A couple of weeks ago I had my appointment to choose my sperm donor (after two years of languishing on the list). I was so nervous – I ended up taking the whole day off from work, as I knew I would not be able to concentrate.
My mother came with me for moral support, and I am glad I had someone with me to debrief with and talk to afterwards. I would recommend this to anyone going through this journey – having a good support network makes everything so much easier, and if you can have someone come with you to the big emotional appointments, bring them along – they don’t have to be in the room with you – they can sit in the waiting room just outside the room, if you prefer. My mother started off in the waiting room, but came in to be a sounding board when I was finalising my decision (we had already agreed that she would offer no opinion).
I met the sperm coordinator, and she took me into a room with a folder containing the details of four donors (I had been previously told that there would likely be three, but possibly more, so I was glad to have slightly more to choose from).
As I said in the filler post, I don’t want to discuss the donors at all, as NZ is a small place, and I want to respect their privacy (not that I was given names or anything, but they may be recognisable by various features etc). However, I can say a little about the process.
It took me a couple of hours to settle on the one I wanted. The coordinator also had baby photos from three of the choices on file (on a computer in another room, not in the folders, so I couldn’t keep going back to the photos, which was a little sad – it would have been nice to have looked at the photos as much as I looked at the written information), which helped with the decision. The coordinator suggested that if all else is equal, I should try to choose a donor with baby photos that resemble my own family, so as to get a child that is recognisably mine (I assume to prevent awkward questions from strangers or the like). This was less important than other information, in my mind, but it did help – and, in the end, the donor I chose had the pictures that were the closest to my family, so it was win-win.
Surprisingly, I ended up choosing based on different criteria than I went in with. I was initially thinking I would choose based on criteria that I know have some heritability – height, weight, intelligence (well, as much as that can be measured by writing style, profession and education), and these did, admittedly, have some say in my final choice.
But the major reason I chose my donor was the amount of information he gave on the form. The donors can choose how much or how little they say on these forms, and while two other donors had also answered every question, they were not as complete as my donor (one was in fact relatively brusque) – he answered each question, and then expanded the answer with things about himself and his family that the future child might want to know. And i decided that this, more than anything, was the most important thing – what information the child had about half of its heritage. And it did help that his baby photos were cute. Also, he came across as being intelligent, which was my main initial criterion.
So I chose him. Then there was a brief stint of going through the legal document and signing that this was the donor I wanted and I understood the legal issues etc around gamete donation and the HART act, and that was it!
They also gave me the front page of the donor form, which has basic information on it, such as height, weight, hair colour, etc. Once I have a confirmed pregnancy (I think it is 16 weeks’ pregnant), they will send me the rest of the form, so I can show the child. The baby pictures are unfortunately not part of the official file, and are not given to the recipient upon confirmed pregnancy like the rest of the file is; however, Mum also got to look at the baby pictures, which was cool – so now I am not the only one who has seen them. I wonder whether they will stay on file at the clinic, though – so maybe the child can go in and look one day. The coordinator explained that they are considering including pictures in future files, but currently it is not permitted for fear of recipients posting missing persons ads or the like.
The next step is calling the nurse on day one of my next cycle (the first day I wake up properly bleeding), and then mid-that cycle (ovulation) will be the first attempt at knocking me up! So (at the risk of oversharing about my cycle), about two and half weeks from now I will be being inseminated with a complete stranger’s sperm! I am so excited!