Advice For Women Using Known Donors

I had a meeting recently with a potential known donor (and good friend) and the director of the Assisted Insemination program at at the clinic that I used. The director led us through a discussion of our expectations and hopes.  We talked a lot about our feelings and what we each wanted.  And then, to my surprise, she told us to stop thinking about what we wanted right then.  She strongly urged us to decide on some policies and procedures that we would use to handle unexpected situations, and to come up with a process to follow if either of our feelings changed after the child was born, or as the years passed.  I think that she was really right.  I was so busy thinking about what I wanted NOW, and how I imagined my life and child(ren) would turn out, that I’d forgotten that things always change and life is unpredictable.

It’s as if I went into the process with a picture in my head and was looking for the perfect donor (known or unknown) that would help me paint that exact picture. The director’s point was that the picture doesn’t always turn out as we might expect, and that my feelings about that picture might change over the years.  My donor’s feelings might change, too. Did I trust him (and myself) enough to believe that we could weather the change with our friendship intact? She suggested that instead of planning for a static picture, maybe it would be better to plan for how to handle a moving one.  She didn’t have specific answers but she suggested that we at least get those processes down in writing so that later (particularly if emotions were running high), we could remember how we agreed to handle the unexpected.

Great advice.


4 thoughts on “Advice For Women Using Known Donors”

  1. How do I go about selling my eggs I am 27 and still a virgin…I realize I don’t have the urge for children my heart hurts and I have eggs God blessed me ….

  2. My donor and I spent a lot of time talking about what would happen if one of us wound up feeling differently than we did at the beginning. About small things, like what my son would call him, and about really big ones, like what if he decided I was an unfit mother. In our case it was particularly critical, because we could not use a sperm bank to handle our samples, because his sperm wasn’t viable post-freeze. That meant that his parental rights could not be legally severed in the way that other directed donors’ are when they’re covered by tissue donor law, under a sperm bank’s aegis. It was more than would the friendship survive; if he came after me for custody one day, or I came after him for support, we’d wind up in family court with nothing but our non-binding donor agreement.

    A silly and extreme but really helpful hypothetical that we tossed around was, What if one of us joined a cult? Either of us. There I am in my cult, fully indoctrinated, raising my child in a way he thinks is crazy, what can he do? The answer I was looking for was, Nothing. But it took a long time for him to get there. It was a really useful exercise, and helped him get hold of what I was really asking him to do: help me get pregnant and then leave me to it, all decisions mine, with total faith that I would be a good parent, and a commitment that no matter what, he wouldn’t try to interfere. I wouldn’t have wanted to go forward with the process if he hadn’t come around to agreeing that no matter what direction I take my family, he has no recourse, because he’s not a parent, he’s a donor.

    In the reverse example, he joins a cult and feels it’s imperative that my child be part of it. The idea of him going crazy and demanding access, for any reason ever, was really shaking for me, and made me have to think about how much I was also having to trust him. If we had to fight it out, because of not having tissue donor law behind me, there was the possibility that I could lose. Bad things have happened to donor-assisted families without adoption or sperm bank-severed rights, when they got the wrong judge.

    1. Thank you so much for these examples – really helpful for my thinking and discussion with known donor.

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