Choosing a sperm donor can be a difficult and personal decision. With so much to think about, we have listed a few topics below to consider when you are meeting with and choosing a potential sperm donor. We also have referenced the things the individual donating sperm should consider as well. After all, everyone in these arrangements matters!
Reviewing a sperm donor’s medical history to ensure that he does not have any genetic or inherited disorders that could be passed on to your child is a useful thing to consider.
As Just a Baby provides the opportunity to meet with the individual who will be your sperm donor, it is up to those involved to gain the relevant medical history. Doing this face to face could seem a little daunting, and is definitely different to reading the medical information of a donor provided via medical records listed at a sperm bank, for example. This doesn’t necessarily mean it is a bad thing.
Gaining medical information about the individual donating sperm face to face, or via digital means if they aren’t local, provides extended opportunities for real honesty, and deeper understanding of the individual who will provide their sperm.
Doing all of this in an informal setting, created and agreed by all parties, also makes it less stressful and relaxed to learn more about the individual in question. From the donors perspective, meeting face to face with the people you will donate to also offers more room for full recognition of the impact you can make in others lives, and the ways in which you want to be involved moving forward.
Physical characteristics and personality traits
Meeting in person, or digitally, also holds benefits when it comes to finding out about the donor’s physical characteristics. It is much easier to see their hair and eye color, height, and build face to face, and can help provide a much clearer idea of what your child might look like.
Again, as you aren’t going through a sperm bank, you don’t need to worry about trying to decipher donor personality traits, interests, and education level off a piece of paper or digital form. You can see the real life version through meetups and get a sense of the characteristics of the man, and in turn see the kind of person your child might be, from what the biological father is like in person.
In times gone by, if you were going through a sperm bank, sperm donors could have an open identity or remain anonymous. If you chose an open-identity donor, you could have the opportunity to meet the donor or have contact with him in the future. Whereas for anonymous donors, as the name suggests, future interactions were off limits.
In the UK, due to legal changes established in 2005, all individuals giving sperm donations through sperm banks had to agree to their identifying information being available to the people born from their donations after the age of 18.
This is also the case in Australia, where children conceived through sperm donation will know the donors identifying information provided during the donation process, including medical and family history, profile, number of other families and children conceived through sperm donations.
As Just a Baby does not follow this process, it is down to the individuals involved to make the decisions about how involved the sperm donor, or biological father, will be in the life of the child moving forward. In relation to the individual giving sperm, it is important to weigh up and get a sense of whether the people you are donating to are individuals you could sustain a relationship with over a long time period. Often sperm donors are forgotten, and their wants and needs are also of value here.
It is interesting that, according to a UK based survey about identity release and sperm donation, most of the men who made sperm donations preferred for their identities to be known throughout the process. The individuals who had made sperm donations, were also open to being in contact with offspring created from their donation. Although the levels of openness varied depending on the donors, the study found that the majority of men were open to inclusion in the whole process and the resulting life of the child.
This study raises an interesting point about the types of things to consider when connecting and meeting with a sperm donor and the people you will be donating to. All of these topics can be discussed upon meeting and when there is a sense of agreement on the best way forward for all involved, steps forward in the conception process can begin. Remember – being on the same page is important.
Legal and ethical considerations
This leads nicely onto the importance of understanding the legal, and of course ethical, rights and responsibilities of both you and the sperm donor before making a selection.
When acting as a sperm donor you need to consider that you will not be the legal parent of any offspring, nor have any legal obligation to any child born of this. You do not have legal rights over how the child is raised and do not have to provide the child with any money, or be named on the birth certificate.
For parents giving birth to a child created through sperm donation, they are the legal parent and are accountable for that child. Whoever they are married to, or in a civil partnership with, also has the same parental rights.
However, if the child is conceived at home or through a non-licensed clinic, and the parents are not in a marriage or civil partnership, the sperm donor is given legal parenthood, unless other arrangements are in place.
Again, although these are the current legal ramifications, there is always room for decisions and agreements to be made outside of the legal realm. The biological father can of course contribute financially if everyone agrees, be involved in the child’s life, and be a part of the parenting process.
Here at Just a Baby, we suggest always seeking appropriate legal advice before entering into any arrangement to clarify all of these points.
Ultimately, the most important thing is to choose a sperm donor who feels right for you and your family. In the case of the individual donating sperm, this also relates to you too. Being comfortable with the individuals you are donating to, and ensuring you are on the same page before making any decisions is important. All parties can also consult with a fertility clinic or a therapist who specializes in family building to get guidance on making this important decision.