Sperm donation has, for many men, been a way to help someone conceive a child while earning a little extra money on the side. The sperm donation landscape is changing fast, and adult donor-conceived people are starting to speak up about their experiences and feelings on the internet, big time. Now more than ever, it is clear that being a sperm donor isn’t as selfless nor as easy as previously thought. These are some questions all men who may want to donate sperm should consider before becoming a sperm donor.
Are anonymous sperm donors truly anonymous?
It has been a few years now since a Canadian court overturned sperm donor anonymity, after an adult donor-conceived woman sought the right to learn the identity of her biological father (No more anonymous sperm donors in BC). The same issue is boiling in many other jurisdictions. Men who donate through a sperm bank anonymously will have to consider the possibility that their identity could be revealed at some point in the future, through court decisions. Potential sperm donors who are not willing to be contacted by biological offspring at any point should not consider donating, period.
Now, the general consensus in the donor community seems to be that it is in the interest of donor-conceived people to know the identity of the man who donated sperm — their biological father. Almost all donor-conceived people would like information about their donor, beyond medical records. They want to know what their biological father looks like, what his interests are, and what his background is. Increasingly, it is becoming obvious that they want to know their donor, and his family. Men who are willing to provide information, pictures, and perhaps even to have a relationship with their biological offspring appear to be the best candidates to become sperm donors.
Are known donors always seen as mere donors?
There are actually two separate questions here. “Known donors” are always known by the child’s social parents, and sometimes by the child. The social question of whether the child will see a known donor as a donor or as its dad arises, for sure. Known donors who are in close contact with the nuclear family of their donor kid(s) are in a special position here, and any man who is considering becoming a known donor should think about how donating will affect their future. Are they OK with having the fact that they are the donor disclosed to the child, or do they prefer not to have that information divulged? Do they want a relationship with such children, and would the social parents look favorably on that idea?
Then, there is the legal question about whether a known sperm donor is always seen as such, or whether he could simply be seen as the child’s biological father. In some jurisdictions, the mode of insemination is relevant. In January 2013, a Kansas court ruled that a man who donated sperm to a lesbian couple is the legal father of the child that was conceived with his sperm. He is probably going to have to pay child support, despite the fact that the child’s mothers never asked him to, and honor the agreement. Why? The child’s biological mother applied for government assistance. Kansas doesn’t recognize a second same-sex parent. The state prefers the donor to pay, rather than providing assistance — all because the insemination did not go through a doctor. Keep this in mind.
Will donating sperm affect you, your spouse, and your “own” kids?
How will a sperm don0r feel once he realizes he has (possibly many) biological children out there? How will a donor’s own (future) spouse, and his family, react to the fact that he donated? These are some of the toughest questions associated with sperm donation. Many sperm donors are young, and donate before they have kids of their own. It is very hard to tell how sperm donation will affect all the involved parties psychologically, over the coming decades.
These questions are very personal in nature, but they should certainly be considered. Seeing a counselor before donating is never a bad idea. Sperm donation isn’t the same as giving blood, or even a kidney. Sperm donation affects future generations, possibly a lot.
How do donor-conceived kids feel about their origins?
A study called “My daddy’s name is donor” revealed that a huge number of donor-conceived offspring feels that they can never know half of who they are. I’ve linked that study below. Read it. Explore some of the many blogs written by donor-conceived adults, who feel confused and often angry about their origins. Realize that donor-conceived children themselves may not see sperm donation as the selfless act it is often touted to be. Do you feel that every child is entitled to know his or her biological parents? Are donor-conceived kids somehow different? Don’t form your opinions by listening to people who would like to conceive with donor sperm; listen to the kids themselves.