To donor family or not to donor family

When I first got pregnant I signed us up on the donor sibling registry through our sperm bank. My intention in this was not to connect with other families but to make sure I had all the information that our child would someday want. I didn’t think much of it because we were the only folks signed up despite our donor having other pregnancies.

If you’ve read here for a while (and can keep all your ttc/pregnancy blogs straight) you know that we started using donors who would want to stay anonymous and switched to ones who were open to communication when our child turns 18. We made this change because we felt our child should have that choice and we have no right to make it for them. We made that choice hoping that int he next 18 years the donor changes his mind and does not want communication and we can say, “Whelp, we tried!”.

I use our sperm bank’s forum but do not list who our donor is. One family who was pregnant with him figured it out from a post I made (and simple math) and I edited that post. Shortly after they contacted me they had a miscarriage so there was no need to figure out how to reply.

There are now two families on the donor sibling registry (I checked last week). Today, I was contacted by one of them. I already did as intense as an internet stalking as I could and she seems lovely – a single professional woman out east. Her email was very nice- she understands that this is a personal journey for everyone but wants to know if we want to connect. I forwarded it on to Lesley but my brother and his boys are still here so we won’t have a chance to talk about it fully for a few days.

I’m not sure where I stand on this issue. I don’t want to look at pictures of someone else’s kid and look for similar features. I don’t want to recognize someone else as their sibling even if that is the biological reality of it. I want our child to be OUR child and while I know there is this other component, I don’t know how to face it.

I find myself very protective of Lesley in situations like this. I want her to not feel slighted by recognizing this other part. As usual, she expresses no concern over that but I worry.

I know many of you have used known donors. For those of you who did not, how did you/do you plan to handle this? Do you want contact with other families from your donor? What level of contact do you have? How do non gestational parents feel about this? I welcome your opinions if you used a known donor, too. 🙂 I’m trying to wrap my head around things before Lesley and I talk about how to respond.


Posted on September 8, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. My partner and I are in the middle of an adoption. We know the birth mother, and the birth mother knows the birth father. So it’s not really a known donor situation like you have, but it’s similar in that we will know our future child’s biological parents.

    The baby has a half sibling, and we don’t plan on hiding that information from them once they’re old enough. If they want to talk to their siblings later on in life, I don’t think I’d stop them. It might give them someone to talk to their age about things they’re going through… someone to connect with that is biologically related to them…

    And as someone who has students who were adopted and can’t learn anything until they’re 18… that’s a long time… and the two I know of are restless in the waiting period. Maybe having a connection to a biological sibling would be a way to give them something to “hold them over” until 18… And like you said, if the donor changes his mind… the siblings may be the only thing they get.

    • I agree with a lot of what you said. Ultimately, we gave the woman all of our contact information and asked for the same in reply. While we have no interest maintaining a relationship with donor siblings, our child might and I would not make them wait until they are 18 to access that information. We used a donor open to communication so we could let our child make the choice, the same should be true for siblings.

  2. We used a known donor, at the insistence of my non gestational parent partner, for a variety of reasons. One of those is the number of donor conceived children we know personally and through reading their stories that wanted so much to know their biological heritage. One of those was an ex girlfriend of mine who has two moms and was donor conceived who told me in no uncertain terms that she saw her parents as her parents but felt incomplete not knowing her donor. It made an impact on me. That said, I totally hear and understand the fear/concern about the impact on your family if you have contact with the donor or other children conceived with that donor. Such a complicated thing wet have to think about!

  3. Hey there! I was sceptical at first, but signed up for the lifetime membership of donorsiblingregistry and have since developed very close ties with the families of my daughter’s siblings. Thankfully there aren’t many of us (that we know of, on that site anyway) and we hope we stay small and cozy. There is another lezzie couple in Norway with two boys, a single mom in Germany (boy), and another 3 only children to single moms in Canada (2 girls + 1 boy). We really do feel like a close knit little family and ate all thankful to have made these connections, despite our scepticism. As for the donor, we have chosen closed ID, for our own reasons, and some of the other moms have open ID. None of us know how we will deal with the potential for that connection with donor down the road, but we are all talking to our kids about where they came from as of an early age.

    • I have no idea how those conversations will go in the future but we’ll always be open to having them. We gave the woman our information and asked for hers in case our child wants to connect later on. Our choice does not have to be their choice. I know a lot of folks really love the support from these other families – maybe we’ll change our minds in the future.

      • You’ll know more how you’ll feel once you have time to get used to life with your baby in it. Everything outside your little unit won’t matter for a while. You probably won’t even think about it. When and if you’re ever ready, they’ll be there. 🙂

  4. My daughter actually met one of her brothers already, since I was in his city for work one weekend we took the opportunity to connect. It was really cool to see them together, and to see their similarities in personality, the nature versus nurture thing. They’re two months apart in age, and were both walking /climbing, energetic toddlers at that point.

  5. We struggled with this for a long time too. Initially, I, as the non-gestational parent, had an issue with a known donor. I didn’t want my child to get old enough to make that decision and then decide that it was ok to undermine me as their parent. We made you, kid (at least I did emotionally and financially, as horrible as that sounds but it’s true)! How could this person that we don’t know, all of a sudden after 18 years of raising this child/children, decide that they were gonna be a Father? Not on my watch! But then i remember my own life. I didn’t know my biological father. My stepdad, who is just Papi/Daddy to me, took me in when he was only 17 years old. He raised me as his own and has loved me since he “first laid eyes on me”. I am just like him, even physically actually. Most people say we look the most alike of all my siblings! I met my biological father for the first time when I was 25, and honestly, in the past 6 years, aside from the few letters that I have written to him, the 2 times that i have visited him and a random phone call here and there, i really have no connection to him whatsoever. I have a biological half brother that i met at the same time, and him and I have a pretty great relationship. I have a niece and a nephew that we ADORE and spend tons of time with. With all the being said, my relationship with my brother is one that I treasure, and respect. We are there for each other and have a common bond. It’s based on love and not on our connection with our father. that was the common denominator, but when we are together, that all goes out the window. We also signed up for the sibling registry just because of that. It’s probably gonna be hard to not say, “OMG! They look just alike”, or “Look at how similar they act! “, but when we see the connection that they have based on love, then we’ll know we made the right choice.

    • We both had a lot of the same fears as you and our first few attempts we would only use donors who did not want communication. Ultimately, I am glad that we switched to one open to it because our child should get that choice. I suppose same goes for the siblings – it should be their choice. It’s hard though, isn’t it? This little being is ours and I’m not quite ready to deal with the fact that in some ways it has these whole other connections.

  6. Yeah…i totally hear that! That’s my thing too. And i feel/know that it’s totally selfish, where i’m like, “MY BABY!!!” like a toddler would, but the biggest question is, am I making this choice for myself or for my kids? It’s a really tough call. Then i remind myself that I have friends that I consider family, and family that I consider acquaintances. It all really depends on the child, and I think that like a lot of child rearing questions, it’s really based on the kid and where they are socially/mentally/emotionally/developmentally. My niece still plays watches NickJr at 7, and Mary (who’s seen a lot and knows way too much) Is like, “Screw a NICKJR. I wanna watch Jersey Shore”. We would approach the same situarion completely different with both of them. It’s just tough because you don’t want your kids to resent you for NOT sharing that kind of information, but you also don’t want to be “not my real mom”…its those tough life decisions/choices that we have to face. There are so many ways to look at it.

  7. I am attempting to document this in my “d is for donor” archives but there’s not much there yet. The short story is that I am firmly in the “not yet” camp about contacting shared donor families but can see myself to “yes” once I feel more settled with the final composition of my family. I am fairly certain that my opinions are far more to do with my personality than my status as a non-gestational (or, perhaps more relevantly, non-bio) parent. My wife and I both knew from the get-go that we wanted a donor who was willing to be known. I’ve had far more conflicting feelings about connections to donor families. Happy to answer further questions if that would be helpful–I’ve heard many perspectives from other queer parents (and NGPs in particular) all across the spectrum of decision-making around these issues but don’t have time to get into those now. All in all, people seem happy with their decisions (regardless of what they are) provided they’ve come to them on their own terms and in their own time. Good luck with your own process here!

  8. I read somewhere once where a woman described her daughter’s donor sibling as like a cousin almost, and not strange like she feared it would be. We check, but no one has posted anything on the cryobank’s forum yet.

  9. I recently accidentally found out who our unknown donor (friend of a friend) is. I have been completely unable to not search through his instagram pictures and look for similarities between him and my children. I think it was a million times easier to see myself when I looked at them than it is now. I don’t think anything has been gained from my new knowledge at this point.
    All that being said, I hope that my kids have some sort of a relationship with him at some point.

  10. We have talked about it, but it hasn’t been real yet. You can’t really know what you will feel, think and do until it happens right? I check the dsr from time to time and no one has posted anything yet. I’m too cheap to get a membership for now. I am oddly curious about donor sibling or “diblings” as we call them. I watched a short doc called “kids of donor 5114”. It totally changed our thoughts about 1. using the same donor for our kids 2. meeting diblings at a younger age. I know that my sisters and I and so many other siblings love comparing their traits, physical and otherwise. I don’t want to take that away from our kids. I don’t know at what age we’ll seek out diblings, if we will at all, but I don’t think I want to make my kids wait until they are old enough to ask. It definitely a continuing conversation at our house. I hope you will continue to share your journey through it with us.

    Also, is it weird that if I see a baby on a blog that resembles my son I wonder if they used the same donor?

  11. We used a donor from Northwest too, and have connected with two other families who have babies from ‘our’ donor. Personally, I love seeing the other babies and it’s really nice to talk to parents who are at about the same stage in raising kids as we are. The 3 of us that carried the babies talk together quite a bit, but all 6 of us are Facebook friends and follow each other. At first my wife was a little weirded out by knowing the siblings, but now she enjoys seeing the similarities and differences between the kids, plus it’s nice to see other families similar to ours since we are all married lesbian couples. I think what ultimately brought my wife around to being totally ok was that she saw what a help it was for me to talk to other women who were going thru the newborn phase with me. (One of the siblings was born 2 days after our daughter.) my wife was going thru the newborn phase along with me, but since I breastfed and stayed home with her, there were emotions and exhaustedness and all sorts of other wonderful and not so wonderful things that she wasn’t experiencing. I notice in your posts that you are very concerned about your partner being left out of some of these experiences, I had some of those thoughts as well so I know what you mean. Now that our daughter is here and almost a year old now, that never even crosses my mind. My wife is just as much her parent as I am, and our daughter loves us both. All of the pregnancy thoughts and woes will seem really far away once your baby is born, at least it does for me 🙂

    • I think we are always open to changing our mind and think this might be something we continually discuss for years to come. I love hearing other’s perspectives – it really makes me consider all the options better!

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