Friday, March 6, 2009

Thoughts on donor sperm.....

First, I know I have been a bad blogger. There really hasn't been much to report.

We found out today, that more than likely, C and X will go back to their crack whore mother next month. This after being told multiple times by their social worker that there is no way this would happen.

After all that has happened regarding foster parenting, we have decided that once these boys go home, we are not going to do it again. It just isn't worth it. It is not about helping the kids, it is just being housing for the state. They are going to do whatever they need to meet their numbers, regardless of what is best for the children. The fact that they will even talk about returning these boys to their mother LIVING IN A HOMELESS SHELTER tells us that.

So, this has had some unexpected effects on me. It has taught me that parenting is not about their biological relation to them, it is the role you play in their life.

Which, leads me to today's quandry.

When it came up in the past, my answer to donor sperm was a firm, NO. After looking into many other options such as adoption, fostering, IVF, etc, I feel like this may be the best option for us. It is within our budget, would net us a child that is at least 1/2 biologically ours. It removes the asshats from the state from the picture.

So, I would like to collect your thoughts on donor sperm. If you do not want to comment publicly, please email it or post anonymously.

Here is my criteria for donor:

Must have the same basic physical characteristics as me. Hight, build, hair color, etc.
Must be at least moderately successful. I don't want a Harvard grad, but holding a job, etc. (Yes, there is a whole nature vs nurture debate here, but I am covering both bases here because I can)
Must be a "no ID" donor, the child will never know that there was a donor.

So, lemmie have it. What do you think?


  1. First, I think that you have done a commendable thing by being foster parents. Regardless of the outcome, those boys have had a basis made for them and I hope and pray that the positive outweighs the negative. I understand the "need" for reunification in SOME circumstances but I not believe that it should be even questioned for ALL.

    As for donor sperm. I think you hit the nail on the head. Its not about biology its about the day to day. I do think that there are some other psychological factors once a pregnancy takes place rather than it simply being a hypothetical. BUT, I do believe that if the goal is to be a parent then that can be over come.

    I wish you MUCH luck and MUCH success and that those boys are not returned to their crack whore mother.

  2. Most donor-conceived people are against secrecy and donor anonymity, so if you do go ahead with donor sperm, I think you should choose an id-release donor. Some countries including the UK, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Switzerland, Austria, and New Zealand have actually made anonymous donation illegal.

    You may be interested in this group:

    "for dads whose children were conceived by donor insemination. It is not intended for the donors, but rather for the men who are actually raising or have raised children conceived by DI. The group is also for men who are considering with their spouses using donor insemination to create their families and are looking for information and support."

  3. Biology is VERY important to me. If I find out that my eggs are no good, I'm not sure what I will do. However, I do know it will be one of two things: donor eggs or living childless. A significant part of my concern for adoption is that you just don't know what that kid's life was like invivo. And with foster care, the f***edupedness can actually be ongoing until things get so critically bad that the kids are actually taken away. Plus even if you're willing to overcome that there's still a relatively high possibility the bio parents will sweep in and take the kid(s) back. Sweeeet.

    So what do I think of donor sperm? Especially for someone who is intellectually ok with not having the bio connection - seems like a pretty simple solution.

  4. Oh - one last thing - as far as anonymous donor - what about the ramifications of that offspring never having access to the medical maladies they may be genetically predisposed to?

  5. I think some clarification is in order:

    A "NO-ID" donor is not anonymous. It does not mean that their identity is not known at all, it means it is not known to us.

    As for the legality of it in other countries, I will keep that in mind if we should move to any of those places before this happens. Considering the number of other laws most of those countries have I do not agree with, I don't assign any meaning to the fact they have laws such as this. It is because most of them are ultra liberal, socialist societies.

    Medical history comes with, even if you do not know their identity, you get a whole mess of information including personal and family medical history.

    My reasoning for not wanting the donors ID is simple. When/if the child finds out or is told about this aspect of their life, it will rest on them to make the decision if they want to research and find out who the donor was, and to go through the motions to do so. Meaning, it won't just be handed to them, they will have to really want it.

    As for "Most donor-conceived people are against secrecy and donor anonymity". These seems like a "duh" statement to me. Of course they are, it means that it can just be handed to them, it makes it easy for them. Even if I did have that information, I would not be obligated to provide it to them anyway.

    Obviously, there are 2 schools of thought on donor identity. But, both options are available, so either side can arrange it in a way that makes them most comfortable.

    In this day and age, even previously "sealed" adoptions are fairly easily opened by the courts, and this is the same way. Once they reach adulthood, it would not be the terribly complex legal battle that we used to see to get the information.

  6. While I can see where not telling the child could be desireable. Reading that you intend to start your child/parent relationship with something less then the truth just unnerved me.

    Like you said in regard to how they can/are being able to unseal adoption records, there is a strong possibility your child would/could find out. And what/how will the "secret" coming out affect your realationship?

    I don't think it has to be a big issue. Telling can be very factual. But keeping it secret might make it into one. And your not wanting to tell the child might make the child think there is something wrong with the way things happened.

    I hope you will reconsider this part of it.

  7. I'm so sorry the foster situation has been so hard for you; it just sounds awful having to watch them be reunited with the bio-mom.

    I think it's wonderful that you're now considering using donor sperm! It took my husband quite a while to come around to the idea of donor sperm after our azoospermia diagnosis. There are a million things to consider and decide, but after some time we've both become totally comfortable with the idea.

    Our situation is a little different because we're using a known donor (his brother). But, we have spent four plus years researching, reading, learning and going to counseling to try and figure it out. Since you've asked for opinions, I have to say that I agree with some of the other commenters about disclosure. The most compelling piece for me is if you don't tell your child, you're living a life with a HUGE lie and secret. Most of the research shows that when kids know all along they cope and adjust just fine, but when the find out as teenagers or adults it is really damaging. The keeping it a secret = shame, and the child will know that. It's really hard these days to keep it a secret for life, so you'd have to accept that they will find out one day. If you decide not to disclose it's important that absolutely no one else know, because things just happen to slip. No parents, friends, family members should know because one of them is likely to spill the beans, even accidentally, at one point.

    I would encourage you to take a look at the research. We've also really benefited from seeing a therapist that specializes in donor-gamete/adoption issues. They can help discuss the different aspects of disclosure, how to handle all the "he looks just like you" comments, etc. We also read the blog history of DI Dad (Life as Dad to DI (Donor Insemination) Kids), where he thoughtfully addresses the issues from the perspective of his DI kids.

    Wishing you both the best of luck!

  8. My daughter was conceived using a non ID-release donor. We picked the donor for his physical characteristics and personality traits, (our bank even does the Meyers Briggs test) and decided that ID release was less important than finding such an ideal donor.

    In retrospect, I wish that we had held out for ID release. Now that we've joined the Donor Sibling Registry, we've had many opportunities to see things from the perspective of donor-conceived children. Their resounding chorus seems to be for more information.

    Even though our donor is not ID release, we have more than 40 pages of medical information. Our pediatrician remarked that we probably know more about the donor's health history than we know about our own. Whether you go with ID release or not, as long as you work with a reputable bank, you'll get plenty of medically relevant information.

    As my partner and I are both women, there's never been a question of keeping secrets about her conception, but as the non-bio parent, I respect where you're coming from. It can be threatening, thinking about your child seeing out their donor, maybe even considering that donor more 'real' because of their biological connection.

    But just as you've learned in your recent foster parenting experience (and as I've learned in five years of raising my daughter), biology isn't what makes you a parent. And you be your child's parent fully, regardless of biological connection.

    I wish you the best and especially hope that you can find great support from other DI dads. Good luck in your next steps!

  9. Hi - I found you through your wife's latest post and since you asked, I thought I'd chime in. Someone else may have clarified this already, but using an open ID donor does not mean that you get the donor's identifying information, ever. It just means that if your child wants to get that information, they can, once they turn 18. Your child is the only one who can get the information, and they will only get it if they decide that is what they want. You can tell your child about his or her genetic origins at any point you wish, and won't be forced into any decisions simply because you chose an open ID donor.

    I am newly pregnant with my first child, conceived through DI as my husband's vasectomy reversal failed and for many reasons we did not wish to pursue IVF. We did choose an open ID donor, largely because I want my child to have the freedom to know about and meet the donor if that is his or her wish. I know how hard it is to be subjected to the many differing viewpoints on this - a number of times, I've ended up in tears after reading the blogs of donor-conceived people who talk about how harmful it has been to them. However, in all of those cases, the people speaking out against DI were all conceived through anonymous sperm donation. When I try to put myself in their shoes, I can't help but think that it is better to have more information than less. I do believe that everyone has the right to know their genetic origins, and I plan on being fully open with my child from the very beginning. As for telling others around us, we plan to let that be guided by our child and his or her wish to share this information.

    All that said, I do wish you much luck as you embark on this new journey together, and I hope that you have your much longed-for child very soon.

    There is an excellent documentary that was aired recently here in Canada, and it is available online here:

    The filmmaker is a donor conceived man who was conceived at one of the first clinics to attempt DI, in 1940s London. The film is a moving, compassionate, and thought-provoking look at the issues around DI and other kinds of ART. It does fall on the side of advocating openness, but it is very compassionate in the way that it does so. I cannot recommend it highly enough!

    Best of luck to you both.

  10. A lot of people here have spoken about the right of the child to know their bio-family's medical history and other issues that come up with DNA, and I can be sympathetic to that. However, it's something that's not even guaranteed to kids living with their biological parents.

    I'm not sure how much Manda's told you about me, but my family life is more than a little fucked up, and I am now the 4th generation on my dad's side in a row estranged from their parents, and second on my mother's. I have some idea of what my DNA profile is like from anecdotes from my parents, but really not much. For instance, I have no idea if anyone in my family has ever had early cancer, or if anyone has heart disease, PCOS, or blood sugar issues. The only think I'm certain of is that I come from a long line of alcoholics and that there's some issue with alzheimers or dementia on my dad's side.

    Not knowing my family medical history hasn't been a big deal in my life. While I do know both of my (biological, obviously) parents, I have about the same level of genetic knowledge that your children conceived through donor sperm would, and they'll be better off than I was because, at the minimum, they'll have grandparents. I really think having the social family is FAR more important than the biological family, so any kid you have will be fine :)

  11. that is F***ED UP! Who the hell made that decision, and haven't they seen!? Man that is not right. I hope you're taking it to court.

    Ah whatever, easy for me to say. It's your lives, and you'll raise some awesome kids someday, sounds like. Good luck

  12. As a mother of a child who has never really known his father (I was young & stupid & I just found your blog while doing a search on TTC because NOW, at 32, I'm having trouble... oh the irony!) anyway... as a mom of an awesome 13 yr old with the worst possible choice for a father, I can say without a doubt, it is NOT about biology at all. Definitely be picky because you can, but know that that one little sperm from someone that baby will never know, does not make the person he or she is going to be. Mom & Dad do that. Good luck :)

  13. After 9 failed IVF's, more frozen cycles than I can count, transferring embryos to myself and then finally even trying a gestational surrogate,
    and then having one miserably failed adoption attempt where we were scammed by an attorney, we went back to IVF and tried using donor sperm on the advice of our Dr. (too complicated to go into but some test results indicated there was likely some genetic issue with his sperm that was making success impossible for us even though IVF will work for most male factor infertility cases). We also used a gestational surrogate and she is now pregnant with twins on our first attempt with donor sperm.

    My husband and I had both been really excited about adoption initially. The problem was we were only comfortable with a closed adoption and those seem to be scarce these days. After a very bad initial experience, I just couldn't bring myself to try it again. I found the whole ordeal much harder than dealing with IVF. I don't want to have to sell myself to a birthmother nor do I want to have to maintain any sort of relationship with her. A lot of people are fine with this type of arrangement and that's great for them. It's just not for us.

    If the problem had not been my husband, I was willing to try an egg donor. Now, a couple years ago a sperm or egg donor are something that neither of us would have ever considered. I believe that one's decisions and feelings about things definitely change as the reality of their situation changes. I think using a sperm or egg donor is a great option. There is no dealing with a third party or having to worry about dealing with them later. You have some control over choosing physical characteristics or talents/interests in a donor which are similar to your own. And, one of the really great things, is that you have control over the pregnancy.

    We do not plan to disclose the use of a sperm donor to anyone. If my husband feels he wants to tell the child someday, I will leave that up to him. One thing I've read is that, if you don't plan to tell, then be consistent and do not tell select people. Not telling means not telling anyone or you risk the child finding out from someone else. A study showed that most people who used egg or sperm donors and told others later wished they could untell.

    Oh, and our sperm donor was a non ID release donor, but we did receive a detailed medical history that was just as complete as the medical history we would have known for my husband.

    Best of luck!