How did you choose an anonymous sperm donor to conceive your child?

@offbeathome runs these advice questions as an opportunity for our readers to share personal experiences and anecdotes. Readers are responsible for doing their own research before following any advice given here... or anywhere else on the web, for that matter.
Photo by Grace Hebert, used under Creative Commons license.
My partner and I are just getting started with trying to get pregnant using donor sperm. Though we are a straight couple, we need some outside assistance. However, trying to think about all the options is a little overwhelming.

We live in the UK, so the system here is a little more regulated than in the US, and we're pretty sure that we want an option where the child/children can contact their donor when they're 18, if they want to. My question for those of you out there in similar situations who might have used donors or are in same-sex couples that might have also used donor gametes: is there anything we should be thinking about now that might help us later? And, if you feel comfortable sharing, how did you go about narrowing down which donor to use? — Alicia

If you used an anonymous sperm donor, what factors weighed into your decision about whom to choose?

  1. I used the California Cryobank for the sperm that lead to my amazing 5 year old. His daddy had a vasectomy years before I met him. The CC puts quite a bit of information up for free about each donor, and I went through their online catalog selecting for donor height, weight and general features and coloring looking for someone who has some of the same physical characteristics of my husband. I only looked at the donors who would allow a mediated contact after the child reached 18 and narrowed it down to 4 options and sent the information to my posse of best friends and family. I paid for the extended information on the group favorite and liked what I saw (medical history back through grandparents, personality essays and an audio interview) and went with that.

    I must say that I feel like I completely lucked out because my son is amazing. It cracks us up how many people say that they can see my husband in his face. It also makes my heart melt to see how much my son and husband love each other, and how the boy emulates his father so often.

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  2. My partner and I also used California Cryobank and took advantage of their awesomely detailed facial features selector sheets (size of teeth? really?) to find a match as close to my own features (not the birth mother) as possible. Although we could never biologically combine ourselves, this was a close-enough option. Our daughter looks so much like both of us, no one has any idea who gave birth to her. It was the perfect solution for us. Unfortunately, by doing this, we gave up the option to have a donor our daughter could eventually make contact with – there just wasn't a close enough match in the pool.

  3. It's all really personal, and depends a lot on what's important to you. In our case we chose the donors whose profiles we liked best and then got them to do a 'photomatch' with my wife, to choose the one who would resemble her the most. Other than that and an open-at-18 policy, we tried to choose someone who sounded smart, interesting, well-rounded, and nice. But I don't think that the genetics are everything, and mostly we're just hoping the kid comes out healthy and interested in the world–if we've got that, we hope our parenting can take it from there. Good luck!

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  4. Hi Alicia. You could consider using a donor that you are able to meet before you use him. That way you can get a much better feel for his DNA match and discuss any future arrangements in person – rather than rely on clinic info – which in the UK is somewhat limited.

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    • Do you know what kind of clinics have this option?

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  5. My advice would be for you both to be ready to change your criteria as you look through the donor info, and get ready for conversations where you learn a lot about each other. There were certain things that we thought were "must haves" (CMV -ve, contact after age 18, meets stricter Canadian regulations, etc) and others "nice to haves" (interests, ethnic background similar to ours, etc) and info the companies give that for us were "whatevers" (personal essays, parents' careers).

    However, when we got into it, some criteria shifted categories, specifically, the ethnicity (including eye colouring) aspect and the personal essays examples. Several of the personal essays included ideas about how the donor thinks there should be more of him in the world. That's not the best description, I don't know how to describe it because they don't state it directly, but the simplified version would be "I'm awesome, so my offspring will be awesome, so pick me". One guy's thesis could've been "God wants me to have lots of kids, here's why". I want our future kid to have a healthy ego, but I'm not looking to find out if megalomania has a genetic component. Or if it is, it should be mine because mine's the best. So, read the essays.

    Similarly, if either of us connected to a pic/essay/sound bite/interests combo of a donor we both discovered that the ethnicity component flew out the window. One thing (for me mostly) was blue eyes. Both of us have blue eyes, our parents & grandparents (and so too then our siblings and extended relations) all have blue eyes. For me, family has blue eyes. I was a bit embarrassed to admit it at first, especially because my partner and I are both women and future kid will be well aware that they are not a combo of the 2 of us. Still, it was a criterion for me. But, looking through the extended profiles, I discovered I didn't care as much as I thought and it moved from a "must have" to a "whatever".

    Lastly, the listings can be overwhelming, especially if you are looking through more than one. We looked around the companies then went through the US company that our fertility doctor recommended. Even limiting to one company and using our "must haves" to limit the list, there are a lot of donors to whittle down.

    Our strategy was to both look through the long list independently and make a top 10 each. We then compared lists and found we had both included 6 donors. We went through the 8 that were picked by one of us and not the other and talked about why we didn't pick those ones (prepare to learn heaps about yourself and your partner right here. Bring wine). We went through the matching 6 again independently of each other and grouped them into 3 groups named "really like", "like" and "okay". Then we went through these 6 together and talked about why they were in a particular group (this stage is really where original criteria flew out the window and new criteria became more important). 2 donors sort of floated to the top out of this process and we left the topic for about a week to stew, each of us visiting the site and looking around on our own time and taking long, solo, contemplative, dog walks.

    Then we had another conversation where, honestly, the choice came down to: donor 1 created a thoughtful profile and chose pictures that indicated he had considered what potential parents would want to know/see, while donor 2 writes a good essay and submitted the required baby pic and had an adult pic obviously taken in the clinic waiting room and he doesn't look very happy about it. Seriously, it came down to that: #1 considered the process, #2 doesn't smile with his eyes. Otherwise these 2 were even stevens.

    Good luck to you. I recommend several bottles of Fat Bastard Shiraz on hand. Cheers, Jen

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    • I loved reading this! You could totally have submitted this as a separate Offbeat mama post :)

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      • Thank-you Jacquie. I just wish I'd proofed it a bit better. The "For me family has blue eyes" thing is hyperbole. I now feel a wee bit guilty for my multi-hued eye, hair &/or skinned in-laws, cousins, nieces/nephews, and chosen family folks who I totally consider my family. Luckily, Jens are dime a dozen (two on this thread alone) and I'll go unrecognised….

        • Feel free to edit/add to it/etc. and send it in. :)

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        • I have a weird thing with blue eyes too. My SO has hazel/green but his mother's are blue, so I'm hoping I win the genetic lottery and get blue eyed children, because they are MY eyes. which is extremely silly, but that's how I feel (pre-children, of course, I'm sure the first look I get from a hazel-eyed baby will make my heart melt into a puddle)

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      • I agree! This should have been its own post!

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  6. Alicia, first of all I just want to say congrats to you for taking this step. Enjoy the whole process as it's unique and personal and unlike anything most of your friends will ever encounter. Ok.. with that said..

    My partner and I used a place called The Sperm Bank of California. They were very helpful and able to answer all of our questions over the phone. They have a very comprehensive website where you canbrowse all of their donors for free http://www.thespermbankofcalifornia.com. My partner and I decided on a few things that we would prefer, like the ethnicity to match as close as possible to my partner. From there we found that we needed to make spreadsheet to keep track of all the profiles that we had read. The spreadsheet had the donor numbers on one side and then our impression of them and whether or not they were a yes, no or a maybe. This was helpful because after a while all the profiles start running together and it's hard to keep track of the ones that are your favorites. This first part was only based on personality.

    After we narrowed down the spreadsheet to about 25 or so potentials, we started combing through all of the medical histories associated with these 25. This was an eye opener. Some of our first choices in personality moved to the middle of the pack based on medical stuff. The agency was very thorough in going back a couple generations. A couple things we were interested in were history of depression, strokes, heart attacks, eye site, or any other potential genetic problem.

    After we went through the medical history we were left with only about 5 potentials we thought were "good enough" for our child.  We sent off for pictures of these five to narrow it down even more. The pictures were very helpful because some of the descriptions that the agency gave of the donors were WAY off in our opinion regarding looks, it was nice to be able to compare baby pics of my partner with the potential donors.

    We chose three donors that we wanted to go with, which was great because after the first two failed attempts at getting pregnant we were able to change donors and I got pregnant the first time with the second donor. Also, if I can recommend something, the agency will do a genetic test on the sperm for a small fee. I think that if we do this again I am going to pay for the genetic test to be done. After getting pregnant it turns out that the docs to a lot of testing to see if you (as the mother) are a carrier for genetic stuff (like cystic fibrosis). If you test positive as a carrier for something, which is very common we found out, there is no way to know if the donor is also a carrier. Some of these things, like cystic fibrosis, is no big deal if only one parent is the carrier, however if you know that BOTH of you are carriers then you may want to reconsider using that sperm. My sister is pregnant too and her and her husband both tested positive for cystic fibrosis; they had to undergo a lot of testing and worry to find out if the baby actually had the disease. It turned out the baby is only a carrier too but wow it was a lot of heartache for a while until they found out. I think my sister was 16 weeks before she got the results back, and the hard part was thinking that she might have to make a decision that late in the game.

    Well, I wish you the best!!! And good luck in your journey to becoming a mother. It's like nothing else!!! 

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  7. My parents used a sperm donor to conceive my sister after a vasectomy and failed reversal. When they decided to have another child, it became a family decision as my brother and I were both pre-teens at this point. My parents brought home the stacks of donor profiles, and we all got to help weed through them. I think the donor that was picked ended up having features that closely resemble my brother and me, which worked the way my parents wanted it to because my sister and I look so much alike.

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    • Hi Lindsey, I know this is a bit off topic, but I would love your outlook on this question; as your family made the donor selection process a family decision (which I think is fantastic) when did your family tell your sister she was created (sorry for the wording) using a donor? Did your family keep your sisters origins a secret from friends?

  8. Thank you everyone for the super helpful comments thus far! Really interesting to hear how everyone has gone about this process. Jen and Elissa, it's so great to hear how you narrowed things down and how things that you thought were important changed along the way (and thank you also for the tip about testing).

    One thing I'm really aware of, that might be particular to our situation, is that there is some real sadness for both of us – but particularly for my husband, about this process. So the challenge is not only to pick the 'best' choice for us, but also to be sensitive to the emotions that come up along the way. We want to balance feeling really devastated that he won't be genetically connected to our child with feeling excited about finding an alternative that we feel good about.

    One thing I'm interested in, for those of you who used egg or sperm donors, is whether you felt like the non-bio parent had a bit more 'say' in terms of choosing the donor, or whether it was pretty much a joint decision? I have a feeling it will be the latter for us, but also want to make sure he feels as much part of the process as he would if it were 'natural.'

    • I had fun writing that up this morning Alicia, glad you found it helpful. No thanks for the tips about the wine though?! Well, I guess that was an obvious inclusion…

      At our fertility clinic they encourage counselling at all stages for all families. Our doctor pretty much 'fessed up that for the lesbians he merely offers it as usually lesbians are there for a mechanical problem and less for a fertility problem (though not necessarily), we have self-selected to be there in the first place, and have planted ourselves firmly in the "opportunity" camp vs. the "set-back" camp. Certainly, when we ran into fertility problems, he offered counselling again.

      With the straight families they strongly encourage counselling. Not only because there's the obvious sadness and grieving, but also the unrealized depth of those emotions, and as well as all the other emotions that the stand-outs obscure (guilt, blame, anger, uncertainty). Counselling offers a neutral space and facilitation to get at those things and work them out or at least recognise them figure out how to live with/through them.

      Certainly in my case the fertility issues have brought some of the uncertainty I've been feeling into sharper relief and allowed time for some identity issues that I thought I'd dealt with to resurface (whole 'nother topic, lets just say pregnant isn't very butch), so I keep that counselling thing in my back pocket because when I need it, I'm going to ask.

      My heart goes out to you making tough choices under tough circumstances. Best, Jen

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      • well, clearly thanks for advice about the wine! shiraz a definite fave here as well :)

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      • I also wanted to say, but was typing quickly last night (so excited about all the great comments) was that sometimes the identity stuff is way harder than the biological stuff. This process really does make you realise how ingrained some gender norms are, or how much resisting or trying to mould those norms can make you feel vulnerable. I can imagine that being a hugely tough thing for you, and I know it's a big process for my husband – in our case this isn't a surprise diagnosis but something he's known about for years. In some ways that makes it easier and in some ways harder, there's none of that scary 'reveal!' that other people we know have been through and been heartbroken by, but at the same time he buried a lot of feelings that the process does really make you examine.

        Counselling has been a really good way of dealing with it, and just a lot of on-going conversation… whew! good times!

        In any case, thank you again (to Jen and to everyone) for sharing your experience. We both really appreciate it.

  9. My partner and I used an anonymous donor, and since I carried the baby and supplied the egg, she got final say on the donor. We narrowed it down to three we both liked, and then she made the final choice. She made a whole spreadsheet with the different qualities she liked and ranked the final three.

    We went with a smallish fertility center and narrowed down our choices by ethnicity, family medical history, blood type, etc. Then it came down to the feel we got from the responses to the questions.

    • I understand that most dont research what dc children (many who are now adults) say about anonymous donations. It doesnt matter how amazing the parent/s are – the general consensus is the same worlwide. Its wh aonymou donatios have been banned in most countries now- other than the US where the profit is put before the rights of the child/ It violates their right to know who they are genetically. Unfortunately the fertilty industry doesnt share this info, and itisnt in their interest profit margin wise to change that. Its so sad.

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  10. We used the sperm donor that our fertility clinic ran. Contrary to most of the people here, I felt that the "personal stuff"–essays, answers to questions, pictures–were unimportant. So much of that stuff is going to be based on nurture rather than nature, and I didn't feel that it would help guide our decision. We chose based on someone with similar ethnic heritage to my husband and a similar physical description, but what it came down to was this: our donor has grey eyes. I was fascinated by this(for whatever reason), and that guy matched all of our other criteria, so he was it! We conceived twins on our first round, and get this–my daughter has grey eyes. :)

  11. Also–during the IUI, my husband pushed the plunger on the syringe. The nurse thought we were weird, but I thought it was kinda cool.

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    • My partner did this too. Great Jens think alike.

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  12. Hi! My partner and I were assisted by the clinic in that they printed out about 20 profiles for us. We didn't go with coloring or eye colour but instead just went with our gut feelings guys who appeared healthy, positive and kind! The essays were important to us as we are aware our son may want to meet this man some day (so we avoided the guys that wrote a lot about god and religion with us being a same sex couple). I always believed the right baby would come to us. And he has. He's perfect! Oh and I got to push the plunger too! :) awesome!

  13. Has anyone had any luck finding multiracial donors? My lovely wife is Chinese/white Australian and when we have kids, I would love for them to have a similar background… but it seems like multiracial donors are probably pretty hard to find!

      • There are definitely sperm banks with multi-racial donors. It's just going to be hard to find the exact races you may want with the other characteristics you want.

  14. Hi, my wife and I used donor sperm from a local fertility clinic here on the south coast of England. Unlike American sperm banks there were no essays, no photos and certainly no chance to meet any donor. At the time there was only a handful of donors on their books which they had sperm from so our choice was somewhat limited.

    My wife carried our child and it was important to us both that we pick the shortest donor because I'm quite short at 5ft 2" and she is around 5ft 5" and the rest of her family are taller (her youngest brother is 6ft 4"!). My family are all fairly short so I wanted to make sure our child had a 50% chance of not towering over me.

    The other things we were told about the donors was eye colour, hair colour, health, ethnicity, their build and their job (I found it strange that they listed their jobs).

    My wife conceived first time and we now have a gorgeous ginger girl, so he was obviously the best choice for us :-)

    I *think* that it's now the law here in the UK that children conceived from donor sperm can ask for contact details of the donor when they reach 18, so this wasn't an element in our decision. Also, I believe that children are allowed to contact siblings as long as both have agreed to being contacted.

    I wish you lots of good luck with trying to conceive, it is truly a wonderful adventure which is starting right now for you both :-)

    • Yes- anonymous has been banned now in the UK, Australia, shortly Canada…because of what we now know from research into the effects this has on children (many now adults).

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  15. My comments will probably be similar to a lot of others, but I thought I'd add them anyway! My husband and I live in Canada, where it is illegal to pay people for donor material (sperm, eggs, etc.). As a result, there are very few donors here, so we ordered our sperm from a Canadian company that imports sperm from the USA. The American company was Xytex, and they have a very comprehensive (albeit expensive) website that allows you to search donors by many criteria (physical appearance, hobbies, education, photos, personal essays, etc).

    We quickly realized that if we wanted to, we could choose criteria to make our version of a "super baby" and this realization actually made us really uncomfortable. At a certain point, we seemed to be eliminating people who didn't claim to have a genius IQ just because we could, and we were failing to look at criteria that were probably more important. I started to feel totally sketchy – like some sort of mad scientist/eugenicist!

    In Ontario, you must meet with a social worker or therapist before a fertility clinic is authorized to let you use donor material, and I would highly recommend it. It was a very detailed session, and actually helped us a lot when it came to choosing our donor. The therapist helped us see that we were focusing on the wrong criteria, and it was impeding the process. She helped us figure out what we really NEEDED in a donor to feel comfortable.

    Ultimately, our criteria, in order of importance, were the following: 1) An "open ID" donor, which means that when our children turn 18, they can find out his name and last known address. This costs more money, but I would rather that my child have the option if they want it, rather than shut that door completely. 2)A healthy medical history for donor and immediate family (or at least, nothing outside the norm for our own families) 3) Someone physically similar to my husband 4) Someone who shared a few key interests with my husband and me (specifically, an interest in reading and music) 5) Someone who came from a family that values higher education, in any form (apprenticeship, college, university).

    Using this approach, we narrowed it down to about 5 possiblities from hundreds, and then down to 2 who were pretty much perfect. Then, it was just an issue of which sperm was available to get in a timely manner.

    Ultimately, we are so pleased with our donor and how compatible he seems to be with our values and lifestyle. Of course we know that this potentially means nothing about the values and interests of our children, but it helps us feel more comfortable with the process and almost makes us feel like our donor is part of our extended family (which he is, in a sense!).

    We want to raise our children with full knowledge of their origins and to normalize it for them, so that they know how much we wanted them and how lucky we are to have them. We never want them to feel betrayed by finding out late in life, or feel like we are ashamed of our choices. The care we took selecting our donor will help with this.

    In terms of who had "final say" – we were both very involved in the process. I would say we arrived at the final 5 together, but my husband ultimately chose the top 2, and then the top 1. For my husband (and I) this was a very sad process at times. We got through it with lots of humour, and once we got to the point where I articulated, "you know what? I want someone just like you as opposed to some 'superman'", I think my husband felt a lot more secure. In the beginning, I didn't realize how much he needed to hear that my first choice was having babies with him, but barring that, I want someone as close to him as possible. I thought it was understood, but really, I needed to say it out loud. Other things we did: We nicknamed the potential donors, compared them to obscure celebrities, and ran our photos through those silly online programs that spit out a hideous-looking baby. These things all helped us feel happy throughout the process, and helped my husband to feel valued and important.

    Wow – this was long! In any case, that is how we chose our donor, and the process we went through! I am currently pregnant with twins, so we don't know what they will be like, but I have every confidence that they will be amazing :)

    Good luck with your choices! It can be a long, confusing process, but it will be totally worth it in the end :)

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    • "…'you know what? I want someone just like you as opposed to some "superman"'…"

      This made me tear up a bit. I can't really think of any more romantic thought, in this context or another.

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      • LOL – rereading this, it sort of sounds like I think my husband ISN'T a "superman" which isn't the case at all, but just not in a stereotypical, media-produced sense. Just to clarify :)

        • Oh, I understood! Loving my "non-traditional super" partner (and rest of family and friends for that matter, none of whom would be improved by a dimpled chin or wearing underwear over their tights).

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    • Copycait, this is such a hugely insightful comment and really makes sense for our situation. My husband is this unusually caring fabulous person, so when I think about donors I keep thinking less of 'I want them to be tall and blonde' (as he is) but more 'how can we tell if they're basically kind people?'

      We've been getting involved with a really fantastic organisation in the UK called the Donor Conception Network (check them out, wonderful resources for all kinds of families about 'telling and talking' etc) and one thing they really emphasised was also thinking about this decision in terms of the way you'd tell the child about how you decided. So that shift you describe – between it being all these 'superman' ideal characteristics towards something you felt more comfortable with makes a huge amount of sense.

      These comments have been so fabulous and really helpful for us, I'd love to take them forward. One thing I feel aware of is how using donor conception is an on-going conversation you have with your partner, child and family as opposed to IVF which can be massively traumatic but doesn't necessarily hugely change the 'story' you tell your child. So I'm not sure how anyone who would like to keep in touch can (I'm sure there's some fabulous mechanism for this on offbeat mama) but I'd be very glad to!

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  16. My husband and I have not yet actually gone down this road, but we're at the beginning stages. We're starting to determine what's important for us.

    The somewhat disheartening thing for me is that I really camp more in the "nature" side of "nature vs. nurture". I can't help it! The studies I've read seem to show that while you might be able to fake nature with nurture for a while, once the kid grows up, they are more like their genetic parents.

    So as strange as it may be, we're not focusing on diseases and such quite as much, but rather more of a personality that we imagine matches my husband. That doesn't mean we won't look at diseases (especially as they'll already be inheriting the possibility for heart disease, at least 3 types of cancer, and diabetes from me) but rather that it's not quite as important as personality to us.

    • anne, good luck to you guys too. The nature/nurture thing is one that makes me nervous too. I'm pretty solidly somewhere in the middle but aware from seeing my friends children be so much like them naturally at the start that there's a lot of nature in there too… that said, so many people we know who have adopted children or used donor conception get told all the time how much their kids look/are like them.

      One really insightful thing someone said at the Donor Conception Network weekend we went to was how people just *will* tell you the baby looks like the non-bio parent, they will forget and say it anyways. And how it's sort of their way of 'claiming' that baby, bringing it into the family. This is something I always worry about – and others at the weekend we went to did as well. Like, what do you do if you're in the grocery store and someone says something about how much the baby looks like his dad? In that situation you probably just smile or whatever, but what about family? I'm sure there's people here who have a lot more experience dealing with this and will probably say that this stuff is totally no big deal, but for some reason it's one of those things that makes me feel a little uncomfortable.

      Anyways, as I said before I'd be really happy to keep in touch somehow with others going through/recently finished with the same process…

      • Family kept commenting how the baby I birthed had my wife's lips. Nice sentiment but impossible!

  17. You can be waiting over a year for sperm on the NHS. Start by reading the useful article 'Choosing a sperm donor for free legal sperm donation' – an ezine article- I wont put the link incase not allowed here. The most important thing is to start by thinking what your child may want to know about their origins however amazing you are as parents. If you dont choose your donor for who he is – ie by meeting him- then you cant know what your child might think of him. He could be a college bum who is an idiot in 18 years. The article outlines some things to think about, and if you find a donor privately (google free sperm donations) then start – when youve found a match- by asking him to complete a Donor Dad questionnnaire (Dondad)for your child. Google the Children Deserve to Know Where They Come From campaign – and look for Donor Dad questionnnaire. Free of course. Its based on what dc children said they wished they knew. Research shows that 2 out of every dc children want to meet him even if they dont see him as 'dad' and had great parents. Also research the HUGE emotional distress caused by not being told honestly and openly when very young. There are 'Dondad' stories being written to help you start discussions through stories.
    Good luck!

    • Jan, your point about openness seems very true and is something that we (and I think many people here) have already committed to with our child/ren. However I think there are a LOT of concerns with the free sperm donor websites (motivation, legal ramifications as in the current case in UK courts, how many children they would be involved with, etc). So though I am new to this I think anyone thinking about 'free sperm donors' should approach with a lot of caution.

      Though we are definitely going through a clinic, we will be open with our children from the earliest possible stage and will definitely do a non-anonymous donor (which as you say is the only way in the UK anyways).

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    • As far as meeting the donor, this can be legally risky, at least in certain states in the US.

      I read online about a lesbian couple who found a donor, met him, worked out a legal contract with him, and then as soon as their child was born the donor took them to court for custody. The judge disregarded their private contract, granted DAILY visitation rights to the donor, and on top of everything called their family unnatural.

      I'm using an anonymous donor because I will not have my family treated that way.

        • I really wish I could remember where I saw that! I know I'm being *that person* who read something on the internet but can't cite it, but it was a while ago. I'll try to find it.

          • Drat, I was totally going to go on a google-spree to find this (which I'm sure the editors have already done but I'm subconciously convinced that I am always able to do things other people aren't), but then realized that there is no SFW search I could do….

          • I did try to find it. :) But feel free to do your own searching!

  18. Regarding the idea of telling the kids–there is a series of books called "hope and will have a baby" that one can purchase. They have different stories based on different means of reproductive tech. The one we have is "hope and will have a baby: the gift of sperm donation". It gets deep into the reproductive process and is a little long, but it is the only book for kids that I've found. I do not know if there are lesbian/gay versions–sorry! Google the title to find it.

  19. DCN (I feel like I'm advertising them, but I honestly think they're a really great org) also publishes a series of books called 'our story' – there's specific books for kids of different ages and ones about gay/straight/single parent families and egg/sperm/double donation:

    http://www.donor-conception-network.org/dcn_pubs

    • Good to know! Will have to check and see if they have ones more appropriate for toddlers(my twins are almost 3). From days-old, I've been telling them "a nice man and a doctor helped mama and daddy get you," and they seem to just accept it.

  20. Another great book is this one getting going on Kickstarter: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1809291619/what-makes-a-baby

    I am a single mama, now pregnant with my first, so the donor selection issues are different than those of you who were figuring it out with partners. For me it was pretty straightforward – looking only willing-to-be-known donors, then screening for mental and physical health issues, and then selecting someone who seemed like he was – as much as I could tell from a few essay questions – a good human being.

    I had a few last minute crisis moments about the nature/nurture thing, and how could I possibly make the biggest decision of my life to include someone I hadn't even met for coffee, but friends reminded me of how many people we all know and love who had fathers who were not great people, and that my kid – who will be loved and adored – will turn out just fine.

    I wish you all the best of luck with these decisions!

    3 agree
  21. I'm currently pregnant with my partner and my first. We browsed all online donor sites but ended up chosing our donor from our local hospital fertility center's stock. They had a great list of 30 or so donors, many with advanced degrees, which was important to us. However, at the end of the day we just picked the donor we felt best reflected my partner. My partner has a PhD in applied math so we wanted someone mathy. We also went with them because the cost of sperm was covered by my insurance so the only thing we paid was the $35 co-pay. And it worked the first time so we felt really lucky.

    One thing that I regret a bit is that their donors are not willing to be known. I didn't know my biological father so this didn't really seem like something that was important when we were making this decision. Biological relationships aren't something we're going to stress or that I personally think is very important. However, I hope that our daughter will be ok with this. I've read online that adult children of sperm donors sometimes have a really hard time with this.

  22. Good luck!
    When we chose our donor we narrowed first to the sperm bank. After doing some research we learned that not all sperm banks are alike and have the same policies re family size and notification of families re health problems in other offspring. After that we made a spread sheet of all the wiling-to-be-known donors and made notes about them and starting ruling them out. We ruled out a lot of them based on their essays because we thought they sounded like "tools." Not terribly descriptive but it worked. We also ruled out a bunch based on family health history. In the end, it didn't matter what he looked like. I can't tell you how tall he is or how much he weighs. I can tell you about his education and what his sister does for a living and where his ancestors are from. And what public figure he thinks he looks like. Rahm Emanuel. We were impressed he knew who he was. We have two pictures from when he was a toddler. I'm putting them in our daughter's baby book.
    Also, our bank provides contact info for the other donor families if everyone consents. We have met one of our daughter's donor sisters. They look nothing alike but their cries are identical! I didn't even know that this was possible but I quite like it.
    And have some wine for sure!

  23. I may have an interesting perspective on this issue (primarily for heterosexual couples). My dad is sterile, so I am the product of an anonymous sperm donation. You should consider when/how to tell your child, and I'd recommend that they know all along. Please do not pass them off as a genuine biological kid! This will only end badly! I didn't know until I was in high school, and it was a bit of a shock to find out. I wasn't scarred for life (only a couple years), and for what its worth, I don't have any desire to identify or contact my sperm-daddy.
    Secondly and more importantly, as an adult who is fairly health-conscious, it's really inconvenient to not know a detailed medical history for that side of me (though maybe they are better about this now than they were 25 years ago)! I always feel like a liar when I have to fill out medical history forms, because I have no idea what horrors may be lurking. I finally decided to get myself genotyped using one of the many personal genotyping services out there, and it has been interesting!

    1 agrees
  24. My boyfriend/soulmate/best friend died suddenly last year. We had been trying to get pregnant for about 5 or 6 months. I was 33 he was 39. Neither of us had ever been married. I had been on birth control since I was 18. I am heartbroken but I know I need to keep moving forward with my dream of becoming a mother. I'm 34 now. He was an only child and had all female cousins. His dad is in his 70s so there are basically no options to use a donor within his family. So basically I'm looking for a donor with any physical and interest similarities. Since he died I've taken his last name. I was about 2 weeks away from proposing to him when he passed. I'm also hoping to have his parents help choose so that they can feel like grandparents. I guess what I'm wondering is if anyone had luck with the facematching options I've seen online? I tried a free one and got low matching. Also wondering if any women doing this alone have any advice?

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