Best Friend or Sperm Bank? Sperm Donor Options for Lesbians
It's so amazing that these days, most women and men can become parents, even when nature makes it difficult. If you are gay, straight, or single, it is still possible to take advantage of modern fertility technologies and have your own biological children. If you are a gay woman, you or your partner can still get pregnant and give birth. First, you need to identify a sperm donor.
If you have a donor in mind
Have you already selected a potential father of your child? If you are considering a dear friend or loved one to be the biological father of your child, think it through carefully. There may be benefits, as well as challenges, to using a donor that you know. Here are some of the benefits:
- You can save money since you will not need to purchase a sample from a sperm bank.
- Your child may be able to have a more intimate relationship with his or her biological father (if you approve) than if you choose an anonymous donor.
Understand that choosing a known donor instead an anonymous one might increase your risk of health problems. If you use fresh sperm from a known donor, you bypass the safeguards and screenings offered by sperm banks (although you can still pursue the screenings on your own). In addition, some state laws may require legal rights or child support responsibilities for known donors. This may be something that you desire, or something you want to avoid. To protect yourself, your partner, and your child, sit down with an attorney. You may want to ask the donor to sign a contract, relinquishing him from any responsibilities or rights to the child. Make sure that the law recognizes you and your partner as the sole legal parents of your child.
Perhaps you prefer a sperm bank
Does choosing an anonymous sperm donor from a sperm bank sound more appealing? After all, you may protect yourself and your child from infectious diseases and future legal issues. Other benefits to choosing anonymous donor sperm include:
- Sperm bank samples are frozen and quarantined for six months before being screened and tested for sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.
- The sperm bank also performs a physical exam of each donor, testing each individual for heritable diseases, like cystic fibrosis.
- You can select your donor based on his health history, desired physical characteristics, including race and ethnicity, and education/professional experience.
Choosing an anonymous donor is safe; the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the process. As a result, children born through anonymous sperm donation may be at lower risk for birth defects than the general population, possibly due to such thorough analyses and testing. A quick surf of the web pulls up many websites offering advice on choosing a sperm bank. Some websites even refer you to specific sperm banks around the country that will ship sperm samples to your home.
How do you decide?
Ask yourself: What would you do if your donor wanted to have an important spiritual role in your child's life? This could happen if you know your donor. On the other hand, if you go with an anonymous donor from a sperm bank, do you want your child to be able to contact the donor when he or she turns 18? (The movie The Kids Are All Right offers a very realistic portrayal of two children that do just that). There are many factors to consider. Do your homework, talk to an attorney or counselor, and choose the donor that is right for you.
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