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.
We are mainly questioning whether this would be “fair” for our child(ren) to have an uncle/dad and if it would be very confusing for them. Any help out there?
Someone recently told me this: “Every family creates their family story, be it about family history or religion or science. LGBT families in particular have to create a family narrative — be it about adoption, an unknown donor or a known donor.”
When we decided to start a family, we explored many options. For us, the route of known donor (my partner’s brother) seemed to work out best for us. It enabled us to have a child that biologically was related to both of us, and was an amazing and unique way to keep the donor involved.
Our philosophy has always been to be honest, upfront and loving. First, before we even began, we had our donor sign a contract. Although our donor is Patty’s brother, we had him sign a document that outlined our needs (for example, he would be referred to as “Uncle”). Although it seems awkward, having this was actually a great opportunity to talk about the whole thing so that there were no surprises down the road.
We told our families, and all our family members know that her brother is the donor, but that he is referred to as “Uncle.” We also are using the word “donor,” so that it’s part of our daughter’s vocabulary. Although she’s only two, we wanted to do this from the beginning so that it was just a part of her story, and that she was comfortable with it. We’re lucky that her Uncle lives so close so we are able to have him as an active part of her life. Every Friday, her “special” uncle takes her on an outing. So she’s comfortable with him and has her own relationship with him.
Now, our daughter is only two, so we haven’t run into any “awkward” situations as of yet. But we believe that being honest and open is the key. We have some dear friends who have created their family in a similar manner and they were our “mentors” throughout our entire conception process (they are the ones who recommended the salsa jar!). Since their kids are older, I wanted to ask them about their experience so far. Here’s what they had to say:
We have a seven-year-old and an almost five-year-old and we are thrilled that we were able to make our family using my partner’s brother. It’s important to consciously make your family’s story, and to be open to it changing as time goes by. As of this morning, our seven-year-old referred to his donor as “donor, uncle AND biological daddy.” He came to that himself, from learning more and more about the science of reproduction.
We’ve told them that, to us, parents are the people who make a commitment to be parents; the people who help make a baby are called biological parent, or donors. Most of the time the biological parent, or donor, is also the parent, but not always– and we have examples in our lives to show pretty much any form of family.
Our situation has been ideal, with all of us agreeing on our roles but open to the children questioning titles and relationships. Our donor is also gay and doesn’t have any children nor does he want to parent. Everyone is completely open and proud of the way we made a family. Couldn’t be better!
Our family story has evolved from this:
You have two mommies and you grew in my belly.
Your mommies wanted to have a baby so we asked your Uncle and he helped us to make you.
We wanted children but we both have eggs, and you need a sperm AND an egg to make a baby, so we asked Uncle to give us sperm so we could make you. He is your sperm donor and your uncle. I am your egg donor and your mommy. Mama is your mama!
Since her answer made me teary, I thought I should share. As LGBT parents, we are in the unique position to truly create our own families and family stories. I truly believe that your family story is what you make it as long as it’s full of love and open and honest.