Has Anyone Ever Used a Donor of a Different Race? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 16 Old 01-18-2009, 07:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm relatively new to these boards but I have been considering sperm donation for a couple of months.

I'm a lesbian SMC (SMC = Single Mother by Choice) so I know quite a few people who have used donor sperm before to concieve. However, none of the families I know have used a donor of another race. I'm African-American and I found out that there are very few African-American sperm donors to choose from. A couple of months ago, I casually looked through many sperm donor catalogs most had less than ten Black donors to choose from (one cryobank had none!). Also, because I'm somewhat picky about the characteristics I would like in my donor (he HAS to be 5'10 and above, CMV negative, and have an "open identity") I'm only left with one or maybe two donors left to choose from.

I'm considering using Caucasian and/or Asian donors simply because there are FAR more to choose from. I'm interested in knowing your experience in choosing a donor of a different race and/or ethinicity than your own. Was your family very accepting of your decision and how do you respond to other's remarks (both good or bad) about having a biracial child?
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#2 of 16 Old 01-18-2009, 09:23 PM
 
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I'm not going the Donor Bank route... But I have used AA donors, I'm white.

My criteria is average or better - looks, height, weight, intelligence & health. Also, 18-25 years old. I choose my donors on an individual basis, their race is more of a side-note for me, as I don't care what race he is, as long he fits the rest of my needs. I'm not looking for future involvement or 'known' donors, either.

I am basically estranged from my family, so, while I know it may bother them, I don't care what they think. But, my child(ren) will have no relationship with my family, so I'm not worried about the effects their feelings will have on the child(ren) either.

When telling friends or people right here in these forums, I've had nothing but positive feedback. In fact, for my previous pregnancy, I had 3 different donors (long story), 2 white, 1 AA. I posted about how excited I was, to be able to be surprised at the baby's birth as to what the baby would look like. Many here posted full support.

Oh... Wait, I did have one bad reaction... It was soon after the miscarriage. I was beginning to build a new friendship and mentioned my odd donor situation for my last pregnancy and she said "I'm not a bigot, but I could never have sex with a black man". I changed the subject and stopped moving forward with that friendship.

People never cease to amaze me.

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#3 of 16 Old 01-18-2009, 09:38 PM
 
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I am caucasian, and used an African-American donor.

My partner is African-American, so it seemed logical to us to use an AA donor.

Our donor is no longer available, and we aren't sure what we will do when it is time for me to get pregnant again. We really lucked into the donor we used, because, as you have noticed there are very few AA donors available in banks in the US.
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#4 of 16 Old 01-19-2009, 06:26 AM
 
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I know this isn't really the same thing, but there was an article in the NYT a few months ago about women using egg donors of different races. Maybe something useful would come up there?

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#5 of 16 Old 01-20-2009, 10:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by CrunchyMamaToBe View Post
I know this isn't really the same thing, but there was an article in the NYT a few months ago about women using egg donors of different races. Maybe something useful would come up there?
Do you remember the name of the article? I read a story in a British magazine about East Indian couples using Cauasian egg donors in the UK but not the New York Times.
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#6 of 16 Old 01-21-2009, 10:24 PM
 
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In several African American families that I became closely acquainted with in Chicago, there were such varying skin tones, that I am finding it hard to imagine that it would be any big deal to use a Caucasian donor.

I suppose if you were black as a berry, then that some caucasian blood in your child might be more visible. But depending on your own shade of skin, it might not even be a visual issue. And wouldn't that be the only kind of issue available? Barack and Michelle Obama are both biracial. On a side note, have you seen the twins born in the UK? Two curly haired girls, as CUTE as children can be made. One black, one white, nearly identical to each other but for their skin shade. Very different tones, and very cute children. Mom and Dad are both biracial, and happened to make fraternal twins, one very fair white, one certainly darker skinned biracial. Really cute girls.

http://www.oddee.com/item_95061.aspx

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#7 of 16 Old 01-23-2009, 11:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by kel32brown View Post
On a side note, have you seen the twins born in the UK? Two curly haired girls, as CUTE as children can be made. One black, one white, nearly identical to each other but for their skin shade. Very different tones, and very cute children. Mom and Dad are both biracial, and happened to make fraternal twins, one very fair white, one certainly darker skinned biracial. Really cute girls.

http://www.oddee.com/item_95061.aspx
Yes I have and this is what I'm concerned (but not worried) about. I'm the same skin tone as both of the biological parents in the family (although I have two Black parents). I often think about how will I "cope" with having a child who will probably look full Caucasian and probably have none of my African-American facial features.

I don't believe in that racist "one drop rule" (not that you were implying that). A lot of African-Americans have told me "you children will 'look' Black" and "You shouldn't worry about how they will look like, anything mixed with Black is Black". I have seen many examples (Mariah Carey and Derek Jeter are some great ones) of how this is not the case and the Black parents are so surprised that their biracial children don't "look African-American".
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#8 of 16 Old 01-23-2009, 08:35 PM
 
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Okay--my sperm donor is my husband so this is really a different situation than yours. However, since part of what you're asking is about having a biracial child, I can give you my perspective as a parent of one (and the aunt of two others.) I am Caucasian and my husband is from India. My sister's DH is half African American/half Korean. So I think I can draw upon her experience as well as my own and that of other friends of mine when I say that people (strangers) DO and WILL question or comment on children with mixed racial features in public. And not always politely. And it's very unpredictable, so it can kind of catch you off guard. ESPECIALLY if it doesn't just happen all the time, it's more suprising when it does! So that's something to think about.

Overall in terms of looks, I'd say DD is about 60% me, 40% him. She has my hair (med brown) and she's about halfway between us in skin tone--so darker than me, lighter than him. If the three of us are all together, I think it's pretty obvious to most observers that she's our biological child together and that's where she gets her looks from. And even alone with one of us, she looks enough like each of us that we don't get too many comments or questions on her racial background at the grocery store or the hardware place. But even so, I sometimes do get questions or comments. One fast food clerk asked me outright what race her dad was, and I told her that my DH is from India, and she replied, "Oh, I thought maybe her dad might be black, she looks like a half-breed." Once I had a lengthy interaction in public with an older woman, who was very sweet and nice and was thoroughly charmed by my daughter, and we (me and DD) were chatting and DD was playing with her, and toward the end of the conversation the lady asked me, "How long have you had her?" or "How long has she been with you?" and I didn't quite get what she was asking, and said, "Um, since she was born" and then in a few minutes it sort of hit me that she was assuming that DD was adopted and was asking what age she was when I adopted her!!

My sister is very much more light-skinned than I am and has blue eyes and there is a bit greater difference in skin color/hair type/eye color between her and her DH, than between me and my DH--I'm sort of a bit darker/more olive skin tone and have brown eyes). Both her kids turned out to look significantly more like their dad than like her in terms of skin/eyes/hair/facial features. Since the racial contrast is greater between her and her kids, she's gotten a lot more questions/comments--especially since my niece looked more Asian than anything else when she was born, my sister was CONSTANTLY being asked by strangers when she adopted her little girl from China . . . . Also, in addition to well-meaning comments or questions or staring, they've had to deal with some overt racism and hostility, especially the whole white woman/black man thing that still really gets some people riled up.

Other friends of mine with mixed race kids have also experienced being asked if their kids were adopted, or if they are the nanny, or told their kids look nothing like them. This can be suprisingly hurtful, especially since it can sort of catch you off guard. For us, one of the biggest issues we have with strangers is religious--we aren't Christian and when well-meaning strangers ask DD stuff like if she's excited about Christmas or being good for Santa, it's hard to decide in the moment whether it's best to explain our family religious situation or not.

Family members are not that big of an issue in our case, both my parents and our kids' other grandparents are very loving and supportive and pretty open minded.

As to how any of this applies to you and your situation--the fact that you are a lesbian smc and conceiving with donor sperm adds another twist in there, because if your child looks different racially than you, and you/your child get questions about your child's looks/racial identity (which you WILL) will sort of lead back to the issue of the father's race/looks--which sort of loops into the issue of the fact that there isn't really a "dad" but a "donor." So you will have to decide how open and "out" you want to be about that, in what circumstances, especially because strangers are likely to ask about your child's background more often than if you have a "same-race" child. Do you want to say, "his Dad is white" and leave it at that, or "the biological father is Asian" or "I used an Irish/Italian sperm donor" . . . you know, how you choose to present this info when people are just commenting on your child's looks or asking about them. Are you going to just try to be pleasant and keep the friction low, or take it as a political moment to inform and educate and potentially have an awkward moment there, or what . . . you'll have to consider your feelings about how you want to express your identity as a lesbian single mom to others--And then later on when your child is old enough to be aware of these issues, you will have the feelings/wishes of your child to consider too. Children of mixed races/religions/ethnicities/nationalities/cultures go through some process of having to learn about and integrate the different aspects of their identity and decide how they want to see themselves *and* how they want to present themselves to the world at large. Children who don't know one of more biological parent for one reason or another (like children of closed adoption) sometimes have a lot of questions about their biological parents/origins. And obviously, there are varying degrees of acceptance of gays/lesbians and gay/lesbian parents. So, there are a lot of social/identity issues to potentially contend with there for yourself and your child.

In terms of dealing with comments from family and how they feel about any of these issues (being a lesbian, becoming a lesbian mother, becoming a single mother by choice, using donor sperm, having a biracial child, or D, all of the above) only you can say how they're going to feel about that, and how supportive or unsupportive they will be and how that might affect you/your future child. However, family can be a little easier in some respects, in that once they know, they know, and that might be the end of it. And if you know they are going to have a problem with it you can just choose to avoid them! Whereas with strangers it's an issue that is going to be unpredictable and ongoing. So that's something that you need to be prepared to potentially deal with if you are going to become a mother of a biracial child unless they just come out looking like you anyway!

Now, obviously like I said my situation differs in that I am married to a man who is the father of my kid. I picked him to marry and have kids with because I love him and thought he'd be a good husband/dad, and he's around in the picture as the father. I like his looks, I like his culture, I love my husband and our family, enjoy our differences as well as our similarities, I think my daughter is beautiful inside and out and wouldn't have her any other way, and we both are trying hard to give her a positive sense of her identity as a person of mixed-racial/religious/ethnic/cultural/national identity. I have no problem inherently with the idea of mixed racial origins. Thus said, there are some extra challenges to being multicultural and being "different", both for children and their parents. I will put on my flame-retardant suit here and say that if I were single and considering becoming a mother through donor insemination from a sperm bank (which I did plan to do myself at one point in my life, even had all the tests done and paperwork filled out) I would probably try to look for a donor of the same racial background and somewhat similar looks as myself, just to maximize the chance that my kid will look a bit more like me, and also to keep life a little bit simpler for myself and my child and reduce the variables. : I mean, in this process, you are already cherry-picking a donor of a catalog on the basis of a brief description and some genetic information and some vague descriptions of their looks and history and personality--you're not selecting them as a person, but choosing them for the effect their genetic material will/might have on your potential future child's health, physical appearance, and other characteristics which may or may not even translate very directly to the offspring (sense of humor, speaking a foreign language, having graduated college, musical ability, etc.) If you were committed to intentionally conceived a biracial child, I wouldn't try to dissuade you--but hey, you are aware that it's a less common circumstance in your circle of friends etc., and you have some questions about how you might feel about these issues while raising the child, and you asked for input, so I'm giving you my honest opinion even though our life situations are not exactly the same. Would you consider being less particular about some of the other desired qualities of the donor in order to give you a bigger pool of potential donors? Like, f you lowered your height requirement somewhat, might that give you a slightly larger pool of African American donors?

ETA: not sure where you have cross posted, but you might check out the multicultural families forum, either post there or just lurk and check out other mom's experiences with raising biracial children.
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#9 of 16 Old 01-25-2009, 08:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I will put on my flame-retardant suit here...
Haha! Trust me, you won't get any flames from me. I want to hear EVERYONE'S advice and suggestions or otherwise, this thread would be useless.

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ETA: not sure where you have cross posted, but you might check out the multicultural families forum, either post there or just lurk and check out other mom's experiences with raising biracial children.
Thanks for the suggestion. I'll do that today.
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#10 of 16 Old 01-26-2009, 02:08 AM
 
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Hi there,
I haven't used a donor but I am biracial myself and my baby will also be biracial.
I think what it comes down to (beyond the point of whether you will love your baby no matter what race it is- which I'm sure you will) is if you really care what other people, including family are going to think and say about you, your baby and your choices. As a black woman and lesbian, you probably already face an amount of ignorance and intolerance when stepping outside of your friends and community, I would assume. Having a biracial kid isn't going to add much to that mix, IMO. I would also go so far as to guess that you've had at least minimal experience and practice dealing with ignorant people and their ignorant reactions and remarks. If you can do that, this'll be no big thing either.

Now that I'm older and going to have my own family, I've talk to my mom a lot about her experience as my mom. People in my family can see the resemblance that my sister and I have to my mom- but others can't. It might be because she has red hair and freckles But her biggest complaint was not nasty remarks but that people often thought she was the baby-sitter or nanny- some of which had to do with that she looked really young when she had us. I think a lot of multi-cultural mamas have faced this problem- there's a whole thread about on here and lots of suggestions for how to deal with that.

As for my experience being biracial (French Canadian-Zimbabwean) - I have pretty light skin but definitely look black or at least half-black. When I was living in NYC lots of folks thought I was Puerto Rican. I've traveled a lot and often find that in different countries people assume I'm local- in Spain, Morocco, Egypt, SE Asia I really blended in A lot of the time, my "race" is whatever people assume it to be, unless they ask me, and that's fine by me.

When I look back over my life at the comments I've gotten about being biracial they've mostly been compliments or curiosity-based. I think it will be fun, interesting and exciting to see what my baby is going to look like and I'm sure if my husband and I raise it with lots of love, instilling self-confidence, it will be able to field any and all remarks and questions about its race just as I was.

Edited to add: Good luck!

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#11 of 16 Old 01-26-2009, 03:45 AM
 
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Well, both my mom and I did, but we knew the donors, in the biblical way. Seriously, I wish you the best of luck. My daughter is more similar in color to me than I am to my mom, but we both went with men who were of a different "race" than us. So did my sister.

Yes, there are comments, and you are more than welcome to read this whole board, but ultimately, you need to do what is right for you. If anyone tells you that a white or asian baby needs one or two parents of the same "race" as them, they can go jump in a lake.

My mom was white- I'm not. I know a lot of white women who raised darker kids alone, and other black women (I know fewer black women, period, live in Oregon, sorry!) who have lighter kids. That is life after 1968. All I can say is, more power to you and other people can just get used to it. You choose the donor you like the best and if your kid ends up to be some gorgeous Blamalayseltic child-of-intederminate-race, bonus!

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#12 of 16 Old 01-26-2009, 03:46 PM
 
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I have an adopted son, who happens to not be the same race as my husband and I. For our second child (as we can not afford another private adoption) we are planning on trying AI with donor sperm. I really want to use either a asian or hispanic donor. I think your decision has to come from within yourself. People are always going to see what they want to see and people can be downright nosey and rude! You wouldn't believe the questions people have asked me concerning my son! Ultimately, I think of how I imagine our family picture to look like. I am not concerned with how others will view our family. Besides multicultrual babies are beautiful! So I say go for it!

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#13 of 16 Old 01-30-2009, 02:23 PM
 
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I am African-American and my husband is Russian. Our kids are multi-racial. I say go for it! I picked my partner because of his characteristics, intelligence and compassion. I literally told my friends that I can see myself having children with him - the ultimate compliment. And that is ultimately what is most important about picking the "father" of your children.

My kids do not necessarily look like me but they sure act like me!! And I did go through a few "Are these your kids?" comments and I answered "yes!" proudly.

Best of luck with a complicated decision
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#14 of 16 Old 02-01-2009, 08:56 PM
 
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Well I'm white and looking for AA donor and search for the right one has been long for now. 1st daughter is mixed so I'm wanting #2 to be similar.
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#15 of 16 Old 02-01-2009, 10:01 PM
 
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Interesting thread. Never thought of this before, but I really don't see using donor sperm of a different racial background than yourself any different than interracial marriage.

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#16 of 16 Old 02-03-2009, 01:37 PM
 
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This may have already been addressed, but, you just never know how "biracial" your offspring is going to look. There are no guarantees. I'm AA and dh is PR. We have some good friends where the dh is AA and the mama is PR. We both have 3 year old girls who look like their fathers. I always suspected that when we're out, people think my daughter is hers and hers is mine. Well, one day it finally happened. She'd been waiting for me at a movie theater. When I walked up (now mind you, she'd been waiting there with her child for a few minutes), she said she was ready to go in, but wanted to get some popcorn for her daughter. The person working there handed the popcorn to MY daughter.

All that to say that I wouldn't focus on that too much. It will be what it will be (either a noticable difference between the two of you or not) and you'll handle it and love your baby and raising him or her! Kinda like wanting a boy or a girl - you have a 50/50 chance of getting one or the other. Guess I have a 50/50 chance of having a baby that looks more like me or looks more like dh.

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