Choosing what kind of donor to have is such an incredibly personal decision. Every couple that needs a donor will have a thousand completely different reasons for picking a known donor vs anonymous.
Let me start by making it clear, that any and all of these reasons are valid.
There are questions. My god are there questions. We have questions about what this journey is going to look like. What is going to happen in the future (spoiler alert: we don’t know)? How will we have these conversations with the people we need to have them with? How will we approach the Donor subject with the child?
I think what we have come to understand about ourselves is that the only way we can go in to this is by accepting that there is a certain level of unknown and we will have to just be okay with that. Only in the same way as no-one really knows how their kids will turn out. We just have to hope for the best. We certainly won’t be the only family in the world that has to have awkward conversations with family/friends/children. In fact we kind of have an advantage. We’ll be pretty well rehearsed.
Anyway, on to how we picked our donor.
Years ago, we abstractly talked about starting a family ‘in the future’. I really saw myself adopting. Wifey has always wanted to carry but was also into the idea of loving a child that already needed a home. We actually researched this. We contacted social services and found out the steps of applying to be adopters. We read up on the procedures and visits and logistics. We read that the longer you have been in a stable committed relationship the better. This was whilst we were engaged in 2012, and this became another reason to add onto the list of why we wanted to be married within the year. We did decide after all of our research that at this point we were too young and not financially stable enough to go through with it yet. But if we got married as planned, it could only benefit in the future when we decided to pursue this.
Life continued on for us and we planned a wedding and had a wedding. In amongst all this the abstract family starting conversations continued and Wifey became more and more certain that she wanted to carry a baby. I’m not going to deny that I have always wanted a baby too but the older I got the less I felt biology was a necessary factor for me in raising a family. In this way it was an easy decision for me to be able to say, okay you can carry our baby when it’s time.
The time line gets fuzzy here as it was years ago. But I think at this point we were thinking in the not so distant future we would begin trying to make a baby. So the conversation turned to sperm donors. We had a friend of a friend – we’ll call him Mr D (for obvious reasons) – that we had ended up lending our spare room to for a few months when he had nowhere to live following a stint travelling and working in Australia. We’d always got on well in a group setting with him, but whilst he stayed with us we got to know him much better and became good friends.
Mr D is a perpetual bachelor (he has had a few brushes with love, but he hasn’t found the one yet), a gamer, a photographer, an astronomer, he works hard, he’s incredibly intelligent and yes I will admit, a very handsome chap. He has always talked about the fact that he really has no desire for kids. He enjoys his lifestyle and having his freedom and disposable income for all of his very expensive hobbies. He used to joke that he would be our sperm donor when we decided to have kids.
A few months later, he moved away. About an hour away. We kept in touch of course, he came and photographed our wedding party that we had when we got back from Las Vegas, but we didn’t see each other often. He had his life and we had ours. But we knew that we had good friends in one another regardless.
When Wifey and I discussed what a donor was going to look like for us, one of us (I think it was me) said, “Why don’t we ask Mr D? Think about it, he’s perfect: he doesn’t live close by, he’s smart, good looking, doesn’t want kids of his own. He ticks all of the check boxes that we’d tick in a clinic.” Wifey agreed on principle, however we both agreed there was a lot to consider and discuss. The waters get very murky when thinking about a known donor. We had to decide if this was a path that would work for us. However, we figured we could only ask and answer the questions if we had the donor to ask and answer some too. So we decided to take the plunge and just run it past Mr. D as something that we just wanted to explore. Nothing set in stone.
And so, we sent a very awkward message to him basically outlining the gist of what we were wanting from him! It went something along the lines of: “So this is totally random and out of the blue, please don’t freak out! It’s just a hypothetical at this stage but you know how you always joked about being a sperm donor for us one day, well would you consider it for real? If the idea is completely a no go please don’t feel you can’t tell us. We understand it’s a big ask. But if you feel like it’s something you would consider we thought we could get together and talk it through.”
He replied that he was at work (awkward!) but that he would reply properly when he got home, but his immediate reaction without proper consideration of details etc would be that of course he would. When we heard back from him properly he agreed to meet up to outline the finer details. Even from the offset we were all on the same page about making sure we were all clear on boundaries, expectations, where everyone stood. It felt really natural even at this early stage.
We drove over to meet him one day and go for some drinks. We outlined how it would all work, that he would NOT be dad, we wouldn’t expect anything from him, Wifey and I would both be the parents. He agreed whole heartedly with this. We talked through the ‘what ifs’. “What if when the baby is born he would feel differently?” He said that obviously no one can predict the future, but that the way it sat in his mind is that IF and when he decided to start a family with someone it would be because they were in love, in a relationship and wanted a family together. This is not that. This is Wifey and I starting a family. And that’s how he had it straight in his head “excuse the pun”. I felt nothing but absolute confidence in his convictions. He’d already been and got tested and said everything ‘looked good’. We hadn’t asked him to yet as we were so far away from actually trying but yet another sign he was serious about doing this. He told us that he had been doing some research online about being a donor (in and of itself that was a really sweet gesture that showed his commitment to helping us) and it had suggested that the donor runs it past their closest family members to see if it is something that everyone could live with. So he had spoken to his mother and sister and they had both told him how honoured he should be that we trusted him enough to ask. Again, could you wish for anything more? We said if necessary we would get legal documents to put his mind at ease that we won’t ever go after him for money etc and he was happy with that. Although as a married couple we wouldn’t need to do anything as I would automatically be the 2nd parent on the birth certificate, we might still do this more for his peace of mind than ours. He was happy with simply being mummy’s friend Mr D.
This was years ago. Life got in the way and we never did decide we were fully ready to start trying. We have continued to have the conversations, we’ve questioned if known donor is the right thing. Are we risking too much by using someone we know? But for us it boils down to the fact that we trust him. We really trust him. We believe we know him well enough to understand his motivations. We trust that he is doing this for us, not for him. We are not naive to the fact that feelings change and you cannot predict it. Plan A has always been for Wifey and I to raise our baby/s in our loving marriage and to continue to be nothing more than good friends with Mr D who we might see once a year or every couple of years. Should there need to be a Plan B, we have talked for endless hours about if a third parent is a worse scenario to us than our child not knowing where it came from. No secrets. No exotic wonderings. We have concluded no. It isn’t how we want things to go. But it is important to us to have a history to give our child. We don’t want there to be any questions we cannot answer. Should Mr D change his mind about not being involved, then we will cross that bridge when we get to it. It may complicate things a little, but surely it would just mean more love for the little one. I will be the 2nd parent with the rights regardless.
We are now officially WTT (Waiting to try). I started my Master’s degree this year and the deal was we could start trying towards the end of that. We are both so ready, we just want to get the timing right. Mr D is still on board. We touch base every now and again and his feelings remain the same.
Gosh that was a long one, anyone who makes it through that is a trouper! The intent of this blog is that I scoured the internet looking for other people who have been through it. I cannot get enough of reading blogs and tips and advice. All you want when on a journey like this one, is to see others have gone before you and been through what you have been through. And so I want to offer the same resource to someone else that might need to see that there are others feeling these complicated feelings. As well as it being a sounding board for my own thoughts and feelings of course!
So any questions, please feel free to ask!