Many parents will choose to ask a known donor to help them conceive. This can have a number of advantages for different situations. They might include a potential familial connection, reduced cost, possible relationship between the donor and child. However, using a known donor can come at some risk. Before you go with a sperm or egg donor that you know, make sure to have these important conversations:
Donor’s Intentions for their Role in the Child’s Life
With “identity release” donors, cryobanks will generally not share donor information while a child is still a minor. Even once your child can learn their donor’s identity, the donor may not wish to pursue any communication. One of the advantages to using a known donor is that the donor and child can choose to have a relationship.
Using an egg or sperm from someone you know and trust gives you the unique opportunity to foster a conversation about the role, if any, that you want a donor to play in your child’s life. Many families consider a role similar to that of an aunt or uncle or close family friend. You and the donor should openly discuss what each of you envisions to ensure that you are on the same page. Once you reach an understanding, your intent should be documented in your donor agreement.
If you choose to use a known donor, you may want to gather a health history from that person so that your future child has the information necessary to understand their own personal health. Additionally, the health status of your donor can impact whether it is safe to receive a donation from that person.
You may want to ask about the donor’s STI history. Family history is also important for certain health conditions. Ask about known genetic disorders, cancer, heart disease, allergies, mental health issues, drug or alcohol use and obesity. This is not a comprehensive list, so consult with your medical provider to understand what details of your donor’s health history you should obtain.
Situations in life often change, so you’ll want to discuss how foreseeable changes in circumstances may affect your growing family. For example:
- If the donor has future children of their own, will the child born through donation have a sibling relationship with the donor’s child(ren)?
- Would the donor be willing to donate again if you want to have siblings for your child?
- In the event of the death or incapacity of the parent(s), would the donor’s role in your child’s life change?
- If the donor’s personal relationship status changes (for example, if they marry), would their relationship with the child change?
Of course, it’s not possible to discuss all possible contingencies. However, thinking about these possible situations will help you prepare for the “what if”.