Choosing a Donor

(I apologize in advance if there are any typos/if something is unclear. I’ll tidy this up later. I’m writing it before running out to my conversion class, but I wanted to get this posted because I’d meant to write it on Friday and got sidetracked!)

So my last blog post was about where and how to find a donor. This post is about the process (at least my process), of choosing one. (And my next post will return to the topic of conversion for a bit!)

I’ll preface this by saying there is no right way, and no wrong way, to choose a donor. This is an intensely personal decision, and this is a process during which you must be honest with yourself about what you want.

On Known Donor Registry (KDR), you have a couple of options for donation method. Those are the first things to consider. Do you want to do AI (Artificial Insemination) or NI (“Natural Insemination” – sex)? Yes, for some people that is a legitimate question – there are plenty of donors on KDR who offer NI, and plenty of recipients who take them up on it. To be fair, NI is more conducive to conception, but it also requires a woman to literally have sex with a stranger. (Never mind the potential conflicts when it comes to custody and child support – you can have a contract that both parties sign, but if a child is conceived through sex, the courts can, and have, tossed the contracts aside to either grant joint-custody or enforce child support. Yikes, big risk!)

I was not into the idea of hooking up with someone just to get pregnant, but no judgement here. To each their own. It just wasn’t the right way to go for me.

So then I had to make another decision – did I want to find someone local, or did I want to broaden my options and find someone willing to ship? In the end, that decision was more or less made for me due to the fact that there was only one local donor active on the site, and we didn’t really want the same things. (He wanted to co-parent, and while he agreed to just donate and not get into a co-parent relationship, I had the feeling he might change his mind down the road and try to fight for joint custody.) Which meant I had to look for someone who lived elsewhere, but was willing to ship.

It wasn’t just a matter of finding someone willing to ship, but someone who had done it before so I was confident that everything would go smoothly. There are so many possibilities for problems, and the donation has to be shipped overnight and used as soon as it arrives, or it isn’t any good. (Cycle 4’s shipping was particular stressful – and a little funny in a cringeworthy way – which I’ll write about later.)

So knowing that I wanted to go with AI, and that I would be finding someone who was willing to ship, I had to figure out my non-negotiables.

They were: he had to have recent clean STD tests**, he had to be intelligent, he had to be at least moderately attractive, he had to have a clean criminal record (which I could search myself on the Court of the Queen’s Bench site if he was Canadian), he had to have had previous successful donations (specifically, from when he’d shipped, so I could know his donation was strong enough to survive transport), he had to be open to communication with the child (if they want it) at least once they turn 18 (one of the benefits of a known donor), and I had to just… get a good vibe from him. I had to feel like in the real world, maybe we’d be friends, or we’d at least get along. I had to feel comfortable talking to him.

So, armed with my list of non-negotiables, I started to search the site. At first I wasn’t limiting my search to Canadians (I should have; I’d really recommend anyone limit their search to people within their own country, because shipping costs are insane otherwise.). The site is really easy to navigate, by the way. When I found a few profiles that looked promising, I started sending hello messages.

Also something to keep in mind: these guys are doing this for any number of reasons, but they aren’t machines. Don’t send them a message that says “hey, can you ship me some sperm?”. They’re people, who are potentially going to provide you with the one thing you’re missing to create a child. They deserve a whole lot more respect than a lot of people give them. Not everyone has altruistic motives, true. And there may be creepers you will have to wade through. (I didn’t connect with anyone truly creepy, but I’ve read some awful stories.)

I ended up selecting a donor in the USA, but that relationship ended up falling through before any shipments were sent. I’m actually happy it did, though, because I went back to the site, started talking to people again, and found an incredible donor who was equally as determined to make sure his recipients are good people as I was to make sure my donor was a decent human being. We messaged, and then emailed back and forth for a few weeks. We got on a Skype chat. Now we’re Facebook friends. This kind of arrangement has the potential to be awkward, or uncomfortable – but I’ve lucked out; my donor is so professional, and just plan kind. He doesn’t make me uncomfortable, at all, and makes me feel so supported throughout this whole process.

I’m currently in the first half of yet another two week wait as I write this. We did two inseminations this cycle, in the hopes that might give me the edge I need to be successful this month. But if not, we’ll try again. I’m so blessed to have found the donor I did.

I’m glad I’m recording all this finally, and I’m looking forward to getting it all down. Hopefully someone might stumble across this one day, and find it helps them a little – even just knowing they aren’t alone in this process. If you’re reading this and you’re considering this as an option for you, I’d be happy to talk. Feel free to comment below and I’ll get in contact with you. 🙂

** KDR is just a platform, kind of like Facebook. They don’t require donors submit anything to post a profile. It is 100% up to the recipient to make sure they are getting information (like STD test results, etc.) from their donor, and ensuring that it is legitimate. However, KDR will remove members (be they donors or recipients) for lying, if it’s discovered they have an STD, for harassing, for asking for money for donations, for pushing for NI when the recipient is only looking for AI, if someone reports the offending user.

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How in the world does one find a donor, anyway?

I get asked this a lot. Seriously. People are curious – how (and where) does one find a sperm donor?

The answer is, well, it depends. It depends on if you’re going through a fertility clinic/the medical system, or if you’re going it alone. If you’re going through a clinic, they’ll provide you with the necessary information. They’ll help you find a donor. I think there are catalogues, and profiles, and all that fun stuff. You’re also looking at roughly $400-$800 per vial of sperm. (Fun fact – in Canada, it is illegal to pay a sperm donor for their, uh, donation. In the USA, it is not. For this reason, there’s a real shortage of Canadian sperm donors, at least if you’re going through a fertility clinic. Most of a clinic’s supply is imported in from the USA, where donors are paid anyway.)

But I’m not going through a fertility clinic. And I really couldn’t afford the $400+ per vial, knowing I’d need at least one vial (but they recommend 3) per cycle, and knowing it often takes several cycles for a healthy woman to get pregnant (no matter how well you time everything).

So, I googled it. Surely there were other people in the same situation.

Did you know there are a whole bunch of sites for finding donors? Like, a lot. (Okay, maybe not really a lot, but a lot more than I expected to find.)

I signed up on a few of them before realizing they were paid subscription sites. You could look at people’s profiles, they could message you, but you couldn’t message any of them back without subscribing. I didn’t inherently have a problem with subscribing, but I knew the cost would be a barrier to some — which meant that the donor options might be limited. I also hoped (and maybe it was wishful thinking) that I would find a donor quickly… which meant I wouldn’t need some 3+ month subscription.

And then I found Known Donor Registry. For lack of a better way of describing it, it’s essentially a mash of up Facebook and a dating site, for prospective donors and recipients. You sign up, create a profile, post pictures, friend people, find donors based on certain criteria, etc. It’s a free site, which is great. It also requires that everyone signed up as a donor does not charge for their donations.

They also have all sorts of articles, resources and information which I found incredibly useful.

Okay, you might be thinking. Is any of this regulated in any way? Do donors have to submit test results, or answer questionnaires, or get screened in any way?

No; anyone can post on the site. Anyone can sign up as a sperm/egg donor, and anyone can sign up as a recipient. The responsibility is entirely on the recipient to make sure they get the information they need from the donor… and on the donor to make sure they’re donating to someone they think might be a good parent. (I, for the record, have a contract with my donor, I saw all his STD tests (clean), and got other information from him that I deemed important.)

A lot of people don’t realize this is an option. They automatically assume that going through the medical system is their only option and they can’t afford it. (Although I live in Canada and healthcare is free, fertility treatments aren’t considered necessary care and so they are at the individual’s expense.) But it’s not; there are definitely other options out there if you want to get pregnant.

I really want to chronicle all this, because when I was starting out I wish I’d come across a blog where someone else talked about this whole process. So maybe one day this will be helpful to someone.

My next post is going to be about how I found someone on Known Donor Registry, and next week I’m going to be going back to writing about my conversion as well. I have so much to write about there, as well!

Here’s to making the best of life! Happy Wednesday!