What's involved in being a sperm donor?
January 31, 2005 11:44 AM   Subscribe

What's involved in being a sperm donor? I was recently approached by a friend of a friend, and don't really know what to say besides I guess I'm flattered. Any legal/emotional/financial/logitical concerns, pitfalls, and/or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
posted by gottabefunky to Human Relations (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I looked into the process once when I was really, really hopeless financially. The one thing that I found was that the process is very involved - it's not typically as simple as you would think, there are many steps involved and it is time-consuming. Often, there are all sorts of tests, questionaires, even some counseling involved.

As for other pitfalls, there probably aren't any legal/financial pitfalls, and the emotional pitfalls are pretty straight-forward: after you physically donate the sperm, are you going to sit around and wonder and feel like you lost a child? Have you ever mourned the unintentional loss of your sperm before? Many of my friends had the attitude of "but how could you deal with the thought that your children were running around and maybe being raised poorly or mistreated?" Obviously, they never pursued it.
posted by crazy finger at 12:24 PM on January 31, 2005

Make sure you have some sort of legal documentation involved which explicitly states that you are NOT financially liable for child support at any time. IANAL, but you and the donee might want to consult with one.
posted by availablelight at 12:43 PM on January 31, 2005

GBF doesn't spell it out in the initial post, but the wording seems to imply that it would be a "known donor" thing instead of an anonymous sperm-bank dealie.

IANAL, but I would say the first thing to do would be get a lawyer. If a kid results from the transaction, you want to make sure that you and the mom have some kind of understanding as to what kind of relationship (or not) you would have with the little one.
posted by matildaben at 12:46 PM on January 31, 2005

Response by poster: Yes, it would be a semi-known donor. I mean, I assume we'd meet and discuss all the arrangments ahead of time.

I'm wondering what arrangements there are to discuss, and which are more prone to pitfalls than others.

I'm asking myself - why would I want to do this, really? (Aside from helping out a friend of a friend, and helping a gay couple have a kid, which I'm all for.)
posted by gottabefunky at 12:56 PM on January 31, 2005

The NYTimes Magazine did an article several months ago about a female gay couple with children, focusing mostly on the children. The sperm donor had been a friend, but relations fell apart, and the article outlines some of it (mostly from the couple's side; I've heard things from the other side, as well). You might want to read it- it's called "Growing Up With Mom & Mom", and the author was Susan Dominus. It's on paid archives, but it'd probably be worth the few bucks for you (it was a really interesting article).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:01 PM on January 31, 2005 [1 favorite]

IANAL...however, it's my understanding that in many jurisdictions it is essentially impossible to enforce a contract that says "And I will never have to pay child support." The idea is that the child (not the parent) has a right to support and the custodial parent cannot waive that right (not sure why...parents can waive other rights). Basically the contract can exist, but if the custodial parent changes his/her mind they can go ahead and demand child support.

Ex. "For openers, parents cannot make a contract that takes away their children's right to receive adequate support. They never could. Family Court Act (FCA) s 461(a) ensure this. It provides that a separation agreement cannot eliminate or diminish either parent's duty to support his or her child. The initial adequacy of an agreement may be challenged at any time. "
posted by duck at 1:18 PM on January 31, 2005

Free link to the above mentioned article.
posted by reverendX at 1:20 PM on January 31, 2005

gottabefunky, I'd advise you to think long and hard before you agree to this.

We're coming from the other side - we're a lesbian couple who are looking to get pregnant - and after doing a lot of research, we decided to go with an anonymous donor rather than a known donor. Here are some of the issues to take into consideration:

Logistics: If you do decide to do this, there are 3 ways: 1) you have sex with the biological mother (usually not an option), 2) you supply fresh sperm directly to your friend, or 3) you donate to a sperm bank, which then processes your sperm and inseminates your friend. If you go with option 2, you have to be prepared to provide a sample when the woman is ovulating, and then get it to her very quickly. This can be tricky logistically - you basically have to commit to being in fairly close proximity at the time of her ovulation, and of course you have to be able to orgasm 'on demand', so to speak. Some people get performance anxiety and feel too pressured. If you go with option 3, be prepared that it's a very detailed process. The bank will require several deposits and will do extensive testing to screen for STDs and some hereditary diseases. This takes at least 6 months, during which you have to promise to be either abstemious or monogamous (this is a deal-braker for some people), and it's also expensive for the receving couple.

The much bigger issues, however, are the emotional/moral repercussions. First of all, you would want to make sure the couple is healthy and committed. You would also have to make sure that you are able to communicate clearly - this is incredibly important! Here are some questions you need to have CLEAR answers to before you begin:

1) Do you want to have contact with the child? If so, in what capacity? Are you the 'father'? The 'donor'? 'Uncle'? Just a family friend? What will the child be told?

2) Do you want any legal rights to this child? Assuming no, you need to make this crystal clear legally - so you can never be sued for child support, for example. There are good forms for this at NCLR, as well as basic information.

3) Who would know that you are the biological father? Would schools know? Would your family know? What would you tell prospective girlfriends/wives?

Basically, there are a lot of difficult questions that need to be answered - and, obviously, agreed upon. Some friends of ours decided to go with a known donor - the gay best friend of one of the women. For some of the reasons above, it fell through after 9 months of sperm testing and storage and legal contracts. It was a very difficult time for everyone involved. However, I've also heard of people who made it work very well. The key thing is for all parties to BE INFORMED BEFOREHAND. It's an enormous decision and responsibility, even if you have nothing to do with the child after conception.

All that being said, we are incredibly grateful that there are men out there who do donate their sperm so that women like us can get pregnant. It is truly the greatest gift you can give. I really get all choked up just thinking about it.

Good luck sorting it all out!
posted by widdershins at 3:05 PM on January 31, 2005 [1 favorite]

I forgot to mention that for us, the known donor would have been a close family friend. In the end we decided that the child, once it knew who the father was (and there's no way we would lie), s/he would probably want some kind of acknowledgement, some kind of special relationship with him. And that wouldn't really be fair to either one of them. So we decided to go with the simpler solution of an anonymous donor. Which of course opened a whole other can of worms, but that's another story.
posted by widdershins at 3:13 PM on January 31, 2005

Yeah, no legal/financial pitfalls - except that you're legally as well as genetically the father of the child, and most jurisdictions have very large and active departments devoted to enforcing deadbeat dad laws.

There are ways around this, but they involve pricey lawyers. If the potential recipient isn't offering to pay your legal fees, I'd advise you to politely decline.
posted by ikkyu2 at 6:55 PM on January 31, 2005

I think, for me anyway, the only problem I would have with any of it, and I'd do it in a heartbeat, would be worrying that one day the child might need an organ donor that only I would be compatable for. In such a case, I suppose I'd hope it was documented who the father was. Obviously, in this case it would be. But otherwise, I'd let everything take it's course and never get involved after the initial sperm gift. But then I already have a bunch of kids and really no time or desire for more! :)
posted by LouReedsSon at 8:25 AM on February 1, 2005

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