister-officer's husband and then suicide: Amit-Anjali Gupta had a live-in relationship, alleges her family

Amit-Anjali Gupta had a live-in relationship, alleges her family
Sep 12, 2011
BHOPAL: Indian Air Force Group Captain Amit Gupta was detained by police after Anjali Gupta's family alleged they had a live-in relationship and that he had promised to marry her.

Former IAF flying officer Anjali, dismissed in 2006, committed suicide. She was found hanging from a ceiling fan on Sunday at Amit's Bhopal home.

Bhopal city superintendent of police Rajesh Singh Bhadoria said, "We have detained Amit for interrogation."

Anjali's mother Uma Gupta, elder sister Alka Garg and brother-in-law Jitendra Garg rushed to Bhopal after they learnt her suicide. "The family alleged Amit and Anjali had a live-in relationship for several years and that he had promised to marry her," Bhadoria told reporters.

He quoted Anjali's family members saying Amit's wife knew about the relationship and had objected to it. It had led to strained relations between Amit and his wife, said Bhadoria.

Amit had told the police on Sunday that he did not know Anjali's family and that she had "halted during her journey" in Bhopal.

Probe revealed Amit knew Anjali's family. He had met them several times in Delhi and this was Anjali's third visit to Bhopal, said police.

Amit was Anjali's senior when she had joined the IAF in Belgaum, said police. They had worked together in Bangalore, Delhi and Jammu. It was then that Amit's wife had got a wind of their relationship, said police.

Jitendra said the police should investigate why Anjali went to Amit's house and if they had quarreled. Amit had promised to marry Anjali after divorcing his wife, he said.

Amit was in Bhopal's cantonment area on Monday. A resident of Bhopal, he is posted in Nagpur. Police detained him in the evening. Anjali was alone in his house when she committed suicide. Gupta had gone to Delhi for his son's engagement.

As an officer in the IAF, Anjali had leveled allegations of sexual harassment against her superiors.

In 2005, a general court martial of the IAF had found Anjali guilty on five counts, including indiscipline, insubordination, and financial irregularity, and recommended she be cashiered - dishonorably discharged - from service. Upholding the ruling, then Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi, had issued an executive order terminating her service. But he had reduced her sentence from "cashiering to mere dismissal". On being cashiered, an armed forces officer is stripped of his or her rank.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Ivana Lowell: So, who was my father?: Paternity Fraud

Ivana Lowell: So, who was my father?: Paternity Fraud

Ivana Lowell's childhood was punctuated by disaster, including sexual abuse. But worst of all, she says, was finding out that her father wasn't who she'd thought
Ivana Lowell ... 'My mother probably never thought I would do a DNA test.' 
Israel Citkowitz (with others) Seated, Third from right
Had Ivana Lowell decided to turn her life into a novel, so far-fetched and brimming with disaster would it be that nobody would have believed it. Even a new therapist who asked Ivana to summarise significant events in her life – maternal neglect, sexual abuse, a near fatal childhood accident, losing her father, stepfather and sister before the age of 13, marriage to a drug addict, years of alcoholism and rehab, and finding out that the man she thought was her father was not – looked at her and said: "Oh my God, that's one of the worst stories I've ever heard."
As Ivana's mother liked to say every time some new tragedy befell the family: "This is too bad, even for us." Then they would laugh about it, which is how they always got through.

"In the cab on the way back from the shrink," remembers Ivana, sitting straight-backed in a hotel bar in London, her wide eyes a little nervy, "I remember thinking: You know what, I think I am pretty amazing to have survived that. I had never thought of myself in those terms before." It was partly that realisation a few years ago that made Ivana decide to write her memoir, Why Not Say What Happened? (the title comes from a line in a poem by her stepfather, the American poet Robert Lowell), which is bookended by the discovery – and then the truth – that her real father might not be the man she thought he was. It begins at lunch in February 1996, in New York, the day after her mother had died, when her mother's friend says to Ivana, somewhat out of the blue: "Of course, you do know who your real father was, don't you?"

She was born Ivana Citkowitz in 1966 in New York. Her mother, the writer, muse and society beauty Caroline Blackwood, was on her second marriage, to the Polish composer and musician Israel Citkowitz; the first, to the painter Lucian Freud, had lasted just three years.
 Her marriage to Citkowitz had collapsed and Blackwood brought their three daughters – Ivana the youngest – back to London. Citkowitz followed and was installed in an apartment nearby, but died when Ivana was six. By then, Blackwood had married Robert Lowell and as her memories of Citkowitz had all but disappeared, Ivana regarded Lowell as her father. It was Robert who slept outside the hospital room where Ivana, aged six, lay close to death, 70% of her body covered in burns after an accident with a boiling kettle. She was in hospital for nine months and left with terrible scars.
Caroline Blackwood with husband Robert Lowell

Robert Lowell was a manic depressive and alcoholic, whose poetry was famously bleak, but his stepdaughter remembers him differently. "He was so sweet," she says. "He was like a little child and to a seven-year-old he was really fun. I used to run in and interrupt his poetry and we would read out loud to each other. He was very cosy, very sweet. I really wanted to show that side of him." But his terrifying breakdowns are also related in the book, and she remembers him being carted off in ambulances.

For the most part, they lived in a grand but decaying house in the Kent countryside, which Lowell describes as chaotic and, because her older sisters were at boarding school and her new younger brother just a baby, isolating. Once, she screamed at the top of her lungs for 10 minutes in her bedroom in one wing of the house just to see if anyone would hear her. They didn't. So when the six-year-old Ivana began to receive regular visits at night from her nanny's husband, she writes that she almost welcomed the attention, although she felt such shame that she didn't reveal the abuse until much later.

Caroline wanted her daughter to take Robert's name, so she became Ivana Lowell-Citkowitz; it was such a mouthful that she later dropped the last name. In 1977, when Ivana was 12, Lowell died of a heart attack in the back of a taxi in New York. Less than a year later, her 18-year-old sister Natalya died of a heroin overdose. "That was awful," is all she says. Her mother's drinking worsened and it felt as if there was no hope after that. "I always felt I had to look after my mum a little bit," she says. "I was scared – she was all I had now."

Looming over all this was the presence of her grandmother Maureen, Caroline Blackwood's mother, Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, spoilt and demanding Guinness heiress and crashing snob. Though monstrous, her appearances in her granddaughter's book provide its funniest moments, including her cringeworthy friendship with the Queen Mother, and practical jokes (she liked to turn up to parties wearing a comedy nose in the shape of a penis and with a fart machine hidden under her dress). When her distressed granddaughter called her after that lunch in New York, Maureen was thrilled with the news that Citkowitz might not have been Ivana's father. "She said, 'Oh good, darling. You might not be part-Jewish after all. That means you've got a much better chance of getting married.'"

Ivana didn't push the family friend for details about who her father was. She was still reeling from her mother's death, and this new information was hard to take in. "I didn't really want to think about it, and I also thought it didn't matter," she says.

She remembers a lunch when she was about 17 with her mother and Robert Silvers, the editor of the New York Review of Books, a close family friend and former lover of Caroline. "After lunch I remember my mum saying, 'You know he thinks you're his daughter, don't you?' I just said: 'Stop it; he doesn't. He must know he's not.' She looked all serious and strange, but I just thought it was Mum being Mum – she loved to make things up and cause trouble."
Robert Silvers: He was made to believe was the father of Ivana Lowell

Silvers wasn't the only one who thought he was Ivana's father. After her mother's death, Ivana was invited to lunch with another of Caroline's former lovers, Ivan Moffat, a British screenwriter who worked in Hollywood. Barely two mouthfuls in, Ivan turned to Ivana and said he believed he was her father. Ivana downed her wine, said she didn't believe him and demanded that he take a DNA test. She was furious, she writes – with him, and with her mother. She phoned Silvers, who had become a reliable presence in her life. "I told him that Ivan seemed to think he was my father, and Bob said: 'Absolutely not. I am.' He said it completely directly. He said: 'Your mother told me, but she asked me not to tell you. I'm convinced, and I'll do a DNA test if it makes you happy.'"

Caroline had told both Moffat and Silvers that they had fathered Ivana but made each promise not to say anything to her – for whatever reason, she wanted her three daughters to have the same father. And as far as Ivana was concerned, Citkowitz was her father. "I did think that that was what I was genetically. He was a composer, a pianist, Jewish, Polish. I had a sense that half of me came from that, although I always wondered why I wasn't that musical. That was my identity; he was my father." Did he know he wasn't? "I think he did," she says quietly, "and he agreed to act as if I was his."

Despite these men coming forward to claim her, Ivana did nothing about it. "I just hadn't let it bother me," she says. "Life had gone on, I had got married, I was happy not knowing. I said to my husband: '[My father] is Israel, there's no way anyone would have kept this from me – it's too big a thing.'" It wasn't till she became pregnant with her daughter Daisy in 1998, and doctors asked about her family medical history, that she decided to ask Silvers and Moffat to take a DNA test.

Her sister Evgenia lived in Los Angeles, where Moffat lived, and took a testing kit to him. Ivana met Silvers in New York and they went to a testing specialist together. "The whole thing was so weird. It was my identity. But I wasn't sure if it would change anything anyway." A few days later, Silvers called with the result and sounded disappointed: "Seems it's not me. It's that Moffat fellow."

Ivana was disappointed too – she had wanted Silvers to be her father. Moffat was arrogant and mean, and liked to tell sniping anecdotes about her mother. "I was sad. I loved Bob – he had been part of my life. He had acted as though he had some kind of interest in me. I said to him recently: 'I love you and it doesn't make any difference to me [that you're not my biological father].' He said: 'I know, honey, same for me.' It was nicer than the reunion I had with Ivan – I think he wanted me to go, 'Oh, Daddy!' But I wasn't feeling it at all." She called Moffat and had a strained conversation. "I can't remember what I said, but it was something like 'So – the results are in.' It was very strange, and it didn't feel real. I just felt nothing. It didn't change me in any way."
Ivan Moffat: The real biological father unmasked

Her mother, Ivana believes, probably thought it was easier not to know. "She probably never thought that I would do a DNA test. Bob would carry on thinking he was my father and Ivan would maybe think it but not be sure. Maybe she liked the idea of me having lots of different fathers – the more the merrier. If Bob wanted to think he was my father, then let him. She liked him and thought he would have been a good dad."

The other possibility: "I don't know if she even knew."

Ivana smiles when she says this, but she admits she was furious and felt betrayed by her mother. "If she did know then I think it was terrible not to say, to let me believe something else. How could she not tell me? I thought we told each other everything. Especially when I thought about my name: Ivana-Ivan. It was so obvious – such a clue. I thought she was more subtle."

There was no big emotional reunion. Ivana had other things to cope with. Her marriage to Matthew, an interior designer, was imploding. He was a drug addict and alcoholic, and prone to violent rages. Ivana was also an alcoholic, and in and out of rehab.

Then, when her daughter Daisy was a toddler, she decided to invite Moffat to stay at her house in upstate New York, which she had inherited from her mother (and where she lives now). "He said he was thrilled," she remembers. "When he came, he said: 'I always loved you.'" Ivana felt it was time to get to know him better, but it was a painful week. "I was still angry and in shock, and I wasn't sure about the whole thing. I wasn't that nice to him."

The way Ivana tells it now sounds rather understated – it is as though all her years of therapy have given her a detachment from her life – although in the book it sounds more dramatic. During a dinner party with some mutual friends, she blurted out to Moffat that she wished she had never found out that he was her father, and Bob Silvers was. Then she burst into tears. "It wasn't good," she says now, "and I had a nasty feeling about it when he went back to California."

Two months later, Moffat had a massive stroke. Ivana got on a plane to LA and made it to his bedside before he died. "I squeezed his hand and I think he knew who I was, so hopefully it was OK," she says in a suddenly quiet voice. After everything, it wasn't meant to end like this. "I had known him a little bit throughout my life. I liked him as Ivan. It was only when I found out he was my father that I felt it didn't fit. Once my original anger and shock had subsided, I think we could have [had a father-daughter relationship]. The timing was so bad."

Still, just before I leave, she admits that she might have been happier had she never known. Who does she think of as "Dad" now? "Robert Lowell," she says without hesitation. "He was the closest that I loved as a father figure, and he was there. And then Bob Silvers after that – and he's still there. The Ivan thing is genetics, it doesn't really mean anything." But then she talks about her new family – Moffat had three other children, and she has known his son Jonathan since they were teenagers – which clearly does mean something to her.

Ivana says that, finally, she feels more settled – she doesn't drink now and sees a therapist occasionally. She has a good relationship with her ex-husband, who sees his daughter Daisy regularly. "[Being a mother] is very much trial and error for me. Nobody ever taught me – my role models were so shaky. But I always had that idea in the background, that was the goal. I'm there for her as much as possible."

Why Not Say What Happened? by Ivana Lowell is published by Bloomsbury

Thursday, 8 September 2011

My father, sperm donor 150

My father, sperm donor 150

JoEllen Marsh always wondered about her biological father – a sperm donor. Was he famous? A tycoon? After turning 18, she found out
JoEllen Marsh with her biological father, Jeffrey Harrison, in Venice Beach, California.
JoEllen Marsh's life began 22 years ago in a pornography-lined, "collection" cubicle at the Los Angeles headquarters of California Cryobank, a private semen cryopreservation organisation. From there, the sample produced by her biological father, donor 150, was sent to Pennsylvania, where nine months later JoEllen was born to her biological mother, Lucinda Marsh.
Twenty years later, a remarkably accepting JoEllen is calmly recounting the story of how her innate desire to connect with her extended donor family has evolved into the subject of an absorbing documentary. Donor Unknown: Adventures in the Sperm Trade, is a compelling film that raises intriguing questions about nature versus nurture, modern medicine's evolving ethics and the shifting composition of contemporary families.

"Even when I was very young," says JoEllen, "I realised that my family wasn't like other families."

Informed by her lesbian mothers from an early age that "a kind man they didn't know" had helped her to be born, the concept of a traditional father – or rather the lack of one – simply never arose.

"My upbringing seemed completely normal to me, as it was all I knew," says JoEllen, who grew up with a younger sister, Mollie, 16, born to the same mother but conceived from a different sperm donor.

But JoEllen had a lot of questions that couldn't be answered. "The way I moved was not like the rest of my family. And if you don't know who your father is, you wonder about the strangest things – what are his ears like? What is his forehead like? Why do I have these interests when no one else in my family does?"

When JoEllen was seven, she was shown her donor's profile and for the first time had tangible evidence of the paternal genetics of her own physiology and psychology. The profile makes illuminating reading and it's easy to see why donor 150 caught her prospective parents' attention: "Caucasian, aged 28, 6ft, blue eyes, light brown hair, guitar player, dancer and philosophy major."

The clincher, though, was the mission statement, donor 150's parting shot so to speak. "My deepest aspiration in life is spiritual," his declaration concludes. "This earthly life is transitory and the joys of this world are ephemeral. So keep your moment and, if sincere, great fortune will come."

"Reading the profile was incredibly exciting," remembers JoEllen. "To see what my donor had written about himself was really important and allowed me to begin creating a picture of what kind of person this man might be." The compulsion to track him down came later though. "I did wrestle with my identity a little when I was younger," admits JoEllen, "but my parents did a great job raising me and I don't think I would have turned out too differently if I'd had a father figure. "My solid foundation comes from having such a big, extended family, having very supportive parents and because I've never been made to feel embarrassed about my upbringing.

"If my mum had been embarrassed about it or had been shy in talking about it then I might have felt like it was something I should hide. But everyone has always been very comfortable talking about it and that made a big difference in me growing up and being comfortable and stable."

Being home-schooled until she was 12 and consequently side-stepping any potentially damaging playground jibes, reinforced JoEllen's self-assurance, enabling her to take the next step of her labyrinthine voyage of personal discovery in her stride.

When she was 12, her mother showed her an article about a website, (DSR), that was created to help donor siblings and parents find each other.

"I had no intention of doing anything concrete about finding my donor father until I turned 18," says JoEllen, "but I signed up anyway, entered my donor number, and just waited. I dreamed that he'd make contact, but I never expected it to happen."

For two years, progress stalled. But then Danielle Pagano, 14, visited the DSR website after learning from her married heterosexual parents that she, too, was a donor child.

Seething with resentment that her parents had kept the facts of her conception from her, and armed with her donor profile number , which was 150, Danielle entered her details on to the site and instantly discovered that she had at least one half-sister, JoEllen Marsh.

Following a flurry of awkward emails and phone calls, the girls first met in New York when JoEllen was 16 and Danielle 15.

"That first meeting was surreal," recalls JoEllen. "We spent the first 15 minutes just saying how weird the whole thing was but somehow we could feel a connection."

Around the same time, the girls were contacted by a New York Times journalist writing an article about donor siblings, and the subsequent story of their collective quest to find their donor father made front-page news.

On the other side of America in California, in a Venice Beach cafe, 52-year-old retired sperm donor Jeffrey Harrison was enjoying a morning coffee when the New York Times story caught his eye. "What jumped off the page," he says, "was Danielle's anger and the fact that she was pissed off that her parents had lied to her. I had been lied to as a kid by my parents, and that tore me up."

Jeffrey recognised himself as the donor in the story because he remembered his donor number from when he signed up with the California Cryobank.

Initially, he assumed it must be from another clinic, but then he read on and saw that it was from the California branch and … the rest is very peculiar family history. "At that very moment I knew I had to let them have closure. Whether they approved or disapproved of me; it was their right."

Soon after, JoEllen, already buoyed by the discovery of a further three half-siblings – Rochelle Longest, Fletcher Norris and Ryann McQuilton – received a call from DSR co-founder Wendy Kramer informing her that donor 150 had decided to come forward.

"I was amazed," says JoEllen. "The fact that he just voluntarily turned up and said, 'Hey, I'm open to contact,' took a lot of courage, and I was just so excited to find out what he looked like and what sort of a man he was. "As a young child, I'd fantasised that he would be some sort of celebrity or a successful businessman or someone glamorous who travelled the world so I couldn't wait to finally find out."

What JoEllen hadn't visualised was a former Playgirl centrefold and erotic dancer with a history of depression and a penchant for wild conspiracy theories, who lived in a battered RV in a California car park with his dogs and a rescue pigeon.

Born in Delaware to upper middle-class parents who divorced when he was six, and clearly unsettled by his father's military-style parenting (morning "inspections" were commonplace for Jeffrey and his sibling "troops"), he suffered from severe depression as a teenager, and from an early age sought solace in the less-threatening companionship of animals.

More comfortable on society's margins, and flitting between part-time jobs as a model, waiter and a masseur after he moved to Los Angeles in the 1980s, he'd gradually downgraded from apartment to mobile home, and his current status as a tie-dyed, bong-smoking "fringe monkey" whose closest relationships remain canine not human.

"But," says Jeffrey, who could surely have made a comfortable living had he pursued a career as an Iggy Pop look-alike, "I am a big family man. It's just that most of my children have four legs."

Yet when he began to donate sperm at the California Cryobank in the early 1980s – in total he donated over an eight-year period and was paid up to $80 a contribution – he did so with his very own, very particular intentions.

"I donated about 500 times, and they're all tiny little souls," he says from the makeshift, debris-strewn lounge in his bohemian beachside mobile home.

"When I did the donation I always felt there was a miracle attached to it – this divine miracle – and that somehow I was karmically being asked to be a soul caller. There's not one I did where I did not go completely deep."

JoEllen Marsh's first sight of her biological father took 15 minutes to download on the screen of her home computer. "Wendy from the DSR had emailed a photo of Jeffrey, but my dial-up modem was so slow the image appeared pixel by pixel.

"It was a very emotional moment. After all those years imagining what he would look like; first his hair, then his forehead and then those blue, blue eyes gradually revealed themselves. I'd already talked with the other half-siblings about which of our physical similarities might have come from our donor so to be able to confirm, "yes, that's where our eyebrows come from," and, "that's our face shape," was surreal."

A year of phone and email communication followed until, shortly after JoEllen's 18th birthday, under the sensitively watchful eye of director Jerry Rothwell's cameras, she finally came face to face with her biological father for the first time, and despite his eccentricities the connection was immediate.

"I don't really know why, but I think there is something genetic that makes you feel like there is a bond with another person. And I think it was really helpful to meet the donor siblings first because that prepared me for what it would be like to meet Jeffrey. So by that point I kind of knew what to expect because some of the others had already met and talked to him.

"But that first meeting was very strange. It was like, wow, I'm actually here. I'm actually looking at my donor right now. Jeffrey. This is him.

"It was a big moment and there were a lot of emotions going through my mind that took a while to process, but I never considered a negative outcome. I knew what to expect by the time we met and I'm cool with how Jeffrey is.

"I'm not expecting him to be some sort of father figure for me. I'm already grown up, and that's not what he signed up for. Accepting Jeffrey for who he is and actually getting to meet him was the most important part.

"And I think that he really did think about the children he was creating. Obviously he did it for money, but he did have the thought in his mind that he was making children when he was donating."

When filming ended, JoEllen's donor family had grown to 14 half-siblings. "The whole process has really opened my mind about the concept of family," she says, "and made me realise that you don't have to grow up with someone to consider them in some way part of your family.

"So much of my family is non-biological but it's different with Jeffrey and the other siblings. I feel this very strong connection with them all and yet I haven't known them my entire life. But I do consider Jeffrey and my siblings to be very much part of my crazy 21st-century family.

"As for the future, who knows? I know we'll always be friendly and I'll try to keep in touch. I'll try to visit Jeffrey when I can and if I have kids in the future I'll tell them the whole story, and I hope that I can introduce them to Jeffrey and their aunts and uncles.

"It's really cool that they'll have all that extended family in addition to the family that I grew up with, and although it's been kind of scary to be among the first donor siblings to find each other through the DSR I hope that other donor children will read my story and feel inspired to go out and create their own stories.

"But the most important thing for donors and donor children and the parents of donor children is that they just need to remember that they are the ones who define the relationship, and it can move at whatever pace they are comfortable with. If they only want to share a picture, that's fine. If they want to meet, that's fine too. There are some amazing experiences to be had, so just be a little open about it and see where life takes you."

Donor Unknown: Adventures in the Sperm Trade opens in cinemas on 3 June and will be shown on television on More4 on 28 June The DVD will be released on 4 July,