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Questions from a donor

(8 Posts)
temporarilyvoluntarilymerrily Thu 08-Nov-18 10:46:32

I hope this is the right place to put this, wasn’t quite sure where to put this.

Anyway, I’m a sperm donor that donated through a fertility clinic in the UK resulting in one donor-conceived child thus far. I’ve been trying to find out a bit more information from a donor’s perspective but the internet just seems to be awash with countless ‘helpful’ men looking to donate left, right and centre (must be a minefield for you ladies!). confused

I’ve obviously researched a fair bit before donating so know about the HFEA and DCN etc., and not sure how beneficial for me membership of the latter would be, but have some questions you might have more knowledge of being on the receiving end (if you’ve experienced sperm donation, or even egg donation). I had counselling and was certain about donating, so no qualms about that, just found myself wondering about the logistics of it a bit more recently:

1 - Do you know how long sperm is available for? I think I recall it being 10 years but when does that period start? I started donating around 6 years ago but is it 10 years from once the sperm’s available (i.e. once passed all the final tests etc.)?

2 – How does the clinic know once a baby is born, do you have to notify the clinic or do you constantly have to go back during pregnancy/once the baby’s born? Obviously they will know that you’re successfully pregnant but could suffer a miscarriage so was wondering if it was feasible (although I’m sure this wouldn’t happen in practice) that you could have a baby and the clinic wouldn't know.

3 - How did picking the donor work? Did you get to see the goodwill message prior to selecting them? I wrote quite a lengthy message as I wanted to give the child as much information as possible so that they didn’t have to meet me to answer any questions they had if they didn’t want to (although I said I’d be glad to meet if they wanted) but feel in retrospect I might have given too much information as I kind of highlighted every possible flaw too. I have mixed feelings about this, either the recipient will appreciate the honesty and select me based on that, or it would put people off me. This is the thing I’ve most been thinking about as don’t really want the parent(s) to regret picking me if they haven’t seen the message yet. I don’t mean to overstate this, obviously no-one is perfect and I have no major genetic disorders otherwise I would’ve been discounted as a donor, which would be the biggest worry of a parent, but I should imagine most people’s goodwill messages would just give a brief overview of themselves and their main positives (interests, academic qualities etc.).

4 – If anyone has children old enough or those who are young but have been told they’re donor-conceived, how much interest is there from the child’s perspective to contact the donor/the donor’s own children/genetic half-siblings or questioning you about their background?

5 - Slightly off-topic and something I came across when trying to find answers (and not particularly something I’m interested in pursuing) – I know when men donate over the internet they can be regarded as the legal father and so financially responsible, is it the case that they are legally protected when donating to lesbian couples in civil partnerships? Or is it a bit of a grey area still?

Thanks for any help, or if you know of any helpful forums/websites that'd be great. smile

VioletCreams Sun 11-Nov-18 17:21:20

Hi

I’m not sure about sperm donation but I’ve got a baby through egg donation so 8 can help with some of your questions 😊

2). My (UK) clinic knew I was pregnant through my initial blood test and then my viability scan a few weeks later. I was sent a form to complete to advise them if live birth/miscarriage etc and if live; date of birth, name, sex, place of birth. I think the clinic have to write to hfea within 14 weeks if due date to advise on outcome. I have seen people on different forums not fill in the forms though as they don’t want the child to know that they are donor conceived.

3). There was no goodwill message given to us, the only info I have on our donor and what we picked her on was: age, amh levels, occupation, height, hair/eye colour, hobbies & interest, why they wanted to donate but I know that this information can vary from clinic to clinic. I’m not sure if I would be put off by a lengthy message detailing all the flaws, hey we all have them!! 😊 I think most people are just grateful that there are kind people like yourself that are willing to donate whether it’s sperm/eggs to give them a chance to have a child. Without your donation it would be very unlikely that they could have a child.

4). My son is just a few months old but he will be told that he is DC. I read I think on the DCN that the interest more lies in the siblings rather than the donor themselves. Even though it’s along way off from happening the thought of him looking for his donor/siblings does make me feel a bit weird, not sure why. I know if it was me I’d probably want to find out who my donor was, etc.

5). I think regardless of whether its a straight/lesbian couple if it is done outwith a clinic then you would legally be seen as the father. Going through a clinic means that you would not be seen as the legal father.

Not sure of any forums for men, I’ve been on Fertility Friends but not sure if there is a section for men there. I hope that my answers were a bit helpful to you. Perhaps someone who has used sperm donation might come along and tell you more from their perspective 😊.

A question for you as a donor 😊 How do you feel about there being a child out there with half your dna. Were you given any information about the parents before the donation happened? We obviously know about the donor but always wondered if they were ever given any info on us. It was one of those questions that I thought about afterwards.

Outofmydepth11 Sun 11-Nov-18 19:41:39

1 - My understanding is that they can store it for 10 years - so that would be from the moment the donation is made, not from when it is released following tests and quarantine (but I think it's usually released within 6 months so shouldn't make much difference?)

2 – We are meant to report pregnancies and births to the sperm bank, although they they can't enforce this. However it is very much in the recipient's interest to tell the clinic/sperm bank as you can then stay updated if the donor gives additional info (health issues discovered in the family etc). So I'd be surprised if people didn't report.

3 - In my experience, I saw everything prior to selecting. I can't imagine them sending previously unseen information later. A lengthy message is good, and flaws are also good as it shows self-awareness! A lengthy message and willingness to meet was pretty much my whole criteria - it's really nice to get a sense of the person rather than just a list of credentials/hobbies/interests that could apply to most of the population.

4 – I wouldn't know about this one (yet!) but I have a friend who is 28 and donor-conceived. She's curious about the donor and about siblings, and has send her saliva off to ancestry sites to analyse in case she can identify any family members.

5 - Grey area I think. I was told when exploring this option that if a court heard - and believed - that you had sex with the woman to get her pregnant, you would be considered the legal father of the child regardless of its mothers' marital status. A difficult one to prove!

Outofmydepth11 Sun 11-Nov-18 19:46:32

I'm also really curious about what happens on the donor's end (and have tried to find info out there with little success!). Did you have counselling and were you encouraged to think about the implications of this for a child and what they might feel? Or did it feel more transactional?

I know that not everyone thinks this way but for me, genes are at least 50% of who I am, so if I was donor-conceived I think I'd care a lot and would definitely want to meet my biological parent.

So my only worry is that my donor won't be interested or care. It's not that I'd want a child to think of the donor as 'dad' or expect him to have a full part in the child's life, just to care enough to meet up if the child wants to, and maybe exchange messages from time to time.

temporarilyvoluntarilymerrily Mon 12-Nov-18 12:59:27

Thanks both of you, that’s really helpful! It’s nice that the goodwill message doesn’t seem to be an issue, along my line of thinking in that it gives more of a sense of a person as can show sense of humour etc. which you may not get otherwise. I think I read the same thing Violet about meeting the siblings rather than the donor, which would make sense as you’d be more interested in half brothers and sisters about your age with similar interests rather than some old fuddy-duddy smile, but unless they found them through FB or something they’d probably go through me. It’d be nice to build some sort of friendship with the parents though but I completely get where you’re coming from about it possibly being weird. I was thinking actually the other day about potential meetings as the first time would be really awkward (do you handshake, hug, kiss on the cheek? hmm).

Anyway I’ll try and answer your questions (apologies if it’s really long). grin

A question for you as a donor. How do you feel about there being a child out there with half your dna. Were you given any information about the parents before the donation happened? We obviously know about the donor but always wondered if they were ever given any info on us. It was one of those questions that I thought about afterwards.

I wasn’t given any information regarding the parents at the time or since, and wasn’t notified when there was a birth, so not even sure if the recipient is a heterosexual couple, lesbian couple of single mum. I basically just contact the clinic or HFEA every so often for an update. I think when I donated I could specify the type (straight/single/lesbian) and number of families so could restrict it below 10 if I wanted, although I didn’t place any restrictions.

The only information I’m allowed is the number of children, gender and year of births. Obviously there’s only been one so far but I’m not sure whether if there’s a second I even get told if they’re from the same family or just that another baby’s been born.

The DNA thing doesn’t concern me too much, there’s a miniscule risk regarding sibling relations but my children will know about my donations so can take some preventative action. I think I read that most people only create about 1 or 2 families these days so that risk is negligible anyway. It’s nice to know that I have now helped someone though, as it’s a bit disheartening when you hear of no births. I’m not a father figure for the child and I believe nurture is more important than nature, so I kind of see this similar to blood donation in that I don’t really think of people walking around with my blood inside them. Obviously this is a bit different, and it’d be nice to have the chance to meet the child and find out what I helped create but it’s not like a long-lost child feeling or anything (kind of hard to explain!) confused

I'm also really curious about what happens on the donor's end (and have tried to find info out there with little success!). Did you have counselling and were you encouraged to think about the implications of this for a child and what they might feel? Or did it feel more transactional?

I was offered counselling yeah and given some leaflets to read through, generally about the process. I don’t recall too much about the implications for the child other than saying about the lack of anonymity so the child can contact and also a goodwill message. I did quite a lot of my own research so didn’t have too many questions. In my goodwill message I covered the types of things that the research said donor-conceived children would be interested in, and tried to think what I’d want to know in that situation.

It did feel a little transactional. Maybe with egg donation there is more of an emphasis on counselling as women have more of an emotional attachment and the donation process is a lot harder.

I agree with you that if I was donor-conceived I’d want to meet the donor at least once, more out of curiosity than anything. I can’t speak for anyone else but the lack of anonymity was a big factor for me, as I would want to at least have the option to contact the donor if I was in their shoes. Also from my perspective as a donor there’s a chance of contact whereas there wouldn’t be as an anonymous donor. As people are aware of this, I should imagine most donors would be happy to meet, otherwise they would’ve refused to donate, and as you said a criterion for you was a willingness to meet so I presume your donor is happy to? The only negative aspect from my perspective is in relation to my kids. The emphasis of contact is on the donor-conceived child, and I knew that so I’ve accepted that whilst it’d be nice if the child did contact, they may choose not to so I may never hear from them or meet them, however my children didn’t have that option. They’ll be aware of the child from me donating, but may feel a bit neglected knowing there’s someone genetically related to them but whom they may never meet. There’s no perfect solution obviously as the alternative would be allowing them to find the donor-conceived children which isn’t ideal either as a) the child may not even know they’re donor-conceived or b) know but not interested in contact.

Outofmydepth11 Tue 13-Nov-18 22:41:16

It's so nice to read this, as what you have written is exactly how I would like my donor to think and feel about us, i.e. recognise that he's not the dad but that he is an important person, because genes matter. And to want there to be some kind of relationship/friendship with the family even if it's just touching base every now and again.

It's also really good to hear that you are/would be open with your own kids, as I do sometimes wonder whether a donor might initially be open to contact when single, but then change his mind once he had his own partner and kids...

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 14-Nov-18 19:56:51

I'm just chipping in too, hope that's ok.

My DD was conceived with donor sperm and I am so grateful to the lovely anonymous person who did this. He wrote a beautiful message, and it really was important to us. He explained he and his wife had trouble conceiving so he'd had treatment and donated sperm along with that. He also said how important his family was to him, and how he hoped any child born from his donation would be happy. It was really lovely and kind.

Because of him, I know that you can store sperm longer than 10 years. Ours went 'out of date' last December, but the clinic checked with our donor, and he said he was happy for it to be kept for another 10 years, which means we could still use it to try for a sibling (we've tried a couple of times without success, though that is to do with my fertility - the sperm doesn't decline over time).

FWIW, I really didn't care about donors' academic qualities. In fact I found it actively off-putting that some of them wrote as if they were applying for a job! We were offered three potential donors by our clinic, two of whom had PhDs and one who hadn't gone to university. We chose the one who hadn't gone to university because he was the only one who sounded caring and humane and thoughtful. I definitely wouldn't think someone who mentioned flaws or showed a sense of humour sounded bad!

I am quietly quite interested in meeting our donor, if DD wants to when she is grown up. I don't mind if that's not something she wants. But I'd love to be able to thank him.

thepoorestoftherichteabiscuits Fri 16-Nov-18 12:01:28

Hi LRD – the more the merrier smile,

Thanks for that, I had wondered what happens if parents want a sibling beyond the cut-off. I presume it’s only now available to you and not ‘publicly’ available, for want of a better word?

I agree about the message. I suppose it’s a bit difficult really as if you’re asked to give a description of yourself most people will try to sell themselves so can sound a bit like a job interview, but I wrote my message aimed at the child rather than the parents so just left it up to the parents to decide (if they saw the message before choosing me) whether I sounded to their tastes or not. That’s kind of why I included strengths and weaknesses as the child may question why they’re particularly bad at something as well as good if their parents do/don’t possess those qualities.

It's also really good to hear that you are/would be open with your own kids, as I do sometimes wonder whether a donor might initially be open to contact when single, but then change his mind once he had his own partner and kids...

It’s also good to hear from my perspective that others like LRD and yourself would be open to contact. I have the opposite worry to you in that they may choose not to ever contact, and also I don’t even know whether the parents will ever tell the child they’re donor-conceived. I think I read that most donors now are already married/have kids but not sure whether you know your donor was single/childless at donation? I met my fiancée during my donation process so was a bit anxious to tell her. She was obviously a bit shocked at first but is happy with it and thinks it’s a good thing I donated. It may have been alright if she was a bit uneasy/apprehensive but if she had a problem with contact I don’t think we’d be together. I don’t have kids yet but I think it’d be a bit unfair to deny them any possibility of knowing the child given they’re genetically linked. I think I also have a responsibility as it'd be a huge upheaval if suddenly they're told they have a half-sibling and also for the very, very tiny chance of sibling relations.

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