From the United Kingdom, a tale of our times:
Mark Langridge didn’t want children, but his lesbian friends did – so he agreed to donate his sperm.
Now his ‘act of kindness’ has come back to haunt him 13 years later, after he received a letter demanding child support payments.
Mr Langridge has not spoken to the family he helped create since 2004.
He was not named on the birth certificates of the two children, and played no role in their upbringing – but the Child Support Agency insists he has to pay £26 a week to support them.
He says he cannot afford the payments, which will add up to £8,000 before both children reach adulthood.
The 47-year-old book-keeper from Essex has been in a relationship with his partner Shaun Keeble, 37, for 17 years.
‘Me and Shaun were not interested in having children of our own,’ he said. ‘When the idea [of donating sperm] was suggested, we thought it sounded like a lovely thing to do. But the last few months have been a complete nightmare.
‘I feel as if I am the victim of a state-sponsored blackmail plot … It was purely an act of kindness on my part and now I am being made to pay.’
Mr Langridge and Mr Keeble met the women in a gay nightclub in Southend in 1997, and became good friends.
When one of the women revealed she was desperate to have children Mr Langridge agreed to help, as long as there were no strings attached.
‘I did not ask for anything to be documented legally and with hindsight perhaps I should have done,’ he said.
After the birth of a baby girl in late 1998, Mr Langridge was asked to donate again – and a second girl was born in 2000.
When the children were young, Mr Langridge remained in touch with the mother, and saw the girls at social events.
He said he was surprised when introduced as their father and later advised the children to ask their mother to explain the facts of their birth.
The two couples eventually drifted apart, and apart from occasional letters from the girls Mr Langridge has had no contact with the family since 2004.
In the intervening years the lesbian couple separated, leaving the biological mother with both children. She has since started claiming benefits from the State.
Mr Langridge received his letter from the CSA in June.
He said the biological mother’s former partner continues to live near the former family home and sees the girls at weekends – but is not being chased for child support.
He stressed that he made sure the couple had the funds to bring up children before he donated his sperm.
The CSA said that if Mr Langridge had used an official sperm donation centre he would not have to pay child support – but informal arrangements are not covered by the law. Mr Langridge argues that the rules should be changed.
The only way he can protest against the CSA’s ruling is by taking his case to a judicial review, which could cost in the region of £60,000.
Last night the mother of the children said: ‘It’s all being dealt with at the moment and I don’t want to comment.’
The only comment I have to make on this unfortunate-all-around tale, is that I note that in the P.C. pecking order in Britain, we see here that lesbian outranks gay, which isn’t really surprising.