Dear future mother
I would have done everything to have my children. I totally understand your desire to hold that cute baby of your own. It’s the reason why I became an egg donor after I had mine; it’s the reason why I work for the National Gamete Donation Trust helping others become pregnant via egg and/or sperm donation.
I always say to other mothers not to listen to other mothers. We are a judgemental bunch with opinions about breastfeeding, co-sleeping and disposable nappies. So don’t listen to me as a mother. Hear me out, finish this 3 minute piece, as a professional who deals with donors, patients and people out of donation (your future baby…) on a daily basis.
I want to talk to you about using unregulated sperm donors.
For whatever reason you’ve decided you don’t want to use the clinic route. It’s not the safest choice, it’s not the wisest choice but I understand you. I have to admit I’m no fan of it but that’s because I know too much. But I understand you don’t want to spend a lot of money if you *only* want sperm. I understand you feel it’s a waste of time and money to be sucked into a medical system if nothing is medically wrong with you. I’m still not agreeing with you but I do understand. Honest.
Please accept from me though that within the unregulated route there are various options. It’s never going to be ‘clinic safe’ but I accept that in many cases it’s going to be ‘safe enough’ considering you could have picked up a guy on a night out or had your best friend’s brother do a turkey-baster job on you (and don’t tell the NGDT and the regulator HFEA I told you this…).
But there are other considerations other than ‘safe’. It needs to stand the test of time for you and your child. Using donors who have lots of children, like Simon Watson who claims to have over 800 already, may fulfil your desires short-term, but may lead to issues for you and/or your child up later in life. As tempting as it is to share my thoughts about Simon and some other donors, they might be devastated to learn this is not about them. It’s not about you either. It’s about your child.
Start with that Ultimate in Parenthood which is putting your child’s needs before your own: think about your child and what the impact would be if you use a donor like Simon Watson. If all goes well your child will grow into a toddler with curiosity, a teenager with doubts, an adult with questions. And this person is going to wonder about the 800+ half-siblings s/he may have. Don’t fool yourself with the statistical unlikelihood of getting married; that’s just one side of the story. It’s about sitting in the train and wondering if that person across the aisle could be a sibling. That boy in 4th Grade, your friend’s neighbour – could they be? They share your nose, your colour eyes, there’s something about them… There is plenty of research and data available on the impact of people questioning their genetic family and it’s not something you can afford to ignore.
So you have two options: you either going to admit to your child that someone like Simon is the father and burden it with (the knowledge of) 800+ half brothers or sisters. Or you keep quiet about the donor and your child will never know about its origins.
When I was very critical about unregulated sperm donation in this TV debate it wasn’t because I’m making lots of money in the fertility sector and have an hidden agenda. I don’t work for a clinic; I work for a charity paid for by a small grant from the Department of Health. It wasn’t because I have anything against gay families, single families or whatever crazy argument I have heard.
I am critical on behalf of your child who hasn’t got a voice at the moment. I want you to stop and think about the alternatives. If you honestly think uncontrolled is the way to go, at least go via an organisation where there’s some sort of filtering taking place like Pride Angel. Still, use your judgement wisely.
Parenting is never easy. You’re going to be faced with many choices and they won’t get any easier over time. But for your child’s sake, making the choice to avoid the donors whose claim to fame is the high number of offspring, might possibly be the most important one you can make.
Be wise, be safe and most importantly, realise your job as a parent starts now.