This is a conversation I’ve had with so many friends, it seems to be such an interesting topic. I’m open about Maximilian being conceived through donor sperm (not to everyone until now I guess!) but on the whole I’m pretty relaxed about it. Sometimes, I like to watch people’s reactions – it’s pretty interesting to see whether people embrace it and are curious or run for the hills as it’s too foreign for them to get their head around.
I’m very meticulous in my every day life, it’s a consequence of being a Virgo! So for me, choosing a donor was pretty easy. In saying that, of course I thought enormously about what I wanted and what was important. What are my child’s genetics going to be? What do you base this decision on? In a typical family, the other half is chosen through love. I didn’t fall in love. I just wanted a child. So how do you choose what’s important.
One thing was sure, what ever I chose I knew no matter what, I will have a beautiful child that was meant for me. I actually felt absolutely privileged to be able to choose everything I wanted out of my future child’s biological father. When you fall in love you have to take what you get – like it or lump it! I was lucky – I got to chose every little detail.
If you can imagine 3 years ago, prior to Tinder when dating apps didn’t exist really and the basic on-line dating websites were out there but very clunky…. Well, looking for a donor was like a dating site on steroids! It had EVERY little detail. Donors must be aged between 21-45 years, in good health and without certain hereditary conditions and predispositions. It’s also illegal for donors to be paid in Australia. What is allowed is to reimburse legitimate expenses. There are limits in place globally for how many families can be created by a donor. ‘Family limits’ in the context of donor conception are in place for two primary reasons:
- 1) to reduce the risk of people who are genetically related forming relationships;
- 2) the psycho-social implications of having a large number of donor-conceived siblings/offspring across a number of families.
Interestingly, Australia varies from state to state. Laws, guidelines or recommendations by professional bodies, exist in many jurisdictions around the world that set such limits.
- Australia – varies from state/territory (from 5-10 women; to 10 families). [NSW 5, VIC 10, WA 5, All other states 10]
- Belgium, 6 children per donor;
- Canada, some fertility doctors follow the U.S. guidance (not law) of 25 children per population of 850,000;
- Denmark limits donations to 12 children per donor;
- France, 5 children per donor;
- Germany, 15 children per donor;
- Hong Kong, China, 3 children per donor;
- The Netherlands, 25 children per donor;
- New Zealand, 10 children per donor to 4 families;
- Norway, 8 children per donor;
- Sweden, 12 children per donor to 6 families (with 2 children per family);
- Switzerland, 8 children per donor;
- United Kingdom, 10 families worldwide; and
- United States of America, 25 births per population of 850,000.
The law and guidelines have really advanced in recent years – thankfully! You only have to watch a movie about all these kids knocking on a guy’s door when they are older, saying “Hi, you’re my dad”. I guess for some, it might be like that. But I certainly did not envisage this for my child.
The donor bank I used was very well known and established. They had detailed boxes that could literally ask for everything. I’m not just talking about the basics of hair colour, eyes, weight etc. I’m talking shoe size, blood type, shape of nose, size of ears…. Once you have a ‘short list’ you can pay addition fees to see photo’s both as a baby and as an adult, see additional family history (going back 3 generations!) and I even got to hear their voices.
I narrowed it down to two men. Both seemed to be ticking all the boxes. I wanted traits of strong education, kindness (clearly that was in abundance from even being a donor) drive, ambition. All traits that inherently are passed through genes and personality. I then had to wait to see if they met the Australian Law. They were named donors – which is a prerequisite in Australia and they also had to have a counselling session with an Australian counsellor. This seemed like a MASSIVE ask…. Both gents were asked if they were willing to do the counselling session via Skype and one came back immediately saying he was happy to go the extra mile to make this dream of mine come true!
WOW!…. I knew from that moment on, this man was perfect to be the biological father for my child. Once that hurdle was overcome, I had the green light to order the sperm. I call the donor ‘Eddie Norton’ because in the information I received his profile said, “he resembles Edward Norton” I had no idea who he was and googled a picture and thought, hell yes! He will do just fine…. Eddie’s swimmers were shipped from America to Australia in no time at all to start the next phase of this extraordinary journey.