Does he do what Daddy did to Mommy to get me?
November 17, 2016 3:44 PM   Subscribe

My same-sex partner has been asked to father a child - how do we make this decision?

We are a same-sex cisgendered male couple (34 and 38) in the UK and have been together for two-and-a-half years. My partner has recently been asked by a single female friend if he would consider fathering a child for her (the ask was via email, there hasn't been any face-to-face discussion yet).

My partner and I are looking for resources / links / blogs about how this kind of decision can be made. There seem to be so many issues to consider (if we have a contract, what is included? Who gets final say on schools, discipline, etc), we feel like we need some kind of road map so that we are able to consider this in a methodical and thorough way.

As well as links to resources, personal anecdotes from people who have been in a similar situation are also appreciated!

(And no, he won’t be doing *exactly* what Daddy did to Mommy to get me - I imagine this would be an altogether cleaner and more clinical process than that.)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Important, missing information: is your partner's friend looking for a sperm donor or a co-parent?
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 4:00 PM on November 17, 2016 [29 favorites]

It sounds like the friend just wants a sperm donor. Why would you and your partner have anything to do with upbringing? I did not read the letter, so you might be miscommunicating things? Most people consult family law attorneys for this type of ironclad definitive information in these types of situations, which is always jurisdiction specific. It sounds like you need to consult a few.

Law firms that handle these cases often have blogs. Google in your area and start reading what they have to say as a starting point.
posted by jbenben at 4:23 PM on November 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Jbenben is right, you're far from the first guys to think about this and you'll be able to find a local family attorney who can give you the rundown; but it sounds to me as if the first thing you need to do is clarify the request. If she's looking for a sperm donor, that's a very different scenario than if she's looking for a co-parent who would have responsibilities and rights vis a vis the child.
posted by fingersandtoes at 4:29 PM on November 17, 2016

Even if all the friend wants is indeed a sperm donor, and even if everybody agrees about it beforehand and you get a written contract stating exactly that, there may be laws about parental responsibilities (child support, that kind of thing) that would supercede any such contract.

Your partner and his friend need to decide precisely what she expects from him (coparent? uncle/friend of the family? or nothing more than that sperm donor, with no other rights/visitation/responsibilities) and then see a lawyer to make sure what she wants can be limited to whatever they can get put in a contract. The worst thing they can do is assume that, since they're friends, they can do this on nothing more than a verbal agreement.
posted by easily confused at 5:24 PM on November 17, 2016 [8 favorites]

You need to clarify what exactly the friend is asking for and then go talk to a family law lawyer in your area.
posted by yohko at 7:55 PM on November 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

There seem to be so many issues to consider ... Who gets final say on schools, discipline, etc

The donor dad is not going to have a say in family stuff, because the donor is not part of the family. The donor donates, the family appreciates it, and then the family does family things.

I'm not speaking of law or contracts, just what the typical role of a donor dad is. The family may elect to give him a bigger role, but it's not likely to be a parental one. More like "special uncle" at the kid's birthday if the donor and the family are close friends.
posted by zippy at 10:33 PM on November 17, 2016

An anecdote.

A lesbian couple asked a gay male friend to donate sperm. Everyone agreed on everything, the father was only going to a donor and was in a committed relationship. Both couples agreed on everything and signed contracts.

FFW: lovely baby girl is born. Dads meet baby. They still think they're not going to be involved but gradually, they visit more often, they start having baby girl overnight, weekends. The dad's love her. Everyone is fine with the unexpected extra involvement. Until the mums decide to move across the country, something that was discussed before anything had happened, the move was always on the agenda.

The dad's are devastated but the mums move anyway. The dad's take it to court. The contract between them is trumped by legislation. The mums are ordered to move back. This is recebt so I don't know what will happen next.

So 1) don't expect feelings to stay the same and 2) as others have suggested, know what laws will affect you. Your private contracts may not mean anything in the face of the legal rights of biological parents.
posted by stellathon at 10:37 PM on November 17, 2016 [5 favorites]

(People from outside the UK, although advice about the relationship implications may be very useful, please be very careful before making broad generalisations about the role of a donor father. The OP is in the UK and we have laws that provide for rights and responsibilities in such circumstances more comprehensively and intrusively than is the case in many other countries.)
posted by Major Clanger at 10:48 PM on November 17, 2016 [5 favorites]

(UK lawyer who does family law, and who works with colleagues who specialise in child and relationship law.)

As other people have said, it is extremely important to get good advice about this. There have been several high-profile legal disputes here where donor or surrogacy arrangements among friends have started out with the best intentions but gone badly awry (example 1, example 2).

The key legal concept in the UK is parental responsibility (I'm qualified in English law but I understand Scottish law to be very much the same in this respect.) The law about PR for sperm donors depends on how the process is carried out, hence the need to make sure everyone involved knows what they want and expect.

Stonewall UK has a very comprehensive page on LGBT people and parenting rights that you should have a look at.

I would suggest a search for "uk legal advice same sex couples children" (substitute your town/county/region for uk if you want to be more specific) which should point you at law firms who specialise in such advice.
posted by Major Clanger at 11:07 PM on November 17, 2016 [8 favorites]

Here is some info about sperm donation from a UK organization called Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority. According to their website, they are "the UK’s independent regulator overseeing the use of sperm, eggs and embryos in fertility treatment and research." They have a pamphlet with basic information for sperm donors and a decision flow-chart for sperm donors.

Just from that small bit of reading, it sounds like if your partner works with this woman and a licensed fertility clinic to do the sperm donation, then he won't be legally bound to the child in any way. If your partner and this woman do it privately, i.e. he delivers a vial of sperm to her house and she impregnates herself with it, then the legal situation is much much murkier.

Given all that, I think it would be wise to talk to this woman, make sure she is just interested in sperm donation, and then if your partner decides to go through with it, to work with a licensed fertility clinic to do this. Any other arrangement sounds like a recipe for heartbreak and trouble.
posted by colfax at 5:47 AM on November 18, 2016

My Making Grace FanFare post of a documentary about a lesbian couple who want a family. It includes a part where they ask a good male friend to be sperm donor, and it goes a bit into what he thinks of all of it.

Muddlers Beat is a (light hearted!) webcomic by a gay man in Chicago and it has recently covered the topics of sperm donation and parental rights.

Good luck!
posted by jillithd at 7:20 AM on November 18, 2016

This is a very different question if he's considering co-parenting vs. just donating sperm, but let me say this, I am very grateful to the man (and his partner) who agreed to donate sperm to me 15 years ago. We're very cordial but rarely talk to each other now - everything has been completely smooth with rarely a reason why we need to talk about anything besides, "how have you been? great!". Without him my kid wouldn't exist.
posted by latkes at 7:51 AM on November 18, 2016

Just wanted to make it explicit in my previous comment that I'm talking about expectations rather than law. The law can certainly say other things, and in the US at least, if you do not follow a particular set of steps, you may be a legal parent from the state's perspective, whether or not all adults agree that you're just a donor, as the state has an interest in the financial wellbeing of the child.

So once again, I'm just talking about what the raising-the-child parents typically expect the role of a donor parent to be, which is "donor parent is a donor, not a parent, when it comes to family matters."
posted by zippy at 12:31 PM on November 18, 2016

« Older How can I make a difference in my corporate...   |   can I eat this: preserved lemon edition Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.