Donor decisions.

So we are cancelling one of our two upcoming fertility clinic appointments as we think we’ve narrowed down our search to the place that will (hopefully) help us make a baby in the near future. My best friend happens to work for the hospital with which this particular clinic is affiliated and highly recommended it before I began any of my online searches (did I mention that my best friend is a nurse practitioner in the women’s health field and her fiancee is a gynecologist? She is my go-to for all lady issues and has been AMAZING during this process because she seems to always know the answers to my questions before I know the questions themselves. More on her later…)

In addition to the fact that the bestie works for the hospital with which this clinic is affiliated, my own gynecologist recommended them (I go to a different practice than the one at which my friend works – I love asking her questions, but I think it would be weird opening my legs to her…though she’s told me plenty of times that “a vagina is a vagina”), and the lesbian couple with whom my wife and I had dinner a few weeks ago used this practice and got pregnant on their first try with this doctor (after trying for a while at home). We’re pretty stoked about the upcoming visit, and feel pretty confident that this is the practice we’ll be using to have a baby.

In the meantime, I’ve been casually perusing (read: incessantly searching) the database of the sperm bank we think we’d like to move forward with, and have about 20 favorites flagged to do more research on. We plan to reach out to the bank once the date gets closer for more in-depth info on our choices.

When we first discussed the possibility of having kids, we always knew I’d be the carrier. I’ve wanted to experience pregnancy for as long as I can remember (it was never NOT an option, really), and my wife is the total opposite (she says its a body sacrifice that she isn’t willing to make). We considered the idea of asking one of her two brothers to be our donor and attempt at-home inseminations or in-clinic IUI, however, one of her brothers who initially offered before we got married changed his mind (he and his wife just had a baby and I think they are afraid that it will complicate things for their daughter which I can certainly understand) and we aren’t terribly close with her other brother and we felt funny asking. So we began to discuss more and more the possibility of using donor sperm. At first, I was completely averse to the idea: I wanted my babies to understand from where (and from whom) they came and understand their complete family history, genetics, etc. What I didn’t realize, though, is how much of that is available through donor databases and now that I have been searching, I’m kind of excited by the idea of getting to select someone who has certain traits and characteristics and a particular background to help create our kids. It’s like…match.com, but for genetic traits and characteristics. And baby pictures. SO. MANY. BABY PICTURES.

I mean, if you’ve seen a bunch of baby pictures of someone, and you know about their hopes and dreams, and you know a little about their background and genetic makeup…you KIND OF know them right?

Then I tell myself: it doesn’t matter. This baby will be mine, and my wife’s. We will raise it, love it, nurture it, and support it: where it got 50% of its genetic makeup doesn’t matter. Or does it? I’d love to hear the perspective of someone who conceived with donor sperm. Am I crazy? Did you ever think this? Did it completely dissipate as your baby grew?

The other thing I am stuck on now, is whether or not to fixate on the idea of identifying an “open” donor or not. So sperm banks appear to have truly anonymous donors, as well as “open” donors with whom the child could have at LEAST one (more if both parties agree) communication with the donor when they turn 18. I like the idea that if my kid ever wanted to, they could at least ask the questions and perhaps get an answer or two – if not a relationship with this person with whom they share DNA. Again, I’m not sure if this matters. I don’t know anyone who was the offspring of someone who used donor sperm (nor a I close with anyone who was adopted to ask) so I don’t know if this is just me in my own head, or if it’s a realistic fear.

Another thought that’s been floating around my mind heading into tomorrow: St. Patrick’s Day. My family is predominately Irish (especially on my dad’s side) and I have always felt a connection with Irish-American culture, and I wonder if my sharing of that culture of my children will be enough if they don’t also share that blood-link to my Irish roots. If we go the route of reciprocal IVF (where I would carry my wife’s embryo) and don’t select a donor with a similar ancestry as me, my kids very well may NOT be Irish by blood – but will they still feel that connection to Irish music and food? Will they still feel that sense of belonging at Irish celebrations? And again…does it matter if they feel loved? I’m really torn.

Would love some insight, here.

 

 

 

8 thoughts on “Donor decisions.

  1. We used a known donor (my wife’s best friends fella), but if we had gone the sperm bank route we would have gone the open donor route. It may not be something a child cares about, but I don’t think that’s my decision to make for another person.

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    1. We are leaning in that direction. Ultimately, parents make a ton of decisions that impact their kids’ lives, but this one has the potential to leave a lasting hole (or at least a lasting question mark) and if we have the potential to alleviate that, I don’t see why we wouldn’t. It limits our potential pool, but we are thinking it may be worth it in the end.

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  2. We are on the donor egg side of things and honestly don’t care about the ethnicity and background of the child as long as it’s healthy and happy. Speaking of Irish, I’m Irish and have never felt at home with the celebrations out there as I honestly think they’re cheesy. 🙂 Think of how many people you know who stick out like a sore thumb in their own families even though they are 100% genetically related… Your kiddo is going to be whatever he or she is meant to be, DNA or not. Your love and what you two have to offer will be what makes the difference, will be what makes your child feel loved and part of your family .

    As far as picking a clinic I can highly recommend using the website fertilityiq.com to review the ratings provided by actual IVF patients. Success numbers honestly are the least important thing when it comes to this process – SART data doesn’t reflect accurately as it only shows how many people get pregnant not how many people actually give birth, and so much more really has to do with your relationship with the doctor and the staff, how much they’re willing to listen to you and be questioned about their protocols (there is no standard protocol, seems like every RE has their own idea of what absolutely works and what they refuse to consider), and what they will and won’t do if IVF doesn’t work. There a lot of fertility doctors who think they are God, and ones who aren’t willing to adjust their protocols or who I worry about the most.

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    1. I had a lengthy response typed out to you and then my computer restarted. UGH. First and foremost: a healthy baby is priority #1, and I hope that my post didn’t make it seem otherwise. You bring up a lot of great points (what stuck out to me is how often people don’t fit in with their families or cultures) and I think you’re right. We plan to raise our (hopeful) child in an environment filled with love, culture of all kinds, and special traditions that have been passed down in both of our families. At the end of the day, it’s things like my grandmother’s style of dancing, and my wife’s nana’s chrusciki making process, my mother-in-law’s meatballs, and my mom’s thanksgiving stuffing that are going to shape the familial/cultural traditions that are close to our kid(s) and no amount of DNA is going to make them love or hate it – it’s going to be largely shaped by the memories we all make doing those things with them! 🙂

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  3. For us, we have gone with a known donor because contact was very important to us. We had a close friend who was donor conceived who passed away. For us we are choosing a known donor in part as a way to honor her struggle to know her donor dad.

    Ultimately you have to make the decision that is best for you and your wife. I think as the other commenter said that what you two provide is what makes your child feel loved and part of a family. I think using a donor who will allow contact just leaves the door cracked for the child should they ever wish for contact. That might provide some piece of mind for the two of you, maybe.

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    1. Unfortunately, going the route of “known donor” just isn’t an option for us because we are not familiar with anyone who we would feel comfortable asking to do that. An “open” anonymous donor is probably our best bet, and I am leaning in the direction of “open” versus completely anonymous for the reasons you mentioned above. I never want a child who will “want” for information about his/her background without having any potential avenue of securing it. If we go the “open” route, they at least have the possibility for one contact when they turn 18, which isn’t much (and could be more depending on the particular bank’s policies and the donor’s openness to continuing a relationship) and I don’t at all feel uncomfortable about that, as genetics can be important to some people and I can imagine being curious and wanting to just explore that if I weren’t biologically linked to both of my parents. Lots of things to consider, so thank you for your comments. Definitely helpful! 🙂

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      1. It’s a very personal decision for sure. We didn’t know anyone personally either (at least, not here on the East Coast– we moved just over a year ago) so we actually searched for a known donor online. I know there is a lot of stigma attached to that method but it’s been good for us. It probably wouldn’t work well for you and your partner though since you will be starting with a fertility center. It sounds like you are taking the time to alleviate any concerns you and your partner might have about the decision you will ultimately make. Regardless of where you land on the issue you are on the right track. 🙂

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      2. Thank you! (We are East Coasters as well! :)) I honestly never even heard of using a known donor online until I read about it in a few blogs (in fact, blogs and forums are teaching me a great deal). Based on the required testing with a fertility center (and the subsequent waiting periods) it may not work, and we are also fortunate that my wife’s insurance will hopefully cover a large portion of our expenses, so if we can use that to our advantage and ultimately conceive more quickly (fingers crossed!) we figured, we might as well. So many things to think (and rethink!!) Glad to be meeting others who can relate. 🙂

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