EntertainmentNetflix's new docuseries uncovers a secretive sperm donor scandal

Netflix's new docuseries uncovers a secretive sperm donor scandal

"The Man with 1000 Kids" is a new Netflix documentary series
"The Man with 1000 Kids" is a new Netflix documentary series
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5:41 PM EDT, July 8, 2024

"The series unfolds like true crime, each episode revealing yet another level to Meijer’s international operation. But its focus is on the women he deceived, the alliance they forged against him, and the families forced to live with the consequences of his actions," The Guardian describes the new Netflix production. Its antihero reacts.

Two years ago, Netflix released the shocking documentary "Our Father." It told the story of Dr. Donald Cline, who ran a fertility clinic where he inseminated patients without their knowledge using his sperm. "Our Father" is a harrowing tale full of twists and turns no one in Hollywood could have concocted. We're talking about over 90 children, an ultra-conservative Catholic cult, intimidation, weapons, a court trial, and a chilling finale. Now, Netflix has released a three-part series that tells a story not about a doctor but about a random man from the Netherlands who was a sperm donor in dozens of sperm banks.

The shocking "<an with 1000 Kids"

Netflix's documentary series consists of three parts. Parents and single mothers talk about how they met Jonathan Jacob Meijer. A frustrated musician from a large family, Meijer spent years donating his sperm to sperm banks and also privately contacted couples and single women looking to have a child. In the Netherlands alone, Meijer is reported to have donated sperm to as many as 11 sperm banks.

"You get one life on this Earth — why has he chosen to use his charm and his intellect and his creativity in order to try to procreate on a mass scale and deceive all these people?" wonders documentary director Josh Allott. "Speaking to lots of different parents that have met him and people that know him well, it seems like it almost became an addiction for him," adds the creator of "Man with 1000 Kids."

Meijer traveled around the world and registered at various sperm banks. The characters in the Netflix series recount that when they met him in person, he made a positive impression. Creative and intelligent—these descriptions frequently appear in the narrations in front of the cameras. Couples reported that he was willing to help with the donation. In almost every conversation with new couples, he emphasized that he had helped only five families. But some couples believed he was only helping them.

The exact reasons for Meijer's actions are unclear. In the Netflix series, the parents of the children reveal how the whole situation came to light. Over 150 parents gathered through social media and contacted the Donorkind Foundation to help hold Meijer accountable. This organization helps children conceived via sperm banks find out who their father is. Within one week, they received calls from 30 people terrified that their children might have the same father.

Under Dutch law, one donor can be the father of a maximum of 25 children. However, no regulations are penalizing those who exceed this number. The risk is significant. This includes potential relationships between individuals unaware that they share the same father, genetic disorders, psychological harm, and plain fraud. Characters in the Netflix series highlighted that Meijer used false information.

In 2017, Meijer was officially banned from registering with sperm banks in the Netherlands. In 2023, he lost a civil lawsuit filed by the Donorkind Foundation. The court determined that if Meijer does not stop donating sperm to banks, he will have to pay €100,000 (about $109,000) to each affected family. Banks were also ordered to destroy the sperm originating from him.

How many children does he have? One of the trials mentioned 300 children. The creators talk about a thousand offspring, but according to one expert, considering couples who privately used his help and not sperm banks, he may fathered up to 3,000 children worldwide.

"Man with 1000 Children" is making waves on Netflix. Meanwhile, Meijer is active on social media. He also gave an interview to LADBible.com, in which he complained about Netflix.

When asked if he doesn't think his actions were unethical, he said: "Consider becoming a donor if you have good intentions and if you’re healthy, the demand is big. We should focus on making it more positive and more easy for people to become a donor. Then, also, I don’t have this much work!" He also added that since many couples who used his sperm were same-sex couples, the situation within the family should be clear—the children were born thanks to the help of a sperm donor.

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