Has someone asked you to consider helping them create their family? Or do you think that being a known donor is something you want to explore for yourself?
Helping somebody else have a child is a profound and generous act. It is critical to understand the issues involved, both legal and emotional, and discuss them in depth with the prospective parents before making any decisions.
Will you have an ongoing relationship with the family and children? What might that look like? Will it change over time? If you have a partner and/or your own children, it is also important to think about how your choices will affect them.
Various factors will influence the decisions you make. The main ones fall into two groups: the relevant laws, and your personal values and circumstances. Click on the links below for more information, and discussion of many key issues.
All of this information is available to download as part of our Rainbow Families information kit, including a PDF for prospective sperm donors, and the corresponding information sheets for prospective lesbian parents. There is a separate PDF and section of this website for men interested in becoming parents themselves.
One of the most critical issues for prospective sperm donors to consider is whether being a donor is what you want, or whether you would really prefer to become a parent/father yourself. It is absolutely critical to be clear about this, for everyone’s sake, including the future child or children.
You might been thinking about being a donor for years, or maybe a friend has ‘popped the question’ out of the blue! Either way, the question can bring up some very deep issues, especially for gay men. You must the time to consider and discuss the issues many times before you attempt conception. Remember, there’s no such thing as a ‘practice go’!
Other people’s issues and expectations can have a big influence. It’s important to separate your own feelings about your potential role as a donor, from those of other people. Remember, the most important people in this equation will be the child or children you create, but it’s also important to get support for yourself throughout the journey.
You’ll need to understand what’s involved with donating, including health screening, safer sex, the Options for attempting conception, and what might be involved in dealing with any fertility issues.
The 2008 and 2009 legal reforms clarified that a donor is not a parent, but also strengthened children’s right to information about their donor origins. If everyone agrees, there is also the option of recognising a donor’s role in a child’s life through a court order by consent.
It’s a good idea to make a written agreement. They are not legally binding, but they are a good way to ensure that everyone talks through and agrees on the key issues. Here we list many issues that you could consider including in an agreement.
Amidst the excitement of talking about helping someone create a family, it’s hard to think about things going wrong. But knowing what might happen if things do go wrong might encourage everyone more willing to deal with conflict early, and to maintain goodwill.
Rainbow Families Council produced this information kit in October 2010. We have made every effort to ensure the kit is correct, but accept no liability for information given. Information will be regularly updated on our website. We strongly advise that you seek medical and legal advice and specialist counselling relevant to your specific situation.