When a friend sat across the table and snarkily described her ex (and the biological father of her kids) as a “sperm donor,” I didn’t think too much of it. I knew what she meant: he wasn’t present, didn’t support them, and was more concerned about his own life than theirs. He wasn’t a father.
Except later I realized… he is. He fathered two children and is on their birth certificates, no matter what involvement he has after their birth. He is actually not their donor. I know who a donor really is.
When you’re a girl in love with another girl you want everything that society has always told you one gets when in love. You want to get married, to care for each other, to hold their hand as you walk down the street. You want to grow old together, to make those boring day-to-day life decisions together. Often you want to have a family — you want to parent together.
The wonderful thing is that queer couples can do most of these things today. We put on tuxes and wedding gowns, smash cake into each other’s faces; we hold hands as we walk down the street in most areas of this country without fear of being hurt. We go to Target and pick out cheap trinkets and toilet paper and a half-gallon of ice cream. We have families… but there’s a catch to our families. We don’t have them alone.
Five years ago my wife and I decided it was finally time to start working on our dream of having a child. We discussed it, mulled it over, and finally decided to approach a friend of ours to ask if he would be the third party, the interloper in our conception journey. He said “yes” and he became our donor. Now we have two amazing children and there isn’t a moment that goes by that I don’t have a deep and abiding sense of gratitude for what he has given us. He has given us a gift that we will never be able to repay.
He is a donor.
It is time to change the conversation around the term “sperm donor.” “Donor” does not equate “deadbeat dad.” A donor, whether a dear friend or a random person who grabs a magazine, a cup and heads for a small room at a sperm bank, is a wonderful person. He is the person who gives us our families, and no matter who he is, gay and lesbian families are grateful. It is a term of honor, a person who is so deeply special and important. There should be a day for our donors, a Hallmark card, a television special. We should have parades and fireworks and a day off from our jobs. Because without them so many of us wouldn’t be able to realize our dreams.
In two days my daughter will turn one, and as always my thoughts turn to our donor. I will write him my usual sappy letter where I tell him that he is wonderful, he is loved, he is forever part of our family and in our hearts. I will thank him, but it will never feel like enough because he has given us the things that our most precious to us in the entire world: our children.
Thank you and thank you to everyone who makes our families possible.