RARE INSIGHT: Alan Close, of Byron Bay, held the floor when he spoke about finding himself reaching 50 without children.
RARE INSIGHT: Alan Close, of Byron Bay, held the floor when he spoke about finding himself reaching 50 without children.

No kids and in pain

By SHAN GOODWIN

shan.goodwin@northernstar.com.au

AT a Fatherhood Festival, you would imagine few people would be interested in a man who wasn't a father.

But when Byron Bay's Alan Close, almost 50 and without children, took the microphone at the Bangalow Fatherhood Festival on Saturday, you could have heard a pin drop.

Alan, a writer, was one of the guest speakers at the event's Big Cafe Conversation, which saw a packed auditorium at the A and I Hall turn out to hear fathering stories.

He spoke of how it felt to realise you would never have children.

"When I think about what I've done in the past 20 years I can list many achievements, but there is no one running around," he said.

"I'm realising there is a gap in my life and I'm wondering what happened.

"I see a kid's footprint, a pram, a dad holding a child's hand and I feel pangs. If I had known in my 20s what it was like to be 50 and not a father, I would have gone right out and procreated."

Instead, when he was in his early 20s, Alan was at the doctors seeking a vasectomy.

"I could get on my soap box and say I was worried about over-population and wanted equal responsibility for contraception, but really I just wanted hazard-free sex," he said.

"The doctor told me to go away for 20 years and think about it. Then he said I could make another couple very happy by donating sperm. So that's what I did."

In the next 20 years of his life, Alan made, with his partner at the time, the tough decision of terminating a pregnancy ? three times.

Then at 43, he started thinking about the fact he was childless.

"I went looking for the children who may have resulted from my sperm donation," he said.

"I had it in mind that I would find all these kids out there with my chin.

"What I found was that my sperm had been destroyed within months of my donation. It hit me hard. I'd always thought my fine family genes were out there ? that biological need had been taken care of.

"Now I find myself in a room of people around my age who are parents and I feel too young."

Alan, the editor of the popular Men Love Sex, is now working on a book called A Bachelor's Life ? No Wife, No Kids, What Happened? due out this time next year.

The three-day Bangalow Fatherhood Festival wrapped up yesterday.

What do you think?

Phone the Star Feedback line on 6624 3266 or email opinions@northernstar.com.au



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