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Help Me Feed the Need to Spread My Seed
December 12, 2012 9:02 PM   Subscribe

After reading a number of articles such as this on Metafilter, I realized that I might want to have kids soon, before it's too late. I have a biological clock and that instinct is telling me I ought to propagate before my sperm becomes useless. However, I have no immediate desire to parent anyone. My instincts are only concerned with reproduction, not any of the details. My thought is that I could become a sperm donor. I have no emotional need to ever meet my kids (though I have nothing against it either) - it would be enough to know that they're out there somewhere. However, I am confused by some of the potential ramifications. (Snowflake details inside.)

1) First of all, what would happen if the parents of my child died or were unfit? Would legal guardianship default to me, in the absence of any immediate family? In the short term, I don't see how that would be acceptable. My parents are tough-love Darwinian types, and I will get zero support from them if I do something stupid or weak, which is absolutely what this would be perceived as. To give you an idea of how tough they are, when I was unemployed a long time ago and worried about becoming homeless, I asked if I could crash in the guest house for a while. They told me to join the military instead. So yeah, in the short term, I absolutely can't risk any parental liability falling on me. I've put a lot of effort to live up to my parent's image of a great son and I don't want to throw it all away due to something like this.

2) At the same time, I must face reality and acknowledge that eventually my parents will pass away. When this happens, I will probably come into an inheritance. I am an only child and assuming that I don't have a family of my own at the time, I would like to have the opportunity to leave something to my offspring in my will. Is this something that would be possible, or are sperm donors prohibited from learning any information about their potential children?

3) Another point to consider is that the inheritance may be fairly large - certainly enough to attract con-artist types. Assume that I do this, and someday some person of the appropriate age knocks on my door and says "Hey, you're my dad." Would there be any way to verify with the clinic's records that this person is indeed my son without asking for a blood-test (and thus immediately alienating him)?

I recognize that you are not my lawyer, but even a lawyer's advice would become outdated since laws change over time. I'm looking more for big picture recommendations on whether this idea might or might not be feasible, as well as potential complications that I have not considered.
posted by wolfdreams01 to Law & Government (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
3) Another point to consider is that the inheritance may be fairly large - certainly enough to attract con-artist types. Assume that I do this, and someday some person of the appropriate age knocks on my door and says "Hey, you're my dad." Would there be any way to verify with the clinic's records that this person is indeed my son without asking for a blood-test (and thus immediately alienating him)?

If you're this worried about validation, consider that records can be falsified. DNA as well, though it is somewhat harder to tamper with if you go through standard analytical procedures.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:08 PM on December 12, 2012


I know a lot of donors and donorkids. There are varying ways to deal with many of these things [and yes, consult a lawyer eventually] but the short answer is that yes you should be able to get a situation that meets your needs.

1) If you are a sperm donor via an agency you do not have legal rights to your offspring, so no need to worry about guardianship defaulting to you. Would not happen. If this is an edge-case possibility with a donor-friend situation, you'd need to be careful. I have two friends who have been donor dads for lesbian couples and in both cases there was a lot of official paperwork done where the donor dad relinquishes his parental rights and the children became only legally the children of the two moms.

2) If you have a non-anonymous donation scheme you can do this. The specific details of this situation depend on where you would donate. Legally you might run into weirdness if you left money to "my children" but this would be simpler if you left money to specific named individuals.

3) My experience has been that there would be no way this could happen. YMMV but the scenario you are outlining is odd and implausible.

You seem to be mixing up some metaphors somewhat. While a sperm donor is technically a father of a child conceived that way, it's a really different legal and social situation in the US than anything that most people would consider "parenting" Likewise children that would be conceived through sperm donation of this sort would not be in any way considered "your" children. This would be different if you had an informal arrangement with friends. If you do this through a service there is a raft of paperwork to deal with these sorts of things. Children conceived through sperm donorship do not generally have the right to access your personal information without you expressly giving out this information to their parents, however these laws are somewhat in flux. It's worth understanding that having access enough to bequeath money does also open you up to people having this access in return, so I'd be very clear about your desires.
posted by jessamyn at 9:15 PM on December 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


My understanding about all this stuff is that when you donate sperm, you do so semi-anonymously (as in the parents of the child and the ensuing child do not have your full name or contact information). You are not on the birth certificate. The fact that you are the biological father of the child is not a matter of public record. Sperm banks are not in the business of finding new parents for orphans. Nobody would ever be able to foist this child on you, simply because they won't know the sperm is yours.

Thus, none of the other questions are germane.
posted by Sara C. at 9:19 PM on December 12, 2012


Why don't you simply have your sperm stored in case you decide to have kids with someone someday? My ex-father-in-law did that just before his vasectomy, on the advice of an earlier wife, and he and his final (of 20+ years) wife eventually decided to have kids, and used it to have awesome twin boys.
posted by davejay at 9:21 PM on December 12, 2012


My instincts are only concerned with reproduction, not any of the details. . . . I have no emotional need to ever meet my kids (though I have nothing against it either) - it would be enough to know that they're out there somewhere.

Anything meaningful and long-lasting having to do with reproduction and parenting is all details - decades of details. You may contribute some biological material to their creation, but these will in no substantive way be "your" kids.

In the absence of a relationship, biology is an almost trivial link between people (outside of inheritable disease). If I were you, I'd shelve this idea, or think seriously about what davejay is proposing.
posted by ryanshepard at 9:31 PM on December 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


potential complications that I have not considered
You may have already considered it, but you could at some future time regret contributing to global overpopulation.
posted by anadem at 9:37 PM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


My instincts are only concerned with reproduction

There is a lot of male sexuality and self-image wrapped up in "virility." We use the same word, stud, to describe a man with many sex partners as we do a stallion who is kept around to sire race horses.

Here's the thing: I really doubt you have some race horse genes that would have a profound effect on future generations. And even if you did have a great family history, or a high IQ, so many unknown factors lay hidden in recessive genes.

There are enough pregnancies in the world without your seed being spread. The world doesn't need more pregnancies. The world needs more involved, caring parents who have the means to care for their children and genuinely desire them.

People do have difficulty conceiving, and sperm donors do play a role in this process, and I don't think there's anything wrong with donating sperm. However, I would examine your motivations behind the act. Do you want to help out strangers in a desperate situation, much the same as if you were donating blood, or checking the organ donor box on your DMV form? Or do you think you're a pretty, pretty stallion?
posted by Juliet Banana at 10:14 PM on December 12, 2012 [46 favorites]


Donor laws vary state to state. In California, for instance, donors are not considered the legal parent of children conceived from their sperm when it is donated through a recognized sperm donor program. Donors have no rights or responsibilities (legal/financial) to any offspring conceived. In some states, you can opt to be a "willing to be known" donor, which means you consent to your identity being released to the adult child at his/her request when s/he is 18. You can also remain completely anonymous. In any case, that child has no rights of inheritance or claim to you as a parent in a legal sense.
posted by judith at 10:47 PM on December 12, 2012


Listen to ryanshepard and Juliet Banana. I'd think really hard about my motivations, if I were you. (I don't mean that in an unpleasant way, I just feel as if you're missing the point of 'parenthood'.)
posted by Salamander at 11:28 PM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


You also might want to look at the requirements for it; some places have an age cap of 35, for example. (Though you could always do it for you, so to speak, on case you wanted a family later.) More importantly, I think there are some good points to consider about the emotional impact, let alone the legal one. Sperm donation is often, I think, thought of as quick money or a no strings attached kind of deal, but you would have strangers going through your photos and details and medical histories. You might have multiple kids across the country.

If you really just want a legacy or impact, there are probably more concrete or lasting things you could do professionally or as a volunteer with the kids your city already has.
posted by jetlagaddict at 4:38 AM on December 13, 2012


I'm a little taken aback by the judgemental moralizing taking place here, as if I owed a debt to the world and should consider what is in the world's best interests rather than my own. Empathy is a two-way street, and therefore I care primarily about the people who care about me. I don't mind helping the world and have done volunteer work to that effect, but only when it doesn't cause a direct conflict with my own interests.

While I appreciate the feedback and it means a lot to me that many of you took the time to try and help, I would prefer if we could limit our responses to suggestions that would actually help me achieve my goals, rather than attempts to get me to conform to your own ethical beliefs which I do not subscribe to. Answers than focus on logistics rather than soul-searching, in particular, are greatly appreciated.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 5:51 AM on December 13, 2012


[OP, for future questions, please keep in mind that if you ask for other ideas/concerns you haven't thought of, that opens the range of answers you will receive. Everyone, since OP has now clarified that he wants only answers that address logistics, maybe we can limit it to that now. Thanks.]
posted by taz at 6:47 AM on December 13, 2012


Jurisdictions tend not to want to hand kids back to someone who only had involvement via sperm donation. You (and more importantly they) are protected from that degree of emotional change.
posted by jaduncan at 6:39 PM on January 2, 2013


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