Information on Sperm Donation
September 4, 2008 5:07 PM   Subscribe

Asking for a very close friend: A married lesbian couple, friends of mine, have invited me to be the sperm donor for their first child.

We're pretty good friends, and they're great folks, and after much personal reflection, conversation with friends, and prayer, I'm leaning towards going for it. However, I haven't been able to find much, online or elsewhere, by known donors: people who donate sperm for a child they know, specifically one who might one day know they're the donor. Thoughts about where to find these stories, and what else I should be thinking about now? (We've already had conversations about legal issues, and how we each envision my role in the child's life, and I've read the excellent stuff in the Complete Lesbian Guide to Conception Pregnancy and Birth, but I'm looking mostly for first-hand accounts of known donors.)
posted by Baby_Balrog to Human Relations (18 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Hank Pellissier (who stopped being called "Hank Hyena" between the time he wrote this and now) wrote some gruellingly arch but quite detailed pieces about his own experience as a donor.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:14 PM on September 4, 2008

Talk to a good lawyer, and make sure to get an ironclad contract. There have been more than one case like this where the lesbian couple eventually broke up, and the one who got custody of the child then sued the sperm donor for child support -- and got it.

When it comes to something like this, there's no such thing as a "good friend", and verbal agreements are not worth the paper they're written on. If you choose to go into this, make sure you're legally protected.
posted by Class Goat at 5:16 PM on September 4, 2008 [5 favorites]

Previously asked
posted by 0xFCAF at 5:32 PM on September 4, 2008

Yes, be very careful. A good friend of mine was in your position a few years back and came very close to saying yes. What finally turned this to a "No" were all the What-ifs? What if money becomes an issue? What if weird in-laws get involved? What if they start making "weird" parenting decisions (no inoculations for instance)?

Shortly after he said no, the couple broke up.
posted by philip-random at 5:32 PM on September 4, 2008

The term you may be looking for is "open" sperm donation.

WP: My Life as a Sperm Donor Dad.

NYT: Once Invisible Sperm Donors Get to Meet the Family.

Salon: Confessions of a Lesbian Sperm Donor.

Feministe: "A Lesbian Couple, Sperm Donation, and Me." (Looks like some good resources in the comments on that one.)

You might also find information and/or a good place to post a query on or

Anecdotally, I know two lovely and devoted families where the children of lesbians were fathered by gay male friends and are very much part of their lives.

Bless your heart for even considering it, and best wishes in your process of discernment.
posted by ottereroticist at 5:37 PM on September 4, 2008

I'll point you at my earlier answer to this sort of question; I am a known donor, and so far (almost 18 months into the little boy's life), it's worked very well indeed.

As an update to that one, my friends' son now drops by our place two days a week as part of a nanny share, and it's working fantastically. Both kids look forward to it, and it generates some lovely moments (my daughter spends evenings before rehearsing to herself which things of hers he is and isn't allowed - "Ada paper books Lias no! Ada board books Lias yes!"; last week she recited this to him, and then carefully took one of her board books off the shelf and presented it to him: "Lias Scarface Claw!").

There are plenty of caveats, of course, but I'm very glad I did it.
posted by rodgerd at 6:18 PM on September 4, 2008

nth-ing Lawyer up.
posted by jjb at 6:20 PM on September 4, 2008

I know several families that have done this, and all have been happy with how it has worked out. The level of engagement that the donor has with the child varies a lot from family to family and is something all parties should be very clear on from the beginning.

If any of the parties are in CA I can refer you to some lawyers who specialize in this type of law.
posted by gingerbeer at 7:25 PM on September 4, 2008

nth-ing Lawyer up.

Doctor-up, too. You don't say whether this is a DIY/"turkey-baster" job or not, but if so, think again about going through a medical professional. Besides the obvious medical benefits, in some (most? all?) jurisdictions, a donor's liability for future support can be diminished or eliminated by professional intervention.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 7:25 PM on September 4, 2008

I used to work for a lawyer who worked for lesbian couples in a couple such arrangements. You definitely need to talk to a lawyer and make sure your rights are specified and agreed to in a binding fashion.
posted by fructose at 7:37 PM on September 4, 2008

My dad did this for a friend of his after he separated from my mother. For most of my life I didn't know a thing about it until a few years back when the child (let's call her S) basically wanted to learn about her (our) dad. Now it's kind of like custody after a divorce. S sometimes spends time with our dad but most of the time she's with her mom. I think my dad is fortunate that S's mom hasn't hit him up for money for S, but as I understand it not everyone has such an easy time.

Anyway, S is a very interesting girl and in many ways she's quite awesome. Sarcastic as hell and, honestly, seems to have way more fun than I did at her age. I wish I wasn't so much older than her and that I had known her when she was growing up. The downside is she's messed up in a lot of ways. She cuts herself, is pretty unreliable about keeping secrets, lies fairly often, and commits petty theft. I haven't really seen her much as I moved a year ago. I think she's gotten better about a lot of her negative behaviors since I first met her, but I think there's still a lot of room for her to grow. If she makes it out of adolescence she's going to be one kick ass woman, I just know it.
posted by Green With You at 7:43 PM on September 4, 2008

I think it would be a great thing for you to do. However, do not go into it with any expectations of claiming the child as your own in any way, shape or form. The kid would be theirs to raise. If you do it with no expectations, you shouldn't have any problems.
posted by docmccoy at 8:13 PM on September 4, 2008

Thank you all so much for your helpful answers. I think my friend will be on tomorrow to offer his response and gratitude. You rock!
posted by Baby_Balrog at 8:21 PM on September 4, 2008

nthing lawyering up. Also, you might want to go see a psychologist. Maybe they could foresee certain problems arising from this situation. After hearing from them, you'd have a WAY better idea of whether you want to do it or not.

How involved do they want you to be? Are you just the donor, or will you be involved in the child's life? Financially?

This is a big commitment. You need to talk to a few professionals before you make a decision.

Good luck.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:28 PM on September 4, 2008

I was in a similar situation (but the proposed baby was a year or two in the future, not immediate) and asked a similar question. What struck home for me was that there are a lot of unknowns that could have serious consequences for you: what if they break up? What if they regret the decision? What if they die? None of these are happy scenarios, but they're all possible ones that you should, at the very least, consider before making a decision.

That being said, none of these are insurmountable obstacles. It seems like if you're aware of what's really involved, and what could potentially involved, then you're much more able to construct an agreement that covers everything and that both parties are happy with.

Good luck!
posted by twirlypen at 1:57 AM on September 5, 2008

Honestly its a bad bad bad bad thing to do. If they all of a sudden cant afford the baby they wil lcome back and sue you for money.

Unless your willing to support the child dont do it.
posted by majortom1981 at 5:14 AM on September 5, 2008

Just anecdotally, i had a good friend in college who was the product of such an arrangement. She had a close relationship with her donor (that's what she did call him. Not quite father daughter but lifelong and very rewarding.
posted by Soulbee at 5:55 AM on September 5, 2008

Balrog's friend here:

Dear Internet,

Thank you all for your help. I found the stories from other folks particularly helpful, and will keep all this in mind as we move forward.

posted by Baby_Balrog at 5:58 AM on September 5, 2008

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