How to find a genetic donor
August 22, 2005 10:58 AM   Subscribe

Help me write an ad to attract some potential gene donors.

My lesbian partner and I have explored various routes to baby-making, and now we're ready to re-try finding a local, live donor. We need a donor or two who will show up month after month and not back out like the others have done. (Reasons so far: "I didn't realize I'd have to sign papers," and "It's too difficult with my new semester schedule," and the real topper, "I was too ashamed to tell my family, so if I'm that ashamed, it's probably wrong and I shouldn't donate after all.") I think it's just a lot of pressure to put on most people, so they flake out.

Rather than continue to rely on friends or people we already know somewhat, I'm thinking of taking out an ad in local college newspapers and going with unknown donors, but what should it say? What do we say to attract smart, happy, relatively attractive and reliable 20-28 year old men who are happy to get a medical exam, donate to a lesbian couple and give up all parental rights/expectations? Of course we're paying, both per-donation and a bonus if I get knocked up. But how do I communicate all that in a way that gets potential donors to make contact?
posted by pomegranate to Human Relations (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you asked the fertility clinic if they have any advice?
posted by cmonkey at 11:02 AM on August 22, 2005

Response by poster: Cmonkey, I did ask, but they weren't helpful. We've had some negative experiences at fertility clinics, and since our insurance company isn't paying for those visits anyway, we're leaving them out of the equation for now and direct-marketing to our chosen demographic.
posted by pomegranate at 11:15 AM on August 22, 2005

Can I ask why you don't want to go to a sperm bank? The law doesn't allow a 'live donor' to simply skip out on fatherhood, no matter what papers he signs. He'll be responsible for child support for 18 years, and things could get messy, while the law does protect people who donate sperm to a sperm bank.

There was a thread here the other day where a woman stole sperm that had been stored by her ex-husband to get pregnant. The guy still has to pay child support.

Do you want someone who will actually take responsibility for the kid, be a 'father' to them, etc? Otherwise it doesn't seem very fair to expose someone to this sort of liability without informing them (or do you plan to do so).

Although, one way around it might be for the non-pregnant of the two of you sign a contract with the father that you'll be responsible for any child support payments that he's required to make by the court. Still the three of you should definitely consult with a lawyer before hand.

Finally, when you say "show up, month after month" are you talking about doing it "the old fashioned way" rather then through a fertility place?

My guess would be to look for gay guys who want to 'support the cause' of gay parenting.
posted by delmoi at 11:32 AM on August 22, 2005

Your profile says you're in Houston, and I have no idea if this would work there, since Texas is not, shall we say, known for being the most gay-friendly state in the nation, but this is my suggestion:

Put up fliers in places where you think your optimal donors would be likely to see them. This could be in a local university student center, or a coffeehouse near a university. If there's a place you know of where gay men tend to hang out, that might be a good place to try, since (I'm guessing) are likely to be, on average, more sensitive to your situation than the average straight man is.

If any local colleges or universities have a Women's Studies program, posting fliers near those classrooms (if you're allowed to) would probably be effective, as men who enroll in such classes would also, I'd think, be good prospects.
posted by cerebus19 at 11:38 AM on August 22, 2005

yeah, I was going to agree with odinsdream that as someone who is basically what you're looking for the ad sounded good.

Course delmoi then had to bring reality into and point out that this is going to be a giant pain for anyone but someone you're very close friends with.

And personally I'd recommend grad students as opposed to college kids. probably find less flakes/more people desperate for the cash that way
posted by slapshot57 at 11:43 AM on August 22, 2005

One thing you should include in your ad, as made apparent by delmoi's comment, is the actual how of the dontaing proceedure. (As in: Are you using a turkey baster?)
posted by Specklet at 11:43 AM on August 22, 2005

You're asking someone to take a massive legal risk, so I suspect that simply finding a random individual won't work out unless they're entirely ignorant of potential legal complications (ie., you'd be hoodwinking them). Therefore, you'll probably have better luck if you restrict your search to people that are more likely to be highly motivated to help you out: gay men.

You may be able to improve your response rate by demonstrating awareness of the legal risks involved for the donor -- for example, by putting up a large bond (>$100K) they'd be entitled to draw upon in the event you or the child sues for child support before the child is 18. However, that would make the whole process somewhat pricey, and may make clinics more appealing as a consequence.

...but anyone that donates without some measure of legal/financial protection is either ignorant or very highly motivated. Aim for highly motivated.
posted by aramaic at 12:02 PM on August 22, 2005

pomegranate - my wife and I are also trying to get (me) pregnant, so I empathize. It's a difficult process.

I just want to make sure that you've really thought the process through. Sperm banks do a lot more than just freeze and dispense the sperm, you know, they also test for HIV and other diseases, as well as hereditary defects. They obtain medical and physical information on not just the donor, but his siblings, parents, and grandparents - very valuable information if, say, you're worried about heart disease, alcoholism or similar issues. And finally, the legal issues w/paternity suits and visitation rights have all been taken care of w/anonymous donors. Choosing a local stranger leaves you vulnerable to a lot of legal pitfalls and potential physical/medical issues.

That said, I second the recommendation above that you look for a gay donor. Most of the lesbians we know who are in the process of getting pregnant chose anonymous donors, but those who didn't used a gay friend's sperm. Gay men are historically more interested in siring offspring since presumably they won't be doing it naturally and they understand where you're coming from.

The other disadvantage, as you know, is that the donor needs to be in physical proximity (and ready to provide sperm) at the time of your ovulation. It's a big commitment and you would probably want to address that right away. A good donor would be someone who didn't go away for the weekend a lot, for example. Not to mention that he would have to commit to 100% safe sex for the duration - and you would have to trust him on that...

My email is in my profile if you'd like to chat more. Good luck!
posted by widdershins at 12:05 PM on August 22, 2005

Response by poster: Delmoi I have a lawyer, she's the expert in making sure the donor has no obligation at any time. The contract she's used repeatedly has been tested in court (not by us) and stood up just fine, and sperm banks don't actually shield either party as much as you might assume.

We plan to use live, not frozen, sperm, and that's why they have to be ready to go in for the long haul. The "hows" are simple and not all that interesting.
posted by pomegranate at 12:06 PM on August 22, 2005

It's certainly not in your immediate area, but I noticed this ad last week, and while it stood out for me, I really have no idea how (un)common it is for potential donors to place such ads. Good luck.
posted by PY at 12:32 PM on August 22, 2005

[the law on the parental rights of sperm donors varies drastically state to state.]
posted by footnote at 12:39 PM on August 22, 2005

Well, you're paying for sperm. I'd say the best option for finding somebody is word of mouth. Think of all the smart, happy, relatively attractive people you know. They probably know other people like this. Tell your doctor, your lawyer, your arthouse video clerk, your librarian, your philosopher buddy, your favorite local musician. . .whatever. Just spread the word.
posted by punkbitch at 12:58 PM on August 22, 2005

Best answer: I really think odinsdream's suggestion has some merit to it. You could start a blog, or a site on this subject and place an ad with the URL in papers, on lgbt sites. That way you're not limited in how much information you're giving out, you can post pictures, links, updates on your lives, people who want to help can leave comments, etc. Such information would be relevant anyway to anyone who is going to enter into such a crutial and intimate part of your life. Also, I feel like ads cater to instincts and not deep consideration; that a good catch would want more information before contacting you.
posted by scazza at 1:09 PM on August 22, 2005

(I'd volunteer, except I'm in a different state. But I'm tall, smart and can grow a full beard. I'd figure that the local version of your gay paper would probably be best. Here it's called Beyond the Lines, I think... But there should be plenty of 'em around town...)
posted by klangklangston at 2:04 PM on August 22, 2005

Oh and when I said "on this subject" I meant your personal search and needs, a blog really, not a general site on searching for a donor, issues relating to lgbt parenting. No none of that, in case I was unclear.
posted by scazza at 2:44 PM on August 22, 2005

Have you considered partnering up with a gay male couple and doing a trade? That is, both you and your partner will get pregnant, each by one of the gay men, and each couple will keep one kid?

This is apparently becoming fairly common.
posted by solid-one-love at 3:21 PM on August 22, 2005

Best answer: Not that I'm great at writing copy, but since no one seems to be attempting it, I thought I'd give it a shot:

Lesbian couple looking for sperm donor 20-28, medical exam necessary. All obligations end with pregnancy, as outlined in a tested legal contract. Payments are per donation with a bonus for pregnancy. We are looking for someone willing to make a monthly commitment for an indefinite amount of time. Serious applicants only.
posted by carmen at 6:45 PM on August 22, 2005

medical exam and family medical history necessary. (if you're going to choose, choose long-lived and healthy without excessive/serious hereditary diseases, i'd say)

I'd donate, probably, if i was local.

but--adoption's totally out? there are so so many kids already around who would love to be yours.
posted by amberglow at 9:01 PM on August 22, 2005

Oh, nifty! Good luck, neighbor!
I can't help, but I can cheer from the sidelines.
posted by mrbill at 1:00 AM on August 23, 2005

Response by poster: FYI:

I did create an ad, using some of Carmen's language above. Just posted it today, and I've gotten six or seven really positive responses already. There's still lots of screening and work to do, but it's encouraging. One step at a time...
posted by pomegranate at 5:53 PM on August 29, 2005

Response by poster: Hello Mefi reader of the future. To further update you, we DID write an ad, put it on Craigslist in the "gigs" section, and we got about two dozen responses, none terribly inapropriate or irritating. We interviewed about six or seven either over the phone or face to face, and we found our perfect donor. We're in the process of finishing our legal and medical paperwork. Provided no obstacles come up, we should be good to go by January!
posted by pomegranate at 10:58 AM on December 6, 2005 [3 favorites]

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