Did you use a known or unknown donor? Share your experiences - Mothering Forums
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Queer Parenting > Did you use a known or unknown donor? Share your experiences
lunadoula's Avatar lunadoula 05:55 PM 06-20-2005
I love that people are posting more! I have lots of things I'd like to hear about from others. DW and I have talked a lot about known donor vs. unkown donor. If we use an unknown donor, I would definately want to have an "ID release" donor so the child could have the option of contacting him after they're 18. I have many close friends who are adopted, and though it's not the same this has made me feel strongly that I want my child to have a choice. Others I talk to don't feel this is an issue for them. Did this come up in your decision-making?

We are leaning towards a known donor who is a close friend of ours. I don't think there is anyone else we know who we would be willing to ask. I've had brief conversations with our friend about it and we're all going to sit down in December and chat more about it. can you tell I'm excited and ready to get this process going? :LOL

I'm interested in hearing other people's experiences, especially from those who used a known donor. Our friend is a gay man, and he "get's it" meaning he knows he will not be coparenting with us or be a "dad." He and I are very close but have good communication so I don't anticipate any major problems if we all decide to go forward with it. We would still do all the necessary legal paperwork, termination of rights, etc. which are not a big deal to do here in MN.

Things I think about are if you have a known donor - what do you call him to your child? what kind of conversations did you have before inseminating, what did you talk about? Did you ask for/have them fill out medical info? Did you have any testing done for sperm count, genetic diseases, etc? Our friend is also biracial, and I am white, and I wonder how we will address this with our families. I can imagine my mother saying something stupid

max_4477's Avatar max_4477 07:46 PM 06-20-2005
Satori's Avatar Satori 07:59 PM 06-20-2005
I ended up using a anon ID release donor but m/c. Planning on trying again in a few months with the same donor. I did try with a semi known donor for a few cycles but gave it up, the stress of future what ifs got to me and I think its why I wasn't getting prego. I got prego 1st try with frozen donor sperm.
quiltpucks's Avatar quiltpucks 11:52 AM 06-21-2005
We used an unknown frozen donor. The bank we went with didn't offer ID release and at the time we didn't think anything of it. But the moment dd was born, both of us wondered if that was the right decision (I wouldn't change a thing about what we did with her because if we did anything different, we wouldn't have HER). We have been talking about using ID release donors for future kids, but wonder how we would explain that to the kids (maybe I should start my own post about this :LOL ).

We decided to use an unknown donor because we had witnessed a legal mess with some friends of ours and didn't want to risk it. I realize that there are lots of known donor situations that work our GREAT, but our friends experience left a bad taste in our mouths.
megincl's Avatar megincl 12:52 PM 06-21-2005
We used a known donor. It was absolutely the right decision for us, but I think it is a particularly unique situation as well. Our donor LOVES being a donor (he wants to make t-shirts for other donors!). He feels he was put on earth to help us have kids. He is loving, a friend, a "family member," etc. He also lives across the country, which helps. We had hours of conversations to work out the emotional details before we started TTC. We also had legal docs (extremely extremely important). It was hard for him to sign away his rights, but it wasn't like he wasn't going to do it. Just that it was emotional. The older DS gets, the more we want our donor to be in his life. I know that we'll face some tricky moments explaining things, but I think even just the fact that we're very "out" with friends and family about who the donor is, how important he is to all of us, etc, will make that easier. Someday DS will know that his Xavy helped his moms to make him. And then at some later day he'll know more the technical side of all of that (still something we need to figure out, btw).

I love being able to see our donor's characteristics in DS, to complain to our donor when DS is a nightowl, because he, too, is one, to have someone in the world with such a special and unique relationship with DS that we get to nurture over the years.

It's been an amazing and emotional journey for us. One I'd definitely do again if we have more kids. We often talk about how we should write a book or article about how we did everything. Who knows?!?

Best of luck with your decisions,
jgreer's Avatar jgreer 01:12 PM 06-21-2005
We have not yet begun TTC, but after a lot of conversation, we've decided that we would at least like for our child to have the option of contacting his/her donor.

We will not go the route of a known donor (although we've had a few friends volunteer) because for us it would just be too strange (especially with that person in our lives on a regular basis). We were also concerned about the possibility of a known donor suddenly wanting to be more a part of our child's like than we want.

So, for us, the best option is anonymous donor with donow release/willing to be known.
jocmtl's Avatar jocmtl 03:20 PM 06-21-2005

Sperm bank, ID release donor was our choice. No regrets so far. We really did consider using a known donor, but that person just doesn't exist in our lives right now. I know lesbian families that have used both known and unknown donors, and really, each circumstance is thoroughly unique.

BTW, Greer, I just PM'd you that info; I'm sorry it took so long!
workindog's Avatar workindog 03:42 PM 06-21-2005
We really don't know that many men... Not that we don't love men, we just didn't have many in our lives right then, save for those we worked with. That didn't seem right... I supervised some of men, so as a supervisor, I couldn't really ask someone then. I ran into an old friend from school, and he said no. I asked my brother, in a circumspect way, but it was clear he was only interested in fathering his OWN children.

We contacted some "known donor" banks in California, one with gay and bi donors. We picked out and paid for about 12 histories of men we were interested in matching with. They asked VERY explicit histories about them men's sexual behavior, more than any other bank we contacted. Some of the men reported they were monogamous, but when asked about their partners, it turned out that their partners were NOT. We know they had quarantine procedures, but it seemed "Why should we pay more money for someone whose partner is at high risk... will that man BE THERE when our child is old enough to see him?

At the same time, we had to ask ourselves what part of that decision was medical concern, financial concern, or prejudice toward gay/bi men. It is true, I have found, that many lesbians can't really picture two MEN together, while two WOMEN together seems so natural!

We finally decided to go with a sperm bank that our OB/Gyn Fertility MD had a relationship with, which is Fairfax Cryobank. We were able to get the samples less expensively as shipping was less- they ship many times to the clinic we were using. Also, we received a 15-minute CD of the man being interviewed, so we can hear his voice telling us what he thinks is important to him... a very detailed family history... a question sheet that he answered about his family and his life and his values... and the thing we value most, a PHOTO of him, when he was about 3-4 years old. Our son looks so much like him! In addition, he had already created a pregnancy with his donation, so he was "proven."

You had, at that time, to pay more for men with lots of degrees there. And if you wanted economy, you can pay much less for "proven" donors, but you wouldn't get much info. Many people with multiple inseminations from infertility need the financial break. We didn't choose that option as we didn't want the answer to "why did you choose the donor you chose to give birth to me?" be: "Because his sperm was cheapest!"

We have thought about what to tell our son-- conceived on the first try-- about his donor. We have decided to talk in terms of tissue donation. "Some people donate parts of their body to help other people... you can give blood to someone who needs it and your body will make more blood for you. This man generously gave a part of himself, his sperm, so that he could help people who couldn't have a baby, but really wanted a baby, to have one!" And then talk about how lucky we are that our son came to us, how much we love him, and that even though he might never meet his "father," that the fact that his donor-father helped us have him was a very loving thing to do.

We highly recommend the book "Taking Charge of Your Fertility." I am in medicine, and thought I knew everything about procreation, but after reading that, I thought, "I have been cheated! I should have been taught this as a girl!" Probably chance, but everyone we have loaned the book to has conceived within 2 months of practicing what it teaches.
Kincaid's Avatar Kincaid 09:14 PM 06-21-2005
We used a known donor that we took to our Reproductive Endo's clinic and had him "processed" there so it was the same medically and legally as an ID release donor.
We chose the known (family member) approach so we would have the closest possible match to my partner. We chose the clinic procedure route so that we would have health safety and legal protection in the process. The testing he underwent cost $800, and we had to do it twice. Then the processing for IUI, etc of the sample. Then the clinic IUI costs. Plus the fertility meds I took, the monitoring by ultrasound, etc.
The legal protection this approach offers makes it a good way to go if you are thinking of a known donor. But it is a lot more expensive than TTC at home.

Our only problem with it now is..... I had some complications with my delivery, baby and I went into shock and almost didn't make it... and now I can't carry another pregnancy. And my partner can't carry with KD's sperm either! We have no idea what to do about a sibling..... unless she uses my egg! whoa complicated now....
thismama's Avatar thismama 11:46 PM 06-21-2005
Well I decided to co-parent with a fag friend. So obviously he is "known." And I gotta say it has been a disaster. We were long term, very close friends, and I felt he "got it" and we could work toward a radical, feminist family structure.

And what he has pulled is patriarch without doing any of the traditional patriarchal stuff. We are currently in court. The whole sordid story I have written a few times around here, so I won't bore you with the details. But it sucks, and I wish I had had my baby on my own.

Due to my own experience and many of the experiences of my friends who parent with men (most of whom are/were in romantic relationships with them), I will NEVER have another baby with a man again. I know it's a generalization, but women are still too disrespected in our culture, and men too damaged IMO.

If you do use a known donor, LEGAL CONTRACT all the way. One informed by women who already have used known donors... I would ask "what do you wish you had in your contract?" to women who are already mamas.

For my next baby, I will use a "willing to be known at 18" donor.
lunadoula's Avatar lunadoula 01:41 AM 06-22-2005
Originally Posted by megincl
And then at some later day he'll know more the technical side of all of that (still something we need to figure out, btw).
Thanks Megin! Btw, there is a great book called "It's So Amazing!" that includes a great chapter on ways some of us get pregnant (AI, In Vitro, etc) It's just for kids and a great book!

lunadoula's Avatar lunadoula 01:47 AM 06-22-2005
Originally Posted by Kincaid
We used a known donor that we took to our Reproductive Endo's clinic and had him "processed" there so it was the same medically and legally as an ID release donor.
Kincaid, will most clinics do it this way? Did they freeze the sperm then? One of my concerns is it taking too long to get pregnant with frozen sperm. But our donor also lives on the east coast, so it sure could be convenient to get a bunch of donations and have them frozen at the clinic and readily available instead of having to fly him over here all the time! :LOL

Also (I hope this is ok to ask, don't respond if you don't want to) but how does others feel, or how did you guys feel during the process of considering using your family member? To me, it seems like not a big deal, but others I know think it's weird to use a brother, uncle, etc. Just curious on how that has been for you guys.
lunadoula's Avatar lunadoula 01:50 AM 06-22-2005
Thismama, I have read your disaster story and it sounds horrible. I'm glad you have written about it on here. You're absolutely right that even those we think "get it" could really not. My best friend (not the one we're considering using a donor) is so wonderful, and I love him, but it is clear to me that he doesn't "get it." Plus, his parents are psycho conservative christians, so I could just see them trying to pull some crap.
tara's Avatar tara 09:21 PM 06-22-2005
Hey, all. It's been a long, long time since I've posted on MDC, but I had some time today to fart around online and... the rest is history.

My partner is a transgendered man and we have one gorgeous 3 year old boy who was conceived via donor insemination with a known donor. For us, it has been a fabulous situation, but it's obviously such a personal choice. I was against the idea at first, but in my case it was mostly about fear (the idea that someone else could have a claim on our baby). When I stepped back and set my fear aside and thought about what I really wanted, it was clear that my ideal situation was a having a child with a great man who was willing to be in our child's life on our terms. Someone who didn't want to be a parent, but maybe an uncle. Someone who got it. Luckily, we had such a great man in our lives!

Still, we did all the legal stuff for him to relinquish his parental rights and to reinforce my partner's. I would personally be very leery of a donor who wasn't willing to do that (really, it protects him, too). He is Uncle Stan to our boy, who knows that "Mama and Daddy needed help making you because Daddy doesn't have sperm. Uncle Stan gave us sperm because he wanted you in his life, too." So far, that's been good enough. He adores his Uncle Stan. Absolutely adores him, and they see each other regularly.

I would do it again in a heartbeat. Well, if I thought I could handle having two kids! :LOL
Kincaid's Avatar Kincaid 11:57 PM 06-22-2005
Warning.... a whole lot of info for Lunadoula:

It could go either way now in the U.S. - fresh or frozen. The FDA changed the regulation a year ago that previously called for quarantine of all sperm other than a husband's. What was happening is the regulation was not being followed by doctors when it came to surrogate mothers for married couples. Wasnt being followed when a married man with male factor infertility had a brother or first cousin as a donor. Unmarried male-female couples were not being asked to quarantine. Couples with different last names were not asked to prove they were married.... The quarantine was only coming up for lesbians and single women. It was a policy that was only being enforced to the queer patients. Go figure.
But the FDA admitted publicly this wasn't a consistent practice. So they issued a policy statement a year ago which stated the 6 month quarantine time on IUI (if you are not married) is now voluntary. You just sign a statement which releases the clinic of any liability of STD's.
Getting a clinic to allow a lesbian or single straight woman to enjoy this same policy as the straight patients can be a struggle, though. In fact, clinics can openly say they don't do accept lesbians or unmarried women as patients AT ALL. I wish the AMA would develop a policy stating that doctors had to treat unmarried and gay patients the same as married. I think they will someday. Overall, they are a pretty liberal group in my opinion. And there is the Gay and Lesbian American Medical Association (GLAMA) pushing for equality in patient care.

Whew.... anyway.... because you have a location issue, I would honestly suggest going the frozen route. It is VERY difficult to schedule somone else to be available even in the same town on a day's notice. When they do a freezing, it is very simple. He would go in to a clinic for just two deposits. They divide up each "deposit" into 4-6 vials. So two trips in and you'd have 8-12 vials. That's a LOT. He'd probably want to go in over the course of 3 days (skipping a day in between deposits in order to build up count). This could cost you as little as $300 for the processing and storage for all those vials there with your name on them (WAY less than bank sperm costs, at $200 per vial plus $200 shipping per month just to get the stuff). They call this a "directed donor". And they may or may not want to quarantine 6 months... depends on your clinic. The expensive part is the STD tests, which can run around $800 so be aware of that... that is what bank vials end up being so much each.

The other thing you could do is have your donor go to a bank where he lives and sign on for the process there. He would then have the vials shipped to you (either to your doctor, or to you at home for home IUI or ICI). With him going in as a client, he can have the sperm shipped to whomever the hell he wants to put on the form and they don't ask any questions (uh...... again, medical double standard). If you pay for him to freeze where he lives, and then have vials shipped to you at home, you can do IUI or ICI at home with the same set-up as if you were doing frozen bank donor at home. The storage place will even put some syringe/catheters in the shipment sometimes. So here the expense would be the shipping to you every month. It would still come out less than frozen bank sperm, though, because you cut out the donor bank profit margin. For more info on this kind of thing, google "sperm storage".

Okay, I have rambled on waaaay too long. This was just something I put a lot of research into. You can do a cost comparison between taking him to a clinic near you, using a clinic near him and shipping to you, or flying to meet him when you are ovulating.
jgreer's Avatar jgreer 11:53 AM 06-23-2005
It's funny you mention the inconsistency in the policy. It reminded me of something my primary doctor told me when I was in for my physical.

My DW had told him of our plans during her last visit and she asked him if he knew of any 'lesbian-friendly' OB/GYNs. He told her that he had never been asked that before, but would look into it and let her know what he found out (BTW, he's really great and very supportive).

When I saw him a couple weeks later he said he was amazed to find that when he asked his colleagues about whether they would treat 2 women trying to have a baby, he was shocked at how many said no (and we live in California!).

He said that it bothered him that doctors would refuse to care for someone based on the fact that they were in a same sex relationship (especially when the people are emotionally and financially ready for parenthood). Evidentally, he had always thought that doctor's in general were more enlightened than that.

So, YES there are many doctors who will be less than supportive of your situation. The key is to find one that is fine with your situation and that you're comfortable with, not a very easy task in some parts of the country.

Like I said, we're in California and are having difficulty getting that information. We are just about to the point where we'll have to call doctors up ad ask them if they are okay with our situation. Unfortunately, our primary never found a definitive answer to our question, but it's okay because I've switched to insurance will pay for more of the pregnancy when it happens.

venustx's Avatar venustx 12:48 PM 06-23-2005
Originally Posted by jgreer
We are just about to the point where we'll have to call doctors up ad ask them if they are okay with our situation.
That is what we ended up having to do. My lesbian-friendly OB/GYN suggested I call an RE who works from the same hospital. She knows my situation, said he is wonderful and actually was willing to refer me to the RE for other issues since my insurance covers nothing related to infertility or AI. I was a little shocked when I called the office for an appointment and was told that they have a policy not to treat same-sex couples. I've never been denied anything by a professional before because of being a lesbian, and it just made me feel like they were saying they don't care if I'm paying cash, I don't deserve to have a family. I don't want to be in the position of paying for an office visit to someone who denies treatment to me anyway, and I don't know anyone in the area who could recommend an RE, so I just called several on my own. If there was any hesitation when I asked, then they were crossed off of the list. We did end up finding an RE who is very well known and has great success rates, but is more expensive and in a pretty inconvenient location.

Good luck to you - I hope you find someone soon!
A&L+1's Avatar A&L+1 01:55 PM 06-23-2005
we're in California
Greer - where are you? I am in south SF bay and could send you a bunch of bay area options.
Satori's Avatar Satori 02:27 PM 06-23-2005
Originally Posted by A&L+1
Greer - where are you? I am in south SF bay and could send you a bunch of bay area options.
That's what I'm wondering, I found one in Kern county that was recommended but he didn't take my insurance and I really don't need one since I found a bank that releases swimmers without Dr's auth
jgreer's Avatar jgreer 04:17 PM 06-23-2005
I'm in Southern California (San Diego area).

It seems there are more doctor's in the bay area that accepting of same sex couples.
Satori's Avatar Satori 04:28 PM 06-23-2005
jgreer's Avatar jgreer 05:02 PM 06-23-2005
We aren't quite to that point yet (as we will TTC in May), but calling the banks is a good idea. Of course now, I'll have to call to see what they say. I'm with Kaiser, so I'm not sure what will be covered and what won't. I don't think any medical insurance deems AI 'medically necessary' for a woman in a same sex relationship.

I will call the banks and see if they can recommend anyone. Thanks

Sorry OP, I didn't mean to hijack your thread.
lunadoula's Avatar lunadoula 09:59 PM 06-24-2005
Kincaid! You just made my day! That info is so helpful. I had no idea the policy for directed donor sperm had changed. So glad to know. So tell me this- basically once the semen is stored at a clinic, it is legally the same as an ID release donor? Do you have to inseminate at the clinic for this to be true, or can you still inseminate at home?

Did this mean you didn't have to do the whole termination of parental rights thing? I don't know your family situation, but here 2nd parent adoption is very easy. But with a known (inseminating at home) donor you have to do the TPR for the donor. We would have legal documents between us and donor either way, but less court crap would be nice.

So many questions, sorry.

On a happy note, DW seems more on board with my baby-making agenda timeline lately!! : Thank GOD!
lunadoula's Avatar lunadoula 10:14 PM 06-24-2005
Kincaid and anyone else who might now -

One of my only concerns about going the "frozen" route is that I've heard men with even good sperm counts sometimes have sperm that doesn't freeze and thaw well. Have you heard this? We might just have to get a sampe frozen and thawed and have sperm count tested I guess, and then go from there.
Kincaid's Avatar Kincaid 12:34 AM 06-25-2005
My understanding was that if the sperm had been processed through medical personnel and you are able to document that fact, then there are no "parental rights" to terminate. This is certainly the case in my state. However, somone told me earlier today (elsewhere) that it was not the case in her state. I don't know what would be different but you never know... I would definately see if you can find the specifics in your state.
They will run the numbers on the samples for you when you do a clinic IUI, or when your donor makes the deposits (usually included in the fees). Unless your donor has male factor issues, the freezing won't decrease your odds too much to worry about.
lunadoula's Avatar lunadoula 03:23 AM 06-25-2005

According to HRC's website:

In California, Ohio and Wisconsin, a known donor releases himself from legal responsibility if the procedure is performed with a physician's involvement.

Perhaps you live in one of these states? I live in Minnesota, so it sounds like even with a clinic, if there is a known donor we would have to do a termination of parental rights - which I don't think is a huge deal, I think they just do it before the adoption.

Kincaid's Avatar Kincaid 10:27 AM 06-25-2005
No, I don't live in one of those states. I saw that a long time ago on HRC's site. They say that one one screen, then on another screen they say that a directed donor does not have any inherent legal relationship with the exception of a few states (states that say only married women can have donor insem - yes, there are states which have laws stating that only married women can have donor insem.... which are bogus laws, of course).
Anyway, HRC's info had a lot of errors/misunderstanding in it, in my experience so I would see if you can find any info coming from your state
lunadoula's Avatar lunadoula 11:01 AM 06-25-2005
Kincaid, (btw everyone, sorry this has turned into a conversation between me and kincaid--I was going to PM but I thought maybe others could benefit fromt the info too...feel free to jump in!)

I checked the Minnesota statute and it says:

Subd. 2. Donor not treated as biological father. The
donor of semen provided to a licensed physician for use in
artificial insemination of a married woman other than the
donor's wife is treated in law as if he were not the biological
father of a child thereby conceived.

Notice the word "married" in there. I think our best bet will be for us to call our attorney about all this. She pretty much works with lesbians and our families exclusively, so I'm sure she'll have the scoop.

ETA: From Family Pride Coalition:
Existing State Laws. Minnesota law explicitly allows unmarried women to undergo donor insemination. The law allows a woman to obtain semen from a licensed physician for artificial insemination and strips the donor of any legal relationship to a resulting child.
Kincaid's Avatar Kincaid 01:06 PM 06-25-2005
That is great news The more options you have the better.
lunadoula's Avatar lunadoula 11:44 AM 06-27-2005
Another cool thing I just found:


Basically, you can do IUI with using fresh sperm if you donor lives in another state - they overnight "male" it, hehe. But I would need to find a clinic here that can process it to take out the buffer for IUI *and* be willing to do it with fresh sperm. Pretty neato though.
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