Today, many people go from failed infertility treatments to immediately considering egg or sperm donors. After all, this can often be a quick fix to a difficult problem that enables a woman to experience pregnancy and childbirth. It is also becoming more popular for single women approaching middle age to decide for themselves that it is time to have a baby and look for a sperm donor from a bank. Luckily, there are plenty of donor eggs and sperm waiting in banks for people just like you that may be considering this route. Like all things in life, however, donor sperm and ovum doesn’t come with a guarantee.
Sperm donors have been around since the late 1950’s. College students would often perform the routine testing and think of it as an easy way to make a few extra bucks. Egg donors became more plentiful during the 1990’s. Now, there are plenty of sperm and egg donors available. The costs of using a donor vary considerably and should be considered. For a woman, when choosing a sperm donor, she will still have to go through IVF so that the sperm are implanted properly. This can cost thousands of dollars and is no guarantee on conception. If the ova are the problem, then doctors will extract an egg from the female donor and merge it with a sperm outside the body before using IVF to place the fertilized egg. What makes things different today is that couples are able to secretly interview donors’ resumes and can look for characteristics and traits that to them are important.
While the majority of donors prefer to remain anonymous, they do complete pretty extensive interviews that allow prospective parents to choose their donor egg or sperm for specific traits or characteristics. You will even find that some clinics will go so far as to offer you interview information, baby pictures of the donor, voice clips, and the right to know who the donor is after your child turns 18 years of age. This helps to give people searching for donors a match that is based on traits they may feel are important. Some even do genetic testing to make sure that hereditary illnesses will not become a problem. Other clinics offer very basic health and welfare screenings ensuring that you get healthy sperm and ova before insemination.
It is important as you consider a donor to understand that the process is not a guarantee of anything. Additionally, just because you want a child that has red hair and freckles, doesn’t mean ‘test driving’ the sperm bank’s options will get you that. If you plan on telling people in your life what process you went through to conceive, then you shouldn’t feel pressured to choose and find donors that will make your child appear as if he or she is comprised of you and your spouse’s exact DNA. Plus, your donor dollars will go a lot further when you forego some of the fancier options. Not to mention that choosing to give birth is not the same thing as shopping for a car. ‘Optionizing' every aspect of your child can overshadow the real importance of what you are doing.
The best place to start asking about donor clinics and deciding if this is the route for you is with your doctor. They will likely know several reputable clinics where you can and should set up interviews so that you understand the ramifications and specifics of the procedures you will undergo. Just because one clinic offers a thorough and often invasive tell-all of your donor’s history and private life doesn’t mean that you will necessarily end up with a ‘better’ donor. Frankly, you will just know more about the person. Your child’s life and traits will be sculpted largely by you and your family as they grow up, making the fact that your sperm or egg donor loved the outdoors sort of insignificant.