While on the long, meandering, and frustrating road to finding a sperm donor and conceiving our children, my huge desire to prevent others from having to endure such a path filled with many unknowns, extremely upsetting twists and turns was ignited. I felt a sense of overwhelm and urgency to help others.
The following is our journey to the beginnings of Spoken Origins.
First stop, the sperm bank.
Like many other couples who have begun the journey of starting a family, our first stop was various different cryobanks and after plunking down several thousand dollars to have access to search the donor databases, we were unable to find a suitable donor.
We were in the process of making one of life’s most important decisions. We assumed going through a cryobank would offer the most support as we endeavored to create a child and expand our family. We were greatly disappointed. To help in making our decision, we were offered written details of a sperm donor’s physical appearance and an “essay” written by the anonymous sperm donor. Sometimes we were offered an audio clip. If we wanted to see a picture, we had to pay additional fees—and that was just for a baby photo. Adult photos or videos of the donor were unavailable: only a small percentage of sites offered them.
It’s about profit, not people.
Unsurprisingly, we discovered that the fertility industry, like so many other industries, was driven by profit. Upon realizing the lack of regulation and so many children being born with genetic diseases despite claims of rigorous genetic screening and testing, how could we or anyone trust the donors or the cryobanks? Our confidence in using a cryobank quickly dissolved.
We felt a great sense of injustice and experienced the anger that followed.
I didn’t know where to begin. There was no one easy place to find answers to my questions.
We couldn’t imagine putting sperm inside of us to produce a child that we will raise for the rest of your lives and having zero idea of who the sperm donor really is. Is he an alcoholic, emotionally unstable, convicted of a crime? Is he actually free from genetic diseases?
Donor is a misnomer.
Ideally, did we want someone who merely sold his sperm to be half the genetic composition of our children. We considered and hoped he may be authentically motivated by altruistic reasons, even so, as an anonymous sperm donor, he doesn’t have any obligations or participation aside from providing donations. He isn’t informed of who his offspring is, how many he will have or has. We wondered if any of the children would ever come in contact with each other unknowingly as half siblings and if the sperm donor has any genetic mutations that may come into conflict with his recipients. With lack of regulation and consequence to the sperm donor, how can we realistically expect the donor to factually and adequately report his medical status and family history? Especially when he is being monetarily compensated.
In that moment, my wife and I decided we needed to have a known sperm donor.
And as it does turn out, some half siblings DO MEET unbeknownst to them. Some children ARE born with genetic defects despite the claims of the “rigorous genetic testing”. Some anonymous sperm donors DON’T REPORT to the cryobank any relocations, keeping their contact info up to date. Some Anonymous sperm donors DO DECLINE a child’s request to know where they came from. Some anonymous sperm donors DO SUFFER from mental illnesses, manage addictions, have criminal records and exaggerate their accomplishments.
These were our wishes:
- We knew we wanted to know the identity of our sperm donor.
- We also knew our future children would likely want to know too.
- We wanted to at least have the option to view a recorded video of our sperm donor, hear his voice, and experience his energy as best we could.
- We wanted access to his and his family’s medical history.
- We wanted assurance he wouldn’t have any genetic mutations that may be in conflict with ours.
Were these desires unrealistic?
Epiphany: we didn’t have to settle for an anonymous sperm donor.
After countless hours of research over the course of a year, I realized YOU COULD responsibly choose a donor who was willing to be known. While you can’t access known sperm donors at cryobanks, you could access them. Additionally, I learned much more about choosing a known sperm donor.
- We learned we could know the identity of the known sperm donor right now. We didn’t have to wait until our children turned 18. Perhaps more importantly, they didn’t have to wait. We didn’t need to be concerned if the donor would accept our child’s request to know his identity or if the donor would even survive till our children became of age. We no longer had to be reliant on the sperm bank’s to act as a mediator between our future children and the anonymous sperm donor.
- We could meet potential known sperm donors over the phone or Skype and sometimes in person.
- Not only could we still utilize the cryobank’s genetic testing and STD testing, but by doing so, we would also sever the parental, legal, and financial obligations of our sperm donor and more.
- We could save and actually did save 77% in costs, banking about 40 vials of sperm using our perfect known sperm donor versus selecting an anonymous sperm donor via the cyrobank. To put it into perspective, that’s about 40 vials of known donor sperm for the cost of 7 vials of anonymous sperm at the cryobank.
- We didn’t need to be concerned if a sperm donor “retired” and his sperm was no longer available to use for additional pregnancies.
- And we learned much more…
Finding a known donor became a full time job.
I began to scour the Internet in search of our perfect known sperm donor. It was time consuming, taking hours and hours and all of my time on nights and weekends. After searching through over 6,000 profiles, and interviewing about 100 potential donors, we finally found and selected our perfect, willing-to-be-known donor. We were blessed to find a known sperm donor who met all our needs. He even went above and beyond to assist in any way he could making all of our efforts all the more worthwhile. We are in the deepest gratitude, thank you Shaun.
6,000 profiles later…
As a natural consequence of making sense of the much sought after, scattered and totally not cohesive information encountered on my quest for answers, I had developed a proprietary system to weed through the multitudes of known-donor candidates. I created a method, tools and resources that proved invaluable to finding our perfect known sperm donor.
I also become considerably well-versed in reproductive law—specifically regarding sperm donation and creating a contract with known sperm donors that would help prevent donors from coming after your financial assets or custody of your future children while also clearly stating both you and your sperm donor’s intentions. And this bit of information is minuscule when it comes to the legal insight, know-how, and in-depth knowledge necessary to successfully navigate the uncharted waters of the sperm donor world within the fertility industry.
Everyone deserves to know their origins.
Through our extensive research, my wife and I learned that donor-conceived people have needs that are often not met and there are no laws in place to protect their interests. The majority of donor-conceived people want to know where they come from and feel it’s their right. In fact, some donor conceived people actually long to know where they come from and this can prove to be quite painful. Everyone has a right to know where they come from.
Sharing our learning
While intensively researching and piecing together bits of information through what I would later refer to as “part of our fertility adventure,” I felt overwhelmed by the desire to help others in their “adventures.” Most people, when given the choice, will choose to know their sperm donors. Spoken Origins is a place and a space where origins are spoken about and shared transparently. We invite you to consider the numerous benefits of choosing a known sperm donor.
In honor of all donor-conceived people, I want to help families make this life-altering choice responsibly by selecting a donor/recipient who is willing to give our children their most basic fundamental right of obtaining fuller information about their biological, cultural and social lineage. Together we can end anonymous donations at the seed level and end the search so many have to know where they come from.
Whether it be finding a known sperm donor, through natural conception, ICI, IUI, IVF and or having your eggs retrieved for use later, I’m here for you! After we found our known sperm donor and traveled further down our path to conceive, I realized there was a huge missing for intended parents. With all the years of on- going research, our own fertility treatments and my innate desire to be in service to others, I honored what was calling to me. I became a fertility coach.
It is my honor to support and guide you to fulfill on your commitment of having a family.
Your Fertility Guide and Support Partner
Please see the following link to learn what fertility support services I offer.