Uprooted: Family Trauma, Unknown Origins, and the Secretive History of Artificial Insemination

Uprooted: Family Trauma, Unknown Origins, and the Secretive History of Artificial Insemination

by Peter J. Boni
Uprooted: Family Trauma, Unknown Origins, and the Secretive History of Artificial Insemination

Uprooted: Family Trauma, Unknown Origins, and the Secretive History of Artificial Insemination

by Peter J. Boni


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How a journey of self-discovery unearthed the scandalous evolution of artificial insemination

By his forties, Peter J. Boni was an accomplished CEO, with a specialty in navigating high-tech companies out of hot water. Just before his fiftieth birthday, Peter’s seventy-five-year-old mother unveiled a bombshell: His deceased father was not biological. Peter was conceived in 1945 via an anonymous sperm donor. The emotional upheaval upon learning that he was “misattributed” rekindled traumas long past and fueled his relentless research to find his genealogy. Over two decades, he gained an encyclopedic knowledge of the scientific, legal, and sociological history of reproductive technology as well as its practices, advances, and consequences. Through twenty-first century DNA analysis, Peter finally quenched his thirst for his origin.

​In Uprooted, Peter J. Boni intimately shares his personal odyssey and acquired expertise to spotlight the free market methods of gamete distribution that conceives dozens, sometimes hundreds, of unknowing half-siblings from a single donor. This thought-provoking book reveals the inner workings—and secrets—of the multibillion-dollar fertility industry, resulting in a richly detailed account of an ethical aspect of reproductive science that, until now, has not been so thoroughly explored. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781626349070
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press
Publication date: 01/25/2022
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 1,159,584
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Peter J. Boni credits his disruptive childhood, a state college education from UMass@Amherst, decorated on-the-ground service as a US Army Special Operations Team Leader in Vietnam (coined his “Rice Paddy MBA”), love of his family and friendship circle, plus luck-of-the-draw DNA with making him the person he has become today—an author, advocate, and fun-loving grandfather living on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

During his accomplished business career (high-tech CEO, venture capitalist, board chairman, award-winning entrepreneur, senior advisor), Peter has applied “lessons of leadership through adversity” from his life-altering experiences—themes found throughout his first book, All Hands on Deck: Navigating Your Team Through Crises, Getting Your Organization Unstuck, and Emerging Victorious

In Uprooted, Peter intimately shares his personal odyssey and acquired expertise to advocate for regulatory oversight of the multibillion-dollar reproductive industry that conceives hundreds of half-siblings from a single donor—children and adults who are unaware of the existence of their half-siblings.

An inspiring public speaker with a storytelling, audience-participation style, Peter enjoys an active physical regimen, entertaining and sailing with friends and family while at his Cape Cod residence, and traveling with his wife to, among other locales, San Francisco and New York City to visit their growing family.

Table of Contents

Authors Note xiii

Part I The Discovery xvii

Part II The Education 53

Part III The Revelation 133

Epilogue 221

Appendix: Additional Research and Insights 223

The Donor-Conceived Bill of Rights 249

Acknowledgments 251

Bibliography 255

Index 259

About the Author 269

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Uprooted is a genetic whodunit, with all the twists and turns of a mystery novel, and the added bonus that it’s all true. Boni’s gripping story of his search for his roots and the identity of his biological father is poignant, bittersweet, and revelatory. Highly recommend.”
—Jacqueline Mroz, contributor, science/health section, The New York Times; author of Scattered Seeds: In Search of Family and Identity in the Sperm Donor Generation

“Peter Boni has managed to create a compelling read, a journey that includes personal struggles weaved into the fascinating science of early infertility treatment. His search for his genetic origins generously educates readers and keeps them engaged right up to the magical ending.”
—Alice D. Domar, PhD, executive director, Domar Centers for Mind/Body Health; author of Conquering Infertility
“Blending memoir and a deep dive into the shady history of the assisted reproduction industry, Uprooted exposes essential truths about the human condition, identity, and family. It is a worthwhile read for fertility practitioners, donors, recipient parents, and donor-conceived individuals alike. Now that we know better, we must do better.”
—Erin Jackson, founder, We Are Donor Conceived
“An intriguing memoir that presents an unusual and necessary perspective on sperm donation.”
Kirkus Review
“An intimate and ambitious portrait of the search for self through understanding the past. Peter Boni deftly weaves history, culture, science, and law to reveal why it’s hard to tell your life story without knowing how it started.”
—Dov Fox, author of Birth Rights and Wrongs: How Medicine and Technology are Remaking Reproduction and the Law; host of the podcast Donor 9623; professor of lay and director of the Center of Health Law Policy and Bioethics at the University of San Diego
Uprooted is enjoyable and extremely well-written, with all the elements of suspense, education, emotion, and self-reflection. Boni's journey sheds light on the experience felt by many of the couples I care for as well as the issues that their donor-derived children grapple with.”
—Michael Alper, MD, medical director and president, Boston IVF; associate clinical professor OBGYN, Harvard Medical School
“This is gripping, upsetting material, told with clarity . . . Readers interested in issues of genealogy will tear through the pages. What he eventually discovers is truly jolting, compelling evidence for the necessity of a Donor-Conceived Bill of Rights for abolishing parental anonymity and limiting the number of offspring per donor.”
“In Uprooted, Mr. Boni recounts his personal quest to discover his biological origins. Having been in the reproductive health industry for more than 28 years, what is unique about Uprooted is the historical perspective that puts the current occurrence of sperm donation into context. Boni traces its early beginnings in the twelfth century, through the very controversial practice of eugenics in the late 1800s, until modern times, when sperm donation has become a common practice and accounted for millions of children born worldwide. With the new tools of DNA analysis and companies like 23andMe and Ancestry.com, the identity of a sperm donor, once a very private matter (the use of a sperm donor has a negative emotional impact on infertile men), is now available online in a matter of weeks. Mr. Boni’s obsession and diligence in searching for his mysterious biological father and his true origins kept me riveted as I empathized with the ups and downs of his journey.”
—David L. Stern, MBA, CEO, Boston IVF; former global head, Fertility Franchise, Merck Serono
“Peter Boni takes us through his own comprehensive surprise journey of assisted reproductive technology, which uniquely sensitizes participants to the needs of those who science helps conceive. Uprooted unveils how scientific advances can cause harm, help, and happiness. The balance between these outcomes is an ethical fine line that he, with constructive compassion and factual examples, helps us walk.”
—Dr. Denny Sakkas, PhD, scientific director, Boston IVF
Uprooted offers a personal view of the consequences of secrecy in the practice of donor conception. A prominent CEO, Peter Boni, uncovers a family secret that both validates and disrupts his life. Combining his extensive research of the early practice of donor insemination with his own genetic discoveries, Boni reveals the questions, uncertainties, and confusion he faced, as well as the exhilaration of connecting with genetic kin.
Boni provides a detailed history of the practice of donor conception, walking us through the social, legal, and religious climate that encouraged secrets in reproductive technology and stunted the advancement of our social narratives.
Secrets are no match for personal determination and the universal need for self-discovery, no matter what age. Boni doesn’t stop his search until his parents’ secret comes to light.”
—Jana M. Rupnow, LPC, author of Three Makes Baby
“Uprooted is a compelling mystery written from the perspective of someone who learned later in life that he was donor-conceived and is searching to find out the truth about his origins. I believe it will also be a valuable resource for those working in the assisted reproductive technology field.”
—Naomi R. Cahn, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy Distinguished Professor of Law; Nancy L. Buc ’69 Research Professor in Democracy and Equity; director, Family Law Center, University of Virginia School of Law
Uprooted is a must-read for anyone looking to understand the donor-conception industry—yes, industry—and the effects it’s having on people as they struggle to understand their origins. With the dawn of the mail-in DNA test, people’s true identities are coming to light as quickly as opening an email. Deep secrets are crumbling as genetic bewilderment shakes the core of families from all walks of life. Peter J. Boni takes readers through his personal search for the truth about his own identity, while educating them about the donor-conception industry’s checkered past. His deft writing manages to both entertain and educate. I highly recommend that anyone interested in the growing MPE (“misattributed parental event”) phenomenon add this book to their library.”
—Eve Sturges, MA, LMFT, therapist, writer, and host of the podcast Everything’s Relative
Uprooted is a passionate telling of a secret that was intended to be taken to the grave . . . This is a story that not only provides a startling look at reproductive technologies but also serves as a wake-up call for an industry practice that no one talks about.”
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