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Donor sperm

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
We're not there yet but we've been thinking about it a little. And something got me really curious... DH says he wants our child to have as many advantages as we can give him/her so he wants donor sperm that comes from a man who is different from him in certain ways.

For those of you who have used donor sperm or who have thought about it, what criteria did you consider important? How did you/ will you choose which sperm to use?
post #2 of 8

I haven't been in your shoes but here's a link to set of interesting articles..



post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

Oh! Horrible. Here I've done tons of research on adoption and I've learned that a large piece of the infant adoption puzzle was a seriously flawed sexist history. Infant adoption was essentially invented by the idea that unmarried women didn't deserve their children and couldn't be good mothers (google "baby scoop"). And now I find that the history of donor sperm included some more seriously flawed concepts and terrible practices.


From the the article you linked:


 At the urging of some of his medical students and with the permission of the husband—but not the wife—Pancoast anesthetized her and impregnated her with semen taken from the "best-looking" student in the class. She never was told what was done to her or that her husband was not her child's father. This kind of subterfuge, made-up-on-the-spot, loosey-goosey standards and reliance on overwilling medical students would become the dismal defining qualities of donor insemination (DI) practice.

Such DI with fresh semen was practiced, though uncommonly, during the first half of the 20th century. After World War II, DI became more common, though no less secretive. Doctors supplied patients—always married women with infertile husbands—with fresh sperm gleaned from medical students, residents, and colleagues. (Many a doctor over 50 funded his medical-school socializing with sperm donation.) The process was haphazard, at best: The donors supplied only brief medical history and weren't tested for disease. Doctors ruled patients utterly. Women were given little or no choice about their donors. Anonymity was absolute: In most cases, no records were kept. (Some doctors didn't even bother finding a donor: They just used their own semen.)


Clearly, things have changed. But geez, the history is BAD.


Edit: sigh. It sounds like fertility treatments are similar to adoption in that these are essentially consumer-driven industries that operate in an unregulated or barely regulated market economy. The burden of doing things ethically is virtually ALL on the consumer, the same person/people with one of the greatest conflicts of interests. It's possible to "do the right thing" but it's hard. Ugh. I'm learning so much. I feel so helpless right now.

post #4 of 8

Yeah, the ethics can get pretty thorny.  And the sperm banks are definitely poorly regulated and driven by profit.  You need to work out on your own what you think is right, because they will not guide you in that at all.


When my wife and I selected our donor there were three "musts":

1) Canadian-compliant (so we could actually buy the sperm)

2) CMV- (because I was)

3) ID Disclosure (If you've researched adoption, you probably already know all the reasons why it's important for children to have the ability to contact a genetic parent if they desire).


That left us with about 20 donors - none of whom looked anything like DW, so that wasn't a factor we took into consideration.  We narrowed those donors down further by eliminating:

1. Any donors who had the same medical problems I do (mostly allergies and very very bad eyesight)

2. Any donors who seemed like they might be unreceptive to a child with lesbian parents

3. Any donors who (and this is going to sound horrible) just didn't seem very smart.


That left us with 7 donors.  We eliminated one because he had no reported pregnancies, despite having been available for over a year.  Then we contacted our sperm bank (Xytex), and asked for the post-thaw motile sperm counts of our remaining 6 donors (incidentally, they also provided us with personal impressions of all the donors we asked about, which was kind and helpful).  We chose our top three donors, and contacted the Canadian broker for Xytex, who only had one of those three available.  We bought the two remaining vials and Tah Dah!  DS arrived 10 months later.


I think the best advice I was given during the donor selection process is this: the right donor is the donor who gets you pregnant.  It doesn't do any good to find the perfect donor if his sperm count is too low to get you pregnant - and there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that a very high post-thaw motile sperm count vastly increases your likelihood of getting pregnant.  If the donor you pick isn't working after a few tries, don't be afraid to switch to a new one, because he might be the problem.  There are a lot of women out there who tried the same donor over and over for a year - then got pregnant the instant they switched to someone new.


Good luck!


ETA: You might want to do a search for old threads over in Queer Parenting.  I know this topic has come up several times over there.

post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks. That makes a lot of sense, that it's more about viable sperm than about genetic qualities of the donor.

So, one of the things we thought about was race. If our current adoption plans work out and we adopt our foster son, we will have a transracial family (me and DH are white, FS is black). If we conceive a second child through donor sperm, we thought that it might make sense to choose a donor who is black. That way the kids will have more in common with each other. But obviously, it's an unusual situation that may invite extra criticism that could be harmful to the kiddos. Thoughts, anyone?
post #6 of 8

I think choosing a donor who shares your adoptive child's race makes a lot of sense, or at least as much sense as any other donor attribute.  As a lesbian who just made the selection our donor a few weeks ago, I have have to say that the selection process felt awkward and a little ridiculous.  I kept thinking that there was really so little that a few pages of data could tell me about any of the potential donors that making a selection based on the info provided seemed a bit like throwing darts at a dart board.


Having said that, we also stayed away from donors who had medical issues that mimicked my own (allergies, etc.).  We made the final decision by talking with the sperm bank's staff about the level of enthusiasm our top prospects had for actually being in contact with future children.   This info was completely based on the gut feeling of the staff and not on any tangible data but the possibility of future contact is really important to us. And the bank we chose was willing to chat with us about their impressions of all the donors so I got a sense of maybe who I might like better as a person (which is way more important to me than what they look like or their profession).


As for potential criticism of how you make your family, I think the bigger issue is how you plan to approach racial issues with your children.   Anyone who might be critical of your family, including how it came to be, will probably be acting on internalized prejudice and/or unresolved racism.  I realize that sounds harsh, but I don't think many people in this country (whatever their racial or ethnic background) grow up unscathed by our country's racial history and current race dynamics.  As a transracial family, you are taking these things head on already.  Having 2 children whose race differs from your own rather than 1 will not change that.


A dear friend of mine and her partner who are white have 2 darling black daughters.  My friend has written a lot about being a transracial family.  If you're interested, you can find her blog at http://peterscrossstation.wordpress.com/category/race/.  I've linked to her posts specifically on race but she obviously talks about a lot more than that.


Good luck!

post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the good luck wishes :)

I do read that blog and some others about transracial adoption and parenting children of color. I guess I'm just worried about even more unwelcome comments about my childrens' origins. Already I get "where is he from" (he's from fostercare so it's not a transnational adoption, but sometimes it seems like everyone assumes all black babies in the arms of white parents are babies from Ethiopia - argh) and "how much did he cost" and "what happened to his birthmother".


So if we go this route, we'll also hear people assuming both children are adopted and that they're biological siblings and that they're from Ethiopia. It just complicates the discussion, that's all. But I guess I just need to learn better how to shut down the conversation. People don't need the details of our lives and I don't need to be an adoption advocate everytime someone asks about it.

post #8 of 8

It's true.  Just because a question is asked doesn't mean you have to provide an answer.  You can tell them as much or as little as you want.  And after a few encounters, you'll have a much better idea what feels right for you.  


One thing I know from being a lesbian (and getting more than a few personal questions from practical strangers) is that folks will take their cues from you.  If you are confident and clear in your interactions, you will teach them a lot about what is appropriate to ask or not.  I try to keep a sense of humor and remember that I'm an educator of sorts, if I choose to be.  Perhaps if you see yourself similarly, as an educator, you might feel more confident and powerful in your approach to such situations instead of feeling like your space is being invaded.  


Edited to add:  What I think you can educate people about is more than what is appropriate.  You have a wealth of knowledge about your family and because your family is charting somewhat newish and/or challenging waters, you have the opportunity to make a huge difference in the world.  Both by how you raise your children and by how you respond to those around you.  Some people will be innocently curious but rude/presumptuous in presentation, others will be judgmental or concerned when there is no reason to be.  Others just don't have a sense of boundaries.  Each of these will probably call for different responses from you.  Over time, you'll find the right balance for you and your family.

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