If you’re looking for a sperm or egg donor (or maybe even both) to help you complete your surrogacy process, you’re choosing more than a photo out of a pile – you’re choosing the person who will be 50% of your child’s biological origin. This is hugely significant not just for you and the donor, but for your child.
Whether you’re considering asking someone you know to be your donor, or you’re thinking about working with a professional donor clinic, there are 5 important things you always need to look for when choosing a gamete donor:
1. Someone Willing to Sign a Donor Contract
Even if your donor is your most trusted friend, legal protection through a donor contract is necessary for everyone involved. Having this important document will ensure that you, your donor, and your child are all protected from potential legal complications that could cost you no small amount of money, time, or tears.
Many family law attorneys; in particular, attorneys who have experience with surrogacy and A.R.T. law will be able to create a donor contract for you. If you have any questions about donor contracts or if you need an attorney referral, your American Surrogacy specialist can help.
2. Someone Willing to Be Identified
If our roots in open adoption have taught us anything, it’s that children should know their history. While you will always be your child’s parent, your child’s donor still represents a very important part of their identity and history. Losing or even hiding that biological link would be detrimental to your child.
Instead of choosing an anonymous donor, we strongly encourage intended parents to consider working with a known donor or to choose an identified donor through a donor bank or clinic. Many donor clinics have exclusively moved toward working with donors who are willing to be identified, because in today’s world of at-home DNA tests and ancestry websites, there is no such thing as true anonymity.
Having a donor who is willing to answer your child’s questions someday can be invaluable.
3. Someone with an In-Depth Profile
Again, because donors today aren’t truly anonymous, it’s standard practice to provide a complete profile. When looking at a potential donor’s profile, it should include:
- Their social and medical history.
- Family medical history.
- Details about their education and occupation.
- Their interests and hobbies.
- Their marital status.
- Information about any children they’re raising, or any children conceived through their contributions as a donor.
- Photos of themselves as an adult and a child.
- Details about whether or not they’d be open to contact from donor-conceived children.
- Details about whether or not they’d be open to helping families have biologically connected siblings.
- And more.
Intended parents commonly focus on the physical appearance of the donor first. But remember that a child can inherit much more than looks from a donor. Personality, quirks and traits can also be genetically inherited, to a degree.
Nobody can precisely predict how their child will look or what their child will be like — regardless of whether that child is conceived “the old fashioned way” or via donor gametes. However, a donor’s profile can give some insight into 50% of your child’s genetic heritage.
4. Someone Who Understands the Responsibilities of Being a Donor
If a donor is willing to sign a legal contract, willing to be identified and is also willing to provide an in-depth profile full of information, they probably understand the responsibility of being a donor! Whether you’re looking for a donor through a clinic or you’re considering taking a friend up on their offer to be your donor, the right donor will understand that this is a big responsibility. Whenever you’re considering a potential donor, look for someone who understands:
- Your child may one day have questions about their biological roots.
- Their willingness to receive contact from you and/or your child if medical or personal questions ever arise can be incredibly beneficial.
- They have no parental responsibilities – legal, financial, emotional or otherwise, but they will still be an important aspect of this child’s history.
- The importance of updating you and/or your child if they learn of any new medical concerns that could affect a donor-conceived child.
5. Consider If You Might Like Biologically Related Siblings Someday
Maybe you’re thinking about having more than one child with the assistance of a donor and/or gestational carrier, this is something you’ll want to specify in your search. Some intended parents like the idea of their children being either full- or half-biological siblings. This is an entirely personal decision, but some intended parents opt for this route because:
- They don’t want to have to search for a donor more than once.
- It may make medical updates or potential communication with the donor a bit easier.
- They want their children to have a biological connection within the family.
Some donors only contribute to a clinic once, while others will donate many times. If genetically related siblings are something that you might want, you can specify this preference with a gamete bank. If you’re accepting a donated gamete from a personal acquaintance, you may first want to ask if they’d be willing to donate more than once.