Jaleesa recalls that when FIOM rang with news about a matching donor, her first thought was, “Oh, I found the man from India!”. But then she learned that the man who had turned up was entirely different.

In a group meeting, a FIOM staff member announced to Jaleesa and her half- siblings that their donor was half-Surinamese. They were stunned. It meant that they were all quarter-Surinamese. Amanda had never considered Suriname. Matthijs would have guessed India, especially after talking to Jaleesa, but Suriname had also crossed his mind.

Jaleesa: “I’d felt I was part Indian for twenty years. I have nothing against Suriname, but it makes a big difference, it’s another part of the world, different genes – a different identity, in fact. That said, whenever we come together we’re terribly noisy, it’s like in a chicken coop. We’re bubbling, full of energy, we get worked up, we shout. It’s hard to notice that when we’re not together. But I began to notice the ways in which we’re Surinamese. The Dutch are more poised.”

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Kamil Bałuk (1988) is a young but already highly praised Polish journalist whose texts have appeared in the most prestigious Polish dailies and magazines. Among topics he found attractive are: the secret life of Polish cleaning ladies in the Jewish district of Antwerp; how a typical Pole behaves in the sauna; what kind of dreams people from 10 different states of the USA have?
Why this story? A Dutch fertility clinic, known as ‘the sperm mafia’, inseminated women with the semen of a mentally handicapped Surinamese man. This short news item in 2014 drew the attention of Polish author Kamil Baluk, who had been studying Dutch in Antwerp. He wrote a book on this affair in the span of two years, and was one of the last journalists that interviewed clinic director Jan Karbaat, who secretly offered his own sperm to his clients. Apart from clients of the controversial clinic, Baluk visited several children who were born out of that semen. He accurately describes the sometimes bizarre history of sperm donation in the Netherlands, including the religious debate (a serious question was whether christian sperm could be donated to non-christians), lack of rules and doctors that acted based on their own beliefs. The book is catchy and journalistic, with juicy dialogue and visual language. It describes the Dutch situation so well that in the end you are convinced Baluk is, in fact, a Dutch journalist in disguise.
Explanation by the maker “They told her that the donor was a white man. But he was dark-skinned in fact, and he had Asperger’s”. This is what a Belgian weekly newspaper reported in February 2014. I studied Dutch at university and during my internship in Antwerp, I read this article online and that’s how it all began. They quoted one of the mothers saying that her children’s skin turned darker every month. The fertility clinic in Barendrecht, the Netherlands, was referred to as “the sperm mafia”. The internet was aswarm with English translations – some more reliable, others less so – of this Flemish article. People copy-pasted it in various forums. In one forum I read that “a Dutch clinic accidentally inseminated 500 Dutch women with the semen of a mentally handicapped Surinamese man”. Read more
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