Known Donor or Anonymous Donor -how did you decide? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 21 Old 10-31-2009, 06:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Why did you decide on using a known or anonymous donor?

I've been using a known donor, but due to his busy schedule am considering trying to find a new/anonymous donor instead. So I'd really like to hear your thoughts on this. I guess there are pro's and con's to each?

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#2 of 21 Old 10-31-2009, 03:55 PM
 
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For us, at the time, we lived in a very anti-same sex state and knew that legally, most courts still consider a known donor as the legal parent of any offspring, regardless of any paperwork they signed. I think we might have been a little overprotective (paranoid??) but it just made better sense for us to go anon as we also were not particularly interested in a third "parent"/adult in our family dynamic.

My thought is, how can ANYONE absolutely know that they will want nothing to do with a child they've knowingly created when they're older and facing mortality issues?

*shrug*

Samantha, married to Holly for over five years . DD #1 born 12/13/06 , DD #2 born 8/18/10 and 2 furballs of indeterminate age.
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#3 of 21 Old 11-03-2009, 09:45 PM
 
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We chose an anonymous but "open" donor from California Cryobank. We did not want any possibility of a third "parent", we wanted a complete health history and screening, and the possibility of contact if our child wanted it in the (distant) future or it was needed for medical reasons.
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#4 of 21 Old 11-03-2009, 09:52 PM
 
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I choose a donor from Fairfax cryobank because I do not want to meet my child's donor. Plus, they do a lot of rigorous psychical testing so I knew my chances of having a child with a genetic problem would be slimmer. Finally, most of the lesbians in my area are co-parenting with their known donors and I do not feel comfortable with co-parenting.
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#5 of 21 Old 11-04-2009, 12:35 PM
 
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This has been one of the most complicated decisions for us so far. It seems really personal - just a gut decision for most people. from the beginning our gut told us that a known donor was right for our family, and when we were meeting with potential known donors, it felt really good to think that the person who was contributing half of our kids' genetic material was someone who i had actually had in my living room- that felt comforting to me for whatever reason. i also had some conversations with queer parents whose kids were older and had had a really hard time dealing with the anonymity of their donors (but to be fair, teens will find something to have a hard time with no matter what). we didnt want any of the mystery surrounding the donor. we also are clear though that we dont want to co-parent so it has been hard to find someone who we feel really confident won't ultimately want shared custody. as the process has gone on, we are finding ourselves liking the idea of some sort of involvement by the donor- in a special family friend kind of way. we are now trying to decide between 2 donors. one is a single gay man who was introduced to us by a mutual friend/aquaintance. the other is a straight man in a monogomous relationship - and both he and his girlfriend are very close friends of ours. we are heavily leaning at this point towards our close friend. at first it freaked us out to think of making what is already a close relationship so much more intense, but when we weighed the health and legal risks of using someone we didnt know well it felt too scary. plus we know and love our friend, know that his motivation is that he loves us and wants to help our family, and we trust that we have good enough communication to work through any issues that arise (as i'm sure they will). they don't have kids of their own yet but plan to and we are looking forward to our kids being closely linked. we realized that using a known donor like this means we are creating a family that is very alternative and non-traditional, but we are actually embracing that. if for some reason this doesnt work out i think we would use a willing to be known donor from a bank. good luck with your decisions!
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#6 of 21 Old 11-04-2009, 12:59 PM
 
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we are heavily leaning at this point towards our close friend. at first it freaked us out to think of making what is already a close relationship so much more intense, but when we weighed the health and legal risks of using someone we didnt know well it felt too scary. plus we know and love our friend, know that his motivation is that he loves us and wants to help our family, and we trust that we have good enough communication to work through any issues that arise (as i'm sure they will).
This is exactly the situation DP and I have w/ our KD. He is one of (if not my very) best friend, and his GF is wonderful, too. DP is also close with both of them. Neither he nor GF have an interest in parenting any time in the near future, and both are so excited to be able to help DP and I conceive; KD actually said it would just seem wrong for him NOT to do it, since he has something I need, and friends are "supposed to help each other out." He really is amazing and I can't thank him enough for his amazing gift.

Of course, there is the tiniest worry in the back of our head that something will change once I get pregnant/give birth.... but isn't creating a family so very much about trust, no matter how you go about creating it? A couple using frozen sperm (or a straight couple) has to trust each other to enter into this new phase of life together; to be faithful to one another, be honest about STI status, be completely transparent about intentions regarding parenting (or not parenting) together; this is the same kind of trust we have in our KD.

We of course have a signed sperm donor agreement outlining our intentions (of donor not to have a parent role, for him to waive his parental rights once LO is born, and of DP to adopt any resulting child(ren), etc.) and had him tested at two points (six months apart) for STIs prior to TTC. But a big part of it is also having faith, and trust, and going out on a limb to an extent. I think we all "go out on a limb" in some respect when we take the plunge into TTC and parenthood.

Anyway, that's just my story, the long and short of is was that we chose a KD because we want our future kid to be able to know its biology; we're slightly freaked out about the idea of an anonymous donor having so many offspring "out there" (some banks put a "cap" on live births, but those caps are usually in the dozens range0; we wanted to "up our chances" (there's less of a timing issue with fresh than with frozen, plus research has told me that there tends to be more live spermies that are more motile in the sample); the cost of fresh vs. frozen (we end up paying ~$30/mo in parking because I drive into the city for work on insem days, plus the ~$15 fee/mo we pay our donor ($5 per donation) to keep the relationship "business like"); and finally, creating our family through a biological process than involves all parties having a vested interest in me conceiving. KD wants nothing more than to be able to help DP and I create a family, and I like to think that positive attitude on his part will help things along to an extent. Sort of like putting positive energy and love into cooking... it tastes better! (Um, ewwww... that didn't come out right!).

None of this is to knock those using anonymous sperm users. This is just the situation that was best for US. And who knows, if things don't work out with KD for some reason after we've given it a "good college try," we'll likely go the anonymous route. There just aren't any other males in our lives that we'd be comfortable with and that we think would be willing to do this for us, no strings attached.

Part hippie-chick, part type-A career woman, all mama. Enjoying life as a wife to my partner of 11 years, and a mama to our smarty-pants toddler, Cadence.

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#7 of 21 Old 11-04-2009, 02:52 PM
 
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we used an anonymous donor. we originally asked my friend (and former bandmate) to be our kd and he had agreed - and then we found out by accident that he and his wife were having issues trying to get pregnant themselves. they had already started to go through testing to determine a reason.

armed with that knowledge, we told him we had changed our minds and were going to use anonymous - giving the excuse about quarantine (we were using a clinic to increase our chances) and not embarassing him about he and his wife's issue. we were worried if i was able to get pg with his biological child when his wife could not that it would present some major problems in the future.

fast forward 3 years - we have a 2yo son and another on the way. they have been labelled with "unexplained infertility" and have tried to adopt domestically with no success and are now waiting to adopt from ethiopia. we feel we made the right decision for us.

i think in the kd area you have to make some serious decisions up front - are you ok with co-parenting? is there any chance he may sue for custody? has he told his parents (grandparents can be weird about this kind of thing)? be aware that no matter what kd contract you sign it WILL NOT hold up in court.

good luck!
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#8 of 21 Old 11-04-2009, 07:47 PM
 
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First, there are a pile of old threads about this one, one in which I went on at extreme lengths to lay out my processes of making this decision - a decision I have now made at least four times.

I have decided both ways, and I've had two KDs, three or four more fairly-serious KDs that just didn't work out, and one anonymous non-ID donor from a bank whose policies I liked. (A small, Toronto-based sperm bank that doesn't have dozens of kids from each donor. My thinking is similar to Lyndzies on that issue.)

Those of us conceiving with KDs need to be careful about the legal issues, but there was a very recent court decision in which a donor agreement was upheld by the supreme court of Pennsylvania. So, it's a little over the top to say it will not be upheld in court. There is a solid legal precedent for an oral agreement that was maintained, and a written agreement is even better.

We also need to be careful about the anonymity issue. ID release is great, but remember that you have no control over what happens to the donor in the intervening (at minimum) 19 years between donation and being sought out by a donor conceived person. How difficult will it be for your child(ren) if the donor has moved and is not locatable, i.e. to anohter country, with a very common name, or what if he has died, or is otherwise unavailable?

What happens when your eighteen year old finds the guy who was 18 when he donated, and is now 37, and is really sick of being located by these kids? If your child is the first to turn 18, maybe it's great. But what if ze is #24 or #42 or even "just" #5 and the donor isn't excited about this anymore?

We need to be careful and ask ourselves if the fertility industry is making promises it can't keep with regard to willing to be known donors.

SPBC Finally a Papa! Elise Ember Soleil - 10/3/10 - 4:09 AM - 6 lbs 8 oz My daughter eats donor milk! Human milk for human babies!
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#9 of 21 Old 11-05-2009, 12:15 AM
 
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As with everyone else, this was a very difficult decision for us. We definitely knew we didn't want a completely anonymous donor so that's where we started. We really tried to stay focused on what was best for the child - which was hard because who knows what he or she will feel and also, it was/is very hard to not let our own feelings about it affect our decision. We decided after a lot of discussion that we at least wanted the option for our child(ren) to know their biological donor if that came up. If it doesn't come up that's fine too. Our KD has no interest in parenting our children, he is a straight man and is planning on starting a family of his own with his long term partner. Will he change his mind? Maybe. He is an old friend and one of the main reasons we chose him is because I trust him. I figure worst case scenario...the child knows him and has more people to love him or her. I know it's not that simple but I'd like it to be if possible. For us, navigating a KD who may suddenly have "interest" is better than not being able to provide our child with answers to really important questions they may have.

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#10 of 21 Old 11-05-2009, 10:17 PM
 
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It was a relatively "easy" decision for us, actually. We don't have the money to use frozen sperm or other fertility treatments, so it was KD or nothing. Plus, we know lots of nice men. lol. Luckily, the KD we chose is a mutual friend from even before DP and I knew each other! He's also really smart and trustworthy, and we feel comfortable with him and the people who are close to him hanging out with our kid.
hth!

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#11 of 21 Old 11-06-2009, 04:12 AM
 
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We first asked DW's brother to be a known donor in order to use both of our families' genes. He, however, said no. We then chose to use an anonymous donor because we did not want a daddy, just a donor. Using anonymous sperm seemed like the best way to preserve this in addition to avoiding any sort of legal confusion that might come of it. However, after one cycle of using a frozen sample and trying to figure out how to time the IUI with so much time, energy, and money spent on getting The Perfect Timing, we decided to ask a very trusted, sincere friend of ours to be a known donor. He said yes immediately, we signed a donor contract, and he has been wonderful since. It took two cycles using our known donor to get pregnant.

Mama to two, and second-time surrogate. Expecting May 2015.
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#12 of 21 Old 11-06-2009, 11:22 AM
 
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#13 of 21 Old 11-07-2009, 02:42 AM
 
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We have a KD for our 2.5 y/o son and he's agreed to donate for DS' sib as well.

For me it wasn't a hard decision. I not only wanted to give our son full access to his biology but I also wanted to normalize how he came into this world and make sure it always remained a transparent process. Using a KD was the decision that would work best in this context.

In our state we're protected by law if we use artificial insemination. We also used a lawyer for us and him, and we have a contract. But with all that, the thing that is the most essential is trust, and I trust that our KD would never violate our place as parents.

Our KD is great, a really great guy. He sees us and our son regularly, our son, even at 2.5, talks about his uncle KD and knows that he helped make him. I love seeing traits in my son that I can clearly attribute to his donor.

Another part of the decision making process was cost. It took us 8 tries to get pregnant and there is NO way we would have had the financial resources to use frozen anonymous. We're even more broke now and #2 will be even cheaper since the contract is already done. I have a friend who just switched from anonymous to KD for the same reasons. The cost of using frozen is crazy.

For our family KD has worked out, and it's so great that I would encourage anyone who is open to using a KD to seriously consider it. It's not just about getting pregnant, it's about your future kid and maybe being able to give them the gift of a very special and meaningful relationship.

Me: almost 40, RN DW: 38, CPD Boy: born 4/2/2007 Girl: born 8/23/2010
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#14 of 21 Old 11-17-2009, 02:25 PM
 
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Not much more to add here, but just to tell our story: we went back and forth a little bit, and ultimately decided on trying to find a known donor because we were a) frustrated with the tiny number of donors willing to be contacted in the future, and b) uncomfortable with what felt to us like a bit of a racket (costs to look at details, pics, and then the costs associated with the sperm itself, esp since we knew we wanted 2 kids with the same donor). We were lucky to find an awesome guy - single gay man - who has been good friends with my dear cousin for more than a decade. His ideal situation was a co-parenting one, but he hadn't had luck concieving with the woman he was trying to co-parent with (she was having fertility problems). We sat down with him and let him know that although we really didn't want a co-parent (just the idea of trying to make all those crucial, everyday decisions amongst two of us seemed daunting enough!), we were interested in having him be a part of our and our child(ren)'s lives, and he agreed to sign over his rights in order to have the opportunity to be a dad, even if it wasn't in the legal or decision making sense. He willingly offered up medical test results, lots of family history, and the fact that he already had any potential offspring written into his will. We now have an almost one year old and are working on #2 with the same donor (my partner had our son, I'm up next). We see him at least monthly (he lives across the state, but is currently dating someone who lives near us), and our visits are always nice - even though we're not close friends, we have this child in common, and lots of other stuff too, so it has worked out beautifully so far.
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#15 of 21 Old 11-17-2009, 07:10 PM
 
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We first asked DW's brother to be a known donor in order to use both of our families' genes. He, however, said no. We then chose to use an anonymous donor because we did not want a daddy, just a donor. Using anonymous sperm seemed like the best way to preserve this in addition to avoiding any sort of legal confusion that might come of it.
This is us exactly. But we knew from the beginning that the only KD we would consider would be DW's brother. But he said no. So, it's on to the banks for us.

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#16 of 21 Old 11-17-2009, 08:37 PM
 
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I think the responses so far have really covered many of the major issues and concerns that come up when choosing a donor; I so appreciate all of these different stories and all the many ways that we get to build our queer families. Just to add one more perspective to the mix!

We used an anonymous donor through a bank (the donor does indicate in his interview that he might be open to being contacted through the bank at a later date). This was actually a big debate between me and my partner. I initially wanted to use a KD, for many of the reasons others have mentioned, especially for transparency, openness and availability of medical information. But my partner, who is trans (and also, for what it's worth, a lawyer), felt really concerned about the KD being perceived as a father. He felt like this issue, which comes up in lots of families with a KD,was harder for him because he's also male, but obviously doesn't have sperm.

In the end, we went with my DP's wishes, mostly because I felt like he got to have a bigger say as the nongestational parent. But I will say that, in the limited time that we've been pregnant and telling people, I've been shocked by how many people ask us explicit questions about the donor-- his appearance, how we picked him, etc. We know how to redirect these questions, but they definately make my partner feel less a part of the pregnancy and less like this fetus' papa. So in the end, I feel liek the extra layer of anonymity was the right choice for us. I only hope we still think so as we get to know our kid and as that kid starts wanting to know more about hir donor and history.

So, that's my $0.02. Looking forward to more perspectives...

Joyful, busy, often overwhelmed queer academic mama to an awesome toddler and:

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#17 of 21 Old 01-25-2010, 01:39 PM
 
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Our first choice was also to use a known donor, and I do regret that we didn't try harder (we ended up using an anonymous donor), not that I wish we didn't have our particular kids (of course!). Dw was less into the idea of a known donor than I was, and I think that's why we didn't look more extensively for one. She said she felt threatened by the idea. But once our kids were born and she was a Mama, she felt much less threatened (and now that we've both birthed kids with the same donor, neither of us feels the least bit threatened).

I actually think an involved known donor would be ideal. Not necessarily a co-parent, but an active uncle type figure. Before we had the kids, there was a sense of wanting to make sure that they could be JUST ours. But now that we've been doing this parenting thing for 7 years, we realize that having more people who love our kids and want to help take care of them would never be a bad thing! I'm not saying I'd want to share custody of my children with a known donor, but I'd be happy with very frequent contact. In fact, I think it would be a pretty sweet set-up.

My advice, as someone who went the sperm bank route (thus far without negative consequence; our kids are fabulous and healthy, the sperm was quite potent, and our kids don't seem the least bit unsettled by the fact that they don't know their donor), is to absolutely try as hard as you can to find a known donor before resorting to anonymous.

I think the identity-release thing is of small consequence. It is nothing close to a happy medium between anonymous and known donors. And I would feel very wary of telling my kids that they'd get to meet the donor when they turned 18, not knowing who he was or if he'd really be interested in meeting them when the time came.

HTH!

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#18 of 21 Old 01-25-2010, 07:15 PM
 
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I think the identity-release thing is of small consequence. It is nothing close to a happy medium between anonymous and known donors. And I would feel very wary of telling my kids that they'd get to meet the donor when they turned 18, not knowing who he was or if he'd really be interested in meeting them when the time came.
Very well said, Lex. I absolutely agree with you that willing-to-be-known AKA "open" AKA (and less problematically) ID release, has much more in common with anonymous donor than it does with KD.

I said as much above, Linda, suggesting "we need to be careful and ask ourselves if the fertility industry is making promises it can't keep with regard to willing to be known donors."

I should have said "ID Release Donors" because that's what the banks promise - they'll give any kids his name, and the most current contact info they have, which could be his current address, or it could be where he lived 25 years ago when he donated.

There is another option for those who want the legal protection, but hope to cultivate a relationship with the donor, Rainbow Flag Health Services releases donor IDs when the kid is born, I believe, and releases parent IDs to the donor when the kid is three months old. (Something like that, check with them.)

This is much more like the happy medium, but still not quite there.

One thing with known donors is the fear of donor fatigue - I've heard more people worry about it than seen it happen, but it is a concern. I know if things don't work out with my current KD, I don't think I have it in me to find another one.

I'm recently pregnant now, and hope to stay that way for the next nine months, but if I don't and he's not willing to go through another IVF cycle with me, I'll switch to anonymous sperm. I can't do this again, he's my second KD that I actually tried with, but I had three or so others who I had protracted conversations and negotiations with, and several that I had early conversations before one or both of us decided it wouldn't work.

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#19 of 21 Old 07-06-2010, 02:04 AM
 
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We chose Anonymous Donor because we just wanted to have a traditional two-parent family. My DP just wanted to be 100% in charge of our children's lives and having it be simple. I think it is the best choice. We have no reason to include anybody else. We don't want to confuse our child.

I think at one point, I was desperate enough to include a gay male couple as co-parents just so I could actually get pregnant, but when they ordered that they must have 50\50 parenting with the baby, and sleepovers, and all this other stuff we just were like........never mind. This won't work for us.

We want our kids to ourselves, we don't want to share.
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#20 of 21 Old 09-24-2010, 11:37 AM
 
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we decided on a known donor b/c my partner wanted to have some say in the life of our child. she is not able to carry children, so we discussed all of her close guy friends and decided on the best one. then he chose not to do it. so we picked our "second-best" which turns out to be the best after all.

when discussing using an anonymous donor and looking at the options, my partner felt more left out of the process. we even considered doing ivf and using her eggs in me. but we had our hearts set on an at-home insemination. the "down and dirty" way, as we like to call it. we want to be in our bedroom, sharing the moment, and get the closest we can to an "oops, i'm pregnant."

our donor has been known by my partner for about 20 years. he lives states away from us, but will take on a long-distance "uncle" role. of course, all the legal stuff will be taken care of.

anyway, that's my two cents.

~ alison
me and my girl looking for a little luck to conceive and homebirth our first.
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#21 of 21 Old 09-26-2010, 03:53 PM
 
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My partner and I discussed known and unknown for years. If we'd had a known donor that was the right fit we might have gone that route. We had a few people offer that were not the right fit either b/c of their medical histories or b/c we didn't feel comfortable with some aspect (ie fear that they wouldn't be on the same page as far as how much contact.) I think that a known donor situation when it is the right fit is possibly/probably the ideal in that there is no mystery whatsoever for the child. And right fit is different for different people, shared parenting might be the best for some, special friend/uncle status for others, holiday cards and once a year visit for others. As long as everyone is on the same page, it can work beautifully. However, if it is not the right fit, it can cause tension and pain and distract from what is already wonderful/difficult/consuming = parenting. My partner and I felt strongly that pushing for a known donor that wasn't a close friend or trusted person in our lives wouldn't work for us so we went the ID release route. We did not see this as the same as a known donor or close to it but we did see it as a much better option (for us) than an anonymous donor. We will not tell our child that he will get to meet his donor b/c that is not even close to guaranteed. We will tell him that the donor has agreed to one contact (if alive and located). By the time this happens the donor may be "fatigued" and have a set email that he forwards with updated health info and a pic, or less. We'll make sure our child's expectations are realistic about it. However, getting anything from the donor if the child is wanting it, will be better than the child not having any option at all. Also we have 5-6 pictures of the donor from toddlerhood through (early) adulthood. According to some of my adopted relations this, though far from "everything" that a child could want, is far less than "nothing" b/c some of the questions that a person who doesn't know his genetic origins might have can be somewhat addressed with pictures (ie who do I look like? Where does this nose come from?)
To anyone making this decision I would say that if you have a great known donor in your life and feel comfortable with him now and think you will in future, great go with that. But don't push through any kind of discomfort or negative instinct in order to hurry up and get pregnant already. And if it doesn't feel right, go the ID release donor route. All that being said, I would give that advice only if asked. I support anyone's right to make the choice that feels right for their family. LGBT families are judged enough so the least we can do is temper our judgment towards each other. Ultimately, each family ends up having the exact right child so it is then clear that whatever decision was made was obviously the right one!!!
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