It seems as if everyone has read or heard the news by now: New York math professor fathers twenty-two children. Ari Nagel, 40, has served as a sperm donor who has helped lesbian couples and single women become moms.
According to Doree Lewak of the New York Post, in the past twelve years, the 6-foot-2 New Yorker has helped eighteen women become mothers either through traditional intercourse, insemination without the use of a clinic, or by utilizing the services of a licensed physician.
“He often uses public bathrooms, like those at Target and at Starbucks shops, to procure his samples and hand them off to ovulating women.” Lewak writes. “His oldest child, now 12, was conceived with a woman he was in a committed relationship with, but all of his offspring since, he says, have resulted from his donations.”
Sperm donations can cost thousands, but Nagel is offering his services for free, making him an attractive option for many would-be mothers.
While his good looks, academic accomplishments, and high sperm count make him a glowing sperm donor candidate, intended parents should be wary before using this type of service because of the potential to complicate the issue of parental rights.
Nagel considers himself a sperm donor, but his actions could cause a court of law to view him as a father, with both the legal rights and obligations that title encompasses.
He tells Lewak, “I just love seeing how happy the moms and kids are . . . That’s why I do this,” he says. “It’s the gift that keeps on giving.”
Well, the gift of giving life has morphed into financial giving for Nagel as well. Five of the women he helped to become mothers have sued him for child support, resulting in the garnishment of half of his paycheck each month.
According to the reporter, Nagel’s Facebook page has photos of his children. Nagel also frequently babysits, and attends birthday parties and graduations. He’s also been on hand in the delivery room.
While the mothers have the ultimate say as to whether they want Nagel involved with their children (he sees some weekly, and others, he has never met), any involvement by Nagel may be perceived as establishing him as a father, rather than a sperm donor, particularly because Nagel never entered into contracts with the women using his sperm. Fatherhood carries financial implications, so it should be no surprise that these mothers’ requests for child support were granted. .
“They were all well aware there was no financial obligation on my part. They all promise in advance they won’t sue,” Nagel told the reporter.
However, the promise to not pursue a child support claim against a parent is legally unenforceable on public policy grounds, since financial support is considered the right of the child and not the right of the parent making the claim. While Nagel thinks he is only a sperm donor, donors must follow the laws in their state if they wish to remain classified as donors, and not parents. In many states, in order to be considered a sperm donor (and thus immune to child support claims), the donation must be done by a licensed physician in a medical setting — not in a residence or a Target bathroom.
In some of these cases, Nagel is potentially playing “dad” by babysitting and uploading photos of the children on social media, providing more evidence that he might legally be considered a father, rather than a donor.
Nagel’s actions resemble those of Hollywood star Jason Patric. Patric provided his sperm to an IVF clinic to allow his on-again off-again girlfriend, Danielle Schreiber, to get pregnant. He was not listed as a parent on the child’s birth certificate, but he did sign consent forms at the IVF clinic. After his son was born, Patric held him out as his own, acting as a father. Ultimately, the family vacations and the fact that his son called him “daddy,” combined with Patric’s insistence that he had a substantive relationship with the child, allowed him to successfully pursue parentage rights.
For Nagel, his claim that he is a donor is thwarted by the content of some of the children’s birth certificates.
“Nagel says his name appears on the birth certificate for just under half of his offspring. Some take his surname, and there’s even an Ari Jr. and two Arias. A few families have used him multiple times,” the reporter writes.
Well, that pretty much “seals the deal” in terms of parentage, right?