SpermFilter: Any reason not to give away my seed?
November 20, 2005 8:00 PM   Subscribe

SpermFilter: Any reason not to give away my seed?

Tomorrow I am meeting with a lesbian couple who is interested in my sperm. They have been together for six years and the longevity of their relationship does not seem to be an issue. They have one child already and now the other partner would like to go through the process and have a child. They are very well grounded people with great educations, careers, own their home, etc. They are very open to every situation, from doing the chica-chica boom-boom or turkey baster method to the father needs no involvement at all or father can have as much involvement as he wants. Being a happy 30 year old gay man, I became excited about the possibility of having a child and what may come of this arrangement doesn't seem to scare me.

What are some pros and cons about this situation? What are the legal issues? Moral issues? If we choose to proceed, what are the best ways to ensure legal safety or to satisfy the child's development?

Even better, would you do it? Why or why not? Give me some questions to ask myself to further my introspection.

Please, I do not want this to be a place for you to post your "gays can't raise healthy kids" or "the child will burn in hell" type religious or ethical comments.
posted by dhammala to Human Relations (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The New York Times Magazine did an interesting article, "Growing Up With Mom and Mom", in October 2004, about a lesbian couple with two daughters conceived from sperm donors. One thing they touch on a little in the story is the breakdown of the relationship between the mothers and the sperm donor (from the side of the mothers; I also read a little of the father's side from someone who personally knew the situation). It would be worth a read.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:06 PM on November 20, 2005 [1 favorite]

The only concerns I have relate to how you deal with the child. Make up your mind how you want to go about it EARLY. However even if you decide you want no involvement be aware they can find your way to your door. Other than that do it.
posted by Rubbstone at 8:07 PM on November 20, 2005

This might sound silly, but watch a few episodes of Queer as Folk. Television drama, yes, but one of the first and one of the last plotlines had to do with your very situation.
posted by awesomebrad at 8:09 PM on November 20, 2005

What Rubbstone said. I think it's a fine idea, but you should decide in advance what role, if any, you want to play for this child. Growing up with two moms is grand; growing up with two moms and a dad is grand; growing up with two moms and a loving, friendly 'uncle' is grand, but growing up with two moms and a sometime dad, sometime stranger can be painful and confusing for a child.
posted by ori at 8:22 PM on November 20, 2005

On the legal side, you don't want MeFi lawyers (even the real ones!) You want, nay, need, competent advice from a member of the Bar of your State (Colorado?) Seriously, get it, because you could end up in a world of unpleasantness for helping out the charming ladies you'll be speaking with. A bad (but probably not worst)-case scenario: you're Dad, Moms break up, State takes your kid away from Mom (because she's a dirty lesbian), won't give him/her to you (because you're a dirty fag) and the kid ends up in foster care hell. Oh, and you have to pay for the foster parents' drug habits, because of child-support laws. See a lawyer, man!

Other than that (and chances are, you can contract appropriately to deal with it) I'd say "go for it!" Kids aren't as bad as I (and maybe you) thought when I/you was/were young. They're OK, even. At least, one of them is. I'm not up to dealing with more than that. Dunno how some people do it...
posted by spacewrench at 8:23 PM on November 20, 2005

Coincidentally, the Times did a piece on anonymous sperm donation. Perhaps you'll find it interesting:Hello, I'm Your Sister. Our Father is Donor #150.
posted by Miko at 8:23 PM on November 20, 2005

Are you sure this isn't a Queer as Folk subplot? If not, you could watch a few seasons to see how fictional characters deal.
posted by glibhamdreck at 8:40 PM on November 20, 2005

Oops, sorry awesomebrad; I missed that.
posted by glibhamdreck at 8:41 PM on November 20, 2005

You had best see a lawyer. If you're the genetic father, you can be sued for child support, even many years from now (like 17 years from now, for 17 years back payments).

I honestly do not even know if it's *possible* to father a child without being liable for child support; see this case. Or this one. The court said it met all the criteria of a valid contract, but simply refused to enforce it - looking after the interests of the child, you see.

Frankly I think there is no way to do what you want to do without making yourself liable for 18 years of child support. You would be an idiot to proceed without substantial legal advice. Possibly, if you can get a lawyer to swear up and down that you'd have no liability, and they end up wrong, you could recover from the law firm's malpractice insurance.
posted by jellicle at 8:41 PM on November 20, 2005

Non-anonymous sperm donation to a couple is a BIG deal.

Here's what you need to assume your rights will be: zero.

Here's what you need to assume your emotional and legal exposure will be: unlimited.

Now it could, and intend probably would work out better than that, of course, but you really need to consider it from a risk/reward standpoint.

There's nothing stopping your lesbian friends from visiting a sperm bank and appointing you an honorary uncle thereafter.

And I'm quite certain that if you've got an urge to have a biological child you are NOT going to satisfy it by having a child that you'll give away, and see at someone else's convenience, if at all.
posted by MattD at 8:57 PM on November 20, 2005

I'll put aside the almost unbearable temptation to tell you to just do it and say this instead. You need to be damned sure of a few things. What degree of involvement do you want? The idea of being with kids is new to you and maybe you need to think about the different ways of doing this (adoption, co-parenting, fostering to name three I can think of) before you decide this is the way you want to go. What degree of involvement do the couple want? What's their track record with the father of their other child? How will they deal with conflict down the road if that happens? Can you be the legal guardian? I can't speak to the legal issues in your state and it's possible that no-one will be able to give you definitive answers and reassurances in what is afterall a changing area of law but you should, as you've already been advised, at least speak with a lawyer. Remember the sweetest of relationships, those most thoroughly shot through with goodwill and warmth, can turn nasty. Why should you donate sperm? Because you'll help two people (three if you want to count yourself) extend the family they want. You'll be part of a radical realignment of family structures. You have the possibility of being part of a most extraordinary experience - pregnancy and childbirth - not to mention the unbelievable pleasure of watching a small being move incrementally from squeaker and wriggler to walker and talker. Good luck with your decision. May it make you very happy. (And I apologize if my enthusiasm has meant a boring repetition of what's been said upthread.)
posted by firstdrop at 9:15 PM on November 20, 2005

I guess my biggest concern would be the time when the child gets old enough to ask -why doesn't Daddy live with us? From personal expereince I think the degree of trauma related to that, if any, depends largely on where you live. My neice is a city kid and a stepchild, so are 80% of the kids at her school and she has never had a problem with it- she has context for having multiple parents and visitation rights and all that and can discuss it with her friends. It would likely be different if she lived someplace where she was the only one. The other factor is the temperment of the kid and that's pure luck: my SO has five parents and step parents and happily accepts them all and their various level of involvement in his life, I might have had a harder time with that as I'm less laid back than him.
posted by fshgrl at 9:26 PM on November 20, 2005

IANAL but I'll second jellicle. You likely can be held responsible for child support, even back child support. Just because the couple is stable now doesn't mean they won't split up and want or need money for child support. Or that they stay together but want or need money for child support.

Definately talk to a lawyer. If you decide to do this I'd suggest setting up a savings account to pay back support. You'd be happy to have the extra money if they never claim support and you'd be happy you had the money to pay support if needed.
posted by 6550 at 10:34 PM on November 20, 2005

No matter what once that child is born you are its father. Dont' kid yourself. Its a serious responsibility and the kid will at some age want to meet and know you. If you're ready for that - go for it, but I would assume a worst case FULL responsibility and ask yourself it you are ready for that.
posted by xammerboy at 11:05 PM on November 20, 2005

What xammerboy said.
posted by Radio7 at 1:12 AM on November 21, 2005

xammerboy - I've never met my biological mother (okay, technically she was around the first year of my life, but it's not like I can remember), and I've never had a desire to. I know who my real mom is - the woman who raised me. The law, and most of you, would call her my stepmom. Whatever. She's my mother.

Please don't assume that every person just HAS to meet their biological parents. Some of us are quite content with the relationships we have with the parents who raised us.
posted by cactus at 2:15 AM on November 21, 2005

As others have commented, you should expect that in the worst case you could have a huge financial liability here. To the best of my reading nobody has ever escaped child support when the people raising the child have gone after it, primarily because the courts have declared that you can't sign away your responsibilites to your offspring. You might have all the documentation in the world with this couple but the perception seems to be that since your responsibility is to the child, not them, they are not at liberty to waive your obligation.

Personally if I were you and had a good relationship with the couple in question that likely would not stop me from going forward with the arrangement. Nor would the fact that it might not hold up keep me from seeing a lawyer and attempting to draft something spelling out how much obligation you're prepared to agree to and what visitation minimums you want them to agree to. But you are likely taking a gamble here that someone could come knocking at your wallet down the road and should be prepared for that possibility.
posted by phearlez at 8:04 AM on November 21, 2005

Here's what you need to assume your rights will be: zero.

Here's what you need to assume your emotional and legal exposure will be: unlimited.

MattD nailed it.

First off, get thyself to a lawyer and go over all the legal ramifications. If, and only if, the legal liabilities are acceptable can you decide if the emotional stuff is worth it.
posted by deborah at 9:40 AM on November 21, 2005

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posted by Sharcho at 10:40 AM on November 21, 2005

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