DNA decisions

The month before our first insemination, we attended the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference, mostly so that we could attend an intensive workshop about transmasculine reproduction. There, the presenters described the process of reproduction in the following inclusive way: In order to reproduce, you need an egg, sperm, and a place to gestate the embryo. If you don’t have one or more of these things, you’ll need to decide how to obtain it. Luckily, we had the egg and the place to gestate Falco, but making decisions about sperm was more difficult. We considered many options and their pros and cons in our specific set of circumstances.

A known donor:

  • Pros: The sperm would likely be free and we wouldn’t have to pay for shipping.
  • Cons: We’d need to find someone who was willing/able to do this and engage in some likely, awkward conversations around STI screenings, agreements about paternity and donation logistics. We wouldn’t have options when it came to physical characteristics in our donor and, thus, our child might not look as much like me.

A willing to be known donor from a cryobank (sperm bank):

  • Pros: The sperm bank would do all of the screenings for us and the donor would not have the ability to consider himself the legal father of our child. Our child, at age 18, would have the option to decide whether or not s/he wants to meet the donor.
  • Cons: This sperm tends to be more expensive than anonymous donors at a cryobank. There are fewer donors and thus, fewer options when it came to physical characteristics. Again, the child might not look much like me.

An anonymous donor from cryobank (sperm bank):

  • Pros: The sperm bank would do all of the screenings for us and the donor would not have the ability to consider himself the legal father of our child. There is a wide array of anonymous donors at cryobanks around the world, which would allow us to find a donor that had physical characteristics like me, allowing for a greater likelihood that our child would look like both of us.
  • Cons: Sperm from a bank isn’t cheap and our child wouldn’t have the option of one day meeting the donor.

The major factors for me were based on my identity as an adoptee. I didn’t look much like my parents and I struggled with feeling like I fit into my family. I also think it is critical for children, to the extent they wish, to understand their origin, and desperately wanted our child to have the ability to meet their donor if that was something they wanted. Because finding a sperm donor who looked like me was very challenging, we ultimately had to choose between having a willing-to-be-known or known donor who could produce offspring that would not look like me but would be available to our child for future questions and relationship OR having a donor who was not available for questions or relationships but had the ability to produce offspring that looked like both me and K.

Ultimately, K and I decided to go with an anonymous donor whose baby and childhood photos looked just like mine, which just felt right when we saw them. While I feel really confident that we made the right choice for our family, a part of me feels a sense of grief for Falco that s/he will likely never have the ability to meet someone who helped to create him/her. I hope that one day, s/he will know that we made the best decision we could with the very limited options available.

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