When my partner and I think about starting a family down the road, we know that as two women we will most likely choose to work with a sperm bank. I am positive that route makes the most sense for us and our future family, but I still can’t quite wrap my mind around the idea of a sperm bank. They seem so sci-fi!
My husband and I have always been happy to blur the gender lines, but he (current preferred pronoun!) recently told me that he identifies as transgender and wants to transition to presenting as female.
The background of the case is so similar to the way many of my lesbian couples have chosen to grow their families. Partners Jennifer Schreiner and Angela Bauer wanted to have a baby together, but chose not to use a sperm bank. Instead, they opted to find their donor, William Marotta, on Craigslist. The mothers ended their relationship and Angela, the gestational mother, needed to apply for state welfare benefits. The parents in this case all believed they had made a valid written agreement before their daughter was born, stating that William would have no parental rights or responsibilities. The mothers want no child support, and are testifying in his defense.
My wife and I are beginning the prep work for our anonymous donor assisted baby-making plans. I will be carrying our baby, but I am petrified of labor and vaginal birth. I’ve read all of the C-section posts on Offbeat Families so far, and they’ve been very helpful and gorgeous.
Choosing a sperm donor is a little bit like setting up an Xbox avatar. You begin by deciding on the ethnicity, hair color, and eye color of the fellow whose sperm you’d like to combine with your egg to make your baby. Then you enter that criteria into a sperm-bank search engine, which returns a list of matching anonymous males who passed rigorous genetic tests and filled out detailed questionnaires. Finally, you pore through each donor profile, considering things like his height, weight, build, SAT scores, family medical history, sexual orientation, whether or not he has moles, the shape of his nose and mouth, and in some cases, his baby photo or voice sample.
My partner and I (both women) have been thinking a lot about starting a family. We’ve thought about using a donor, and always come back to the possibility of asking my partner’s brother how he would feel about donating his sperm for us to start a family. It seems like a good option on some level — we would know about the baby’s biological history, and the baby would have both our genes.
My partner and I are just getting started with trying to get pregnant using donor sperm. Though we are a straight couple, due to his medical history we need some outside assistance. However, trying to think about all the options is a little overwhelming.
Three months before the baby was due, my partner Patty and I took the birth class. I’m so glad we took the class together — the yoga teacher taught us a lot about exercises we could do during labor, breathing to help through the contractions, the benefits of avoiding interventions, and how a labor doula could really support our decisions to have the birth we wanted.