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I am 40, single, queer, and preparing to parent, however it comes my
way. Ideally, I will connect with a man who knows he does not want to
parent, but would be interested in helping me start my family, and is
willing to be known by the child in some way.
I would like to hear from people who used known donors to get pregnant
and had it go well - what made it go well? what helped you make good
decisions? if your donor wasn't someone you already knew well, how
did you find that person? Are they/ how are they involved in your
Please, if you want to warn me that this is a bad idea, I respectfully
ask you not to respond. I am aware of the many pitfalls. If you want
to suggest things to be careful of in a way that is supportive of
going ahead, that would be appreciated.
We used a known donor. The key was establishing the ground
rules and having a contract in place just to make everyone
Honest communication and acknowledging that this is a
somewhat awkward situation with no real playbook is a good
Trust your instincts on who you choose. You may want to
choose someone with no children, but that may mean that the
person ends up being more involved than you'd like. I know
2 couples who have used a donor who, already, has children.
You need to establish what, if any, relationship you
envision your donor having with your child. Talk about it
The law requires a child to have 2 parents. If you really
want to make sure that your bases are covered, once the baby
is born have your partner (if you have one) adopt the child,
which involves having the donor legally rescind parental
rights. If you're not going the adoption step, just don't
put his name on the birth certificate, have a contract, and
have a will listing the child's next of kin in the event
that something happens to you.
We're really glad we used a known donor, but I've also heard
horror stories about custody battles.
I have 2 kids (now teens) who are products of sperm donation
by a friend. I also know dozens of other similar families. I
suggest you get to know them, too, through our local community
organizations. My main advice on this is don't have a known
donor be a friend unless he is someone with whom you would
trust with your life in his hands and with whom you are very
happy to see often should he decide to be an ''uncle''. The
uncle (donor and his partner) have been such unexpected
blessings in the lives of my children. But I know of
dissimilar stories. Absolutely get a legal contract before
the donation that states he gives up all rights and has no
Happy with known donor friends
We have two amazing children from a sperm donor through a
sperm bank. We purchased more vials of our donor's sperm
than we ended up needing to conceive (a "good" problem), and
now have a good number of vials of our donor's sperm that
are still being stored at the sperm bank. We are looking to
hear from people who have used sperm donors to conceive,
have given birth to the number of children you are planning
to have, and have decided what to do with any remaining
sperm. Did you just ask them to dispose of the vials? Did
you keep storing them, and until when? Did you pass them
along to anyone else? We are having a hard time making a
final decision about what to do, even though we know that
our family is complete. We do not want to keep paying the
sperm bank to store the vials, but it seems so final to
dispose of them and passing them along seems a bit weird. We
haven't found anyone on the Donor Sibling Network who is
looking for this donor, otherwise may consider that option.
Any (and only) thoughts from people who have been there -
We had your very situation: paid the sperm bank $400 per
year for five years, despite the fact that we too had
reached our desired number of children. It seemed so very
final to have the vials disposed. However, we finally
decided to sign the paperwork, and based it on the fact
that 1) we truly did not want another child, 2) heck, if
we wanted another child (which we really don't/didn't) of
course there are options to have another with a different
donor, and 3) we thought of all the other things that we
could do with that $400! We ended up putting the $400
into our child's college fund; not much, but in ten years
it will be more!
I truly understand that hesitation to ''end it;'' however, I
realized (as did my partner) that it was linked more to
the bitterweet feelings of watching our child grow up, and
realizing that we would not have another baby in the
house, ever, than about maybe wanting another child.
It's been well over a year, and we don't regret it.
now, we just borrow our friends' babies...and give them back!
I am going to be a Choice Mom and my sperm donor and I are looking for
people (in particular, known sperm donors) who have gone this route and are
willing to share their experiences with us. Any information would be helpful.
I believe the anthology ''One Big Happy Family'' edited by
Rebecca Walker has an essay in it from a guy was a known
sperm donor for friends. You might look for it at the library.
Hi. I am a single mom by choice, and I just wanted to tell you that I'm glad I
DIDN'T go with a friend as a known donor (and I tried with two men). I have
too many stories to tell in this short space, but the upshot is you never know
what can happen or how the guy's feelings or your relationship with the guy
can change. I'm also a lesbian, with lots of lesbian friends with children, so
I've seen first-hand many different ways to conceive. I know a family where
the friend donor unexpectedly asserted parental rights after the child was
born. The friendship fell through, and they now have to parent together, and
it's painful for everyone. I think if you're using a friend, it's best if he's
married and lives in a different state--that way he's available to meet the
child, but he probably won't want to pursue more than a friendship.
You might want to check out Rainbow Flag Health Services in Alameda
(www.gayspermbank.com). You don't have to be gay to use them--many
single straight women have been clients. They work with "directed donors"
(your situation), and they can provide you and your known donor with legal
protection, health screening, and insemination services. I ended up using
their sperm bank, which no longer accepts new donors, so their stash is
limited. Their policy is that you can meet the donor when the child is 3
months old. We met 2 siblings before meeting the donor. We love knowing
the other moms and kids--all three are only children, and they have a
cousin-type relationship. We've seen the donor a handful of times, but he just
isn't as important to my child as the siblings are. (FYI, if you use Rainbow
Flag, you have to sign an agreement not to circumcise your child, an issue I
already agreed with.)
I know I'm not really addressing your question, and I wasn't going to respond,
but I felt bad when there were no posts in the last letter. I do want to say that
I've really enjoyed being a single parent, and I was worried about my choice
to parent alone up until I actually held my baby. I joined lots of parenting
groups and made good friends with families at my child's large
daycare/preschool, and I really feel like I have support. I've even dated and
been in a relationship! No matter what happens with your choice of donor,
becoming a single parent is an awesome experience. Best of luck!
Single mom of a 10 year old
I am currently looking into single motherhood and sperm banks.
I'm interested in donors who are willing to be known and wonder
if anyone has had a particularly good experience with a sperm
bank with such donors.
Single Parent Seeker
I had a very good experience using the sperm bank of ca:
www.thespermbankofca.org in berkeley. They do not have ''known
donors'' but they have ''identity release donors'' that agree to
contact when the child is 18. They also have excellent resources
and links on the website that may be helpful to you.
My husband and I are blessed with a wonderful baby girl. After 5
years of trying, we finally decided to use donor sperm. We
thought the donor was close enough in appearance to my husband,
but she really does not look like him. He is still fabulous with
her, but the situation is a bit stressful. When she gets a
little older, she will probably ask questions. My husband does
not want to tell people and I am respecting his wishes, but I am
not sure it is the correct decision. Has anyone else had a
Although I understand your position, I would respect your
husband's wish. People do not need to know. It's none of their business. She is your
daughter and he is her father. When your
daughter asks, and she's older at an age that you and your
husband are comfortable, you should tell her.
Maybe I'm just clueless but I think (esp in the bay area) there
are lots of kids that look way more like one parent than the
other ~ or none at all. Some of them actually have biological
ties to their parents but don't look a like and some don't. So
what? I don't think it's a big deal; your daughter calls you
''mommy'' and ''daddy'' and that's what important. If your husband
doesn't want to tell people, I think it's not a problem.
-love makes a family
My dad died when I was 18 years old. In her grief, my mom shared
with me a few months later, ''Your dad is not your dad!'' She
explained that after a long struggle with infertility they chose
to use a sperm donor to conceive a child. While my parents had
always been honest with me about their infertility challenges
they chose to keep their choice to use a sperm donor a secret
from me and everyone they knew. It was a painful secret for my
parents to keep and as an adult, it was painful to learn the truth.
Now in my 30's, my mom rationalizes that the world was a
different place 30 years ago - in vitro and other fertility
treatments were just being developed and very little was
discussed in the media or beyond the walls of the doctor's
office. Use of a sperm donor was not talked about and for my mom,
using a sperm donor has been, and continues to be, a skeleton in
While I can't know how I would have felt growing up being aware
that my dad was not biologically related to me, I do know that I
felt incredibly loved and wanted being the child of parents who
had participated in fertility treatments. I grew up knowing that
my parents tried tireless to have me in their lives.
After my mom's confession, my immediate reaction was to yell,
''Dad was my dad!'' DNA felt irrelevant when contrasted to 18 years
of unconditional love and encouragement. To this day, I still
wish I had the chance to tell my dad that I don't care that it
wasn't his sperm. To me, he was my dad, the best dad, and I am so
thankful that he felt confident enough to make the choice he did
regarding donated sperm. His choice gave me life!
From the day I was born, my dad loved me, he supported me, and he
taught me. Even before becoming a parent of my own, I knew that
love and caring actions are what defines a parent, not DNA. I
just wish my parents had felt confident enough to share their
decision with me and others (even my relatives don't know the
truth). Looking back, my admiration for my dad only grew after
learning we were not biologically related. I miss him to this day
and named my son after him.
At times, I do find myself wondering about my biological father -
not because I want a relationship, but out of curiosity for my
genetic history. In so many ways, my mom and I are complete
opposites. How much of my personality/interests/etc. are
connected to my paternal DNA? I wish I knew something about my
paternity. With that in mind, I attribute the person I am today
directly to my dad's influences - not DNA.
This is an emotional topic with no right answer. Do what feels
best for your family. Regardless of your decision, your husband
is, and always will be, your daughter's father, and together you
are a family. While it may be different than how you had hoped or
imagined, it doesn't negate either of your roles as parents.
Personally, I know very few families that turned out exactly as
I admire you and your husband for talking about this prior to
your daughter's questions and wish you all the best with your
decision. Good luck!
''Any man can be a father. It takes someone special to be a dad.'' ~Author Unknown
I wouldn't worry about telling other people; I would be concerned with WHEN are
you going to tell your daughter. Studies show that children who know from a very
young age how they were conceived (adopted/donor sperm or egg/other) simply
accept this information as part of their lives.
Visit the Donor Conception Network for great resources and books for children who
join their families in all sorts of ways:
It may have resources for telling others as well. As for your daughter not looking
like your husband...A dear friend of mine looks like a skinny White girl with freckles
(she takes after her mom). Her three sisters are large Black women, very dark
skinned (they take after dad). Same two parents for all four daughters. Making
children is just a throw of the multi-generational dice.
Family is family, no matter how we get there
I think you are way more attuned to this than most people will
be. Some kids don't really look like their parents, or barely
have a passing resemblance.
If anyone does happen to mention it, you can casually say she
looks like other people on her dad's side (which is technically
very true) and leave it at that.
We did the exact same thing.. although it was our second child.
I spoke with a friend who is a child psychiatrist and said to
tell them. The way I look at it is that its their story and
they have a right to know it. That being said; we are going to
talk about it openly with her when she is ready; and inform
anybody else on a need to know basis. Our first child is a
naturally conceived child and he kind of looks like us; but not
really. We all just chuckle about it. Since this is the route
you chose, you know that what makes a parent is not genetic
material; but the love, dedication and commitment a parent has
to offer. I would rather talk about it and tell the truth so
that we never have a lie between us.
If our child was adopted we would disclose that to her and
anyone else on a need to know basis, it wouldn't make us any
less of her parents. She is our daughter no matter how she
Good luck, I know its a lot to contemplate
I think you've identified two issues here.
1) Your husband and daughter don't look much alike. This is no
big deal. Lots of kids don't look like one or even both parents.
My daughter is the spitting image of her paternal grandmother,
who is Central American (I'm not). And my son is fair and
red-haired while my husband and I have black hair. People ask all
the time about the red hair. This doesn't mean they're asking if
he came from a sperm donor, was adopted, etc. They're just making
conversation. So don't worry too much about your daughter and her
father not looking alike. These things happen and you can just
laugh it off, as we do, and say you never do know what kids are
going to look like. No need to say she came from a sperm
donor--it's none of their business, and it's not what they're
2) You need to decide what to tell your daughter. You say ''When
she gets a little older, she will probably ask questions.'' I
don't see any reason for her to ask questions just because she
doesn't look like her dad. My daughter never asked why she didn't
look like me! I think you're stressing about this point too much
because of your own issues. But your statement does make me
wonder if you are planning on eventually telling your child that
she was conceived with donor sperm. This is a big deal--it's like
not telling her she was adopted. Are you really planning on
keeping this secret forever? Is this healthy for everyone
concerned, especially given that you already seem uncomfortable
about the whole topic? I know a woman who always sensed there was
some deep, dark secret about her, something that meant she was
very bad--and it turned out to be that she was adopted. My own
mother had some similar experiences in a family where her
adoption was kept secret and was considered a very painful topic
to discuss. And yet I know a young woman conceived with donor
sperm who says she and her father are lucky to have each other,
and is completely comfortable about it. You need to work this out
while your child is young and decide how you will deal with this
important issue. If you're uncomfortable, your child will sense
it and possibly imagine the worst. Talk to others, do some
reading, see a therapist--but get clear in your minds how you're
approaching this and do so with love, honesty and open hearts.
You have done nothing wrong and neither has your wonderful child.
Where'd the red hair come from?
I am an advocate of ''telling'' so this resource is biased in
that direction, but I encourage you to check out: www.donor-
Honestly, I wouldn't worry about telling anyone unless you want
to, although you should let your child know at the appropriate
time. You are probably much more sensitive to the issue than
anyone else would be. Our two daughters look nothing like their
dad, and the joke around our house is that you can't spot a
single gene of their father, who is half-Indian, although they
will undoubtably be taller like him. He has dark hair and eyes,
and they have fair skin/hair and bright blue eyes like me. I
spent the weekend with friends and their two daughters look
absolutely different than the two of them, to the extent that my
friend gets asked occasionally if she is their nanny. She and
her husband have black hair and brown eyes, and their two
daughters have flaming red hair and blue eyes. Another set of
friends has mixed heritage and they have one son with blond
hair/blue eyes and a daughter who clearly resembles her biracial
father. In the Bay Area especially, no one will blink if your
child doesn't look just like his dad.
An openminded mom
You should check out the Yahoo Group called Donor Sibling Registry. It is a place
where people confidentially can discuss issues like you raised in your post. It also
every sperm bank around and allows siblings (and/or parents of the kids) to contact
each other to share info and possibly one day meet up. There is a registration fee...
think it is either $40 or $50 a year.
A donor sperm user, too.
ok so my younger sister(26) is ''baby x'' that is what my friends and i called her in
private because my dad who was fixed ten years before he met my step mom wasn't
capable of fathering a kid and my step mom changed her mind about 5 years into
the marriage. She looks nothing like my dad, favors her mom but my son who is not
related to my husband looks like my husband whereas the 2nd natural born kid
looks NOTHING like me so looks are not the problem as they vary wildly. The
problem is your daughter's medical history/ developmental history. My sister
developed pre-glaucoma at 12 and required glasses yet NO ONE in either side of
our families has that. She also is a soprano opera singer and you guessed it, we are
tone deaf! She has never been told and my parents will take it to the grave.
Personally she was a pain in her teens and I could imagine her shouting''you are not
my real dad'' if she had known. I think i would respect your husband's wishes and
stay mum. Possibly when she's older and ready to have kids of her own you might
broach it. Sperm donors WANT to be anonymous so there in no implied relationship
or even fantasy relationship as in the case of adoptive parents, I'm sure you will
hear a lot off reasons to tell her but I think family harmony is probably more
important to your daughter's well being than ''knowing'' she's a donor baby. I'm
guessing family harmony will be in jeopardy if you go against your husband's
big sis to baby X
In all honesty, I don't think anyone will ever really notice,
so unless you have decided to tell the child at some point for
another reason, I don't think it will ever come up. I used DE,
and it amuses me that my best friend (of 25 years) comments on
different ways my child looks like me. I think, particularly
as your child becomes older, she will pick up habits or
expressions of her father, that people will then associate
with ''looking like''. I can also honestly say that none of my 4
siblings or I look anything like either of our parents, and no
one has ever commented on it that I know of. So if someone
does make a comment, just laugh it off with ''who do you know
that DOES look like their mom/dad''?
don't sweat it
We did egg donor, which is a little different, as I do
understand the need for your partner to make his own decisions
about who he tells. However, we had to go through a counseling
session, and I'm glad we did. Basically, the therapist said
it's important to not try to hide the fact. There is nothing
to be ashamed or embarrassed about (egg/sperm) donation. It
puts you in a position of having to lie, which is
uncomfortable, and problematic when you let your child know.
However, you don't have to tell everyone.
Since my child does not have my genetic heritage, I usually try
to let close friends and family know about it. One, it avoids
embarrassing questions, like ''Does he look like you?'', which
you get everywhere! The donor did look like me (I'm Asian), so
I don't tell everyone who asks. When the question or comment
does come up, I don't lie, but sometimes just say ''oh, he looks
more like my husband'' (which he does).
There are some books about surrogacy, adoption, and to a lesser
degree, donation. I'm sorry I lost the references given to me
by my therapist, but I'm sure you can find some on-line.
Why do you feel like you need to disclose this very personal information? Especially
if your husband does not want to? Lots of kids don't really resemble one parent or
another. Why do you even think anyone--especially your daughter--will ask any
questions about the family resemblance or lack thereof, or think twice about it?
Even if people notice or comment that she does not resemble him, they will
probably just be making idle conversation as people tend to do about such topics--
I really doubt anyone would truly be questioning your husband's paternity.
Your post makes me wonder if *you* have unresolved issues or feelings about the
sperm donation. As someone who experienced fertility issues of my own, I can
understand that you might. I would just encourage you to examine this, and to try
to let them go. Let the grief of that difficult time be in the past. You have a healthy
I would really encourage you to respect your husband's feelings about this one. And
that means telling NO ONE. If even one person knows this kind of secret, eventually
is could become widely known in your family or circle of friends.
I posted a story here once before of a man who's wife became
pregnant via his brother. The man chose to pretend he didn't
know and his wife kept her dark secret. The child was born and
began to take on the exact likeness of the real father much to
his and the mother's horror. Nevertheless the actual husband
continued his charade and lovingly raised the boy as his own.
The wife, an alcoholic, was eventually divorced and died. The
man remarried and with his new wife they raised the boy never
telling him his uncle was really his father. Oddly the two
never looked at each other and felt as though looking in a
mirror. The good man eventually became ill with cancer when the
boy was around 50 years old and on his dying bed asked his wife
to never reveal the truth to their ''son'' and she never did-so
far. He will be shocked to find he is not in either will and
will wonder why someday and never know. I know that doesn't
answer your question except to say others have chosen to keep
the secret. Kids don't always resemble the parents and you may
be overly sensitive to thinking others will notice-perhaps not.
I can understand your husband wanting to keep things private
and I tend to agree with him. The real issue will be if you
ever want to tell your daughter the truth and if so when. I
don't know why this man was so adamant about never telling the
boy who his real father was even when both men were dead. I
think perhaps he felt it was better for the boy/man to always
believe he was the result of a regular family rather than the
truth. I have mixed feelings about it myself thinking I would
want to know the truth if I were the boy but-who knows for
sure?? One reason for sharing the truth is for medical history
purposes but if you don't know the donor or his family history
it may be moot except to know your husband's family medical
history is not hers. Hard to know for sure what is best! Maybe
time will tell so wait and see how things develop.
I too am the parent of children conceived using donor sperm. We
feel very strongly that it is our children's right to know of
their conception and biological family history. As such, it is
also their history to tell, even as the conception and
experiences surrounding the infertility which led to it is my
history to tell. My children have always known about their
unique conception, and have shared their conception with friends
(starting in about 6th grade, I think). They have even
mentioned it at a family gathering where some of our relatives
who did not know were in attendance. (We told some family
members but not all. As it turned out, it was no big deal...at
this point, it's such a small detail in the whole of their
I won't presume to tell you the right or wrong, but do encourage
you to discuss this often with your husband - do you plan to
tell your child? What are her rights? What if she tells
someone? Why wouldn't you tell her? Or others? Is it shame or
embarrassment? Or just shyness or privacy issues? What if she
found out? (do you have paperwork around that leads to that
conclusion?) What if she had a medical issue and needed to know
the medical history of her 'parents'?
happy with our full disclosure
My husband and I have two children (6 and 4) from donor sperm
(the same donor for both luckily). We took the approach of only
telling family at first, but have recently opened up, which has
been wonderful. First, we started telling our oldest when he was
about 3 or so - just general information about having a ''helper''
b/c daddy's seed or sperm didn't work correctly. And the
conversation has evolved over time so that he now knows that he
shares genes with me, but not with his dad (though we emphasize
that they share many other things, such as activities and
interests & family). It took a while to come to this, but we now
believe strongly that it is better for our children to always
know this truth, rather than have any memory of being told. We
don't want them to hear it from somewhere else or have unanswered
questions themselves. Plus I want them to understand that it is
okay - the more it is a secret, the more damage it can do. From
what I've read, the adult donor sperm children who are angry are
those who were not told soon enough or felt ashamed in some way.
Over the past few years, we've opened up to friends too and I've
been pleasantly surprised by how supportive they've been - and
how it doesn't seem as weird to them as it did to us as first. It
has been wonderful, especially for me b/c my husband doesn't need
this as much, to have people to talk to and to stop feeling like
I'm carrying around a secret.
I'm not sure how we do this, but I'd be happy to talk to you
offline about this. Support is very important in all of this.
Good luck to you.
Many if not most children resemble either the mom or the dad, but not both.
Some biological children don't look like mom OR dad but instead look
just like Uncle Joe or Grandma Betty. Maybe you are cultivating
a problem that really doesn't exist for anyone else. Don't sweat it!
People do not need to know (and
probably don't WANT to know) the
details of your child's conception. Besides,
most people will assume that you and your husband are the biological
My son is adopted and comes from an entirely different ethnic group
from us, but people who don't know us well constantly make comments
like "he's going to be tall like his daddy!" and "the acorn doesn't
fall far from the tree!"
We are also the parents of a donor sperm daughter. In my opinion, whether
child looks like your husband or not is a red herring - I know plenty of
don't resemble one, the other, or either of their parents. If people say
look anything like her father'' just smile and say ''yeah''. More likely,
people will ''see''
resemblances that you don't agree are there. Again, smile and agree. None
Your husband's desire for privacy should be absolutely respected -
frankly, it isn't
anybody's business but the three of you. However, I think it is very
your child understand that her father is her father, forever and ever, but
that she has
genetic material from elsewhere. She will need to know this later in life
reasons (some medical history is, after all, genetic), and she will feel
betrayed if she grows up knowing that you wanted her so much that you got
than if this information is dropped on her at a later date. We started
daughter (who is now 11) way before she could understand. We also made
ALWAYS knew that she only has one Daddy; the one who lives in her house
cared for her since she was inside Mommy's tummy. Her Daddy was worried,
our daughter was younger, that she wouldn't love him as much when she
understood about the donor sperm, but that fear has proven to be
He's real, immediate, and an unconditionally loving part of her daily
life; the donor
is an abstraction.
Many ways to make a family
my best friend is in a loving relationship with another woman. they
want to have a child together. my friend wants to carry the child.
her partner is black, she is white, so she wanted to find a black
sperm donor. turns out a friend is willing and able to be the donor.
there will be no actual sex involved. so far so good. now, where to
go from here? this may sound silly to some, but my friend is unsure
of the logistics of actually getting/using the sperm. and how many
times per ovulation time should she ask for sperm? and how have
others done this in a way that makes everyone feel comfortable? and
do people really use a turkey baster to insert sperm? sorry, these
are the real questions that come up, and i have no idea! then, what
about legalities? the donor does not want to be a parent. he said he
may be interested in seeing the child, but wants nothing to do with
parenting the child, which is fine with my friends. do they need to
get something in writing? what would the donors legal rights be to
the child if he were to change his mind later (VERY unlikely, but you
never know...) please, if anyone has had a child through these rather
unconventional methods, could you share your story/info with us?
signed, hope to be an auntie, but how???
The FIRST thing you need to do is get your legal ducks in a row.
Parental rights vary from state to state. Typically, whether or
not your friend and the guy actually have intercourse is
irrelevant. If he donates sperm outside a medical facility he can
claim paternity rights at any time even if he's signed a contract
relinquishing those rights. In other words, if you use a turkey
baster in your own home, you might as well have had sex, because
the law sees it as his kid. So your best bet is to go through a
medical facility--a sperm bank, for instance, or an infertility
What's more, if your friend's lover wants parental rights she
needs to legally adopt the child after birth Otherwise, should
they split up, she's got no more rights than a roommate. That is:
none. And this could be devastating not only to her but to the
child whose ''Mommy'' is ripped out if his/her life forever.
Everyone thinks it won't happen to them--but trust me, it can. So
PLEASE consult a lawyer or do some research on this before you
As to when to do it and how often, if you go through a medical
facility they'll tell you all that. You can also get the book
''Taking Charge of Your Fertility'' and it will explain how to tell
when you're most fertile.
There are some great books on using a ''known donor''. One of
the best to start off with is called ''The Complete Guide to
Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy and Birth'' by Stephanie Brill (be
sure to get the revised version). It really covers all your
friend will need to know! She can also call Maia Midwifery
(they are local and have a website), for an in-person
consultation. But the book is a relatively cheap way to get
all the general info she should need.
I'm a lesbian in a 12 year relationship and my partner and I have two
boys. We used a known donor and started out doing inseminations at
home. It is really easy to find out how to do home inseminations.
Google it. There are books about lesbians having babies, how to do
But the most important thing that they must do is handle all of the
legal stuff first. There are heartbreaking stories of people who,
with the best intentions, went into known donor situations with little
planning, little talking about expectations/responsibilities and it
has ended terribly. With the greatest cost being born by the child.
They should look at the www.nclrights.org -- the NAtional Center for
LEsbian Rights website about information regarding legal rights
vis-a-vis known donors. We used Deborah Wald as our attorney for our
second parent adoption and she was terrific. Here is her website with
a FAQ page: http://waldlaw.net/parenting_faq.html
They need to draw up a legal agreement with their donor. If they
conceive and have the baby, they need to make sure the donors name is
not put on the birth certificate and they need to take the legal steps
to make the non-carrying woman as a co- parent on the birth
I know how exciting it can be to feel like you have options to create
a family with a known donor. But if they are to be responsible
parents, they need to make sure that they have all of the legal stuff
in place and if they can't do that with this donor then they really
need to re-assess.
You may want to suggest to your friend that she have an IUI (Intra
Uterine Insemination). This is a procedure that is done by your OB.
The donor goes into the office a couple of hours prior and the sample
is ''cleaned'' (only the good ones are used. Then the person
receiving the insemination goes in and the OB does the procedure. It
is pretty quick and not very expensive. She would only do this once
during ovulation. Even if she does not want to do the IUI, her OB
would be a good resource for other options.
It is probably a good idea to get any legal issues regarding parental
rights in writing. You never know what will happen in the future.
Your friends MUST consult a family lawyer before starting this
process and get a formal, legal document drawn up. It is the best
for everyone. There are legal rulings in CA that favor the sperm
donor, even if he said he wanted nothing to do with the child
prior to birth. They have to be very careful, as the situation
can get tricky. Some family lawyers also want couples to go
through a middleman sort of person, such as a sperm bank that
would collect the sperm from the chosen donor and then distribute
it to the lesbian couple. This is not always necessary, but you
can see how people take great lengths to make the process as
formal as possible. Once the child is born, the non birth mother
should formally adopt the child, which is another reason they
should be in contact with a family lawyer. They can call The
Sperm Bank of CA in Berkeley for more information and a list of
lawyers and other resources. They can also contact them for a
fertility consultation that will help them pinpoint ovulation and
other fertility signs, they also offer syringes and speculums. A
great book on the topic is Taking Charge of Your Fertility by
Toni Weschler. Rachel Pepper also has a book on lesbian pregnancy.
make it legal!
There is a lot of good information available about this in
books. I would recommend Stephanie Brill's book on lesbian
conception and pregnancy. I can't recall the title but it is
widely available in bookstores and on Amazon. In addition to
the logistics (well described in the book) they should all seek
legal advice from someone who knows about lesbian family law
(many local resources see www.nclrights.org) and create a
contract. Unless they go through a physician or sperm bank
(The Sperm Bank of California is in Berkeley and works with
known donors) the donor may have legal rights and
responsibilities (this is true regardless of the contract but
putting it in writing will help make sure they truly are all on
the same page) so they should all educate themselves thoroughly
on the legal aspects. He should also be thoroughly tesed for
infectious diseases. Yes, this all takes times and
organization but they are creating a human being, it is worth
it to plan ahead. They shouls also think carefully about how
open they plan to be about the donation with the kid and with
mom who used a known donor
I may have answers to a few of your questions. Please contact
me directly uf you would like to talk since it would be better
to talk on the phone than write it all down.
You should recommend ''The Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception''
(the title is something like that) published by Maia Midwifery.
Your friend could also do a consult with them -they're great and
they are in Orinda. They specialize in lesbians having babies.
That book, in combination with ''Taking Control of Your Fertility''
by Toni Wecschler (or something like that) gave us most of the
information we needed to conceive using a friend's sperm. Those
two resources cover the legalities and the nuts and bolts (so to
speak) of the process.
Best of luck to them!
I am the happy mama (single) of a 7 month old baby girl via a
sperm donation from a good friend. It can be done!
I HIGHLY recommend that you buy and read the book ''The New
Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Birth and Parenting'' by
Stephanie Brill. This will have ALL of the information you need
plus it'll really help your friends clarify what they want out of
the situation. The bonus is, Stephanie Brill has an office in
Orinda and does personal fertility counseling and workshops.
She's wonderful as is her staff. But, really, the book is
essential. There are sample contracts, pros and cons of
inseminating with someone you know or a sperm bank, the ''how to''
of it all, legal issues, and emotional issues. It's fantastic!
As for the turkey baster....that's overkill. First, your cervix
isn't that far away and second, that'd be one hell of alot of
sperm! :) You can buy small needless syringes and use those. I
got mine at the Berkeley Sperm Bank.
First of all, congratulations to your friends for embarking on
this incredibly exciting journey. The short answer to your
question to is buy a book called The Essential Guide to Lesbian
Conception, Pregnancy, and Birth by Kim Toevs and Stephanie
Brill. We followed their advice to a ''T'' and got pregnant,
twice, and now have two wonderful children by our known sperm
donor. They were (are?) part of a place called Maia Midwifery
in the east bay and I understand they offer a full spectrum of
services there. For a personal answer, I'd be very happy to
talk to them and share our story. Feel free to pass my email
address along to them!
Hi. I am a therapist in Berkeley and this is my area of expertise. You
or your friend
is welcome to call me. I also run a support group for lesbians who are
trying to get pregnant in just such ways. You (or she) are asking great
and I can help you with the answers. She is not at all alone! Women
are doing this
all the time! Here are some other resources:
Maia Midwifery (http://maiamidwifery.com/)
Our Family Coalition (http://ourfamily.org/)
The best book on the subject: The New Essential Guide to Lesbian
Conception, Pregnancy, and Birth by Stephanie Brill (of Maia Midwifery)
Good luck to your friend!
I would recommend this great book that will answer most of these
The Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy, and Birth
by Stephanie Brill.
Laura Goldberger, MFT (510-665-7755) is a great therapist
specializing in this area (in Berkeley and SF) and she runs a
group for lesbians who are trying to get pregnant.
For the legal issues, your friend should talk to a lawyer such as
Ora Prochovnick (SF) or Emily Doskow (Berkeley).
- Lesbian Mom who's been through this
My partner and I had our son with a good friend - sounds like a
very similar situation. Here's my advice from our experience -
#1 Talk at length with the friend/donor about expectations to
make sure everyone is on the same page about the future
relationship. #2 Sign a donor agreement together - I think we
modified a sample one from one of the lesbian pregnancy books
('The Ultimate Guide to Lesbian Pregnancy' maybe?). The key is
that the friend/donor agrees to ''reliquish parental rights'' when
the baby is born so the non-biological parent can do a second
parent adoption. We had a lawyer (Deborah Wald) help with this
part. #3 Get everyone tested for HIV, STDs, etc.. a sperm
analysis isn't a bad idea either! #4 Start inseminating! We
chose to do it at-home using one of those syringe-like things
(without the needle) that you buy at a drugstore to administer
medicine to kids. Sometimes we would go to our friend's house,
other times he would come to us. It can be a little awkward at
first, but you get used to it! We usually inseminated 3 times
per cycle. Good luck to your friends!
My midwife, Michelle Edgar, also works specifically with people
like your friend--I think she calls it ''home fertility services.''
Anyway, she's fantastic as a person and a midwife, and I expect
as a fertility specialist, too. You can see recommendations for
her as a midwife in the archives (look under Motherwell Midwifery
and Beah Haber). Motherwell Midwifery is 925-449-7666; Michelle
probably has another number for fertility services, but i don't
A friend of mine did this and there are definitely ways to
construct a legal agreement that would protect your friend and
As far as how to time the insemination, how to transfer the
sperm etc. --- has your friend consider consulting a
doctor?????? I assume that an Ob-gyn will eventually appear in
this story somewhere, and better than asking you to help find
out about turkey basters, it might be a good idea to bring in
some professional advice. Depending on your friend's age,
physical condition, medical history, and general fertility,
this can be an easy, one-time process or a months- (or years)
long frustrating ordeal. Her pregnancy is best explored by
advice specifically suited to her, not just anecdotal advice.
It only happens that easily when you don't want to get pregnant
I recently went through this whole process. Feel free to email
me and I can offer suggestions and share my experience with you.
I am a single, fertile, 37 year-old woman and plan to use donor
sperm and IUI. I am trying to decide how many units of sperm to
purchase from a sperm bank. Is there a general recommendation
out there of how many cycles it takes to get pregnant? I know
everone is different but any advice to elminate placing multiple
orders (very high shipping costs) would be appreciated! Thank
One published study found that women ages 35-40 had a 12% chance
of conceiving per cycle with IUI. But I know women who got
pregnant the first time as well, so you never know. You have a
better chance is you inseminate at least twice per cycle. A good
book with additional data is Taking Charge of your Fertility by
Toni Weschler - it is a very helpful book in general if you are
trying to conceive. Also, there is a sperm bank in berkeley -
http://www.thespermbankofca.org/ and one in san francisco as well
That would save you the shipping fees.
I would consult with your sperm bank about statistics for a woman of
your age. I've heard 5 months average, but it varies with age. I
pondered this question myself. I bought 8 vials to begin with (using
2 per cycle), then bought some more, and ended up with a couple extra,
but the bank bought it back from me. If you're using The Sperm Bank
of CA (excellent!) they will talk to you about this. If you're
queer/lesbian/bi/etc, check out Laura Goldberger's support group for
women who are inseminating (search for it on craigslist).
After having gone through fertility treatments (I got pregnant
on my first IUI) I can tell you what I was told by my RE. You
have a 25% chance of conceiving each cycle, assuming you
ovulating with normal hormone levels, and the sperm is fertile.
This is not cumulative and it will always be 25%. 80% of
fertile couples will conceive within the first 6 months of
trying. So I would purchase 6 samples to start with.
I hope it works immediately for you like it did for me. Good
Expect it to take 6-8 cycles, maybe more, maybe less. Using two
vials per cycle (so two IUIs per cycle) and pinpointing your
ovulation exactly (with ovulation predictor kits,
charting/temperature taking, cervical mucus, even ultrasound)
will give you the best chances of getting pregnant each cycle. Do
you have somewhere local to store your vials in liquid nitrogen
Are you planning on having additional children using the same
donor? These are things to think about. Congrats and good luck!
Before I give you the number of cycles that it took me to get
pregnant, I need to give you an answer to how I got pregnant:
Washed sperm covers approximately 8 hours of a 36 hour window of
fertility opportuntiy. Unwashed sperm lives 12 hours.
When I finally became pregant, I used one cc unwashed sperm at
home the night before I went in for an IUI. The first time I
tried this 2 step method I became pregnant with my daughter. I
was also taking Clomid and had 3 viable eggs that cycle.
Now - that was my 11th cycle. I became pregnant in cycle 9 and
it ended in miscarriage. We stuck with the same donor sperm (it
took us almost 6 months to decide on the particular donor). Of
the 11 cycles 5 were using Clomid.
I wish I would have done the unwashed, then washed method
earlier, but then I wouldn't have my daughter.
For the record, when my daughter was 2 she said ''Mommy I was in
your tummy before. But you have to decide whether you want to be
a boy or girl, so I had to leave and come back again.'' Here she
is - better than I'd ever hoped.
Wouldn't have it any other way
I conceived by ADI, it took me 4 cycles. I know someone who
got pregnant on the first try, and I know someone who got
pregnant after 26 cycles. (Tenacious P.) My point is that it
is not possible to predict how many cycles you will go through
before you get pregnant, so pick a number and move on. My
advice - buy 5, then get zen about it - don't think about
having only 5 vials, rather visualize the meeting of sperm and
egg and the incredible awesome outcome.
Most of the stats i've read generally say you have a one in 6
chance of concieving with iui-- to be on the safe side you'd
think you'd need 12 vials of sperm (our doctor advised us to
have two per cycle in case one vial was a dud- you wouldn't be
wasting an ovulation cycle). But our doctor reccommed we just
buy two at a time (and because i picked up the baby juice
myself we didn't have to worry about the crazy shipping fees
once a month and our donor had close to 80 vials on hand so we
weren't worried about a shortage).
So we purchased two vials. I picked them up on a friday- my
partner was insemminated on a Saturday- and our baby is due in
two months. We still have an extra vial at the doctors office.
So, i'd say, two at a time- and think positively-(bearing in
mind 1 in 6 is an average- and so someone out there is 1 for
12)-- and really, really get to know your ovulation cycle (my
partner was peeing on a stick and using the electronic fert.
monitoring device). best of luck.
I am a single woman who went through IUI to have my son at 35. I
purchased 4 vials, but only used 1 - I guess I am very fertile. I
was told to purchase at least 4 - 6 vials because that is the
average IUI cycles it takes... I had three left and then after I
had my son, decided to have another baby and purchased 4 more. I
haven't tried to get pregnant yet, but my donor is off the market
and I LITERALLY got the last 4. There are no guarantees in life,
so IF I don't get pregnant on the first try... there are some
back ups... it is just something to consider. I didn't think
beyond #1 that I would want a #2... but luckily, there were more
vials left. I hope this doesn't complicate your decision.
Good luck to you!!!
I know many people who have gotten pregnant with artificial
insemination, IUI, and I don't think it is possible to predict
how long it will take. You might want to consult with Maia
Midwifery (maybe you already have) - they might have some actual
numbers on this one. The shipping costs can't be more than the
cost of the sperm itself!
My partner and I have recently decided that he will be a known
(not anonymous, not through a sperm bank) sperm donor for a
friend. We have a child of our own. Our friend, the intended
recipient, is a single lesbian. We think she'll be a wonderful
parent. We are all three in agreement that there will be a clear
contract to state everyone's rights and responsibilities.
We feel great about the plans and are not reconsidering, but are
curious to hear from others who have gone this route, either as
the known donor or as the recipient (or the child! I suppose
that's not impossible). What are the feelings and issues that
come up? We have thought it all through very carefully, but are
wondering about the ''intangibles'' and would like to hear people's
Thanks in advance!
Hi. You have no way to know how each party will react to this HUGE life
you probably know this. We are a lesbian couple with two children from a
donor. We really wanted a known donor so our kid wouldn't have a big
mystery in their life, so that when they asked 'who's my dad?' we could
someone the kids were already familiar with and say 'him'.
Before you go forward, you should be sure you are committed for the
ended up having a REALLY hard time getting pregnant, and our donor
tirelessly EVERY MONTH for 3 1/2 years, eventually undergoing almost as
invasive medical tests and questionaires as we did, so it was a
commitment of time and emotional involvement. A couple of issues that
up include 1) differing visions of donor participation in childs life 2)
donor's girlfriend,3) reaction of donor's family. I don't really think
anticipate how each scenario will play out, but be prepared to be
actually thought that our donor would be a bigger part of our kids life
than he is.
Because you are offering to be a donor to single woman, I would be very
find out what her expectations are, above and beyond the donation, because
may want or need more co parenting than you imagine.
Our donor was single when we started the process. A new girlfriend meant a
slew of new tests for STDs, and then the anxiety about her reaction to the
and eventually the baby. She turned out to be amazing, welcomig both
having totally appropriate boundaries, but what if she hadn't?
Last and worst, our donor's brother and his wife disowned him! This has
holidays for his family really hard as parents must choose which brother
to host and
exclude the other for every family dinner. Our donor isn't sorry he
helped us, but
he is sad to have lost his only brother! His whole family is embarrased
bigoted reaction of the brother.
Oh, last thing, donor's parents became unexpected doting grandparents. We
been receptive to their involvement b/c of their support of their son's
their suffering the family feud, that being said, on top of our double
grandparents (due to both of us moms having divorced and remarried
leads to some pretty comical numbers of people competing to buy easter
Anyway. Good luck. Think hard about who you will tell. As you can see
experience, other people's reactions can be very strong.
two moms in Oakland
I am not the donor but am the recipient and it has been simply
perfect. I advise to *definitely* have a legal contract and make
sure that all parties involved sign and agree (you, too, as the
donor's wife). We have never had to resort to the contract at
all, but it helps to make sure that everyone is on the exact same
we love bio-dad
We are a lesbian couple who have a known donor friend for our
children. First, let me say, hurray for you! It is SO WONDERFUL
that you are willing to have your partner do this! You are very
unusual (especially if you're a woman), and very wise. It is a
wonderful thing to bring into your life, and of course into the
mom's life. I feel like thanking you!
Some suggestions. If you haven't already, write up an agreement,
not just for legal purposes, but for your relationships, about
the commitment each of you is making (or at least your husband
and the mom) about how much contact, at a minimum, the kid and
you will have. Putting this, as well as other details, and how
you intend to settle any problems, in writing, just so that you
remember, maybe many years from now, what you had agreed on.
Also, discuss how each of you envisions all the various
relationships involved. How the mom will explain your partner's
role, what he'll be called, the kid's relationship to your kid,
Also, I would suggest exploring inside yourself and discussing
together feelings you imagine might come up and how you would
handle them. How would you handle the other family wanting more
or less contact than you do? Will your opinions have any bearing
on the mom's decision-making in parenting? How will you feel
when she makes decisions you don't like? To some degree, you
won't know how you'll feel until you're there, but it's probably
good to do some soul-searching now.
It also helps if you can all have a sense of humor about the
whole sperm thing. It's pretty weird to have your partner
''producing'' sperm and handing it off to someone else! I hope you
can all laugh about it.
Of course you'll also ponder how you'll explain the relationship
to your child. I suggest being totally open about it from the
very beginning, no matter how old your kid is, just explain it in
language that makes sense to him/her, so it's never a big
surprise. Our daughter understood at age 2 that babies come from
a sperm and egg and where each had come from for her. Even
little kids can understand something like ''Brenda really wanted
to have a baby, but it takes a seed from a man and a woman, and
so she needed to get a seed from a man, and daddy gave her his
seed to start the baby growing. We love her so much, we wanted to
help her have a baby.'' (Or whatever version makes sense to you.)
If you don't find others in your position through BPN, you might
try contacting Our Family Coalition, the local LGBT family
organization. They're very nice and would probably hook you up
I think that as long as all the parties are open in communication
and open-hearted, you will bring much love and more family into
At 38 I have decided to go the route of becoming a single mom, and
I'm so-o-o excited! I would love to have the experience of pregnancy
and birth for the first child, and then I'd love to consider
adoption for a second. So for now, I'd really appreciate some advice
about sperm! The BPN has terrific postings on legal issues and
choice of sperm bank, etc, but I have more personal questions.
For those who have needed to use a sperm donor for whatever reason:
did you choose an anonymous donor, open identity, or a friend, and
why? I imagine it could take me quite some time to get pregnant;
isn't it a little awkward to ask a friend to donate once a month for
possibly a whole year? I'm leaning towards asking a friend--how has
that worked out for you as your child gets older? How did/does your
donor friend's partner and/or children feel about this? For men who
have donated at a sperm bank: why did you do that? Why do men (maybe
I'm asking, what kind of men?) donate sperm? Did you choose
sex-selected sperm? Any books you found to be really useful? I'll
talk to my doctors and midwife, friends, and family about medical
issues, support, etc--I'd just love personal thoughts on sperm and
any sperm-related advice!
- got sperm on my mind!
Congratulations to you for making this decision, and I can tell
from your post how excited you are! First thing I would do is get
this book: The Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy
& Birth, by Stephanie Brill. (You don't indicate your sexual
identity but in this case I don't think it matters because
whether you're gay or straight, you are currently spermless!).
Check out this website: http://www.maiamidwifery.com/. Stephanie
runs Maia Midwifery in Orinda; she is an absolutely wonderful
source of everything having to do with getting pregnant and
bearing a child. I bet she runs groups for prospective single
moms, and if she doesn't, she'll know who does. We are really
lucky to be in the Bay Area and have this great resource.
As for my personal story, my partner and I chose to get pregnant
using a friend's sperm. This was partly because fresh sperm has a
much higher success rate than frozen, but also because we loved
our friend, knew he had many great characteristics to pass on,
and while we found some pretty decent donor profiles, we
ultimately didn't know these men. We did lots of legal paperwork
beforehand (Stephanie helped with this, as did a lawyer), but
mainly we just had a great deal of trust in each other and in the
process. Yes, it is a big deal to ask someone to donate their
sperm, not only because they have to do (not one but ideally
several) deposits each month, but also because of what it'll mean
to them to know their progeny is out there! Our friend did it
because he loved us, loved our relationship, and was confident
that we would make great parents. In our case, it has worked out
absolutely perfectly. He is a ''super uncle'' to our child, who is
now over 2 years old. There are no issues with his wanting too
much involvement. His partner was also fully on board (after a
few weeks of thinking about it, quite understandably!) and was
involved in every aspect of the, er, process. I think it helped
that they don't want to have kids but want to be involved in a
significant way in a child's life. I would be wary of a donor who
wants kids and doesn't have them yet -- you could run into issues
Best of luck to you on your journey!
seems like eons ago
I was a donor for three children (Three girls for two different
couples). I also have two daughters of my own.
I love being a father to my two girls, and I am glad that I was
able to help two couples by being a donor. I am the DONOR of
three, the FATHER of two. ''I have two daughters,'' is the way I
describe my experience of parenthood.
I highly recommend that sperm donors be 100% acknowledged from
the start as the ''donor'' and that the donor's involvment be
allowed to evolve naturally.
My *daughter* wrote about her experience online
I used a known sperm donor who was an acquaintance, not a close friend. After 4 tries,
I conceived at 42 and gave birth at 43. For me, the known donor route was the way to
go. My daugher's father used to live in SF, but returned to Greece where my daughter
now has grandparents, cousins, and a huge extended family. It is all a work in
progress; it has been a little challenging and mostly terrific. I have lots to say about the
subject so feel free to contact me off-line if you would like to chat further. And good
We went with a The Sperm Bank of CA, and choose a ''known''
donor, in that our children can contact him if they wish when
they turn 18. They are also in touch with children from the
same donor who opted into the program. We thought about asking
a friend, but after talking to his gfriend he declined.
Honestly I think that was for the best. There are so many
legal entanglements that can happen with a friend being the
donor. Too complicated. We want our children to have a lot of
people in their lives, but we never want to fight to make the
parental decisions. Though I have seen situations where a
friend donor has worked wonderfully and the children have 4
terrific parents, with the 2 moms making the decisions.
Good luck with whatever you decide. It is all amazing and
Happy Mom to 2
My seven-year-old son was conceived by a known donor. I was 40. The donor was
a very good friend of a very good friend. I went through many years and quite a few
losses before this magical thing came together, but I really, really wanted a known
donor for my son. I got so lucky! Daddy is very much that - daddy- and is quite
involved in my son's life, much to my son's great delight. The father does not
contribute financially (much) at all - there is not expectation that he does. He does
contribute very much emotionally. We have developed a lovely ''co-parenting'' type
of relationship. I am thrilled with every aspect of it. Sure, I get lonely sometimes,
and sure I wish I had partner sometimes, but other times I actually consider myself
one of the lucky ones. I would be happy to talk to you more,about my experiences
along the way with sperm banks and other potential donors, but I also prefer to sign
anonymously, (a lot of people read this newsletter) so I'm not sure if there is any
way to make that happen.
I had a child some 17 years ago using a sperm bank and it was a
very positive experience. The policy of the sperm bank was to
have the woman select 6 potential donors, ranked in order of
I used a number of criteria: healthy family history,
intelligence, height (I'm short myself), etc. At this place the
donors could agree to have their name and adddress made available
to the child when he/she turned 18. So this was another criteria,
and my top two guys had agreed to this, but not the third or
fifth. My number one donor was so popular that I couldn't always
get his sperm when I was ovulating, ditto number two. So as luck
would have it number three is the biological father of my child.
I may contact the sperm bank anyway next fall to see if we can
find out the name, but it doesn't seem that important. I think my
son would be curious, but it is not vital. I did get married when
my son was 12, so he does have a father now.
By the way, asking a friend sounds like a nice idea (certainly
cheaper too!), but for optimal sperm count they need to not have
ejaculated within 48 hours of the donation. Some men would agree
to this, some would find it burdensome. If you do ask a friend,
my advice is to make it clear at the outset that you'll take ''no,
sorry'' for an answer with no bad feelings.
Good luck. Motherhood is a wonderful thing. And make sure you get
good birth coaches.
I am the mother of a 7 year old daughter conceived using sperm
from the Sperm Bank of California in Berkeley. She is the
delight of my life and I thank the donor every day for what he
did for my daughter and me.
I'm sure you'll get lots of other information and advice. I
chose a donor who was willing to be known to my daughter when
she is 18. This was the only non-negotiable item in this
journey. I have seen too many adults who were adopted and needed
to know the people who "share the blood that runs through my
veins." Since making the decision, I have also seen many a child
conceived from a sperm bank that will never be given the choice
and it is starting to make both parents and children anxious.
Now, for donor selection - - - these are my preferences to
mitigate familial history: the donor must have no or little
family history of cancer, alcoholism or mental illness. Since
most donor profiles go up to three generations back from the
donor and one generation forward, you have a lot to review.
Although this information is self reported, I felt comfortable
with the depth and breadth of information. There were also the
blood tests to weed out serious genetic problems such as cystic
fibrosis and sickle cell anemia.
I had to use Clomid, the scariest drug on Earth. I had violent
thoughts and my chances of having twins doubled. Incidences of
other multiples did not seem to increase. It took me 11 months
(cycles) and one miscarriage to have my daughter.
Now, for the weirdness of sperm donor children - - - you are
told that 10 families may conceive using the same donor - - - I
was told that also. I knew it, I understood it, and everything
was fine. Then my daughter had a medical issue and I called the
sperm bank to see if anyone else had reported a similar
condition. I found out that there are 12 boys and 3 girls from
the same donor - count them - - - 15 children including my
daughter, from 10 families - - - to wrap my mind around that
took a while. Since it's a local sperm bank, my daughter may
date a biological sibling. I'm ok with the information now - - -
but when I first found out it made me crazy!!!
My daughter has traits that I do not have such as the ability to
speak multiple languages (she speaks 3), musical ability and
rhythm (no one in my family can dance like that!) and a
gentleness of nature that the donor expressed in his letter to
potential parents via his profile.
Many people will ask questions, be straight-forward, it will be
helpful to your child and your family. Some people will judge
you - - -lots of people finds lots of reasons for judging. Love
your child and everything will work out fine.
Best of luck to you!
A Grateful Mom to a Great Daughter
First, congratulations on your decision to have a child and to think about how you
are doing it so thoroughly. The time and energy that you put into this major
decision for you and your child up front is already the work of parenting - and you
get to do this before even conceiving! This, in my opinion, will only prepare you
better for parenting. Your questions, as you say, are personal and you will get as
many answers as types of families and communities people already have and wish to
create. We are a two-mama family with an infant daughter who chose to use
"willing to be known" sperm from a local sperm bank. This means that our
daughter, when she turns 18, will have the right to contact her donor if she wishes.
We did this rather than using an anonymous donor because we wanted her to have
the ability to find out what she wanted about her donor, more than the 15 pages of
information we already have that we will share with her as appropriate over the
We went through an extensive process to come to the decision that we did, which
included lots of reading, individual reflection, talking with each other and friends
who have all kinds of family and donor configurations, and also a session with Maia
Midwifery (www.maiamidwifery.com). Stephanie Brill with Maia is wonderful and
extremely knowledgeable/experienced, and I highly recommend her for
"preconception counseling" - she will talk you through these huge issues, how to
choose the right donor for you, the logistics of all forms of sperm and donor
arrangements (they'll meet with you with donors too I believe), as well as working
with sperm-banks (remember, all but one of them in the bay area are for-profit
businesses) - and also if you are needing support with conception. Maia focuses on
LGBT families and single women. They are expensive but it was worth every penny
of it because we got invaluable information about conception and sperm - first try
and pregnant at 39! Kim Toevs and Stephanie Brill have a book called The Essential
Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy, and Birth that we have handed on to
friends, queer, straight, single and the like, who are getting pregnant and it was
with us through the entire process - big picture thinking to the logistics. Brill has a
newly released edition with all the latest onI sperm. Another key resource was
acupuncture to prepare physically for conception since, if you will be using frozen
sperm, it is much less "potent" than fresh sperm. Regardless, it can take quite some
time to get pregnant so time up front is really important. There are great
acupuncturists locally who specialize in fertility.
The reason we would have chosen a known donor is if we wanted the
donor involved in our lives as part of the community raising our daughter, an
"uncle" figure, NOT a "father." (Fathers are social roles, not genetics, I tell any
uninformed people who ask who our daughter's "father" is. She has two mamas and
a donor for half her genetic make-up.) In our situation, with two parents, huge
local family, we did not want another person who might want to have a key role in
our child's life - possibly another set of family members etc - in particular, a role
that may change over time. What would be imperative to having a known donor for
us would be communication - ability to clearly communicate with the donor the
expectations, the understanding of relationships etc - but sometimes when a baby
is involved this can get challenging and can change over time. We know many
people with known donors in various family configurations for whom their
arrangement has worked with great success and joy, and in many ways we were
drawn to using a known donor. We decided, after a conversation where a potential
known donor indicated that he had a bit of a different understanding than we did of
what his role might be (more involvement than we had thought), that we were not
up for the long haul of communication with another invested party regarding our
child. At that point, we had identified a donor through a sperm bank that felt like
the right fit.
This is the other thing, we chose to look into multiple options at once - talking to
friends about being donors, and looking into spermbanks - and went with what felt
best. You don't know until you know and we wanted to try on all options. The first
time at the spermbank felt weird, but then it felt right once we found the donor we
wanted. We were guided by the overarching knowledge that whatever we did, there
would be pros and cons now and down the road, though so far this is clearly the
right choice for us. Mostly, we were always motivated by strong feelings of
accountability to the child that we were planning to bring into the world, and by
knowing that we would be explaining our decisions to the child as clearly as we
could when we talk about our family.
Good luck with your decisions - take time for them, look into different options, and
even though you may feel a clock ticking, it will be time well spent. You will come
to the right thing for you, there is absolutely no right or wrong, or better or worse
here, it just completely depends on you. The best part is that sperm will become
your amazing child and you'll totally forget about sperm and be in love with your
Used willing to be known sperm and happy
My husband was not fertile so we used a sperm donor. We now
have a healthy, happy 20-month-old. However, my husband has
not told his family (all in the Bay Area, so we see them
often). Our son does not look like his father, and I don't
know how to handle questions about this, such as, are you sure
you didn't have an affair with the mail carrier, etc. My
general response has been that the stork brought the baby, and
just to make light of the question. Also, my husband's side of
the family has a history of ADD and depression, and it is
pretty clear that our son won't suffer from this (which we are
happy about, but have difficulty explaining). I like my
husband's family very much, but don't know how to answer these
questions without coming clean about our son's parentage. Any
suggestions would be helpful.
Anon of course
I think first and foremost your son deserves to know the truth about his
origins, as appropriate for his age and level of interest. Sounds like
if your husband can't tell his family he certainly won't be able to tell
his child. Hiding this information is an unfair position in which to
put you and an insult to the intelligence of his family. They likely
Your husband should get whatever help is needed to deal with his own
anxieties and insecurities. Then he should tell the truth about this
issue to his family, and hopefully this emotional homework will inform
his relationship with his son and be the basis for a more honest
relationship in the future Best of luck
If you are resolved not to share this information, then you're probably
going to have to develop some kind of Zen calm about these questions. My
daughter looks nothing like either of us, and my MIL (who I adore) made
jokes about the mail carrier that really disturbed me. I told her it was
disrespectful of our relationship and further that eventually her
grandaughter would understand the implication of these comments so let's
not form a habit. She hasn't made a comment since. On the ADD and
depression, just calmly reply that you know the signs and will cross
that bridge when/if you come to it. Over time the questions will seem
less loaded. Sympathetic
Why not come clean about the way you conceived? I would hope you are
planning on telling your son, so its likely he'll make a mention of it
at some point once he's talking.
We too have children conceived with donor sperm (a boy and a girl). Our
children have known about their conception since before they could
understand it, as has my side of the family.
My husband's side of the family have not been told, but if a question
arises, I'll answer it honestly. We have nothing to hide - thank god
technology is what it is and we were able to use donor sperm. I never
wanted my kids to feel that there was any shame or anything at all
negative about the way they were conceived, and I believe honesty is the
best way to ensure that.
If you haven't read it yet, you may want to read ''Helping the
Stork: The Choices and Challenges of Donor Insemination''
by Carol Frost Vercollone, Heidi Moss, Robert Moss It has a ton of
information about all the various implications of using donor
insemination, including family reaction, etc.
For the record, we've been extremely open about our choice of conception
to friends as well, and never in all these years have I gotten even one
negative comment. Everyone we've ever told has been supportive -
surprised, sometimes, but always encouraging and congratulatory that we
were able to conceive good luck
Tell the Truth. My advice has nothing to do with your husband and his
family. Telling the truth is essential for your son.
How do you think he will feel when he finds out that this is a big
secret or worse you don't tell him until he is older?
Secrecy breeds shame. Don't do this to your son. He (and you and your
husband) have nothing to be ashamed of. Tell your husband either grow
up, go to RESOLVE or go to therapy (actually I have more sympathy than
you might think for him, but this is for his son). He needs to deal with
this for his son's sake Don't be ashamed
Why do they need to know? Why are they asking all these personal and
inappropriate questions? Do they really need to decide now that the kid
is going to have all these inherited emotional problems?
Even if your child was biologically your husband's, there would be no
guarantee that he would: look just like your husband, take after your
husband's side of the family in any way.
Could they be joking?
I think lots of explanations are unnecessary. I think it's really none
of their business Donna
It is no bodys business but your own!
When the question arises, you can ignore it, change the subject, give
your mailman response, etc. Or, how about ''he looks just like my
Uncle_____ did at that age'' Why must your son look like your husband?
Genetics don't work that way - your child could look like anyone in
either of your families, more or less.
I'm adopted and it was not announced to the world. As I grew, my mom
and I were always amused by the number of people who would say they
''could see a resemblance''!
Just smile ~
To me, it simply does not seem like it's anyone's business how your son
came about. And for ANYONE, particularly a family member, to say
something like ''are you sure you didn't have an affair'' is just
painfully rude! I think it's most important that you and your husband
are in agreement about how much information to share. Regardless of how
much or how little it is. And then once that decision is reached, stick
to it and support each other. He will probably have to confront his
family at some point to tell them to back off
wouldn't it be easier on everybody to just find a comfortable way to
tell the truth?
As long as you and your husband choose to keep your son's
genetic history to yourselves (which you are perfectly
justified in doing), anything more than lightly shrugging off
the comment would be hard for you to sustain. If someone is
unusually persistent with questioning or comments, a direct
look in the eyes with a slight smile and calm voice might help
as you say, ''Genetics are fascinating things, aren't they? Is
there a reason you keep pushing this conversation or can we
talk about something else now?'' Along those lines. . . set
your own boundaries and most people will respect them. Most!
--Youngest in a snoopy family
Kids do the darndest stuff: they pop out just as they are!
Believe me, even with one's own biological kid, one often wonders
where hair/skin/eyes/ stature etc came from. If you just were to
say, ''Gee, both of us were wondering where Jr. got his curly
hair.We can't figure it out. Is there anyone on your side with
it?'' That'll get 'em going and I'm sure that they will scratch
their heads and then come up with a great aunt so-and-so who can
account for ANYTHING!
my son who i birthed looks NOTHING like me-no one would surmise he's not
some babies look like their parents, some don't. If your husband doesn't
''fess up'' thats ok. My youngest sister(fondly called her baby ''X'' to
my friends for
years) was born to my stepmother and dad ten years after my dad had a
she to my knowledge has never been told-(that to me is a HUGE PROBLEM)
has any family. My sister, mom and I were in the know because my mom
dad...she has sub par vision(slight), she sings(is studying opera) and
looks partly latin-ALL being hereditary traits that NO ONE SHARES...no
ever said ''boo''. she's 23...Put on a big smile and say that your child
someone on your side of the family(preferably deceased) and leave it at
don't hide out thinking you've done something ''wrong'' by not
everything-I think you and your spouse should find an infertility/donor
group and chat with other couples in the same place?
baby X's sister
Your child's genetic origin is your business, not your family's
-- unless you make it so. You are handling the situation very
well, just keep it up. No need to reveal any more than you are
Can you tell people that your son looks like a male relative of
yours (you can name a distant or deceased relative that they
will never meet) so he takes after your side of the family? My
son looks exactly like me and has nothing of his father (or of
anyone in his family) in him so it's easy to see and explain
that he took after his mom's side of the family.
I say just keep up the light-hearted comebacks--if you choose not
disclose your fertility struggles, then it's none of their
business. Family resemblance is all over the map--some people who
are not biologically related look like they are, and vice versa.
Hopefully this issue will fade into the background over time. I'm
sure it looms large in your mind, but there's no reason why you
need to communicate that you are ''sure'' your son won't share his
father's genetic heritage--if you have to mention it all, you can
simply say you ''hope'' so. I suppose eventually you'll need to
decide what if anything you want to communicate to your son,
which will be the next chapter in this saga
To me, it sounds like it's not that they are trying to pry the
information out of you, but that you really want to tell them. Which is
fine. If you want to tell them, you should, and if you don't, ignore the
I have one child from a sperm donor and one from a donated embryo; Both
children know about their origins (as much as they can understand) and
select family and friends know. My MIL knows, but my BIL is totally
clueless; My mom knows but my own brother does not; Sometimes people
say things like ''she doesn't look like her father...'' I usually say
something like ''lucky her!'' Afterall, I'd hate to have a paunchy,
balding 7 yr old with a beard; As for the child we had from a donated
embryo - he looks nothing like either of us; I'm sure some people
assume we used a donor, but if it isn't part of the select group that
knows I blow off whatever comments people make. I agree with others
that it is most important that the child knows and whoever else you are
comfortable telling. If you decide not to tell certain family members,
make sure the child understands the reasoning. Our older child knows
she can tell friends, we've just asked her not to tell certain family
members until she is grown up and can understand how they may feel.
Ultimately it is her story to tell and she can chose who to tell it to
(same for the younger one, of course.) anon
I'm a single woman trying to conceive and looking at sperm
banks. I saw that the BPN website has information on egg
donation but nothing about sperm banks. Does anyone have a
I used Fairfax Cryobank (www.fairfaxcryobank.com) and found
them to be very easy to work with and reliable. I know people
who have used California Cryobank who were also very happy with
ease of use and quality of service. There is a lot of
information on sperm banks and the pros and cons of using an
identity release donor on the www.donorsiblingresistry.com (a
website for parents and children conceived with donor sperm).
You might want to look at the discussions when thinking about
which bank and what kind of donor to use.
We did a lot of research and decided on The California Cryobank
in LA. They had they largest selection, most stringent
selection, most testing etc. They are also in the more
expensive category but we think they are worth it.
2 kids and working on #3
Check out Pacific Reproductive Services. They have the largest selection of 'willing to
be known' (after the child is 18) donors. They have offices in Potrero Hill and can ship
anywhere. They've been in business for almost 20 years. PacRepro.com
I used the California Sperm Bank (a.k.a. Reproductive
Technologies) many years ago and was very happy with them. I
conceived after only 5 months, when I finally relaxed enough to
pinpoint my ovulation more precisely. They're in downtown
Berkeley, on Milvia near Center. Their phone number is (510)
They are very open and accepting and have a good screening
process for their donors. Good luck.
happy mother of a teenage boy
Hi, my partner and I used the Sperm Bank of California here in
Berkeley to conceive our now almost 6 year old daughter. They
are non-profit and while their clients are diverse, they are
particularly supportive of single women and lesbians. They are
located on Milvia St. here in Berkeley. They offer both washed
and unwashed sperm, donor release and anoymous donors, have
great information about fertility and insemination, run a
variety of classes and support groups (my partner just attended
one on talking to your child about donor insemination), and
they have a sibling program for people wanting a second or
third child using the same donor. They are on the web:
If you want more information, please contact me. Good luck!
My partner & I have been using Pacific Reproductive Services in
San Francisco, and have been very happy with them. We started
out with referrals to PRS and to California Cryobank from my
doctor. Since we started trying to get pregnant, we've found a
wealth of information online about sperm banks outside the bay
area--but it seemed easier for us to use a local bank where we
could go there for inseminations or pick up the tank & avoid
shipping arrangements. You have to get clearance from your
doctor first--just health stuff--but the staff at PRS has been
able to help us a lot too.
My partner and I used Pacific Reproductive Services
(http://www.pacrepro.com/) for both our pregnancies. We chose
them entirely on the basis of the wide availability of
identity-release donors that fit our other criteria (i.d. release
donors are donors who have agreed to have their identity known
once children reach eighteen). We were able to pre-purchase
vials from a particular donor so that we were guaranteed the
ability to use the same donor each cycle, something that didn't
seem available at the Sperm Bank of CA.
We are more than happy with our beautiful, intelligent child and
expect to be the same with our next, due this fall. The office
staff at PRS can be difficult to deal with. They seem to forget
sometimes that they are providing a service for which you are
paying a fair amount of money. Some have quite an unhelpful
attitude. However, we were willing to overlook that in order to
get our first choice donor.
I'm also a single woman who went the sperm donor route. I chose
a donor from Fairfax Cryobank. I used Fairfax because:
a) Their donor database is available over the web, so I could go
through the whole process, from selection to ordering to storing
to shipping, on-line;
b) the information on each donor was amazingly thorough and
c) I felt the quality of the donors (i.e., medical histories,
educational backgrounds and personality profiles) was quite high.
I became pregnant on the second try, but miscarried. On the
fourth try I became pregnant successfully, and today have an
exuberant, handsome 2.5 year old.
Fairfax did not offer any ID release donors, but that wasn't of
utmost importance to me. I did get a wealth of information about
the donor, including an audio interview, toddler picture, and
''staff impressions'' information.
The specialist who performed my IUI's said that the sperm samples
were excellent - very high motility, so I felt the Cryobank lived
up to what they advertised.
My impression is that other sperm banks are cheaper and offer
ID-release donors, but that Fairfax might have higher quality donors.
very satisfied single mom
We used The Sperm Bank of California (TSBC), which is on Milvia
in Berkeley. We were very pleased with TSBC and found their
staff to be professional, warm, supportive and informative. We
are in touch with several of our daughter's half-siblings
through their (optional!) family match program. We know at
least two single women who had children through TSBC. You can
find TSBC online at www.thespermbankofca.org.
We also visited Pacific Reproductive Services in San Francisco.
They also seemed very professional, but not as warm. In my
experience, they also pushed a more aggressive (and expensive)
fertility plan than I ended up needing. At the time, they were
more expensive than TSBC, though TSBC's prices recently went up
significantly and may now be similar to PRS' prices. In the
end, TSBC was the only place that worked for us because of
timing and hours issues, as well. You can find PRS online at
We also know people who have used sperm from California
Cryobank, in Los Angeles. We wanted an ID-release donor (child
learns donor's identity at age 18) and I don't think that was
available from the Cryobank at the time. You can find them
online at www.cryobank.com.
My partner & I used Pacific Reproductive Services (PRS) in San
Francisco and were very happy with the service. We chose them
for their large selection of ''willing to be known'' donors. I
was fortunate to get pregnant after two months. We are
utilizing their program to purchase and store additional vials
for baby #2 when my partner will carry. We found them to be
very helpful throughout the insemination process by educating
us on various choices and procedures they offer.
My partner and I are going to be using a known sperm donor.
According to our lawyer we need to use a Dr. as an intermediary
between him and us in order to make sure his parental rights are
severed. We are looking for a doctor in the East Bay who is
willing to receive his sperm then release it to us immediatly
for insimenation. The doctor would also need to be willing to
sign a document that they did this for us. Does anyone know a
Doctor that might be willing to do this for us?
Hi- I would recommend talking with Stephanie Brill at Maia
Midwifery (www.maiamidwifery.com) in Orinda. Her number is
925.253.0685 and she's the author of The Essential Lesbian
Guide to Conception, Pregnancy and Birth and she's a practicing
midwife who I imagine would be able to make an excellent
recommendation for a doctor for your needs. My partner and I
met with her for their ''preconception counseling'' and found her
services to be invaluable. She's warm and direct and you get
the sense that she REALLY knows what she's talking about!
Check out At Home Fertility Services.
My partner and I have the opportunity to use a known sperm
donor to try to get pregnant. We are getting mixed
information about legal issues for lesbians around this
issue. For example, we have been told we have to have him
make the ''deposit'' to a MD, not directly to us, then we have
to pick it up at the doctors office and/or insiminate there.
Also, we have to see a lawyer before we go ahead with
using him as a donor in order to secure my partners rights
to adopt. We have a signed, notorized document that
releases him from any rights to the child. Why, if we put on
the birth certificate father unknown is that not enough with
the release to secure my partners way for an easy domestic
partner or 2 parent adoption? We have been given this
wonderful gift by this amazing man and it seems there are
all these legal barriers to conceving this child. We know that
we will have to get a lawyer to assist us with the adoption,
but why before to conception? Any advice or insight into this
issue would be really helpful and greatly appreciated.
Lots and lots of lesbians and single straight women have gone
this route. You do not have to figure this out for yourself!
Contact the National Center for Lesbian Rights. They have all
the information you need, the legal forms, and legal referrals
if you need them.
My two kids were conceived this way. The donor and his partner
were old friends of mine. But to insure everyone rights and
responsibilities we took all the legal precautions. We even did
home insemination but paid them a nominal fee each time. They
have no rights or responsibilities. But they attendended the
births by my invitation and have had their lives completely
changed by having children in their lives for the first time who
they care about -- very much to their surprise. They are very
involved in the children's lives and are considered a part of
our extended family.
There are also groups for the men who have done the donating.
Also, contact The Our Families Coalition in SF for further
information and support.
Successful mother of 2 by known donor
Please, please, please go talk to a lawyer before you
insemminate to make sure that you protect your and your
partner's rights. Yes, it is sad that you can't just do it on
your own, considering the fact that you have 3 very willing
participants who want to make it happen. But such is life. You
never know what could happen to change the dynamic between the 3
of you -- as much as you don't want to even think about it, any
number of things could happen to create a big legal mess down
the line if your donor changes his mind or if you and your
partner split up. There was a recent case in which two lesbians
had a baby through IVF -- they used the eggs of one mother, and
the other mother carried the baby -- they raised the child
together for many years, and then split up. The gestational
mother (the one who carried) moved out of state with the child,
and claimed that the biological mother had no rights to even SEE
the child, because they had not done the proper paperwork before
the child's conception. This case is still making its way
through the courts. It is nasty, nasty stuff. Do whatever you
can to avoid this -- even if you think it could never happen to
you, I bet those two women didn't think it could either. Call
NCLR (National Center for Lesbian Rights) in SF and they can
give you a couple of recommendations for lawyers who can help
you. It's not too expensive, and well worth the peace of mind
for everyone. Good luck and happy baby-making!
Laws are changing rapidly around these issues. For example,
second-parent adoptions are a thing of the past! Now there is
step-parent adoption, just like for straight folk. I just heard
that the law is changing and that you will be able to put your
partner's name on the birth certificate at the hospital (or
wherever you give birth) - tho I'm not sure when this will take
There have been women with known donors and signed, legal
documents with the donor giving up legal rights, who have
experienced the horror of the donor changing his mind and
filing a law suit claiming parentage and seeking parental
rights. To avoid this legal mess, it has been advised for the
donor to make his ''deposit'' at a doctor's office and you pick
it up there. By having a doctor as the intermediary, the donor
really legally relinquishes any future rights to the child. I
don't know the current status of this process.
So, with everything changing, it is advisable to seek the
advice of an attorney who knows the latest laws. I recommend
Emily Doskow in Oakland. She's great. She did our second-
parent adoption 7 years ago.
Of course, I'm not a lawyer, I'm just another mom with a son
by a known sperm donor, but my understanding of the law is
that in theory, at least, the biological father has legal right to
claim fatherhood of (or you have legal right to demand
fatherhood of) any offspring created by his sperm unless
that sperm is given to an MD for insemination purposes.
This then gets really tricky because there are very, very few
options of MDs who are willing to participate in this process.
You might look up Rainbow Sperm Bank. They primarily
deal with gay and lesbian donors/recipients and the owner
knows a lot about the legal issues.
I'm a lesbian mom and a lawyer who used to practice in this
area. There are indeed legal issues about how the sperm comes
to you and I would highly recommend you talk to a lawyer
first. A short consult with someone who keeps up with this
area can be invaluable. There are major and rapid changes in
the law (I haven't kept up with it all myself) and it's much
better to go into this informed. Last I knew the statutory
presumption of no parent status for a donor was only applicable
if the sperm was delivered to a doctor. Without this, a
notarized statement may not protect you from him claiming
parental rights or protect him from you seeking child support.
I can't tell you how many people I represented in the past who
regretted not doing things a certain way.
The new domestic partnership law - coming into effect in less
than a year - and the marriage issues that are now before the
Supreme Court have made these issues even more complex. But I
do think a simple consult should be enough for you to have the
information you need to make an informed decision.
There are a number of lawyers who are well versed in this.
Emily Doscow in Oakland is one. Eva Herzer is
another. Linda Scaparotti, in both Oakland and SF is another.
I can give you more names if you want.
Prevention is truly worth a pound of cure.
Under California law (I am paraphrasing, correctly, I hope), a
sperm donor is presumed NOT to be a parent of a child born from
his sperm ONLY if the insemination is done by a licensed
physician. If the sperm, even from a known donor, is routed
through a sperm bank, then the donor is presumed not to be the
parent of the child (even if you do the insemination
yourselves). Getting the benefit of this state-law presumption
is the reason for having the insemination done by a doctor or
through a sperm bank. It should make any future legal
proceedings to determine the legal parents of the child much
easier and more secure.
Another reason to consider talking with a knowledgeable lawyer
before the baby is born, if not before you get pregnant, is the
possibility that something might happen to the birth mother
during the pregnancy or birth. At that point, who would have
legal rights and/or responsibilities with respect to the baby or
baby-to-be (e.g., be able to make medical decisions)? A lawyer
can draft documents to protect the rights of the non-birth
mother before the baby is born and/or until the adoption is
completed (which can take several months after the birth).
Of course you can just do the insemination yourself with your
known donor's sperm. Up front, it's certainly the easiest way.
If you plan to have the non-birth mom adopt, however, talking to
a lawyer early on may make that process easier.
My partner and I just had our second daughter with the same
known donor. Both times we met with our lawyer before
conceiving -- the law changed quite a bit from 2000 to 2003, and
we're conservative about trying to protect our legal rights
surrounding our kids. Although we're somewhat resentful that we
have to go through the hassle and (not inconsequential) expense,
we wanted to make sure we did things right.
Please email me if you have any questions or want the name of
our lawyer. Good luck!
You don't *have* to have anything to do with a lawyer or a
doctor before conception in order to have your partner adopt
afterwards. The issue is about protecting you should your donor
decide he wants custody after the baby is born. When your
partner adopts the baby, the donor will be asked to sign away
his rights, and once he does that, you don't have to worry
anymore, whether or not you used a doctor or lawyer. End of
The deal in California is that the man is either considered a
donor, with no paternal rights whatsoever, or a father, with
full paternal right. There is no in-between, and since the
State thinks it has a compelling interest in having the baby
have a father, in the absence of anything that makes him a
donor, a judge is likely to rule in his favor, should a custody
The only way to make him a donor and not a father is to go
through a doctor--what I did was simply have a doctor friend
show up at my house at the same time as the donor, and the donor
handed her the jar of sperm instead of me, and then they both
left. That meets the requirement that it be a ''medical
procedure''. Since I'm a single mom, I didn't have anyone to
adopt with, but if I did, the donor would still have signed away
the rights he supposedly doesn't have anymore at that time.
Probably a lot of people will tell you that you have to have a
lawyer and a doctor involved to protect yourself, and there
*are* stories about the donor changing his mind about his level
of involvement, but I know lots and lots of people who didn't
have anything to do with a lawyer or doctor, and everything
worked out fine, including the adoption.
Good luck whatever you decide to do.
Forever Grateful to My Donor
this page was last updated: Apr 22, 2012
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