The Man With 1000 Kids (2024) Docuseries Review – A disturbing story about a serial sperm donor

A disturbing story about a serial sperm donor

What would you think if some of the children in your neighbourhood looked spookily similar? Would you assume it was a coincidence? Or would you suspect that somebody was the father of all of these youngsters? 

These questions might not cross your mind at all. But if it was your own kid who looked suspiciously like another child, your heart would probably start racing. This might be especially true if the father of your little one was a sperm donor as you might rightfully ask yourself: Could this person have donated to other parents in the town? 

Implausible? Not so. Netflix’s new three-part docuseries shines a spotlight on a man named Jonathan Jacob Meijer, a Dutch sperm donor who may be the father of hundreds if not thousands of children around the world. This is problematic for many reasons, not least the possibility that these kids could meet one another when they’re adults and form a sexual relationship.

So, how did Meijer get away with spreading his seed so many times? Well, he did it through a series of lies, pretending to sperm clinics and his private clients that he had only donated to around 5 people. However, Meijer donated his sperm countless number of times, far exceeding the regulated amount, which is 25 in the Netherlands. 

This deception was eventually uncovered when one of the parents he donated to noticed the similarity of her child to the children of parents she was connected to. She quickly discovered that she wasn’t the only person who had contacted Meijer for his sperm donation. As we find out in the documentary, many other people had been in touch with him, assuming that they were one of only a handful of people to whom he was donating sperm. 

In the first episode, one woman describes the process of picking a donor as going on an internet shopping trip and scrolling through various donor sites to find the most suitable candidate. For many, Meijer seemed to be the pick of the bunch, with his long, thick blonde hair, piercing blue eyes, and gleaming white teeth. Sadly, he turned out to be the worst choice possible, for all of the parents interviewed in the documentary. 

As the series progresses, the truth about Meijer emerges. We discover that he has fathered hundreds of children – at least 600 but possibly up to 3000 – for reasons that are never abundantly made clear. We don’t hear from Meijer as he declined to participate in the series. As such, we don’t know the real reason for his behaviour.

Some of the parents speculate about his motives. One person thinks he is addicted to fathering kids. Another thinks he’s a narcissist with a God-like complex, wanting to spread his seed around the world to make people in his image. There’s also the suggestion that he’s donating sperm to receive adoration from those he helps – an adoration that he may have missed out on from his own parents who themselves had a large family. 

In the final episode, there’s the possibility that Meijer might explain his actions when he is taken to court for his behaviour. He stands before the judge to defend himself but what we hear from him is frustratingly abstract. He then tells the judge he will be there for all the children he has fathered, which the judge thinks is a ridiculous thing to say considering there are so many of them.

The docuseries is a disturbing one, more so when we learn there are other people like Meijer spreading their sperm to would-be-parents around the world. There’s the suggestion that some of them, including Meijer, consider what they’re doing as a competition, to see who can father the most kids. 

The behaviour of Meijer and those like him is harmful. What if the kids they father unknowingly meet their half-siblings and form relationships with them? What if they have sex and give birth to their own children? They would be committing incest without even knowing it. It’s a horrible thought but such a prospect is entirely possible, especially in places like the Netherlands where Meijer fathered multiple children in one vicinity. 

The Man With 1000 Kids is a one-sided documentary, due to the lack of input from Meijer. Is he a narcissist with a God-like complex? Or is he just a naive do-gooder thinking he is helping the people he donates to?

We don’t know but regardless of his motivations, the Netflix doc is a sobering reminder that sperm clinics and donation websites need to do more to ensure people like Meijer are stopped, for the sake of those hopeful parents who want to have children and give them the best life possible. 

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  • Verdict - 7/10