Choosing a Sperm Donor

Ready to become a mom? We’re ready to help you along the way! The journey to parenthood as a lesbian couple begins with choosing a sperm donor. You can choose to have an anonymous donor, or someone you know. Learn about both options and choose what you feel works best for you and your partner.

Choosing a Sperm Donor You Know
When working with a known donor, the cost is usually less since you don’t need to purchase the sperm. With a known donor, you can also obtain fresh sperm instead of frozen. There is a risk here since the sperm is not required to be screened for infectious diseases, while anonymous sperm is legally required to get tested.

Lesbian couples commonly want a personal relationship with the donor for themselves and their future children. When keeping a close relationship, it’s important to recognize donor insemination laws in your state. Some states forfeit parental rights of the donors is the sperm is received by the doctor and not the future parents. Also in some states, the paternity laws protecting your legal rights you and your child have may be nullified if you choose to keep a close relationship with the donor.  For the safety and protection of all parties, work with an attorney who can ensure the custody of your children is protected and all risks are resolved.

If your state permits adoption for second parents, speak to your attorney about taking this step to ensure both moms are legal parents of the child.

Choosing an Anonymous Sperm Donor
Purchases anonymous donor sperm from a bank is the safest route for lesbian couples who want to protect the rights of their child.  Anonymous sperm donors are not granted rights to the child born using their sperm. Sperm donors can choose to not identify themselves, or participate in an “identity release program” with specific sperm banks, where the information can be released to the child once they turn 18 if they choose.

There are many registries online where sperm donors and children can find each other and any half-siblings. Because of this, being fully anonymous is not guaranteed. With new tools online and access to DNA testing, it has become widely popular to explore family origins.

When working with a sperm bank, consider the following:

  • Cryopreserved donor sperm can be released for insemination only after quarantine of at least 180 days, and repeat negative testing of the donor for all STI’s (sexually transmitted diseases) including HIV.
  • All sperm bank must be licensed by the Board of Health.
  • The sperm bank must conduct a physical examination of the donor and screen out potential donors who are at increased risk for sexually transmitted infections.
  • The sperm bank must screen for genetic diseases, like cystic fibrosis.
  • If you are looking to limit half siblings that come from any donor, work with a bank that controls the number of live births

Due to the screening requirements, children conceived to donor sperm have a birth defect rate of less than one fifth. Some sperm banks work to pair the parent with a donor with compatible genetic profile and blood types.

Whether you choose to have a known donor or anonymous donor, it is important to spend time discussing your options with an attorney, perhaps who has experience in gay family building, to help protect  the rights of you, your partner, and child(ren).