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When lesbians decide it is time to start http://www.trying-to-conceive.com a baby, one of the first questions is how to pick a donor. Whether you choose a known donor or use a sperm bank is a very personal choice, but not an easy one. What are the advantages of conceiving a baby with the help of a known donor? And what are the disadvantages?
Here’s some pros, and some cons.
1) Using a friend, or a friend of a friend, as your known donor, means you know what he looks like and get to observe him for a while before deciding he is suitable as a donor. Being able to see what the donor behaves like, rather than just seeing his picture (if you’re lucky!) gives you a definite edge!
2) If you are interested in having the donor involved in your future child’s life, a known donor is really the only way to go. This kind of relationship also gives your child the opportunity to have yet another set of grandparents and relatives, potentially. Some lesbian couples and their kids really value their “spuncle” and have a great relationship with him!
3) Whether you are planning on doing at-home inseminations or you are going through a fertility clinic, if your known donor is willing to provide semen on an as-needed basis, that will save an awful lot of money! Sperm from banks is expensive – around $400 per vial. Of course, not all known donors are the same, but good ones can be really helpful in this area. If you are using an ovulation predictor (http://www.trying-to-conceive.com/ovulation-calendar/) your donor can pencil in your ovulation date so he can do his bit.
4) Being able to look into the genetics of your donor if your child happens to need it for medical reasons, and having a potential candidate to donate a kidney nearby. I realize this sounds terribly opportunistic, but I know I’d be really grateful to have someone like that nearby in times of need.
5) Using a sperm bank can be more difficult than trying to conceive with the help of a known donor. Most sperm banks require counseling sessions before you get approved, and need a doctor or midwife to sign for each vial you order. And while some banks have no problem with shipping vials directly to your house, others will only ship to fertility clinics. And not every sperm bank is queer friendly, though there are some great ones too.
Now, let’s tale a look at the possible cons of using a known donor.
1) Relationships with known donors can get awfully messy. If you have no desire to co-parent, and don’t want custody battles, a known donor might not be the right choice. Sperm banks need their donors to wave any future rights to children they help produce, so you know you are safe with a bank. Some states also have grandparent rights, so that is something you may want to take into account too.
2) Asking someone to be your known donor might be awkward and scary. For some people, it is just so much easier to pick a sperm donor out the a catalog of a sperm bank. Knowing whom to ask is also very difficult. If you don’t have someone you know you would be Mr Right Donor, perhaps a bank is a better option for you.
3) Sperm banks vet their donors for sexually transmitted diseases. Even if your donor goes through STD testing, you never have the same level of security that a sperm bank would provide.
4) If your circle of friends, and your families, know who your known donor is, you run the risk that they will persistently refer to him as the “father” of your child. I have seen many a comment on queer forums about the hurt feelings this can lead to, both for the parents of a child and the people who like calling the donor “dad”.
What do you think? Did you choose a known donor to conceive your child or children? How did you make that decision? Or would you steer clear of using a known donor, and why? I’d love to hear from you!