Monday, July 04, 2005

Of all the sperm joints in all the world, they both had to use this one...

We’re not pioneers in this donor sperm thing. We have lots of friends, online and IRL, in the business of making babies wherein the sperm get to see a little of the outside world before they go on their merry way to meet the egg. It’s wonderful to have so many people to share their knowledge, support, and experience with us. Sometimes, they go beyond that and share valuable fertility tools with us (thanks, E&B!). And once in a great while, one of our friends makes an offer that takes your breath away. We have been offered four vials of donor sperm from a Wonderful Friend (WF) who has had a child and no longer needs these vials.

It took us at least a week to comprehend that WF’s offer was real, and a few days after that to decide if we could accept it. We wrestled with the question of “donor siblings”. Were we okay with the idea of having a child knowing that there are not only hypothetical children who share half of their genetic background with our child, but an actual child, whom we know, that is irrefutably born of the same donor? Given our own complicated families (steps and halves galore!) this was indeed a question worth debating – but also, in the end, an easy choice to make. Our families are weird and messy at times, but we love our extended network of kinfolk and are glad to have so many relatives in our lives. Having a donor sibling (or “donor cousin” as WF prefers to say) to WF’s child might present a few complications, but nothing we couldn’t anticipate coping with.

The pragmatic arguments didn’t hurt either. Our existing sperm supply (at least the portion for which the whereabouts are known) was dwindling. We were already mired in the lost sperm controversy by the time the offer was made, and reluctant to engage in further transactions with the sperm bank or the RE’s office while the possibility of litigation looms overhead. Four vials that were already safely where they needed to be would save a lot of logistical headaches. And let’s not overlook cost. Our little molar pregnancy misadventure has cost us plenty in heartache AND dollars, so free sperm is hard to pass up.

But (and you knew there had to be a ‘but’, didn’t you?) it’s never that easy for us. In our vast network of Friends Using Donor Sperm (FUDS), there is also a couple that may have used the same donor. I say may, because these particular FUDS have forbidden us to discuss WF’s child or WF’s donor with them, because the FUDS knew that they had all used the same bank and were choosing their donors based on a fairly unusual characteristic. The FUDS were uncomfortable with the idea of donor siblings to begin with, and vehemently opposed to knowing any of them, so they felt the best way of dealing with WF was to pretend the situation didn’t exist. But the possibility does exist that WF and the FUDS did indeed use the same donor – and now WF was giving us the possibility to do the same.

I knew that I would not be comfortable using the sperm without knowing whether it was indeed the same donor. The FUDS are near and dear to us, and I would not want to lose their friendship. If we used it without finding out, I would feel that we were living a lie, and be in fear that the FUDS would find out and that it would indeed turn out to be the same donor. But if we asked them, I feared that we might still lose their friendship or be told that they did not want us to use WF’s sperm.

However, I took my cue from the FUDS and put my head in the sand. WF’s sperm was an option, but I put all my hope in the sperm we already had. Unfortunately, we shot our last wad 12 days ago and it’s not looking good right now, so we bit the bullet and sent the FUDS a very agonizingly thought out e-mail, asking if they would be comfortable with us using the sperm.

Any rational person would not be surprised to learn that they called this afternoon and are NOT comfortable with the option, though they feel that they can’t tell us not to use it. Stupid, crazy, Queen of Denial me was surprised, devastated, and angry. (Fate was on our side in one key aspect, though: I was, ahem, indisposed, when the phone rang so it was Cait who answered. Ordinarily she hates answering the phone. I would not have been able to keep my cool in the conversation). I stewed, raged, cried, and felt hideously sorry for myself for the rest of the afternoon and part of the evening. Why does this all have to be so fucking complicated? Why, at every opportunity when it comes to money, do we have to be the ones to lose out? What’s the big deal about donor siblings anyway? Why am I so damned ethical? How can they not have compassion for what we’ve been through? How come every time I do the “right thing” it comes back and kicks me in the butt?

I’m also worried that our friendship is screwed no matter what the outcome. If we decide to drop the issue right now, I’m afraid the awkwardness of the subject even having been broached will force a hairline crack into the foundation of our relationship. If it takes us a long time to have a child from this point forward, I fear that I may resent them (and the extra expense) or that they may feel guilty. On the other hand, if we pursue this possibility (they are willing to share the donor number with us but don’t want to know whether it’s the same or not) I’m afraid they’ll forever wonder if our future child is related to theirs.

Part of me wishes I’d never even brought this up. Part of me is still hurt and angry. I know they have valid reasons for their concerns. I know they’re entitled to their desires, and that we opened this can of worms, so we have to be prepared for the results. I know they spent a lot of time and energy choosing this particular donor whereas it’s a matter of convenience and cost for us. I know life isn’t fair. I know this is probably the longest and whiniest post I’ve ever written. But it helps to get it out. Thanks for reading.


  • Wow, that's a complicated situation you got there. I wish I could tell you use it or don't use it but I'm not really sure what to say. So I'll just send you hugs and I'll keep my fingers crossed that you won't need it!

    By Blogger Ana, at 6:07 AM  

  • Jen - I wish I had an answer for you. It is a hard question, and I know what I would do, but I won't inflict that sort of assvice on you.

    Hold fast to the thought that it will work out, somehow, in the end.

    Big hugs your way!

    By Anonymous jenny, at 8:21 AM  

  • Wow. That's quite a dilemma. Good luck with it.

    By Blogger Amy, at 8:34 AM  

  • Holy complicated family, batgirl!

    I am so, so sorry - this sounds like just about the last thing you two need to deal with right now and it sucks.

    It does indeed suck to be ethical.

    So, if they tell you the donor number and you can be assured that it's NOT the same, will it be all OK again? They don't even want to know if it's NOT the same donor?

    I really hope this works out, whatever happens. It is so hard when weird stuff pops up to mess with friendships.

    By Anonymous bri, at 9:03 AM  

  • Jen, I think you did the right thing to ask, and I'm really sorry your friends are so intransigent about donor cousins. Can I ask whether you are using identity-release donors? If so, they will have to deal with the issue someday.

    As for using the sperm, there is a possibility that the donor is different, so I would go ahead and look. Also, you need to do what will allow YOU to feel good about the friendship. If turning down the sperm wrecks the freindship from your side, that is no good either. I hope it is possible for you to use the sperm.

    I know how frustrating it is to watch your savings disapear while you grieve and WAIT. We tried for 16 months, had 2 miscarriages last year. Now we are newly pregnant again, from a home insemination, no less. It is, of course, mostly terrifying. I hope your wait is short and wish you and Cait the best.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:00 AM  

  • Geez, why is nothing ever easy (except when you're a kid and can just change anything by saying so)? I'm so sorry that such a great gift is being tainted by all this worry. It's certainly a difficult decision to make, and I'm so sorry that you have to make it at all. Wishing you creative inspiration and hoping there's some magic remedy to sort this all out....

    By Blogger deanna, at 1:43 PM  

  • I get it. We're STILL paying off WADS of MONEY from trying to get knocked up.

    That being said, however, I'd still dtich the free sperm - DITCH it, you say? Yup - two main reasons

    - if it's THIS much drama, 1200 bucks may be worth it to purchase some new, difrerent, sperms.

    -IF you got preggers with the free sperm - and if your kids hang out with your friends kids, well, there could be some interesting mating going on, and if no one mentioned that they could all be related, well...

    -OK, and three - 1200 in sperm is WAY cheaper than a years' worth of therapy!

    LOTS of hugs to you two dear ones, but again, I'd ditch the sperm, and buy new stuff, from a new donor - perhaps a new donor is indeed what you need, just not the free one...

    your WF's can send it to the donor sibling registery, or to another FF perhaps (not us, unless he's non-white...) :)

    KISSES and hugs...


    By Blogger Shelli, at 1:57 PM  

  • Wow. What a wonderful gift your WF offered. I'm so full of mixed emotions for you guys right now with all that you have been through and now this. I sure hope that you are able to use the sperm with your integrity intact and keep all of your friends. I don't see the big deal about donor siblings, unless of course they needed each other medically in the future. That is always a possibility, remote, but still possible. I hope you two are able to make a peaceful decision about this soon. I've still got everything crossed including eyelashes! - Allisson

    By Blogger Lil Bouncer, at 6:33 PM  

  • Along the lines of what shelly said: if you do decide not to use the free stuff there are plenty of other worthy couples who could use it. :)

    By Blogger Lil Bouncer, at 6:36 PM  

  • I can't lie. I think they are being totally wierd and unreasonable. Why should you have to make decisions based upon their wierd denial issues around having a donor sperm baby?

    What’s the big deal about donor siblings anyway?

    That's a good question. I think it's a really cool and exciting thing, I am hoping that when we get pregnant and use the bank's sibling registry we'll find out that some of the "siblings" live in our area. I think it's a very cool thing. But then again I'm all for being open with my kid about how they were brought into the world.

    I really think it's not fair for their shame or whatever issues to have bearing on your choice. You've been trying long enough, huh? That alone is enough to worry about. SOrry you have to deal with this.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:57 PM  

  • I agree 110% with Shellie.
    There is enough drama in this world, skip the freebie's and future issues, too many "what if's" and all that jazz. No need for more drama in a kids life then having to explain that their friend "might be, or might not be" their sibling. Thats my ass-vice. I think you would be opening a can of worms and emotions and drama for everyone, including the child.

    By Anonymous Heather, at 10:11 AM  

  • Oh- one more thing, regardless of how wierd the people are, (which i agree...... what IS the big deal?) It is still their right and decision. Everyone is entitled to their thoughts and opinions, and obviously, this is gonna be a major touchy subject for them, now and in the future..........

    By Anonymous heather, at 10:16 AM  

  • I recently started lurking, and felt compelled to comment on your post.

    First what in g-d's name is this special characteristic? A Third eye? Third nippple? A fully formed tail? How is it possible that a small group of friends would all want the same quality that could only be filled by one sperm bank and one donor? I am missing something here.

    Second, your friends the FUDS should go f*#! themselves. You are sufferring. You have lost money. You are running short on time. Their response is to privilege their need to not have donor siblings nearby. Balderdash!! Sperm banks can't promise that there won't be nearby donor siblings. In life, sperm tends to get around regardless of physical or state sanctioned boundaries. My friend's father had a kid living down the street from his legally sanctioned family and conceived during his marriage to my friend's mom. Everyone pretended not to notice.

    Third, wonderful friends are truly wonderful and realistic about how the world works and the meanderings of sperm.

    Use the sperm, be grateful to WF, and suggest therapy for the FUDS who feel the need to be the only people on the block with that model of kid.

    Cantankerously yours,

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:10 PM  

  • This is the LAST thing you need to deal with.

    By Blogger Hostile in Ohio, at 8:55 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Me, at 10:40 PM  

  • that is complicated and I'm sorry you guys are between an expensive rock and a friendship-endangering hard place. That sucks. Isn't this process weird and fascinating? I mean, I don't think I'd care if you lived near me and we had donor siblings, but maybe I'd feel differently if it were a real situation in my real life. I hope it works out and that this sperm isn't even needed.

    By Anonymous Tricia, at 10:41 PM  

  • Jen and Cait,

    DP and I are not that concerned about meeting donor sibs, but we have met some people who are and at least one of them used our same donor. I guess my feeling is that nobody "owns" the rights to any particular donor, as much as they may want to believe that their child exists in a genetic vacuum. At the same time, if these are truly friends that you don't want to lose, why mess with it? I am sorry that they feel so threatened though. Peace in the decision you end up making.

    Maureen (FF)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:40 PM  

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