Sperm Donation

Parent Q&A

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  • Tips on finding the right sperm donor

    (1 reply)

    We are a married same-sex couple (two women) looking for a sperm donor who has shared interests with us, is in good health, and hopefully looks a bit like the non-carrying parent. We’d like to get to know the donor, maybe even have a friendship first. We have been very conscious about our decision and preparation; we don’t plan to start trying to conceive until next year. At this time, we'd really like to avoid going the sperm bank route. We know sibling networks are a great source of support to many families, but we each grew up with big bio families who are very different from us.

    Has anyone succeeded in finding a donor in the local Berkeley community? How did you connect? 

    Twelve years ago we were in the same boat as you two are. After many false starts we finally lucked into finding some obscure website (that I don't think even exists anymore). On it we found someone who happened to live locally and while it didn't work out with him, it DID end up working out with his husband! So now both families have two daughters and we're all in each other's lives like family. It's really been an amazing experience. I wish our wonderful experience could help more for you and your situation! Feel free to call or email me if you want to talk more about it. At first our process felt long and slow and hard- and sooooo frustrating. But now, looking at the way it's all worked out... Now we know how lucky we are to have had things fall into place in such an amazing way! I wish the same for you. 



    mailisha.chesney [at] gmail.com

  • We just moved to Berkeley from London, UK with our twins (aged nearly 4). The twins were conceived using donor sperm in the UK and we were very active in the Donor Conception Network and really enjoyed connecting with other families who had also used donor gametes (eggs, sperm, both, embryos) to have their children. We found that there were lots of on-going issues that we were able to talk with other families about - like when/how to 'tell' (both children and others in their or your lives like teachers, friends etc), how to support difficult questions etc.

    Through the DCN we went to annual meetings but also more informal local groups where we got together for a drink to check in, and occasionally had picnics with our kids etc. The hope is that as the kids grow up it will be helpful for them to know other donor-conceived children as well so as to normalize it.

    Does anyone know of a local group(s) that we could join to discuss any or all of the above? Just FYI we are a heterosexual couple who used an unknown ID-release donor from a sperm bank, and have already been very open with our kids about their conception (not always smooth but we try!) but we're really up for meeting up with others in our situation or gay couples/single parents/others at different stages of their "telling" journey etc.

    Or if such a thing does not exist and you are a parent of a DC-child(ren) would you be interested in meeting up? We can be really respectful about privacy of course.

    I'm not aware of local groups outside of LGBT family groups such as Our Family. My wife and I are a lesbian couple with donor conceived kids, and we've actually found a great network of like-minded parents through the Donor Sibling Registry (donorsiblingregistry.com) - they have a Facebook page where you could post this exact question and possibly get some responses. In addition, through the registry, we've found and connected with other families who used our same donor, and it's been great for sharing the ins-and-outs of raising DC kids. 

    My son is 17 yr and is a donor sperm baby.  We also wondered when we would tell my son and one day it presented itself when he was in about 4th grade.  We were filling out the US census data and it asked a question about whether the child in the household was the biological child of the parents.  We told him then, he was not phased, and went about his life.  It was perhaps our issue more than his issue.  I have never heard of such an organization here in the US but have not looked for one either.  Although I have never felt the need for an organization you are inquiring about, I have met donor egg children and adopted children and their families, and enjoyed the conversations and know I can reach out to them.  If you are looking for community in your new home (Welcome!) perhaps you can find a twins community.  I have seen postings for those communities on BPN.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Single/queer parents - experience w/ known donors?

Aug 2011

Hi folks! I am 40, single, queer, and preparing to parent, however it comes my way. Ideally, I will connect with a man who knows he does not want to parent, but would be interested in helping me start my family, and is willing to be known by the child in some way.

I would like to hear from people who used known donors to get pregnant and had it go well - what made it go well? what helped you make good decisions? if your donor wasn't someone you already knew well, how did you find that person? Are they/ how are they involved in your family?

Please, if you want to warn me that this is a bad idea, I respectfully ask you not to respond. I am aware of the many pitfalls. If you want to suggest things to be careful of in a way that is supportive of going ahead, that would be appreciated.

We used a known donor. The key was establishing the ground rules and having a contract in place just to make everyone feel better.

Honest communication and acknowledging that this is a somewhat awkward situation with no real playbook is a good first start.

Trust your instincts on who you choose. You may want to choose someone with no children, but that may mean that the person ends up being more involved than you'd like. I know 2 couples who have used a donor who, already, has children. You need to establish what, if any, relationship you envision your donor having with your child. Talk about it with him.

The law requires a child to have 2 parents. If you really want to make sure that your bases are covered, once the baby is born have your partner (if you have one) adopt the child, which involves having the donor legally rescind parental rights. If you're not going the adoption step, just don't put his name on the birth certificate, have a contract, and have a will listing the child's next of kin in the event that something happens to you.

We're really glad we used a known donor, but I've also heard horror stories about custody battles. been there

I have 2 kids (now teens) who are products of sperm donation by a friend. I also know dozens of other similar families. I suggest you get to know them, too, through our local community organizations. My main advice on this is don't have a known donor be a friend unless he is someone with whom you would trust with your life in his hands and with whom you are very happy to see often should he decide to be an ''uncle''. The uncle (donor and his partner) have been such unexpected blessings in the lives of my children. But I know of dissimilar stories. Absolutely get a legal contract before the donation that states he gives up all rights and has no responsibility. Happy with known donor friends

Sperm Storage - When to End?

Nov 2010

We have two amazing children from a sperm donor through a sperm bank. We purchased more vials of our donor's sperm than we ended up needing to conceive (a good problem), and now have a good number of vials of our donor's sperm that are still being stored at the sperm bank. We are looking to hear from people who have used sperm donors to conceive, have given birth to the number of children you are planning to have, and have decided what to do with any remaining sperm. Did you just ask them to dispose of the vials? Did you keep storing them, and until when? Did you pass them along to anyone else? We are having a hard time making a final decision about what to do, even though we know that our family is complete. We do not want to keep paying the sperm bank to store the vials, but it seems so final to dispose of them and passing them along seems a bit weird. We haven't found anyone on the Donor Sibling Network who is looking for this donor, otherwise may consider that option. Any (and only) thoughts from people who have been there - much appreciated. anon

We had your very situation: paid the sperm bank $400 per year for five years, despite the fact that we too had reached our desired number of children. It seemed so very final to have the vials disposed. However, we finally decided to sign the paperwork, and based it on the fact that 1) we truly did not want another child, 2) heck, if we wanted another child (which we really don't/didn't) of course there are options to have another with a different donor, and 3) we thought of all the other things that we could do with that $400! We ended up putting the $400 into our child's college fund; not much, but in ten years it will be more!

I truly understand that hesitation to ''end it;'' however, I realized (as did my partner) that it was linked more to the bitterweet feelings of watching our child grow up, and realizing that we would not have another baby in the house, ever, than about maybe wanting another child.

It's been well over a year, and we don't regret it. now, we just borrow our friends' babies...and give them back!

Conceived with a Known Donor?

March 2010

I am going to be a Choice Mom and my sperm donor and I are looking for people (in particular, known sperm donors) who have gone this route and are willing to share their experiences with us. Any information would be helpful.

I believe the anthology ''One Big Happy Family'' edited by Rebecca Walker has an essay in it from a guy was a known sperm donor for friends. You might look for it at the library.

Hi. I am a single mom by choice, and I just wanted to tell you that I'm glad I DIDN'T go with a friend as a known donor (and I tried with two men). I have too many stories to tell in this short space, but the upshot is you never know what can happen or how the guy's feelings or your relationship with the guy can change. I'm also a lesbian, with lots of lesbian friends with children, so I've seen first-hand many different ways to conceive. I know a family where the friend donor unexpectedly asserted parental rights after the child was born. The friendship fell through, and they now have to parent together, and it's painful for everyone. I think if you're using a friend, it's best if he's married and lives in a different state--that way he's available to meet the child, but he probably won't want to pursue more than a friendship.

You might want to check out Rainbow Flag Health Services in Alameda (www.gayspermbank.com). You don't have to be gay to use them--many single straight women have been clients. They work with directed donors (your situation), and they can provide you and your known donor with legal protection, health screening, and insemination services. I ended up using their sperm bank, which no longer accepts new donors, so their stash is limited. Their policy is that you can meet the donor when the child is 3 months old. We met 2 siblings before meeting the donor. We love knowing the other moms and kids--all three are only children, and they have a cousin-type relationship. We've seen the donor a handful of times, but he just isn't as important to my child as the siblings are. (FYI, if you use Rainbow Flag, you have to sign an agreement not to circumcise your child, an issue I already agreed with.)

I know I'm not really addressing your question, and I wasn't going to respond, but I felt bad when there were no posts in the last letter. I do want to say that I've really enjoyed being a single parent, and I was worried about my choice to parent alone up until I actually held my baby. I joined lots of parenting groups and made good friends with families at my child's large daycare/preschool, and I really feel like I have support. I've even dated and been in a relationship! No matter what happens with your choice of donor, becoming a single parent is an awesome experience. Best of luck! Single mom of a 10 year old

Sperm bank with known donors?

Oct 2009

I am currently looking into single motherhood and sperm banks. I'm interested in donors who are willing to be known and wonder if anyone has had a particularly good experience with a sperm bank with such donors. Single Parent Seeker

I had a very good experience using the sperm bank of ca: www.thespermbankofca.org in berkeley. They do not have ''known donors'' but they have ''identity release donors'' that agree to contact when the child is 18. They also have excellent resources and links on the website that may be helpful to you. good luck!

Telling people about donor sperm

Feb 2009

My husband and I are blessed with a wonderful baby girl. After 5 years of trying, we finally decided to use donor sperm. We thought the donor was close enough in appearance to my husband, but she really does not look like him. He is still fabulous with her, but the situation is a bit stressful. When she gets a little older, she will probably ask questions. My husband does not want to tell people and I am respecting his wishes, but I am not sure it is the correct decision. Has anyone else had a similar experience. anon

Although I understand your position, I would respect your husband's wish. People do not need to know. It's none of their business. She is your daughter and he is her father. When your daughter asks, and she's older at an age that you and your husband are comfortable, you should tell her.

Maybe I'm just clueless but I think (esp in the bay area) there are lots of kids that look way more like one parent than the other ~ or none at all. Some of them actually have biological ties to their parents but don't look a like and some don't. So what? I don't think it's a big deal; your daughter calls you ''mommy'' and ''daddy'' and that's what important. If your husband doesn't want to tell people, I think it's not a problem. -love makes a family

My dad died when I was 18 years old. In her grief, my mom shared with me a few months later, ''Your dad is not your dad!'' She explained that after a long struggle with infertility they chose to use a sperm donor to conceive a child. While my parents had always been honest with me about their infertility challenges they chose to keep their choice to use a sperm donor a secret from me and everyone they knew. It was a painful secret for my parents to keep and as an adult, it was painful to learn the truth.

Now in my 30's, my mom rationalizes that the world was a different place 30 years ago - in vitro and other fertility treatments were just being developed and very little was discussed in the media or beyond the walls of the doctor's office. Use of a sperm donor was not talked about and for my mom, using a sperm donor has been, and continues to be, a skeleton in her closet.

While I can't know how I would have felt growing up being aware that my dad was not biologically related to me, I do know that I felt incredibly loved and wanted being the child of parents who had participated in fertility treatments. I grew up knowing that my parents tried tireless to have me in their lives.

After my mom's confession, my immediate reaction was to yell, ''Dad was my dad!'' DNA felt irrelevant when contrasted to 18 years of unconditional love and encouragement. To this day, I still wish I had the chance to tell my dad that I don't care that it wasn't his sperm. To me, he was my dad, the best dad, and I am so thankful that he felt confident enough to make the choice he did regarding donated sperm. His choice gave me life!

From the day I was born, my dad loved me, he supported me, and he taught me. Even before becoming a parent of my own, I knew that love and caring actions are what defines a parent, not DNA. I just wish my parents had felt confident enough to share their decision with me and others (even my relatives don't know the truth). Looking back, my admiration for my dad only grew after learning we were not biologically related. I miss him to this day and named my son after him.

At times, I do find myself wondering about my biological father - not because I want a relationship, but out of curiosity for my genetic history. In so many ways, my mom and I are complete opposites. How much of my personality/interests/etc. are connected to my paternal DNA? I wish I knew something about my paternity. With that in mind, I attribute the person I am today directly to my dad's influences - not DNA.

This is an emotional topic with no right answer. Do what feels best for your family. Regardless of your decision, your husband is, and always will be, your daughter's father, and together you are a family. While it may be different than how you had hoped or imagined, it doesn't negate either of your roles as parents. Personally, I know very few families that turned out exactly as they planned.

I admire you and your husband for talking about this prior to your daughter's questions and wish you all the best with your decision. Good luck! ''Any man can be a father. It takes someone special to be a dad.'' ~Author Unknown

I wouldn't worry about telling other people; I would be concerned with WHEN are you going to tell your daughter. Studies show that children who know from a very young age how they were conceived (adopted/donor sperm or egg/other) simply accept this information as part of their lives.

Visit the Donor Conception Network for great resources and books for children who join their families in all sorts of ways: http://www.donor-conception-network.org/childrenbks.htm

It may have resources for telling others as well. As for your daughter not looking like your husband...A dear friend of mine looks like a skinny White girl with freckles (she takes after her mom). Her three sisters are large Black women, very dark skinned (they take after dad). Same two parents for all four daughters. Making children is just a throw of the multi-generational dice. Family is family, no matter how we get there

I think you are way more attuned to this than most people will be. Some kids don't really look like their parents, or barely have a passing resemblance. If anyone does happen to mention it, you can casually say she looks like other people on her dad's side (which is technically very true) and leave it at that.

We did the exact same thing.. although it was our second child. I spoke with a friend who is a child psychiatrist and said to tell them. The way I look at it is that its their story and they have a right to know it. That being said; we are going to talk about it openly with her when she is ready; and inform anybody else on a need to know basis. Our first child is a naturally conceived child and he kind of looks like us; but not really. We all just chuckle about it. Since this is the route you chose, you know that what makes a parent is not genetic material; but the love, dedication and commitment a parent has to offer. I would rather talk about it and tell the truth so that we never have a lie between us. If our child was adopted we would disclose that to her and anyone else on a need to know basis, it wouldn't make us any less of her parents. She is our daughter no matter how she arrived. Good luck, I know its a lot to contemplate Kathy

I think you've identified two issues here.

1) Your husband and daughter don't look much alike. This is no big deal. Lots of kids don't look like one or even both parents. My daughter is the spitting image of her paternal grandmother, who is Central American (I'm not). And my son is fair and red-haired while my husband and I have black hair. People ask all the time about the red hair. This doesn't mean they're asking if he came from a sperm donor, was adopted, etc. They're just making conversation. So don't worry too much about your daughter and her father not looking alike. These things happen and you can just laugh it off, as we do, and say you never do know what kids are going to look like. No need to say she came from a sperm donor--it's none of their business, and it's not what they're asking, anyway.

2) You need to decide what to tell your daughter. You say ''When she gets a little older, she will probably ask questions.'' I don't see any reason for her to ask questions just because she doesn't look like her dad. My daughter never asked why she didn't look like me! I think you're stressing about this point too much because of your own issues. But your statement does make me wonder if you are planning on eventually telling your child that she was conceived with donor sperm. This is a big deal--it's like not telling her she was adopted. Are you really planning on keeping this secret forever? Is this healthy for everyone concerned, especially given that you already seem uncomfortable about the whole topic? I know a woman who always sensed there was some deep, dark secret about her, something that meant she was very bad--and it turned out to be that she was adopted. My own mother had some similar experiences in a family where her adoption was kept secret and was considered a very painful topic to discuss. And yet I know a young woman conceived with donor sperm who says she and her father are lucky to have each other, and is completely comfortable about it. You need to work this out while your child is young and decide how you will deal with this important issue. If you're uncomfortable, your child will sense it and possibly imagine the worst. Talk to others, do some reading, see a therapist--but get clear in your minds how you're approaching this and do so with love, honesty and open hearts. You have done nothing wrong and neither has your wonderful child. Where'd the red hair come from?

I am an advocate of ''telling'' so this resource is biased in that direction, but I encourage you to check out: www.donor- conception-network.org Debbie

Honestly, I wouldn't worry about telling anyone unless you want to, although you should let your child know at the appropriate time. You are probably much more sensitive to the issue than anyone else would be. Our two daughters look nothing like their dad, and the joke around our house is that you can't spot a single gene of their father, who is half-Indian, although they will undoubtably be taller like him. He has dark hair and eyes, and they have fair skin/hair and bright blue eyes like me. I spent the weekend with friends and their two daughters look absolutely different than the two of them, to the extent that my friend gets asked occasionally if she is their nanny. She and her husband have black hair and brown eyes, and their two daughters have flaming red hair and blue eyes. Another set of friends has mixed heritage and they have one son with blond hair/blue eyes and a daughter who clearly resembles her biracial father. In the Bay Area especially, no one will blink if your child doesn't look just like his dad. An openminded mom

You should check out the Yahoo Group called Donor Sibling Registry. It is a place where people confidentially can discuss issues like you raised in your post. It also lists every sperm bank around and allows siblings (and/or parents of the kids) to contact each other to share info and possibly one day meet up. There is a registration fee... I think it is either $40 or $50 a year. A donor sperm user, too.

ok so my younger sister(26) is ''baby x'' that is what my friends and i called her in private because my dad who was fixed ten years before he met my step mom wasn't capable of fathering a kid and my step mom changed her mind about 5 years into the marriage. She looks nothing like my dad, favors her mom but my son who is not related to my husband looks like my husband whereas the 2nd natural born kid looks NOTHING like me so looks are not the problem as they vary wildly. The problem is your daughter's medical history/ developmental history. My sister developed pre-glaucoma at 12 and required glasses yet NO ONE in either side of our families has that. She also is a soprano opera singer and you guessed it, we are tone deaf! She has never been told and my parents will take it to the grave. Personally she was a pain in her teens and I could imagine her shouting''you are not my real dad'' if she had known. I think i would respect your husband's wishes and stay mum. Possibly when she's older and ready to have kids of her own you might broach it. Sperm donors WANT to be anonymous so there in no implied relationship or even fantasy relationship as in the case of adoptive parents, I'm sure you will hear a lot off reasons to tell her but I think family harmony is probably more important to your daughter's well being than ''knowing'' she's a donor baby. I'm guessing family harmony will be in jeopardy if you go against your husband's wishes... big sis to baby X

In all honesty, I don't think anyone will ever really notice, so unless you have decided to tell the child at some point for another reason, I don't think it will ever come up. I used DE, and it amuses me that my best friend (of 25 years) comments on different ways my child looks like me. I think, particularly as your child becomes older, she will pick up habits or expressions of her father, that people will then associate with ''looking like''. I can also honestly say that none of my 4 siblings or I look anything like either of our parents, and no one has ever commented on it that I know of. So if someone does make a comment, just laugh it off with ''who do you know that DOES look like their mom/dad''? don't sweat it

We did egg donor, which is a little different, as I do understand the need for your partner to make his own decisions about who he tells. However, we had to go through a counseling session, and I'm glad we did. Basically, the therapist said it's important to not try to hide the fact. There is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about (egg/sperm) donation. It puts you in a position of having to lie, which is uncomfortable, and problematic when you let your child know. However, you don't have to tell everyone.

Since my child does not have my genetic heritage, I usually try to let close friends and family know about it. One, it avoids embarrassing questions, like ''Does he look like you?'', which you get everywhere! The donor did look like me (I'm Asian), so I don't tell everyone who asks. When the question or comment does come up, I don't lie, but sometimes just say ''oh, he looks more like my husband'' (which he does).

There are some books about surrogacy, adoption, and to a lesser degree, donation. I'm sorry I lost the references given to me by my therapist, but I'm sure you can find some on-line. holly

Why do you feel like you need to disclose this very personal information? Especially if your husband does not want to? Lots of kids don't really resemble one parent or another. Why do you even think anyone--especially your daughter--will ask any questions about the family resemblance or lack thereof, or think twice about it? Even if people notice or comment that she does not resemble him, they will probably just be making idle conversation as people tend to do about such topics-- I really doubt anyone would truly be questioning your husband's paternity.

Your post makes me wonder if *you* have unresolved issues or feelings about the sperm donation. As someone who experienced fertility issues of my own, I can understand that you might. I would just encourage you to examine this, and to try to let them go. Let the grief of that difficult time be in the past. You have a healthy child now!

I would really encourage you to respect your husband's feelings about this one. And that means telling NO ONE. If even one person knows this kind of secret, eventually is could become widely known in your family or circle of friends. Counting blessings

I posted a story here once before of a man who's wife became pregnant via his brother. The man chose to pretend he didn't know and his wife kept her dark secret. The child was born and began to take on the exact likeness of the real father much to his and the mother's horror. Nevertheless the actual husband continued his charade and lovingly raised the boy as his own. The wife, an alcoholic, was eventually divorced and died. The man remarried and with his new wife they raised the boy never telling him his uncle was really his father. Oddly the two never looked at each other and felt as though looking in a mirror. The good man eventually became ill with cancer when the boy was around 50 years old and on his dying bed asked his wife to never reveal the truth to their ''son'' and she never did-so far. He will be shocked to find he is not in either will and will wonder why someday and never know. I know that doesn't answer your question except to say others have chosen to keep the secret. Kids don't always resemble the parents and you may be overly sensitive to thinking others will notice-perhaps not. I can understand your husband wanting to keep things private and I tend to agree with him. The real issue will be if you ever want to tell your daughter the truth and if so when. I don't know why this man was so adamant about never telling the boy who his real father was even when both men were dead. I think perhaps he felt it was better for the boy/man to always believe he was the result of a regular family rather than the truth. I have mixed feelings about it myself thinking I would want to know the truth if I were the boy but-who knows for sure?? One reason for sharing the truth is for medical history purposes but if you don't know the donor or his family history it may be moot except to know your husband's family medical history is not hers. Hard to know for sure what is best! Maybe time will tell so wait and see how things develop. anon

I too am the parent of children conceived using donor sperm. We feel very strongly that it is our children's right to know of their conception and biological family history. As such, it is also their history to tell, even as the conception and experiences surrounding the infertility which led to it is my history to tell. My children have always known about their unique conception, and have shared their conception with friends (starting in about 6th grade, I think). They have even mentioned it at a family gathering where some of our relatives who did not know were in attendance. (We told some family members but not all. As it turned out, it was no big deal...at this point, it's such a small detail in the whole of their lives.)

I won't presume to tell you the right or wrong, but do encourage you to discuss this often with your husband - do you plan to tell your child? What are her rights? What if she tells someone? Why wouldn't you tell her? Or others? Is it shame or embarrassment? Or just shyness or privacy issues? What if she found out? (do you have paperwork around that leads to that conclusion?) What if she had a medical issue and needed to know the medical history of her 'parents'? happy with our full disclosure

My husband and I have two children (6 and 4) from donor sperm (the same donor for both luckily). We took the approach of only telling family at first, but have recently opened up, which has been wonderful. First, we started telling our oldest when he was about 3 or so - just general information about having a ''helper'' b/c daddy's seed or sperm didn't work correctly. And the conversation has evolved over time so that he now knows that he shares genes with me, but not with his dad (though we emphasize that they share many other things, such as activities and interests & family). It took a while to come to this, but we now believe strongly that it is better for our children to always know this truth, rather than have any memory of being told. We don't want them to hear it from somewhere else or have unanswered questions themselves. Plus I want them to understand that it is okay - the more it is a secret, the more damage it can do. From what I've read, the adult donor sperm children who are angry are those who were not told soon enough or felt ashamed in some way.

Over the past few years, we've opened up to friends too and I've been pleasantly surprised by how supportive they've been - and how it doesn't seem as weird to them as it did to us as first. It has been wonderful, especially for me b/c my husband doesn't need this as much, to have people to talk to and to stop feeling like I'm carrying around a secret.

I'm not sure how we do this, but I'd be happy to talk to you offline about this. Support is very important in all of this. Good luck to you. anon

Many if not most children resemble either the mom or the dad, but not both. Some biological children don't look like mom OR dad but instead look just like Uncle Joe or Grandma Betty. Maybe you are cultivating a problem that really doesn't exist for anyone else. Don't sweat it! People do not need to know (and probably don't WANT to know) the details of your child's conception. Besides, most people will assume that you and your husband are the biological parents. My son is adopted and comes from an entirely different ethnic group from us, but people who don't know us well constantly make comments like he's going to be tall like his daddy! and the acorn doesn't fall far from the tree!

We are also the parents of a donor sperm daughter. In my opinion, whether your child looks like your husband or not is a red herring - I know plenty of children who don't resemble one, the other, or either of their parents. If people say ''she doesn't look anything like her father'' just smile and say ''yeah''. More likely, people will ''see'' resemblances that you don't agree are there. Again, smile and agree. None of it matters.

Your husband's desire for privacy should be absolutely respected - frankly, it isn't anybody's business but the three of you. However, I think it is very important that your child understand that her father is her father, forever and ever, but that she has genetic material from elsewhere. She will need to know this later in life for medical reasons (some medical history is, after all, genetic), and she will feel much less betrayed if she grows up knowing that you wanted her so much that you got help than if this information is dropped on her at a later date. We started telling our daughter (who is now 11) way before she could understand. We also made sure she ALWAYS knew that she only has one Daddy; the one who lives in her house and has cared for her since she was inside Mommy's tummy. Her Daddy was worried, when our daughter was younger, that she wouldn't love him as much when she understood about the donor sperm, but that fear has proven to be unwarranted. He's real, immediate, and an unconditionally loving part of her daily life; the donor is an abstraction. Many ways to make a family

Getting pregnant with sperm donated by a friend

April 2008

my best friend is in a loving relationship with another woman. they want to have a child together. my friend wants to carry the child. her partner is black, she is white, so she wanted to find a black sperm donor. turns out a friend is willing and able to be the donor. there will be no actual sex involved. so far so good. now, where to go from here? this may sound silly to some, but my friend is unsure of the logistics of actually getting/using the sperm. and how many times per ovulation time should she ask for sperm? and how have others done this in a way that makes everyone feel comfortable? and do people really use a turkey baster to insert sperm? sorry, these are the real questions that come up, and i have no idea! then, what about legalities? the donor does not want to be a parent. he said he may be interested in seeing the child, but wants nothing to do with parenting the child, which is fine with my friends. do they need to get something in writing? what would the donors legal rights be to the child if he were to change his mind later (VERY unlikely, but you never know...) please, if anyone has had a child through these rather unconventional methods, could you share your story/info with us? signed, hope to be an auntie, but how???

The FIRST thing you need to do is get your legal ducks in a row. Parental rights vary from state to state. Typically, whether or not your friend and the guy actually have intercourse is irrelevant. If he donates sperm outside a medical facility he can claim paternity rights at any time even if he's signed a contract relinquishing those rights. In other words, if you use a turkey baster in your own home, you might as well have had sex, because the law sees it as his kid. So your best bet is to go through a medical facility--a sperm bank, for instance, or an infertility specialist.

What's more, if your friend's lover wants parental rights she needs to legally adopt the child after birth Otherwise, should they split up, she's got no more rights than a roommate. That is: none. And this could be devastating not only to her but to the child whose ''Mommy'' is ripped out if his/her life forever. Everyone thinks it won't happen to them--but trust me, it can. So PLEASE consult a lawyer or do some research on this before you proceed!

As to when to do it and how often, if you go through a medical facility they'll tell you all that. You can also get the book ''Taking Charge of Your Fertility'' and it will explain how to tell when you're most fertile. Good luck. Family Friendly

There are some great books on using a ''known donor''. One of the best to start off with is called ''The Complete Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy and Birth'' by Stephanie Brill (be sure to get the revised version). It really covers all your friend will need to know! She can also call Maia Midwifery (they are local and have a website), for an in-person consultation. But the book is a relatively cheap way to get all the general info she should need. J.

I'm a lesbian in a 12 year relationship and my partner and I have two boys. We used a known donor and started out doing inseminations at home. It is really easy to find out how to do home inseminations. Google it. There are books about lesbians having babies, how to do it, etc.

But the most important thing that they must do is handle all of the legal stuff first. There are heartbreaking stories of people who, with the best intentions, went into known donor situations with little planning, little talking about expectations/responsibilities and it has ended terribly. With the greatest cost being born by the child.

They should look at the www.nclrights.org -- the NAtional Center for LEsbian Rights website about information regarding legal rights vis-a-vis known donors. We used Deborah Wald as our attorney for our second parent adoption and she was terrific. Here is her website with a FAQ page: http://waldlaw.net/parenting_faq.html

They need to draw up a legal agreement with their donor. If they conceive and have the baby, they need to make sure the donors name is not put on the birth certificate and they need to take the legal steps to make the non-carrying woman as a co- parent on the birth certificate.

I know how exciting it can be to feel like you have options to create a family with a known donor. But if they are to be responsible parents, they need to make sure that they have all of the legal stuff in place and if they can't do that with this donor then they really need to re-assess. Rachel

You may want to suggest to your friend that she have an IUI (Intra Uterine Insemination). This is a procedure that is done by your OB. The donor goes into the office a couple of hours prior and the sample is ''cleaned'' (only the good ones are used. Then the person receiving the insemination goes in and the OB does the procedure. It is pretty quick and not very expensive. She would only do this once during ovulation. Even if she does not want to do the IUI, her OB would be a good resource for other options.

It is probably a good idea to get any legal issues regarding parental rights in writing. You never know what will happen in the future. Good Luck! Anon

Your friends MUST consult a family lawyer before starting this process and get a formal, legal document drawn up. It is the best for everyone. There are legal rulings in CA that favor the sperm donor, even if he said he wanted nothing to do with the child prior to birth. They have to be very careful, as the situation can get tricky. Some family lawyers also want couples to go through a middleman sort of person, such as a sperm bank that would collect the sperm from the chosen donor and then distribute it to the lesbian couple. This is not always necessary, but you can see how people take great lengths to make the process as formal as possible. Once the child is born, the non birth mother should formally adopt the child, which is another reason they should be in contact with a family lawyer. They can call The Sperm Bank of CA in Berkeley for more information and a list of lawyers and other resources. They can also contact them for a fertility consultation that will help them pinpoint ovulation and other fertility signs, they also offer syringes and speculums. A great book on the topic is Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler. Rachel Pepper also has a book on lesbian pregnancy. make it legal!

There is a lot of good information available about this in books. I would recommend Stephanie Brill's book on lesbian conception and pregnancy. I can't recall the title but it is widely available in bookstores and on Amazon. In addition to the logistics (well described in the book) they should all seek legal advice from someone who knows about lesbian family law (many local resources see www.nclrights.org) and create a contract. Unless they go through a physician or sperm bank (The Sperm Bank of California is in Berkeley and works with known donors) the donor may have legal rights and responsibilities (this is true regardless of the contract but putting it in writing will help make sure they truly are all on the same page) so they should all educate themselves thoroughly on the legal aspects. He should also be thoroughly tesed for infectious diseases. Yes, this all takes times and organization but they are creating a human being, it is worth it to plan ahead. They shouls also think carefully about how open they plan to be about the donation with the kid and with others. mom who used a known donor

I may have answers to a few of your questions. Please contact me directly uf you would like to talk since it would be better to talk on the phone than write it all down. emily

You should recommend ''The Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception'' (the title is something like that) published by Maia Midwifery. Your friend could also do a consult with them -they're great and they are in Orinda. They specialize in lesbians having babies. That book, in combination with ''Taking Control of Your Fertility'' by Toni Wecschler (or something like that) gave us most of the information we needed to conceive using a friend's sperm. Those two resources cover the legalities and the nuts and bolts (so to speak) of the process. Best of luck to them! Anon

I am the happy mama (single) of a 7 month old baby girl via a sperm donation from a good friend. It can be done!

I HIGHLY recommend that you buy and read the book ''The New Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Birth and Parenting'' by Stephanie Brill. This will have ALL of the information you need plus it'll really help your friends clarify what they want out of the situation. The bonus is, Stephanie Brill has an office in Orinda and does personal fertility counseling and workshops. She's wonderful as is her staff. But, really, the book is essential. There are sample contracts, pros and cons of inseminating with someone you know or a sperm bank, the ''how to'' of it all, legal issues, and emotional issues. It's fantastic!

As for the turkey baster....that's overkill. First, your cervix isn't that far away and second, that'd be one hell of alot of sperm! :) You can buy small needless syringes and use those. I got mine at the Berkeley Sperm Bank. Good luck!!!! Simona

First of all, congratulations to your friends for embarking on this incredibly exciting journey. The short answer to your question to is buy a book called The Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy, and Birth by Kim Toevs and Stephanie Brill. We followed their advice to a ''T'' and got pregnant, twice, and now have two wonderful children by our known sperm donor. They were (are?) part of a place called Maia Midwifery in the east bay and I understand they offer a full spectrum of services there. For a personal answer, I'd be very happy to talk to them and share our story. Feel free to pass my email address along to them! Robin

Hi. I am a therapist in Berkeley and this is my area of expertise. You or your friend is welcome to call me. I also run a support group for lesbians who are preparing or trying to get pregnant in just such ways. You (or she) are asking great questions, and I can help you with the answers. She is not at all alone! Women are doing this all the time! Here are some other resources:
Maia Midwifery (http://maiamidwifery.com/) Our Family Coalition (http://ourfamily.org/) The best book on the subject: The New Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy, and Birth by Stephanie Brill (of Maia Midwifery)
Good luck to your friend! Laura

I would recommend this great book that will answer most of these questions:

The Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy, and Birth by Stephanie Brill.

Laura Goldberger, MFT (510-665-7755) is a great therapist specializing in this area (in Berkeley and SF) and she runs a group for lesbians who are trying to get pregnant.

For the legal issues, your friend should talk to a lawyer such as Ora Prochovnick (SF) or Emily Doskow (Berkeley). - Lesbian Mom who's been through this

My partner and I had our son with a good friend - sounds like a very similar situation. Here's my advice from our experience - #1 Talk at length with the friend/donor about expectations to make sure everyone is on the same page about the future relationship. #2 Sign a donor agreement together - I think we modified a sample one from one of the lesbian pregnancy books ('The Ultimate Guide to Lesbian Pregnancy' maybe?). The key is that the friend/donor agrees to ''reliquish parental rights'' when the baby is born so the non-biological parent can do a second parent adoption. We had a lawyer (Deborah Wald) help with this part. #3 Get everyone tested for HIV, STDs, etc.. a sperm analysis isn't a bad idea either! #4 Start inseminating! We chose to do it at-home using one of those syringe-like things (without the needle) that you buy at a drugstore to administer medicine to kids. Sometimes we would go to our friend's house, other times he would come to us. It can be a little awkward at first, but you get used to it! We usually inseminated 3 times per cycle. Good luck to your friends! anon

My midwife, Michelle Edgar, also works specifically with people like your friend--I think she calls it ''home fertility services.'' Anyway, she's fantastic as a person and a midwife, and I expect as a fertility specialist, too. You can see recommendations for her as a midwife in the archives (look under Motherwell Midwifery and Beah Haber). Motherwell Midwifery is 925-449-7666; Michelle probably has another number for fertility services, but i don't know it. katy

A friend of mine did this and there are definitely ways to construct a legal agreement that would protect your friend and the donor.

As far as how to time the insemination, how to transfer the sperm etc. --- has your friend consider consulting a doctor?????? I assume that an Ob-gyn will eventually appear in this story somewhere, and better than asking you to help find out about turkey basters, it might be a good idea to bring in some professional advice. Depending on your friend's age, physical condition, medical history, and general fertility, this can be an easy, one-time process or a months- (or years) long frustrating ordeal. Her pregnancy is best explored by advice specifically suited to her, not just anecdotal advice. It only happens that easily when you don't want to get pregnant

I recently went through this whole process. Feel free to email me and I can offer suggestions and share my experience with you. M

How many cycles of IUI should I expect?

Feb 2008

I am a single, fertile, 37 year-old woman and plan to use donor sperm and IUI. I am trying to decide how many units of sperm to purchase from a sperm bank. Is there a general recommendation out there of how many cycles it takes to get pregnant? I know everone is different but any advice to elminate placing multiple orders (very high shipping costs) would be appreciated! Thank you. anonymous

One published study found that women ages 35-40 had a 12% chance of conceiving per cycle with IUI. But I know women who got pregnant the first time as well, so you never know. You have a better chance is you inseminate at least twice per cycle. A good book with additional data is Taking Charge of your Fertility by Toni Weschler - it is a very helpful book in general if you are trying to conceive. Also, there is a sperm bank in berkeley - http://www.thespermbankofca.org/ and one in san francisco as well - http://www.pacrepro.com/index.htm That would save you the shipping fees. anon

I would consult with your sperm bank about statistics for a woman of your age. I've heard 5 months average, but it varies with age. I pondered this question myself. I bought 8 vials to begin with (using 2 per cycle), then bought some more, and ended up with a couple extra, but the bank bought it back from me. If you're using The Sperm Bank of CA (excellent!) they will talk to you about this. If you're queer/lesbian/bi/etc, check out Laura Goldberger's support group for women who are inseminating (search for it on craigslist). Good luck!!

After having gone through fertility treatments (I got pregnant on my first IUI) I can tell you what I was told by my RE. You have a 25% chance of conceiving each cycle, assuming you ovulating with normal hormone levels, and the sperm is fertile. This is not cumulative and it will always be 25%. 80% of fertile couples will conceive within the first 6 months of trying. So I would purchase 6 samples to start with. I hope it works immediately for you like it did for me. Good Luck. anonymous

Expect it to take 6-8 cycles, maybe more, maybe less. Using two vials per cycle (so two IUIs per cycle) and pinpointing your ovulation exactly (with ovulation predictor kits, charting/temperature taking, cervical mucus, even ultrasound) will give you the best chances of getting pregnant each cycle. Do you have somewhere local to store your vials in liquid nitrogen tanks? Are you planning on having additional children using the same donor? These are things to think about. Congrats and good luck! spermbanker

Before I give you the number of cycles that it took me to get pregnant, I need to give you an answer to how I got pregnant: Washed sperm covers approximately 8 hours of a 36 hour window of fertility opportuntiy. Unwashed sperm lives 12 hours.

When I finally became pregant, I used one cc unwashed sperm at home the night before I went in for an IUI. The first time I tried this 2 step method I became pregnant with my daughter. I was also taking Clomid and had 3 viable eggs that cycle. Now - that was my 11th cycle. I became pregnant in cycle 9 and it ended in miscarriage. We stuck with the same donor sperm (it took us almost 6 months to decide on the particular donor). Of the 11 cycles 5 were using Clomid. I wish I would have done the unwashed, then washed method earlier, but then I wouldn't have my daughter.

For the record, when my daughter was 2 she said ''Mommy I was in your tummy before. But you have to decide whether you want to be a boy or girl, so I had to leave and come back again.'' Here she is - better than I'd ever hoped. Wouldn't have it any other way

I conceived by ADI, it took me 4 cycles. I know someone who got pregnant on the first try, and I know someone who got pregnant after 26 cycles. (Tenacious P.) My point is that it is not possible to predict how many cycles you will go through before you get pregnant, so pick a number and move on. My advice - buy 5, then get zen about it - don't think about having only 5 vials, rather visualize the meeting of sperm and egg and the incredible awesome outcome. Good Luck!

Most of the stats i've read generally say you have a one in 6 chance of concieving with iui-- to be on the safe side you'd think you'd need 12 vials of sperm (our doctor advised us to have two per cycle in case one vial was a dud- you wouldn't be wasting an ovulation cycle). But our doctor reccommed we just buy two at a time (and because i picked up the baby juice myself we didn't have to worry about the crazy shipping fees once a month and our donor had close to 80 vials on hand so we weren't worried about a shortage). So we purchased two vials. I picked them up on a friday- my partner was insemminated on a Saturday- and our baby is due in two months. We still have an extra vial at the doctors office.

So, i'd say, two at a time- and think positively-(bearing in mind 1 in 6 is an average- and so someone out there is 1 for 12)-- and really, really get to know your ovulation cycle (my partner was peeing on a stick and using the electronic fert. monitoring device). best of luck. melissa

I am a single woman who went through IUI to have my son at 35. I purchased 4 vials, but only used 1 - I guess I am very fertile. I was told to purchase at least 4 - 6 vials because that is the average IUI cycles it takes... I had three left and then after I had my son, decided to have another baby and purchased 4 more. I haven't tried to get pregnant yet, but my donor is off the market and I LITERALLY got the last 4. There are no guarantees in life, so IF I don't get pregnant on the first try... there are some back ups... it is just something to consider. I didn't think beyond #1 that I would want a #2... but luckily, there were more vials left. I hope this doesn't complicate your decision. Good luck to you!!! anon

I know many people who have gotten pregnant with artificial insemination, IUI, and I don't think it is possible to predict how long it will take. You might want to consult with Maia Midwifery (maybe you already have) - they might have some actual numbers on this one. The shipping costs can't be more than the cost of the sperm itself! good luck. Been there

What's it like to be a known donor?

July 2007

My partner and I have recently decided that he will be a known (not anonymous, not through a sperm bank) sperm donor for a friend. We have a child of our own. Our friend, the intended recipient, is a single lesbian. We think she'll be a wonderful parent. We are all three in agreement that there will be a clear contract to state everyone's rights and responsibilities.

We feel great about the plans and are not reconsidering, but are curious to hear from others who have gone this route, either as the known donor or as the recipient (or the child! I suppose that's not impossible). What are the feelings and issues that come up? We have thought it all through very carefully, but are wondering about the ''intangibles'' and would like to hear people's experiences. Thanks in advance! anon

Hi. You have no way to know how each party will react to this HUGE life event, but you probably know this. We are a lesbian couple with two children from a known donor. We really wanted a known donor so our kid wouldn't have a big unresolvable mystery in their life, so that when they asked 'who's my dad?' we could point to someone the kids were already familiar with and say 'him'.

Before you go forward, you should be sure you are committed for the duration. We ended up having a REALLY hard time getting pregnant, and our donor contributed tirelessly EVERY MONTH for 3 1/2 years, eventually undergoing almost as many invasive medical tests and questionaires as we did, so it was a considerable commitment of time and emotional involvement. A couple of issues that have come up include 1) differing visions of donor participation in childs life 2) reaction of donor's girlfriend,3) reaction of donor's family. I don't really think you can anticipate how each scenario will play out, but be prepared to be surprised. We actually thought that our donor would be a bigger part of our kids life than he is. Because you are offering to be a donor to single woman, I would be very careful to find out what her expectations are, above and beyond the donation, because she may want or need more co parenting than you imagine.

Our donor was single when we started the process. A new girlfriend meant a whole slew of new tests for STDs, and then the anxiety about her reaction to the process and eventually the baby. She turned out to be amazing, welcomig both kids and having totally appropriate boundaries, but what if she hadn't?

Last and worst, our donor's brother and his wife disowned him! This has made holidays for his family really hard as parents must choose which brother to host and exclude the other for every family dinner. Our donor isn't sorry he helped us, but he is sad to have lost his only brother! His whole family is embarrased by the bigoted reaction of the brother.

Oh, last thing, donor's parents became unexpected doting grandparents. We have been receptive to their involvement b/c of their support of their son's decision and their suffering the family feud, that being said, on top of our double sets of grandparents (due to both of us moms having divorced and remarried parents) it leads to some pretty comical numbers of people competing to buy easter baskets etc!

Anyway. Good luck. Think hard about who you will tell. As you can see from our experience, other people's reactions can be very strong. two moms in Oakland

I am not the donor but am the recipient and it has been simply perfect. I advise to *definitely* have a legal contract and make sure that all parties involved sign and agree (you, too, as the donor's wife). We have never had to resort to the contract at all, but it helps to make sure that everyone is on the exact same page. we love bio-dad

We are a lesbian couple who have a known donor friend for our children. First, let me say, hurray for you! It is SO WONDERFUL that you are willing to have your partner do this! You are very unusual (especially if you're a woman), and very wise. It is a wonderful thing to bring into your life, and of course into the mom's life. I feel like thanking you!

Some suggestions. If you haven't already, write up an agreement, not just for legal purposes, but for your relationships, about the commitment each of you is making (or at least your husband and the mom) about how much contact, at a minimum, the kid and you will have. Putting this, as well as other details, and how you intend to settle any problems, in writing, just so that you remember, maybe many years from now, what you had agreed on. Also, discuss how each of you envisions all the various relationships involved. How the mom will explain your partner's role, what he'll be called, the kid's relationship to your kid, etc.

Also, I would suggest exploring inside yourself and discussing together feelings you imagine might come up and how you would handle them. How would you handle the other family wanting more or less contact than you do? Will your opinions have any bearing on the mom's decision-making in parenting? How will you feel when she makes decisions you don't like? To some degree, you won't know how you'll feel until you're there, but it's probably good to do some soul-searching now.

It also helps if you can all have a sense of humor about the whole sperm thing. It's pretty weird to have your partner ''producing'' sperm and handing it off to someone else! I hope you can all laugh about it.

Of course you'll also ponder how you'll explain the relationship to your child. I suggest being totally open about it from the very beginning, no matter how old your kid is, just explain it in language that makes sense to him/her, so it's never a big surprise. Our daughter understood at age 2 that babies come from a sperm and egg and where each had come from for her. Even little kids can understand something like ''Brenda really wanted to have a baby, but it takes a seed from a man and a woman, and so she needed to get a seed from a man, and daddy gave her his seed to start the baby growing. We love her so much, we wanted to help her have a baby.'' (Or whatever version makes sense to you.)

If you don't find others in your position through BPN, you might try contacting Our Family Coalition, the local LGBT family organization. They're very nice and would probably hook you up with others.

I think that as long as all the parties are open in communication and open-hearted, you will bring much love and more family into your lives. Good luck!

How to choose a sperm donor

Jan 2007

Hi - At 38 I have decided to go the route of becoming a single mom, and I'm so-o-o excited! I would love to have the experience of pregnancy and birth for the first child, and then I'd love to consider adoption for a second. So for now, I'd really appreciate some advice about sperm! The BPN has terrific postings on legal issues and choice of sperm bank, etc, but I have more personal questions.

For those who have needed to use a sperm donor for whatever reason: did you choose an anonymous donor, open identity, or a friend, and why? I imagine it could take me quite some time to get pregnant; isn't it a little awkward to ask a friend to donate once a month for possibly a whole year? I'm leaning towards asking a friend--how has that worked out for you as your child gets older? How did/does your donor friend's partner and/or children feel about this? For men who have donated at a sperm bank: why did you do that? Why do men (maybe I'm asking, what kind of men?) donate sperm? Did you choose sex-selected sperm? Any books you found to be really useful? I'll talk to my doctors and midwife, friends, and family about medical issues, support, etc--I'd just love personal thoughts on sperm and any sperm-related advice! - got sperm on my mind!

Congratulations to you for making this decision, and I can tell from your post how excited you are! First thing I would do is get this book: The Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy & Birth, by Stephanie Brill. (You don't indicate your sexual identity but in this case I don't think it matters because whether you're gay or straight, you are currently spermless!). Check out this website: http://www.maiamidwifery.com/. Stephanie runs Maia Midwifery in Orinda; she is an absolutely wonderful source of everything having to do with getting pregnant and bearing a child. I bet she runs groups for prospective single moms, and if she doesn't, she'll know who does. We are really lucky to be in the Bay Area and have this great resource.

As for my personal story, my partner and I chose to get pregnant using a friend's sperm. This was partly because fresh sperm has a much higher success rate than frozen, but also because we loved our friend, knew he had many great characteristics to pass on, and while we found some pretty decent donor profiles, we ultimately didn't know these men. We did lots of legal paperwork beforehand (Stephanie helped with this, as did a lawyer), but mainly we just had a great deal of trust in each other and in the process. Yes, it is a big deal to ask someone to donate their sperm, not only because they have to do (not one but ideally several) deposits each month, but also because of what it'll mean to them to know their progeny is out there! Our friend did it because he loved us, loved our relationship, and was confident that we would make great parents. In our case, it has worked out absolutely perfectly. He is a ''super uncle'' to our child, who is now over 2 years old. There are no issues with his wanting too much involvement. His partner was also fully on board (after a few weeks of thinking about it, quite understandably!) and was involved in every aspect of the, er, process. I think it helped that they don't want to have kids but want to be involved in a significant way in a child's life. I would be wary of a donor who wants kids and doesn't have them yet -- you could run into issues there.

Best of luck to you on your journey! seems like eons ago

I was a donor for three children (Three girls for two different couples). I also have two daughters of my own.

I love being a father to my two girls, and I am glad that I was able to help two couples by being a donor. I am the DONOR of three, the FATHER of two. ''I have two daughters,'' is the way I describe my experience of parenthood.

I highly recommend that sperm donors be 100% acknowledged from the start as the ''donor'' and that the donor's involvment be allowed to evolve naturally.

My *daughter* wrote about her experience online http://audsandends.blogspot.com/2007/01/very-berkeley-family.html Eliot

I used a known sperm donor who was an acquaintance, not a close friend. After 4 tries, I conceived at 42 and gave birth at 43. For me, the known donor route was the way to go. My daugher's father used to live in SF, but returned to Greece where my daughter now has grandparents, cousins, and a huge extended family. It is all a work in progress; it has been a little challenging and mostly terrific. I have lots to say about the subject so feel free to contact me off-line if you would like to chat further. And good luck! Janet

We went with a The Sperm Bank of CA, and choose a ''known'' donor, in that our children can contact him if they wish when they turn 18. They are also in touch with children from the same donor who opted into the program. We thought about asking a friend, but after talking to his gfriend he declined. Honestly I think that was for the best. There are so many legal entanglements that can happen with a friend being the donor. Too complicated. We want our children to have a lot of people in their lives, but we never want to fight to make the parental decisions. Though I have seen situations where a friend donor has worked wonderfully and the children have 4 terrific parents, with the 2 moms making the decisions.

Good luck with whatever you decide. It is all amazing and wonderful! Happy Mom to 2

My seven-year-old son was conceived by a known donor. I was 40. The donor was a very good friend of a very good friend. I went through many years and quite a few losses before this magical thing came together, but I really, really wanted a known donor for my son. I got so lucky! Daddy is very much that - daddy- and is quite involved in my son's life, much to my son's great delight. The father does not contribute financially (much) at all - there is not expectation that he does. He does contribute very much emotionally. We have developed a lovely ''co-parenting'' type of relationship. I am thrilled with every aspect of it. Sure, I get lonely sometimes, and sure I wish I had partner sometimes, but other times I actually consider myself one of the lucky ones. I would be happy to talk to you more,about my experiences along the way with sperm banks and other potential donors, but I also prefer to sign anonymously, (a lot of people read this newsletter) so I'm not sure if there is any way to make that happen. Anonymous

I had a child some 17 years ago using a sperm bank and it was a very positive experience. The policy of the sperm bank was to have the woman select 6 potential donors, ranked in order of preference.

I used a number of criteria: healthy family history, intelligence, height (I'm short myself), etc. At this place the donors could agree to have their name and adddress made available to the child when he/she turned 18. So this was another criteria, and my top two guys had agreed to this, but not the third or fifth. My number one donor was so popular that I couldn't always get his sperm when I was ovulating, ditto number two. So as luck would have it number three is the biological father of my child. I may contact the sperm bank anyway next fall to see if we can find out the name, but it doesn't seem that important. I think my son would be curious, but it is not vital. I did get married when my son was 12, so he does have a father now. By the way, asking a friend sounds like a nice idea (certainly cheaper too!), but for optimal sperm count they need to not have ejaculated within 48 hours of the donation. Some men would agree to this, some would find it burdensome. If you do ask a friend, my advice is to make it clear at the outset that you'll take ''no, sorry'' for an answer with no bad feelings. Good luck. Motherhood is a wonderful thing. And make sure you get good birth coaches. anonymous

I am the mother of a 7 year old daughter conceived using sperm from the Sperm Bank of California in Berkeley. She is the delight of my life and I thank the donor every day for what he did for my daughter and me.

I'm sure you'll get lots of other information and advice. I chose a donor who was willing to be known to my daughter when she is 18. This was the only non-negotiable item in this journey. I have seen too many adults who were adopted and needed to know the people who share the blood that runs through my veins. Since making the decision, I have also seen many a child conceived from a sperm bank that will never be given the choice and it is starting to make both parents and children anxious. Now, for donor selection - - - these are my preferences to mitigate familial history: the donor must have no or little family history of cancer, alcoholism or mental illness. Since most donor profiles go up to three generations back from the donor and one generation forward, you have a lot to review. Although this information is self reported, I felt comfortable with the depth and breadth of information. There were also the blood tests to weed out serious genetic problems such as cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia.

I had to use Clomid, the scariest drug on Earth. I had violent thoughts and my chances of having twins doubled. Incidences of other multiples did not seem to increase. It took me 11 months (cycles) and one miscarriage to have my daughter.

Now, for the weirdness of sperm donor children - - - you are told that 10 families may conceive using the same donor - - - I was told that also. I knew it, I understood it, and everything was fine. Then my daughter had a medical issue and I called the sperm bank to see if anyone else had reported a similar condition. I found out that there are 12 boys and 3 girls from the same donor - count them - - - 15 children including my daughter, from 10 families - - - to wrap my mind around that took a while. Since it's a local sperm bank, my daughter may date a biological sibling. I'm ok with the information now - - - but when I first found out it made me crazy!!!

My daughter has traits that I do not have such as the ability to speak multiple languages (she speaks 3), musical ability and rhythm (no one in my family can dance like that!) and a gentleness of nature that the donor expressed in his letter to potential parents via his profile.

Many people will ask questions, be straight-forward, it will be helpful to your child and your family. Some people will judge you - - -lots of people finds lots of reasons for judging. Love your child and everything will work out fine. Best of luck to you! A Grateful Mom to a Great Daughter

First, congratulations on your decision to have a child and to think about how you are doing it so thoroughly. The time and energy that you put into this major decision for you and your child up front is already the work of parenting - and you get to do this before even conceiving! This, in my opinion, will only prepare you better for parenting. Your questions, as you say, are personal and you will get as many answers as types of families and communities people already have and wish to create. We are a two-mama family with an infant daughter who chose to use willing to be known sperm from a local sperm bank. This means that our daughter, when she turns 18, will have the right to contact her donor if she wishes. We did this rather than using an anonymous donor because we wanted her to have the ability to find out what she wanted about her donor, more than the 15 pages of information we already have that we will share with her as appropriate over the years.

We went through an extensive process to come to the decision that we did, which included lots of reading, individual reflection, talking with each other and friends who have all kinds of family and donor configurations, and also a session with Maia Midwifery (www.maiamidwifery.com). Stephanie Brill with Maia is wonderful and extremely knowledgeable/experienced, and I highly recommend her for preconception counseling - she will talk you through these huge issues, how to choose the right donor for you, the logistics of all forms of sperm and donor arrangements (they'll meet with you with donors too I believe), as well as working with sperm-banks (remember, all but one of them in the bay area are for-profit businesses) - and also if you are needing support with conception. Maia focuses on LGBT families and single women. They are expensive but it was worth every penny of it because we got invaluable information about conception and sperm - first try and pregnant at 39! Kim Toevs and Stephanie Brill have a book called The Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy, and Birth that we have handed on to friends, queer, straight, single and the like, who are getting pregnant and it was with us through the entire process - big picture thinking to the logistics. Brill has a newly released edition with all the latest onI sperm. Another key resource was acupuncture to prepare physically for conception since, if you will be using frozen sperm, it is much less potent than fresh sperm. Regardless, it can take quite some time to get pregnant so time up front is really important. There are great acupuncturists locally who specialize in fertility.

The reason we would have chosen a known donor is if we wanted the donor involved in our lives as part of the community raising our daughter, an uncle figure, NOT a father. (Fathers are social roles, not genetics, I tell any uninformed people who ask who our daughter's father is. She has two mamas and a donor for half her genetic make-up.) In our situation, with two parents, huge local family, we did not want another person who might want to have a key role in our child's life - possibly another set of family members etc - in particular, a role that may change over time. What would be imperative to having a known donor for us would be communication - ability to clearly communicate with the donor the expectations, the understanding of relationships etc - but sometimes when a baby is involved this can get challenging and can change over time. We know many people with known donors in various family configurations for whom their arrangement has worked with great success and joy, and in many ways we were drawn to using a known donor. We decided, after a conversation where a potential known donor indicated that he had a bit of a different understanding than we did of what his role might be (more involvement than we had thought), that we were not up for the long haul of communication with another invested party regarding our child. At that point, we had identified a donor through a sperm bank that felt like the right fit.

This is the other thing, we chose to look into multiple options at once - talking to friends about being donors, and looking into spermbanks - and went with what felt best. You don't know until you know and we wanted to try on all options. The first time at the spermbank felt weird, but then it felt right once we found the donor we wanted. We were guided by the overarching knowledge that whatever we did, there would be pros and cons now and down the road, though so far this is clearly the right choice for us. Mostly, we were always motivated by strong feelings of accountability to the child that we were planning to bring into the world, and by knowing that we would be explaining our decisions to the child as clearly as we could when we talk about our family.

Good luck with your decisions - take time for them, look into different options, and even though you may feel a clock ticking, it will be time well spent. You will come to the right thing for you, there is absolutely no right or wrong, or better or worse here, it just completely depends on you. The best part is that sperm will become your amazing child and you'll totally forget about sperm and be in love with your child!

Used willing to be known sperm and happy

Family Members Don't Know About Sperm Donor

Aug 2006

My husband was not fertile so we used a sperm donor. We now have a healthy, happy 20-month-old. However, my husband has not told his family (all in the Bay Area, so we see them often). Our son does not look like his father, and I don't know how to handle questions about this, such as, are you sure you didn't have an affair with the mail carrier, etc. My general response has been that the stork brought the baby, and just to make light of the question. Also, my husband's side of the family has a history of ADD and depression, and it is pretty clear that our son won't suffer from this (which we are happy about, but have difficulty explaining). I like my husband's family very much, but don't know how to answer these questions without coming clean about our son's parentage. Any suggestions would be helpful. Anon of course

I think first and foremost your son deserves to know the truth about his origins, as appropriate for his age and level of interest. Sounds like if your husband can't tell his family he certainly won't be able to tell his child. Hiding this information is an unfair position in which to put you and an insult to the intelligence of his family. They likely already know.

Your husband should get whatever help is needed to deal with his own anxieties and insecurities. Then he should tell the truth about this issue to his family, and hopefully this emotional homework will inform his relationship with his son and be the basis for a more honest relationship in the future Best of luck

If you are resolved not to share this information, then you're probably going to have to develop some kind of Zen calm about these questions. My daughter looks nothing like either of us, and my MIL (who I adore) made jokes about the mail carrier that really disturbed me. I told her it was disrespectful of our relationship and further that eventually her grandaughter would understand the implication of these comments so let's not form a habit. She hasn't made a comment since. On the ADD and depression, just calmly reply that you know the signs and will cross that bridge when/if you come to it. Over time the questions will seem less loaded. Sympathetic

Why not come clean about the way you conceived? I would hope you are planning on telling your son, so its likely he'll make a mention of it at some point once he's talking. We too have children conceived with donor sperm (a boy and a girl). Our children have known about their conception since before they could understand it, as has my side of the family. My husband's side of the family have not been told, but if a question arises, I'll answer it honestly. We have nothing to hide - thank god technology is what it is and we were able to use donor sperm. I never wanted my kids to feel that there was any shame or anything at all negative about the way they were conceived, and I believe honesty is the best way to ensure that. If you haven't read it yet, you may want to read ''Helping the Stork: The Choices and Challenges of Donor Insemination'' by Carol Frost Vercollone, Heidi Moss, Robert Moss It has a ton of information about all the various implications of using donor insemination, including family reaction, etc. For the record, we've been extremely open about our choice of conception to friends as well, and never in all these years have I gotten even one negative comment. Everyone we've ever told has been supportive - surprised, sometimes, but always encouraging and congratulatory that we were able to conceive good luck

Tell the Truth. My advice has nothing to do with your husband and his family. Telling the truth is essential for your son. How do you think he will feel when he finds out that this is a big secret or worse you don't tell him until he is older? Secrecy breeds shame. Don't do this to your son. He (and you and your husband) have nothing to be ashamed of. Tell your husband either grow up, go to RESOLVE or go to therapy (actually I have more sympathy than you might think for him, but this is for his son). He needs to deal with this for his son's sake Don't be ashamed

Why do they need to know? Why are they asking all these personal and inappropriate questions? Do they really need to decide now that the kid is going to have all these inherited emotional problems?

Even if your child was biologically your husband's, there would be no guarantee that he would: look just like your husband, take after your husband's side of the family in any way.

Could they be joking? I think lots of explanations are unnecessary. I think it's really none of their business Donna

It is no bodys business but your own! When the question arises, you can ignore it, change the subject, give your mailman response, etc. Or, how about ''he looks just like my Uncle_____ did at that age'' Why must your son look like your husband? Genetics don't work that way - your child could look like anyone in either of your families, more or less. I'm adopted and it was not announced to the world. As I grew, my mom and I were always amused by the number of people who would say they ''could see a resemblance''! Just smile ~

To me, it simply does not seem like it's anyone's business how your son came about. And for ANYONE, particularly a family member, to say something like ''are you sure you didn't have an affair'' is just painfully rude! I think it's most important that you and your husband are in agreement about how much information to share. Regardless of how much or how little it is. And then once that decision is reached, stick to it and support each other. He will probably have to confront his family at some point to tell them to back off

wouldn't it be easier on everybody to just find a comfortable way to tell the truth?

As long as you and your husband choose to keep your son's genetic history to yourselves (which you are perfectly justified in doing), anything more than lightly shrugging off the comment would be hard for you to sustain. If someone is unusually persistent with questioning or comments, a direct look in the eyes with a slight smile and calm voice might help as you say, ''Genetics are fascinating things, aren't they? Is there a reason you keep pushing this conversation or can we talk about something else now?'' Along those lines. . . set your own boundaries and most people will respect them. Most! --Youngest in a snoopy family

Kids do the darndest stuff: they pop out just as they are! Believe me, even with one's own biological kid, one often wonders where hair/skin/eyes/ stature etc came from. If you just were to say, ''Gee, both of us were wondering where Jr. got his curly hair.We can't figure it out. Is there anyone on your side with it?'' That'll get 'em going and I'm sure that they will scratch their heads and then come up with a great aunt so-and-so who can account for ANYTHING! JM

my son who i birthed looks NOTHING like me-no one would surmise he's not mine- some babies look like their parents, some don't. If your husband doesn't want to ''fess up'' thats ok. My youngest sister(fondly called her baby ''X'' to my friends for years) was born to my stepmother and dad ten years after my dad had a vasectomy- she to my knowledge has never been told-(that to me is a HUGE PROBLEM) neither has any family. My sister, mom and I were in the know because my mom asked my dad...she has sub par vision(slight), she sings(is studying opera) and quite honestly looks partly latin-ALL being hereditary traits that NO ONE SHARES...no family has ever said ''boo''. she's 23...Put on a big smile and say that your child looks like someone on your side of the family(preferably deceased) and leave it at that-but don't hide out thinking you've done something ''wrong'' by not confessing everything-I think you and your spouse should find an infertility/donor support group and chat with other couples in the same place? baby X's sister

Your child's genetic origin is your business, not your family's -- unless you make it so. You are handling the situation very well, just keep it up. No need to reveal any more than you are comfortable with. anon

Can you tell people that your son looks like a male relative of yours (you can name a distant or deceased relative that they will never meet) so he takes after your side of the family? My son looks exactly like me and has nothing of his father (or of anyone in his family) in him so it's easy to see and explain that he took after his mom's side of the family. Anon

I say just keep up the light-hearted comebacks--if you choose not disclose your fertility struggles, then it's none of their business. Family resemblance is all over the map--some people who are not biologically related look like they are, and vice versa. Hopefully this issue will fade into the background over time. I'm sure it looms large in your mind, but there's no reason why you need to communicate that you are ''sure'' your son won't share his father's genetic heritage--if you have to mention it all, you can simply say you ''hope'' so. I suppose eventually you'll need to decide what if anything you want to communicate to your son, which will be the next chapter in this saga

---- To me, it sounds like it's not that they are trying to pry the information out of you, but that you really want to tell them. Which is fine. If you want to tell them, you should, and if you don't, ignore the comments.

I have one child from a sperm donor and one from a donated embryo; Both children know about their origins (as much as they can understand) and select family and friends know. My MIL knows, but my BIL is totally clueless; My mom knows but my own brother does not; Sometimes people say things like ''she doesn't look like her father...'' I usually say something like ''lucky her!'' Afterall, I'd hate to have a paunchy, balding 7 yr old with a beard; As for the child we had from a donated embryo - he looks nothing like either of us; I'm sure some people assume we used a donor, but if it isn't part of the select group that knows I blow off whatever comments people make. I agree with others that it is most important that the child knows and whoever else you are comfortable telling. If you decide not to tell certain family members, make sure the child understands the reasoning. Our older child knows she can tell friends, we've just asked her not to tell certain family members until she is grown up and can understand how they may feel. Ultimately it is her story to tell and she can chose who to tell it to (same for the younger one, of course.) anon

Sperm bank referral

Aug 2005

I'm a single woman trying to conceive and looking at sperm banks. I saw that the BPN website has information on egg donation but nothing about sperm banks. Does anyone have a recommendation? anon

I used Fairfax Cryobank (www.fairfaxcryobank.com) and found them to be very easy to work with and reliable. I know people who have used California Cryobank who were also very happy with ease of use and quality of service. There is a lot of information on sperm banks and the pros and cons of using an identity release donor on the www.donorsiblingresistry.com (a website for parents and children conceived with donor sperm). You might want to look at the discussions when thinking about which bank and what kind of donor to use. Louisa

We did a lot of research and decided on The California Cryobank in LA. They had they largest selection, most stringent selection, most testing etc. They are also in the more expensive category but we think they are worth it. 2 kids and working on #3

Check out Pacific Reproductive Services. They have the largest selection of 'willing to be known' (after the child is 18) donors. They have offices in Potrero Hill and can ship anywhere. They've been in business for almost 20 years. PacRepro.com anonymous

I used the California Sperm Bank (a.k.a. Reproductive Technologies) many years ago and was very happy with them. I conceived after only 5 months, when I finally relaxed enough to pinpoint my ovulation more precisely. They're in downtown Berkeley, on Milvia near Center. Their phone number is (510) 841-1858.

They are very open and accepting and have a good screening process for their donors. Good luck. happy mother of a teenage boy

Hi, my partner and I used the Sperm Bank of California here in Berkeley to conceive our now almost 6 year old daughter. They are non-profit and while their clients are diverse, they are particularly supportive of single women and lesbians. They are located on Milvia St. here in Berkeley. They offer both washed and unwashed sperm, donor release and anoymous donors, have great information about fertility and insemination, run a variety of classes and support groups (my partner just attended one on talking to your child about donor insemination), and they have a sibling program for people wanting a second or third child using the same donor. They are on the web: www.thespermbankofca.org. If you want more information, please contact me. Good luck! Margaret

My partner & I have been using Pacific Reproductive Services in San Francisco, and have been very happy with them. We started out with referrals to PRS and to California Cryobank from my doctor. Since we started trying to get pregnant, we've found a wealth of information online about sperm banks outside the bay area--but it seemed easier for us to use a local bank where we could go there for inseminations or pick up the tank & avoid shipping arrangements. You have to get clearance from your doctor first--just health stuff--but the staff at PRS has been able to help us a lot too. anon

My partner and I used Pacific Reproductive Services (http://www.pacrepro.com/) for both our pregnancies. We chose them entirely on the basis of the wide availability of identity-release donors that fit our other criteria (i.d. release donors are donors who have agreed to have their identity known once children reach eighteen). We were able to pre-purchase vials from a particular donor so that we were guaranteed the ability to use the same donor each cycle, something that didn't seem available at the Sperm Bank of CA.

We are more than happy with our beautiful, intelligent child and expect to be the same with our next, due this fall. The office staff at PRS can be difficult to deal with. They seem to forget sometimes that they are providing a service for which you are paying a fair amount of money. Some have quite an unhelpful attitude. However, we were willing to overlook that in order to get our first choice donor. emily

I'm also a single woman who went the sperm donor route. I chose a donor from Fairfax Cryobank. I used Fairfax because: a) Their donor database is available over the web, so I could go through the whole process, from selection to ordering to storing to shipping, on-line; b) the information on each donor was amazingly thorough and comprehensive, and c) I felt the quality of the donors (i.e., medical histories, educational backgrounds and personality profiles) was quite high.

I became pregnant on the second try, but miscarried. On the fourth try I became pregnant successfully, and today have an exuberant, handsome 2.5 year old.

Fairfax did not offer any ID release donors, but that wasn't of utmost importance to me. I did get a wealth of information about the donor, including an audio interview, toddler picture, and ''staff impressions'' information.

The specialist who performed my IUI's said that the sperm samples were excellent - very high motility, so I felt the Cryobank lived up to what they advertised.

My impression is that other sperm banks are cheaper and offer ID-release donors, but that Fairfax might have higher quality donors. very satisfied single mom

We used The Sperm Bank of California (TSBC), which is on Milvia in Berkeley. We were very pleased with TSBC and found their staff to be professional, warm, supportive and informative. We are in touch with several of our daughter's half-siblings through their (optional!) family match program. We know at least two single women who had children through TSBC. You can find TSBC online at www.thespermbankofca.org.

We also visited Pacific Reproductive Services in San Francisco. They also seemed very professional, but not as warm. In my experience, they also pushed a more aggressive (and expensive) fertility plan than I ended up needing. At the time, they were more expensive than TSBC, though TSBC's prices recently went up significantly and may now be similar to PRS' prices. In the end, TSBC was the only place that worked for us because of timing and hours issues, as well. You can find PRS online at www.pacrepro.com.

We also know people who have used sperm from California Cryobank, in Los Angeles. We wanted an ID-release donor (child learns donor's identity at age 18) and I don't think that was available from the Cryobank at the time. You can find them online at www.cryobank.com. Good luck! Anon

My partner & I used Pacific Reproductive Services (PRS) in San Francisco and were very happy with the service. We chose them for their large selection of ''willing to be known'' donors. I was fortunate to get pregnant after two months. We are utilizing their program to purchase and store additional vials for baby #2 when my partner will carry. We found them to be very helpful throughout the insemination process by educating us on various choices and procedures they offer. Happy Mommy

Physician needed as an intermediary with sperm donor

March 2004

My partner and I are going to be using a known sperm donor. According to our lawyer we need to use a Dr. as an intermediary between him and us in order to make sure his parental rights are severed. We are looking for a doctor in the East Bay who is willing to receive his sperm then release it to us immediatly for insimenation. The doctor would also need to be willing to sign a document that they did this for us. Does anyone know a Doctor that might be willing to do this for us? rpr

Hi- I would recommend talking with Stephanie Brill at Maia Midwifery (www.maiamidwifery.com) in Orinda. Her number is 925.253.0685 and she's the author of The Essential Lesbian Guide to Conception, Pregnancy and Birth and she's a practicing midwife who I imagine would be able to make an excellent recommendation for a doctor for your needs. My partner and I met with her for their ''preconception counseling'' and found her services to be invaluable. She's warm and direct and you get the sense that she REALLY knows what she's talking about! Good luck!

Check out At Home Fertility Services. http://www.athomefertility.com/ anon

Known Sperm Donor and Legal Issues

March 2004

My partner and I have the opportunity to use a known sperm donor to try to get pregnant. We are getting mixed information about legal issues for lesbians around this issue. For example, we have been told we have to have him make the ''deposit'' to a MD, not directly to us, then we have to pick it up at the doctors office and/or insiminate there. Also, we have to see a lawyer before we go ahead with using him as a donor in order to secure my partners rights to adopt. We have a signed, notorized document that releases him from any rights to the child. Why, if we put on the birth certificate father unknown is that not enough with the release to secure my partners way for an easy domestic partner or 2 parent adoption? We have been given this wonderful gift by this amazing man and it seems there are all these legal barriers to conceving this child. We know that we will have to get a lawyer to assist us with the adoption, but why before to conception? Any advice or insight into this issue would be really helpful and greatly appreciated.

Lots and lots of lesbians and single straight women have gone this route. You do not have to figure this out for yourself! Contact the National Center for Lesbian Rights. They have all the information you need, the legal forms, and legal referrals if you need them.

My two kids were conceived this way. The donor and his partner were old friends of mine. But to insure everyone rights and responsibilities we took all the legal precautions. We even did home insemination but paid them a nominal fee each time. They have no rights or responsibilities. But they attendended the births by my invitation and have had their lives completely changed by having children in their lives for the first time who they care about -- very much to their surprise. They are very involved in the children's lives and are considered a part of our extended family.

There are also groups for the men who have done the donating. Also, contact The Our Families Coalition in SF for further information and support. Successful mother of 2 by known donor

Please, please, please go talk to a lawyer before you insemminate to make sure that you protect your and your partner's rights. Yes, it is sad that you can't just do it on your own, considering the fact that you have 3 very willing participants who want to make it happen. But such is life. You never know what could happen to change the dynamic between the 3 of you -- as much as you don't want to even think about it, any number of things could happen to create a big legal mess down the line if your donor changes his mind or if you and your partner split up. There was a recent case in which two lesbians had a baby through IVF -- they used the eggs of one mother, and the other mother carried the baby -- they raised the child together for many years, and then split up. The gestational mother (the one who carried) moved out of state with the child, and claimed that the biological mother had no rights to even SEE the child, because they had not done the proper paperwork before the child's conception. This case is still making its way through the courts. It is nasty, nasty stuff. Do whatever you can to avoid this -- even if you think it could never happen to you, I bet those two women didn't think it could either. Call NCLR (National Center for Lesbian Rights) in SF and they can give you a couple of recommendations for lawyers who can help you. It's not too expensive, and well worth the peace of mind for everyone. Good luck and happy baby-making! anon

Laws are changing rapidly around these issues. For example, second-parent adoptions are a thing of the past! Now there is step-parent adoption, just like for straight folk. I just heard that the law is changing and that you will be able to put your partner's name on the birth certificate at the hospital (or wherever you give birth) - tho I'm not sure when this will take effect.

There have been women with known donors and signed, legal documents with the donor giving up legal rights, who have experienced the horror of the donor changing his mind and filing a law suit claiming parentage and seeking parental rights. To avoid this legal mess, it has been advised for the donor to make his ''deposit'' at a doctor's office and you pick it up there. By having a doctor as the intermediary, the donor really legally relinquishes any future rights to the child. I don't know the current status of this process.

So, with everything changing, it is advisable to seek the advice of an attorney who knows the latest laws. I recommend Emily Doskow in Oakland. She's great. She did our second- parent adoption 7 years ago. B

Of course, I'm not a lawyer, I'm just another mom with a son by a known sperm donor, but my understanding of the law is that in theory, at least, the biological father has legal right to claim fatherhood of (or you have legal right to demand fatherhood of) any offspring created by his sperm unless that sperm is given to an MD for insemination purposes. This then gets really tricky because there are very, very few options of MDs who are willing to participate in this process. You might look up Rainbow Sperm Bank. They primarily deal with gay and lesbian donors/recipients and the owner knows a lot about the legal issues. N

I'm a lesbian mom and a lawyer who used to practice in this area. There are indeed legal issues about how the sperm comes to you and I would highly recommend you talk to a lawyer first. A short consult with someone who keeps up with this area can be invaluable. There are major and rapid changes in the law (I haven't kept up with it all myself) and it's much better to go into this informed. Last I knew the statutory presumption of no parent status for a donor was only applicable if the sperm was delivered to a doctor. Without this, a notarized statement may not protect you from him claiming parental rights or protect him from you seeking child support. I can't tell you how many people I represented in the past who regretted not doing things a certain way.

The new domestic partnership law - coming into effect in less than a year - and the marriage issues that are now before the Supreme Court have made these issues even more complex. But I do think a simple consult should be enough for you to have the information you need to make an informed decision.

There are a number of lawyers who are well versed in this. Emily Doscow in Oakland is one. Eva Herzer is another. Linda Scaparotti, in both Oakland and SF is another. I can give you more names if you want. Prevention is truly worth a pound of cure. Good luck!

Under California law (I am paraphrasing, correctly, I hope), a sperm donor is presumed NOT to be a parent of a child born from his sperm ONLY if the insemination is done by a licensed physician. If the sperm, even from a known donor, is routed through a sperm bank, then the donor is presumed not to be the parent of the child (even if you do the insemination yourselves). Getting the benefit of this state-law presumption is the reason for having the insemination done by a doctor or through a sperm bank. It should make any future legal proceedings to determine the legal parents of the child much easier and more secure.

Another reason to consider talking with a knowledgeable lawyer before the baby is born, if not before you get pregnant, is the possibility that something might happen to the birth mother during the pregnancy or birth. At that point, who would have legal rights and/or responsibilities with respect to the baby or baby-to-be (e.g., be able to make medical decisions)? A lawyer can draft documents to protect the rights of the non-birth mother before the baby is born and/or until the adoption is completed (which can take several months after the birth). Of course you can just do the insemination yourself with your known donor's sperm. Up front, it's certainly the easiest way. If you plan to have the non-birth mom adopt, however, talking to a lawyer early on may make that process easier.

My partner and I just had our second daughter with the same known donor. Both times we met with our lawyer before conceiving -- the law changed quite a bit from 2000 to 2003, and we're conservative about trying to protect our legal rights surrounding our kids. Although we're somewhat resentful that we have to go through the hassle and (not inconsequential) expense, we wanted to make sure we did things right. Please email me if you have any questions or want the name of our lawyer. Good luck!

You don't *have* to have anything to do with a lawyer or a doctor before conception in order to have your partner adopt afterwards. The issue is about protecting you should your donor decide he wants custody after the baby is born. When your partner adopts the baby, the donor will be asked to sign away his rights, and once he does that, you don't have to worry anymore, whether or not you used a doctor or lawyer. End of story.

The deal in California is that the man is either considered a donor, with no paternal rights whatsoever, or a father, with full paternal right. There is no in-between, and since the State thinks it has a compelling interest in having the baby have a father, in the absence of anything that makes him a donor, a judge is likely to rule in his favor, should a custody dispute arise.

The only way to make him a donor and not a father is to go through a doctor--what I did was simply have a doctor friend show up at my house at the same time as the donor, and the donor handed her the jar of sperm instead of me, and then they both left. That meets the requirement that it be a ''medical procedure''. Since I'm a single mom, I didn't have anyone to adopt with, but if I did, the donor would still have signed away the rights he supposedly doesn't have anymore at that time. Probably a lot of people will tell you that you have to have a lawyer and a doctor involved to protect yourself, and there *are* stories about the donor changing his mind about his level of involvement, but I know lots and lots of people who didn't have anything to do with a lawyer or doctor, and everything worked out fine, including the adoption. Good luck whatever you decide to do. Forever Grateful to My Donor