The process can look like a seamless way to create a family, and for many, it is. Inthe most recent year for which good data is available, some 30, to 60, babies born in the United States were conceived through sperm donation, out of approximately 4 million American babies born that year. As simple a transaction as sperm donation can seem to be, though, some find it to be stressful or isolating—and because assisted reproductive technology is a relatively new, rapidly developing field, the social and emotional challenges that can arise between the participants in a sperm donation are, for many, uncharted.
Even decades after these practices have become common and their intricacies should theoretically be common knowledge, many of those who opt for sperm donation are still consistently surprised by all the ways it can shape—in some cases straining and, Sperm bank stories others, enhancing—family dynamics. One such consistently surprised group is made up of infertile men.
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I shouldn't think this way. Again, in many cases the proceedings leading up to and following donor insemination go smoothly. For many families, sperm donation is a miracle, not an ordeal. But Buckwalter says men should be encouraged to acknowledge any anxiety, pain, or shame they feel throughout the process. One family I spoke to found that out firsthand. Their story centers around two brothers, and the family asked not to be named, because of the sensitivity of their situation.
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The donor brother and the recipient brother, now both in their 40s, were never the closest of siblings. So when, a decade ago, the younger brother visited the elder at his home in the United States and asked him to donate his sperm so he and his wife could start a family, the older brother hesitated at first. After a few years of trying, the younger brother and his wife had discovered that they were unable to have children of their own; the older brother remembers his younger brother weeping at the table as he explained to his brother and sister-in-law that his body produced no sperm at all.
But after discussing it with his wife, they went ahead with it. Maybe, they reasoned, the older brother helping his only sibling start a family would bring them closer. One of their insemination attempts resulted in a viable pregnancy.
Emma & family's story
The younger brother could not be reached for an interview. She and her husband made their first visit to their new niece just after she was born. The couple returned home to the U. Sit down. Think about the relationship and what's gonna happen.
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Occasionally, tales with that message pop up in advice columns and on support-network forumsbut in general they are not exactly saturating the culture. Additionally, one children's book, The Pea That Was Me: A Sperm Donation Storyby the psychotherapist Sperm bank stories Kluger-Bell, has been lauded by parents and psychologists for how it deals with the emotional side of sperm donation. Kluger-Bell has since released two additional versions of the sperm-donation story, in which the baby pea is born to a pair of pea-moms and to a lady pea raising her baby pea on her own by choice.
For many reasons, the law has not caught up with the practice of sperm donation. In the United States, the laws governing it vary by state, and as Susan Crockin, an adjunct professor at Georgetown Law and a co-author of Legal Conceptions: The Evolving Law and Policy of Assisted Reproductive Technologiessays, a majority of states have only baseline provisions to govern sperm-donation practices.
Most adhere to the Uniform Parentage Act, which establishes that when a man donates sperm to a consenting married couple, the donor is not a parent; paternity rights belong to the husband of the impregnated woman.
Inin light of the legalization of same-sex marriage, two of the states that have adopted the Uniform Parentage Act enacted an update making the spouse of the sperm recipient, regardless of gender, a legal co-parent as long as they consent to the procedure. The formation of any lay consensus about sperm-donation best practices also trails behind the uptake of the practice—even though experts have a somewhat clear understanding of how people should go about it.
The closest thing to a regulatory body overseeing sperm donation throughout the U. The ASRM has a set of recommendations that physicians, fertility specialists, and sperm banks are encouraged to follow. The ASRM also recommends setting a limit of 25 births per donor within a population of , in order to lower the risk of accidental incestuous relations.
In many other countries, there are laws putting caps on the of births per single donor within populations of a certain size, but the U. Andrea Braverman, a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology as well as psychiatry and human behavior at Thomas Jefferson University, often counsels couples before and sometimes after the sperm donation process. With the extended family? With the world? And when? Braverman also asks everyone to talk through the possibility that over time, the relationship between the donor and recipient could change.
What are you making us go see that person for? Crockin, however, has argued that a lawyer could help families for possible future scenarios, especially ones they might not want to consider. Talking for a few hours with a professional third-party mediator can help untangle many interpersonal problems, maybe even most, but some families—like those with deep-seated personality incompatibilities, for example, or a long history of emotional unavailability—just may not be great candidates for intrafamilial sperm donation.
And not every sperm donation needs professional intervention to be a successful and happy one, either.
For Rebecca Helgerson, a teacher in Washington, D. But I wanted really clear lines about who's the parent and who's not. I was not interested in, and he was not interested in, any kind of formal time together.
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No You spend a weekend together, this often. Nothing like that. The biggest complications that befall them as a group happen in the security line at the airport, where Helgerson says TSA agents get confused as to which adults to group with the .
Some experts, though, like Crockin, believe all participants are better off with more extensive precautions—and that the law should say so, too. Popular Latest.
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