As a single woman, we are afforded the option of choosing the genetic makeup of our children and in today’s world, there is a multitude of options when it comes to finding a sperm donor.

Some women find their sperm donor in the form of friends or relatives of friends, others find their donor through apps, websites or support groups online, while others find their donor through a cryobank’s catalog listing.  Regardless of the method, you will want to understand the basics of using a sperm donor before making your decision.

Also, there has been a good amount of research on the negative psychological effects of adult children finding out too late that they were donor conceived, so it is advisable to be open and age-appropriate when talking with your child about how they were conceived.  There is no shame in needing a donor to help you conceive – married couples with infertility issues also use donors, so why should it be any different for a single mom by choice?

Where to find sperm donors:

Known Donors

Sperm donors we know personally are referred to as known donors.  Known donors are friends, relatives of friends, or men who are interested in donating and connecting online.  The main benefit of using a known donor is that you are able to speak with them, gain a better sense of who they are and what their personality type is, and form a donor relationship if you desire.  Some donors are comfortable with minimal contact or contact once the child turns 18+, others are comfortable with frequent contact, an “uncle” type of role in the child’s life or even co-parenting if that is your interest as well.  

The main drawback of using known donors is the lack of in-depth testing that is performed by cryobanks and the necessity of personally vetting potential donors to make sure they are safe and reliable.  The vetting process includes obtaining up-to-date STD test results, inquiring about the donor’s personal and family medical history, how many successful donations they are aware of, what type of relationship (or non-relationship) they are expecting or comfortable with, and any other information that is important to you – some women also include a criminal background check.  

Another drawback of using a known donor is possible legal repercussions in the future, if the donor were to change his mind and seek parenting rights or visitation.  Thus, it is important to know that while some states uphold signed contracts between women and their donors, not all states view such contracts as legally binding – which poses a potential risk to both the woman and the sperm donor.

Cryobank Donors

Sperm donors from cryobanks (also known as sperm banks) are expensive (ranging between $400 to $1000 per vial, plus shipping and storage costs, depending on the cryobank) but going through a sperm bank does ensure the donor has been thoroughly tested for STDs and sometimes genetic testing.  The main benefit of using a sperm bank is there are no risks of the sperm donor seeking parenting rights or visitation, as the woman’s identity is confidential and the sperm donor has signed away all rights during the in-take process with the sperm bank.

An overview of the types of Cryobank Donors:

Open Donors

Open donor refers to a sperm donor who has agreed to being open to some form of contact by the child when the child reaches 18 years of age.   You will need to look into the donor policy in place at each sperm bank you are considering, as policies vary. Generally speaking, the child will be able to initiate contact with their donor through the sperm bank in order to maintain the privacy of both parties.

ID Disclosure Donors

ID disclosure donor refers to a sperm donor who has agreed to allow the sperm bank to release information identifying them to the child once the child has turned 18 years of age.  The information may include some or all of the following, depending on the cryobank: the donor’s name, address registered with the cryobank, birth date, photo, donation location, and/or e-mail.  Typically, after the adult child submits a request for the information, he or she must sign a non-disclosure agreement before the donor is notified of the request. Again, policies vary between sperm banks and you will need to check the policy of each sperm bank that you are considering.

Anonymous Donors

Anonymous donor refers to a sperm donor who has privacy protection and is completely anonymous.  There is no contact with the child at all and no identifying information is ever provided outside of the cryobank.

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SingleMomsByChoice.org is run by single moms by choice for single moms by choice, dedicated to helping educate, enlighten and empower women who are thinking about or who have decided to have a child “on their own” through donor insemination, egg or embryo donation, adoption or other assisted means.

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