Fairfax Family Story: Choosing a Sperm Donor as a Single Mother By Choice
Guest blogger, Kelly, @solomama34, shares her experience of choosing a sperm donor as a single mother by choice
I have always known that motherhood was in my future, though I usually imagined it being preceded by falling in love and getting married. Yet, as I entered my thirties still single (despite having dated throughout my twenties), I decided to take matters into my own hands and move forward with having a baby on my own.
There is a lot that goes into making a baby solo, but one of the biggest decisions I had to make was choosing a sperm donor.
Choosing a sperm donor is an overwhelming and surreal experience already, but making that *literally* life-altering decision on your own can be a lot of pressure. It is also a process that few people experience, and therefore one that most people can’t relate to (but one that people are fascinated by!).
The actual search is eerily similar to online dating.
With both, each man has a profile with a picture (baby photo for the donors, though some Fairfax donors also have adult photos), basic statistics (hair color, eye color, height), and a personal profile. You can narrow down the pool by inputting your preferences into the search tool. Like dating, the initial search can be quite superficial based on first impressions – under 5’10”? Goodbye. Red hair? Nope. Unflattering photo? No thanks.
Of course, choosing a donor is a much more significant decision with a lifelong impact. After all, this will be where half of your child’s DNA comes from. No pressure or anything… 😬 Naturally, when choosing a donor there is a lot to consider.
1. Sperm Bank: There are hundreds of sperm banks out there, from large, for-profit establishments to smaller non-profits. I ultimately settled on Fairfax Cryobank because of the selection of donors, reputation, and recommendation from my fertility center.
2. ID vs. Non-ID: Previously called “Anonymous,” Non-ID donors are just that – anonymous. There are also ID donors. These donors have agreed to release their information and be open to contact from the children conceived with their sperm once the child(ren) turns 18.
I personally opted to go with an ID donor. I wanted to give my child the opportunity to reach out and learn more about where they came from if they choose to do so. I am aware that by using a donor, my son will grow up not knowing about one half of his DNA family. I imagine he will have questions, and I think it is only fair to give him the opportunity to get those questions answered. Whether or not he takes it, is up to him.
3. Medical Considerations: My family is filled with heart problems – high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attacks, oh my! Because of this, a big consideration when choosing my donor was their medical history, particularly heart issues.
Luckily, Fairfax does a whole slew of medical and genetic testing, as well as a comprehensive family history. You can look back at their parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, and uncles and check for any red flags (can’t do that when dating!). This makes it easier to weed out donors with certain medical conditions that are incompatible with your own medical history and predispositions.
4. Physical Characteristics: Blonde or brunette, brown eyes or blue, tall or short…there is a wide range of physical characteristics among the selection of donors. Since I was choosing to be a single parent, I consciously chose a donor with similar features and ancestry as myself.
5. Personality Characteristics: I struggled with this one. How much does personality matter in a donor? How much of personality is nature vs. nurture? Does it matter if they are an outgoing jock or a quiet bookworm? Ultimately, I decided that what matters most to me is that they are overall a good person. That when my child asks, “Why him?” I have an answer that goes beyond, he was a cute baby, or he was really tall. I wanted to choose someone who I can relate to in some way, who I feel is a good, honest, kind person.
6. Prioritizing: With so many things to consider, it is easy to become VERY overwhelmed, VERY quickly. Talking things out with a trusted and respected friend or family member can help you figure out what is truly important to you in a donor. And, if you are like me, spreadsheets are not only a fun way to organize your potential options but can lay things out in an easy to see and compare way.
It took a lot of soul searching and deliberating and eliminating several donors that I really liked, but I finally landed on Donor 3291 (not his real number) – a tall, English/Dutchman with a deep, Southern drawl and kind heart. He matched the physical characteristics and health criteria I was looking for, but it was his audio interview that really sealed the deal for me. Listening to him speak about his childhood and his outlook on life, I knew in my gut that this was the one.
In the end, whichever donor you choose, your baby will be perfect because it will be your baby. Any hesitations and doubts will vanish when you see this incredible human you created. So in the meantime, grab a glass of wine and maybe a friend or two, and start searching!
-Kelly and Ethan
For more information on how Fairfax Cryobank supports the dreams of single mothers by choice visit our Single Mothers by Choice resource page.