Choosing a Donor

Choosing A Donor

Starting a family always brings with it surprises and unknowns. But what if you are using a sperm donor or egg donation? It can be a real value test, discovering what is truly important to you. 

Depending on what country you are doing the choosing in, it can include a huge variety of factors. There is obvious stuff such as eye and hair colour. Then there could be artistic contributions such as a picture they drew or an essay they written. Sometimes you get school grades and a full medical history, and with some clinics, they will include childhood pictures. It is amazing but frankly a tad intimidating. 

What was interesting for me was our shift in expectations. Initially it was ok, we will take the tall Olympian with a Ph.D. Because why wouldn’t you? Then we started thinking, what do we think a successful person is? Do we appreciate kindness over earning potential? What is it about a person that we are attracted to? 

I had a deep want to ask the staff their impressions of the donors. I realised while their capacity for intelligence was important, honestly, we were more interested in whether they were nice. 

Ultimately due to our work with adopted adults and their desire to meet and know their biological parents, we chose a known donor with the understanding that he would make himself available for any of our child’s questions in the future. As it happened, we have become firm friends and extended chosen family. We know how lucky we are. 

We do understand that, in some ways, if we chose donor A versus donor B, we’d have a different child. That initially felt overwhelming. But in a way it felt like ordering from a menu. Do I feel like chicken tacos tonight? Are our lives going to be changed in a subtle but real way if I get the veggie burrito instead. 

I don’t know. We’re rolling the dice with our lives anyway-can we keep it together as parents? What if they have a disability? Will our child be healthy? Everything is such a crap shoot. Ultimately, how important is your choice? You have no idea and no way of checking. It’s a mystery. After all, my sister and I are genetically of the same stock, but you could not pick two more different people. I don’t think about that choice very much anymore, but there are tiny moments where I’m like, that’s my wife, and that’s our donor and maybe that’s me.

 Now that our son is older, he’s completely his own person. It’s a good exercise in giving up control. For example, it was exciting to me that we chose someone who had European heritage. But lo and behold, the pale but interesting Scottish ancestry on my side won out. He’s imaginative and kind, and those are two wonderful things that we both wanted. 

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