Known Donor, to be or not to be.
“We have a question to ask you. We just want you to know you can feel free to say no, and we will not be hurt and it will not change our relationship or our love for you. “
“Well as you know, we have been thinking about having children. We have thought about this a lot.”
“We were wondering if you would be interested in being our donor. Not a parent, but a known donor?”
“WHAT DID HE JUST SAY?”
This conversation was the beginning of what turned our best friend into our family.
When embarking on our own biological child creation we read many warnings about not using known donor sperm because of the legal concerns. Yet, we struggled what our future child would think of not knowing their biological father. Legally a known donor could always try to get custody or visitation of the child. Likewise, a biological mother could try to get a biological father to pay child support.
We fearfully read all the legal warnings. What if our donor tried to take our child away from us? That wasn’t the arrangement we wanted to create. Instead we hoped to have our child know who their biological father was, without ever losing any parental rights to raise the child as we desired. Likewise a child can only have two legal parents. So if your biological donor has rights then the child, then the partner, or non-biological parent cannot obtain any guardianship rights.
We weighed the pros and cons and decided there was one person in our life that we could consider as our child’s biological father. We figured he would say no, and then we would buy sperm. We rehearsed how to ask him over and over. We were not asking him to be a father or a parent, but to be a known donor. We never expected him to say yes. He did. In fact, he said yes so quickly that we had to slow him down and tell him to think it over for a few weeks. We went on to describe the process he would have to follow:
Steps to Becoming a Known Donor:
1.Decide if the parents are on the same page. (For purposes of this article parents will mean the people raising the child. We do not consider our donor a parent. We consider him to be a biological father.)
2.Do you agree about what the child will know about the biological non-parent?
3.Do you agree on visitation if any? (If the child isn’t going to visit the biological parent, why use known donors?)
4.How they will be addressed (by name or other reference like mom, dad etc.)?
5.Donors, are you ready to relinquish control to these parents and let them raise your biological child as they choose – unless you arrange for something different?
6.Do you agree on how the birth certificate will read? (Ours only has the birth mother’s name because in Wisconsin same-sex couples cannot be named as joint parents. Our donor is never named in print.)
7. Get tested – everyone who is biologically involved should be free of every sort of sexually transmitted disease. Talk this over with your health care professional. Our donor also refrained from sex with partners during the whole testing process and the entire insemination process. He shared copies of his test results with us.
Next, we urge you to get the semen tested for morphology and motility. This test helps you determine whether or not your sperm concentration is above the minimum standard of 20 million/ml established by the World Health Organization (WHO). Most men with fertility problems have a sperm concentration below 20 million/mL. We have known of folks who inseminated for a year without success who did not do this test. How sad to invest a year of your life counting days, tracking ovulation only to have sperm that wasn’t able to impregnate. Our doctor wrote our donor a prescription for this test.
8. Draw up legal paperwork. Talk to a lawyer who specializes in family law for the LGBT community. Our lawyer had us pay the donor for his sperm through her office. Then she had him sign an agreement that he was John Doe. John Doe then signed another agreement saying he would not sue for any visitation or parental rights. We signed saying we would never demand any financial payment or support. These documents are kept private--never seen by anyone. I urge you to do them because the documents invoke important conversations. They let us all get on the same page. Your child is worth that effort.
Today our donor sees our son once a week. They have a great relationship and we all have richer lives because of the great science experiment.