Picking Out a Human
If you’re ever bored (I mean, really bored. There’s really no other reason to do this unless you have to), check out websites for sperm banks. It is amazing what you’ll find. Some of them offer things like long profiles explaining generations worth of medical background. Some have baby pictures or life-cycle pictures available of the donor at different ages. Some of them have recordings of the donor answering interview questions. Some have just what they’re interested in and how they came to be a donor in the first place, more like short essay questions.
I honestly never thought about these kinds of sites. I never thought about the information that’s out there or isn’t out there, I never thought about the differences between anonymous and identity-release donors and I never thought about what makes one sperm bank better than another.
After the casual browsing, we decided to choose a sperm bank that we felt comfortable with first. Some banks don’t have identity-release programs, some banks don’t monitor or cap how many families can use one donor, some banks have bad reputations for customer service or don’t hold to FDA guidelines or have lawsuits against them and whatnot.
We started with the sperm bank whose info had been given to us by our RE. They’re our hometown cryobank, so it would be really convenient to use them. Unfortunately, they don’t have any information available about how many families per donor are allowed (or if they cap it at all), there are some complaints against them so far as sperm quality goes and the more we read, the more we felt like things that were important to us weren’t featured in this local bank. After reading a lot of reviews and deciding what was important to us, we have chosen a bank. It limits each donor to 10 families, it’s a non-profit organization and was one of the first banks to develop an identity-release program wherein the child, at age 18, can reach out for information about their donor. The bank we chose also does a lot of independent research about how the families lives proceed and what the emotional outcome is for members of the family. It makes me feel good that this bank isn’t just a catalog of donors, it’s interested and concerned with the family dynamic and making sure that things go well in the long-term.
Once we had a bank we were comfortable with, choosing a donor…honestly, it’s just weird. You’re looking at profiles of a person that will share genes with your child. Answers to short essay questions, what kind of health issues they have in their family, what they look like, what their heritage is like..it’s all available to peruse and you narrow it down based on what is important.
First and foremost, we wanted an identity-release donor. We want to leave all avenues and options open for our potential children. We don’t want to take away their options, we want them to have access to whatever they need to know to make themselves comfortable with their roots. So choosing someone who has indicated that they are willing to be known is important to us. After that…tall, brown hair, green/hazel eyes…Basically someone who fit our specifications and just sounds like a good, interesting, well-rounded person. Even with all this research and all these profiles though, it’s really a genetic crap shoot. Who knows what will happen or what our baby will look like. We just know that we’re ready to start trying with all the proper materials and see what happens.