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.