Complicated known donor relationship, help? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 21 Old 04-09-2003, 10:00 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I hope you folks will forgive the intrusion of a het woman but I could really use some guidance from anyone willing to respond. My husband and I donored for close friends of ours. We did a home donation (ie he gave me a cup that I gave to our friends). We didn't do any legal work because they felt that a paper trail would be more of a risk for non-bioparent. We all agreed that protecting non-bios parental status was paramount. We loved being able to help our dear friends and planned to be known to the children. First donation went fine, second donation the non-bio parent called the next day (they live on opposite coasts from us) and said don't try again. Within a week they were in the middle of a very ugly divorce and bio mom was indeed pregnant. Non-bio mom claims no responsibility for second child, first child was legally adopted. Since the divorce bio-mom completely changed her position about donors. She wanted my husbands name on the birth certificate, she was going to put his name as father on welfare forms, she wanted us to send money, she wanted us to invite her to live with us, she threatened to sue us for child support. Needless to say these threats made it difficult for us to establish relationships with the kids. The kids are now 7 and 3. We have never seen the younger child. Bio mom calls us pretty regularly to let us know that the kids want contact with their "daddy".
Hind sights 20/20. I know we should have taken more legal precautions. We just trusted our friends. Our dilema is this. These kids probably have some abandonment issues already due to loss of other parent. My husband is not willing to be daddy, but we don't want to contribute to the kids feelings of rejection. We want any interaction we have with the kids to be healthy and loving. We are worried that biomom encouraging her kids to think of dh as daddy will only hurt the kids when they discover he can't be that for them. We have sent presents. We've also sent letters talking about what it meant for us to donor and how precious the kids are but bio mom won't give them to the kids. A visit requires cross country travel and contact with biomom is emotionally too loaded for us to consider it.
Sorry this story is so long. I would love to hear the perspective of anyone who used a donor. We think that it's important for the kids to know us. Did you find that knowing the donor was important for your kids? Do you have any ideas about how to keep the lines of communication open with the kids? Or how to minimize the emotional damage? Things to say to the kids? Things not to say? We want any interaction we have with the kids to be made with the same loving intentions we had when we donored. I've lost alot of sleep over this and would be grateful for any help.
Ruth
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#2 of 21 Old 04-09-2003, 10:34 AM
 
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Holy Cow. That sucks.

Theonly thinkg I can say is that for y our own sake perhaps a visit with the kids is in order. At the very least be sure someone is telling them the truth. Direct them to thier dad. Then as soon as you know they understand jump ship and sign away parental rights.

Do you have any witness to the arrangement. I suppose the father wouldn't be any help because if he stood up and said "Oh, they are realy mine" then it would be on him to provide support and it doesn't seem like he is really rushing to do that.

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#3 of 21 Old 04-09-2003, 11:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks lilyka for writing back so quickly. The nonbio parent is female. She has infrequent contact with 1st kid. She believes that biomom was manipulative and abusive to her. She said she would like to be involved with 2nd child but could not figure out how to do that without becoming further entrenched with her ex. We have a very large and tight circle of friends all of whom know the details of our donor arrangement. It would be relatively easy to get depositions attesting to our arrangement. If it ever went to court the legal folks we talked to said that biomom would not have a very strong case but you never know. I have basically cut ties with biomom. I'd rather deal with a lawsuit than her. My husband feels that if he is nice to her she will not sue us. It is his nature to avoid conflict at all costs and he is very (very) forgiving. I don't think signing away parental rights is an option if there is not another parent willing to step in.
Our primary concern is the kids. They don't need any more strife. Does anyone know if there is a childrens book that talks about donors? Suitable for a three year old? I have also thought that we could make a little book for the kids saying something like "a donor is not a daddy, a donor is a special friend who helped your mom bring you into the world" Would that be appropriate? What do you think?
Ruth
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#4 of 21 Old 04-09-2003, 11:59 AM
 
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This is a difficut situation. I doubt that anyone testifing to the nature of donation would make a difference, Your husband is the biological father of the child, and does have rights and responsibilites to that child.
You might get some more answers from these sources:
Human Rights Campain fund
Lesbain center for legal rights.
You could also try Rainbow health services. They are a sperm bank in California, that releases the name of the donor when the child is 3 months old. They might have some ideas obout emotional issues

Good Luck
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#5 of 21 Old 04-09-2003, 12:03 PM
 
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Wow, that complicates things even further. What a drag to have such a wonderful generous gift come back and cause so much trouble. It is so unfair that she is doing this to the children.

The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it.  We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.

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#6 of 21 Old 04-09-2003, 02:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the resources mplsmom. I was in touch with some of those folks a couple of years ago.
Any thoughts about communicating with the kids? Would it be damaging/hurtful if we stopped communication altogether? (I'm thinking yes). Would it be more hurtful if we continue to write but don't visit? (if bio mom let them have any letters) or continue to be in contact knowing that we could never live up to biomoms depiction of "daddy"? What about if we waited until the kids were old enough to contact us on their own? How important has the donor relationship been to other folks kids? How did you explain what a donor is to your kids?
Thanks so much to anyone who takes time to respond. This is a really emotional issue for me. I feel stuck and sad that the amazingness of helping to create these children has become so loaded.
Ruth
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#7 of 21 Old 04-09-2003, 05:58 PM
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No advice, just sympathy a loving generous act has turnt so negative.
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#8 of 21 Old 04-09-2003, 07:17 PM
 
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There is no contact necessary, unless your husband is trying to keep contact as their father. Leaving the option open for when they are older is normal. The problem with damage is more on the lines of the non-bio mother deserting her children. These women are a travesty. They are acting selfishly and without consideration to the children.

I agree with everyone...I am so sorry that a good deed didn't go unpunished. Good luck and I hope these women come to their senses!
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#9 of 21 Old 04-09-2003, 10:19 PM
 
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My partner and I used an unknown donor that already gave up any rights he had. We had no intention of having a "Daddy" as we believe we are the childs only parents. As far as an explanation to our child one can only be honest. At age 3 he already knows he has 2 moms and does not have a Daddy even though his older brothers do. Later we will explain that someone wanted to be a donor so that those who wanted could have children not so that he could be a father. I assume some of the issues were discussed with your friends before you just handed the cup over. If you were not to be involved that is how it should be. It sounds as though the women involved have issues between them and the one is trying to bring you into her life. Don't let her unless that is something you wanted. Can the ex provide any support for this child? Would she support you in court? Good Luck
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#10 of 21 Old 04-09-2003, 10:38 PM
 
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I wish I had more to offer in terms of resources. I'll do a little looking around. I think this is a completely appropriate forum to ask for help. I find myself agreeing with Amazlilith...Having no contact now with the option of more when they are older seems to have the least likelihood of further complicating the situation. It sounds like this bad divorce has been going on for some time. It really seems like it is between these childrens' mothers. That's painful... and it seems like you are really empathic to how much pain this is and will cause for the children.

I'm so sorry this happened to you and your partner.
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#11 of 21 Old 04-09-2003, 10:47 PM
 
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Wow, what a messy situation!

I also am very sorry that your well-intentioned gift totally backfired on you! Both the bio-mom and non-bio mom suck mud! That bio-mom especially makes me want to kick her butt~

Hmmm. Here's some of my thoughts, I hope something might help you.

Your situation sucks, basically. But you know that, lol! She's got you in a true legal bind, since the law does not help non-traditional families at all. Basically, in the eyes of the law, your DH is a legal father and has both responsibilities AND rights ~ should he choose to use them. Unfortunately, it is BOTH - you can't have one without the other. In other words, you can't expect to see the kids, but also have no obligation to help raise them.

A judge will view the situation from "the best interrests of the child" (and the court) that a child should have two legal parents, *regardless of their intentions at conception* unless they follow very strict rules (ala going thru a doctor/sperm bank and legally waiving his rights at that time). It also, BTW, covers the state's ass so they can always have more than one adult financially responsible for children so they don't end up on the dole... there is always someone to go after for child support. That's the courts' perspective. I would think unless you find a very, very progressive judge, that a courtcase would go against you and rule in bio-mom's favor. The court does not care what your intentions were particularly, they want the child taken care of to the best of SOMEONE'S ability. The non-bio mom is not a parent in the eyes of the court AT ALL *until and unless* there is a second-parent or step-parent adoption signed and given by the court. She is not an issue at all. She has zero legal rights. She is even worse off in legal terms, than your DH in her ability to maintain rights to see the kids (unless the first she adopted).

I'm sorry to give bad news, but that's been my experience (hearing from other parents in my area. I also facilitate a group for lgbt prospective parents in Los Angeles ~ a very liberal area ~ and hear ALOT of stories of donor situations gone bad, unfortunately).

What can you do?

Well, you could suck it up and pay up, basically AND see the kids legally and demand partial custody or visitation rights. But keep in mind that a judge may see that your DH has been a "deadbeat dad" for 7 years. Could be a difficult road ahead. She could take you for a bunch of money (back child support) AND you could still not get to see the kids, worst case scenario.

Better case scenario would be a judge ordering your DH to pay child support AND awarding visitation rights. Anyone with common sense can see that you got screwed. [UNLESS you get a conservative judge who figures you get what you deserve for helping to create freaky queer families, ugh.] But if you do get some visitation/custody, she then loses some control and it sounds like that is what she likes, playing power-tripping games. I'd insist on having visitation if I were made to pay good money!!!!

Or you could continue negotiating with her without going to court. Do you have ANY dirt on her at all? Would ex-non-bio mom help YOU? Would she go to court and to bat on your behalf (and helping her own cause by the way)? Has bio-mom said exactly WHAT she wants out of your DH? It couldn't hurt to know what she's thinking and get into her brain a bit. Even if she agrees to your offer (should you make one) keep in mind that she is not the least bit obligated to keep up her end of any deal because it isn't legally binding, not being court ordered. I'd hate to have her take your $ and STILL not let you see the kids and develope a relationship with them. That would be worse!

Either way, I'd consider having a consultation with a lawyer, just to confirm where you stand legally when all is said and done. Don't tell her you are seeing a lawyer, though, she sounds like she freaks out enough as it is. You need to cover your butts as much as you can, get as much information as you can and hope karma bites her in the ass bigtime.

I second contacting the organizations that someone else posted. I'm sure they deal with sticky donor arrangements and the court systems all the time.

As far as the kids go, bio-mom basically has all the control. Keep sending them letters. Could non-bio mom suck it her pride, and go see the kids on your behalf (and give them your letters/messages)? I can't remember if you said if you'd met the kids before. Who knows what these babies are thinking, it sounds like she's been talking crap about your DH for years. I'd still make an effort to communicate with the kids, regardless of her intentions. Worst case, when the 7yo turns 18 you have free reign to contact her!

Gee, I'm sorry I can't be more helpful I'm sorry you are getting screwed over! You sound like a nice mom, to be so concerned about these two kids (and your DH and own kids). I hope things work out for you all for the good!!!!

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#12 of 21 Old 04-10-2003, 09:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks everyone for responding. It really helps to get some perspective. Thanks especially Madison for such a long and thoughtful response. When they divorced bio-mom went to court to try and get non-biomom (nbm?) to pay child support for second child. First child was legally adopted by nbm. Anyways, do you think that those legal proceedings would strengthen our case? I am not sure that nbm would support us. When they divorced I felt that she should show up for her kids and told her so. I don't think I really understood her situation at the time. She basically has been incommunicado since.
At this point I am thinking that dh needs to contact biomom and ask her if she wants her kids to think of us as parents. We need to ask her directly what she says to 3yo when she calls dh "daddy". We are kinda scared of her and tend to not confront her directly (which is really out of character for me). Dh tends to avoid contact but is kind and loving if she gets him on the phone. The thing is that I know all of this is about biomoms abandonment issues, not the kids. I think that she just wants to be close to us and doesn't realize that her efforts to control us or force us to be close to her and the kids have only pushed us farther away. I also don't think she realizes how it affects the kids. She loves her kids more than anything. I think that she feels that everything she is doing is for her kids.
Sigh, this is constantly on my mind. I just want to do the right thing and can't seem to figure out what the right thing to do is.
Thanks again to everyone who has responded.
Ruth
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#13 of 21 Old 04-10-2003, 10:08 AM
 
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I think Madison is totally correct. First, get a lawyer NOW! Although prior court case may make your DH sympathetic in terms of not being at fault for any past failure to support these kids, it is very, very likely he is going to be stuck doing so now, if bio-mom wants it!

You should not be handling this on your own any more. Talk to an attorney now (try a gay legal agency at least to get you to someone who has experience with these types of situations.)
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#14 of 21 Old 04-10-2003, 12:38 PM
 
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Ai yi yi (is that how you spell that?? ). What a bind! I'm really frustrated for you - those moms really stink and give a bad name to known donor situations everywhere!!

We have a baby by a known donor. Our situation has been wonderful - he is a good, old friend and still we talked for years and did a bunch of legal stuff. Whenever anybody asks me about known donor situations, I always recommend legal contracts, even when it doesn't seem necessary. But, you know this now and I'm not helping you any by pointing it out...

Madison made all the right points about the legal stuff, I think. You also asked about talking to your kids. My goal when Jackson is old enough to understand is to share with him how babies are made (i.e. the sperm and egg) and how some families don't have sperm *and* eggs and need somebody else to help them. In our case, Uncle S. loved us and wanted to help us and wanted a neice or nephew to love and play with so he gave us the sperm we needed. I want to stress a lot that it's all about how much we wanted him, how much we wanted a little boy to love and hold and play with and share our lives with. I want to tell him that we dreamed of him for years before he came to us... So, you could share this information with your kids, about how you wanted to help another family have the children they dreamed of.

Bio-mom's children... That's a tough one. I think I would recommend continuing the letters in which your dh expresses his loving role in creating them but does not refer to himself as anything near a daddy. Maybe a visit at some time in the future when the situation is less volatile... He doesn't have to be a daddy to them, even if the law requires him to pay like one. Maybe the bio-mom would even agree to something akin to a 'distant uncle' relationship?? Would your dh agree to that?

Good luck to all of you in sorting this out... You were wonderful, giving people to help this couple have children. You have good karma. Trust your hearts to lead you.
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#15 of 21 Old 04-10-2003, 01:02 PM
 
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dupe!
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#16 of 21 Old 04-10-2003, 02:03 PM
 
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I know the conversation has probably moved past this point, but rootsaloo, I do know of a book for kids about donor insemination: It's called Let Me Explain: A Story About Donor Insemination, by Jane T. Schnitter. I remembered it from way back when we were struggling w'infertility. (I found it on Amazon).

Anyway, best thoughts on what is a heartbreaking situation for all involved. You've received lots of wise words from the women here...
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#17 of 21 Old 04-11-2003, 03:08 AM
 
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I just want to offer (((hugs))). This must be an extremely difficult, nasty position for you to be in. Reading your story makes me really, really angry at these moms. I agree with the folks who have posted above that these women are being selfish and immature. Not only that, but if the bio mom is coming crying to you about the kids wanting to see their "daddy," I'd hate to imagine what she must be telling those kids...how she must be building him up. How unfair for everyone, but most of all, how tragic for the children. As if divorce isn't hard enough on kids: . I am really, really hoping the best for you and your husband, who sound incredibly generous, level-headed, and caring.


I'm pro-adoption reform, but not anti-adoption.
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#18 of 21 Old 04-12-2003, 05:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you everyone for your thoughtful and compassionate responses. It has really helped. I think I am going to try and contact non-biomom again. She is the adoptive mom of one of the kids but not the other. I think it would lessen confusion if the three of us at least could be on the same page about how we deal with the kids. I am also going to try to get a clearer legal picture of our rights and responsibilities. At this point biomom has taken no legal action, just vague threats and inuendos. I looked at some of the books reccomended but they seemed more geared towards heterosexuals that used donors. So I wrote my own story and would welcome opinions. The names (except mine) have been changed.

Kate's Donor Story
This story is about Kate's donors. A donor is not a mommy. A donor is not a daddy. A donor is a special friend. Kate does not just have one donor. She has a donor family. They are Mark and Ruth. Kate's mom wanted children very much. Ruth knew how much Kate's mom wanted Kate. She asked Mark if they could help. He said "yes" and together they gave Kate's mom a special gift. Then an amazing thing happened. That was Kate! Kate is and has always been most wonderful. Ruth and Mark will always be glad that they could help Kate's mom bring her into the world.

Keep in mind that this was written for a three year old. I thought we could make it into a little book with pictures. What do you think. Appropriate? Anything I should change?
Thanks again for all the help.
Ruth
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#19 of 21 Old 04-12-2003, 09:04 PM
 
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You say that biomom loves the kids, right? And you want her to back off on the threats and innuendos? The bitch in me says to tell her you are going to seek full physical custody of both girls. The courts I would assume are pretty conservative, so they would be likely to side with the hetero married couple over the lesbian single mom. She might back off rather than risk losing her kids. Of course, she could call your bluff. Don't listen to me.
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#20 of 21 Old 04-15-2003, 10:08 AM
 
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Rootsaloo
Just wanted to send my support. I loved the story for Kate, I think it really speaks to what a 3 year old needs to know and is very respectful.
Best
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#21 of 21 Old 04-16-2003, 08:40 PM
 
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Irishmommy does have a good point. While I don't know if a judge would give custody to a father who has never paid a dime of child support or been involved in their lives, stranger things have been known to happen in gay & lesbian custody battles

The Kate story is really cute I like it!

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