Donor Obsession

One of the first questions anyone asks lesbian parents is about the donor.

“Do you know the donor?”

“Do they all have the same donor?”

“How did you pick a donor?”

“Will they meet the donor?”

I can’t speak for all lesbian moms but I can tell you that, to most, this drives us crazy. People are obsessed with the genes of our children.

For Betsy and I, we share very little about our donor to most people. For a long time, we didn’t even tell people whose eggs we used. Yes, I carried. But the gestational mom isn’t always the genetically related mom.

Picking a donor was a deeply personal and challenging decision. Do we use a known or anonymous? If known, how known? Someone we see often? Someone we know distantly? Or anonymous? Which sperm bank? What traits are important? So many questions to work through.

And the cost. It’s amazing how expensive those little swimmers (that often end up on a sheet) cost! How many vials do we buy? What if we run out after our first kid? Then our kids will have different donors. Does that matter? Do we ask our donor to go back and donate again?

We have a small inner circle of people that know the details of how we got our sperm. Although I’m somewhat open about sharing the information with other gay couples, especially those trying to conceive, I’m much less open with most others, including our immediate family.

Most days it doesn’t cross my mind that Betsy is not genetically related to our children. When you raise a child, any child, the genes become irrelevant. That is until a curious outsider quickly reminds you with an obtrusive question. ‘Remember how one of you isn’t related to your child? Let me ask you a bunch of questions about that?’ Hmmm, how about we don’t.

I get it. When it’s not a one plus one equation we want to know more. We’re curious humans. But your simple question doesn’t come with a simple answer. And it potentially invokes a myriad of feelings to the one you’re asking. These decisions don’t come easy. Next time, before you start your ‘Can I just ask you something, it’s fine if you don’t want to answer…’ question, perhaps you should go with, ‘You have a beautiful family’ instead.

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