For couples struggling with infertility, lesbian couples, or single women looking to become parents, sperm donation is a viable and common solution. While anonymous donors are an option, some prospective parents prefer to ask family members or friends to be their donors. Using a known sperm donor could have a significant impact on you and your child’s life going forward and there are important issues to consider in making this request.
Known Donor v. Anonymous Donor
A known sperm donor, also known as a directed donation, is a friend or family member who voluntarily donates his sperm for use in an assisted reproductive procedure. Using a known donor means you will have more control over the donor situation, better knowledge about the donor’s background, and a higher comfort level in knowing the donor personally rather than just on paper. Once the child is conceived and born, however, you may or may not want the donor to be involved with the child – it is a personal choice, but one that requires serious consideration.
Practical Considerations with Known Donors
Before asking a friend or family member to donate sperm, you should be clear on what you want the donor’s role to be in your child’s life. It is extremely important to discuss your expectations with the donor and be clear about the arrangement beforehand. Some issues to consider include: if/how you will tell your child about their origin story, how the child will address the donor (what name/title/relationship), whether the donor will have any obligations when it comes to the child, whether the donor will be involved in family celebrations, etc. If a prospective donor has a different opinion on what his relationship with the child should look like, you may want to consider another known donor or an unknown donor to avoid conflict in the future. There are some limitations on dictating the relationship and anonymity of a known donor. If you are close enough to someone to ask them to donate sperm, it is likely this person will be around your child and have some sort of relationship with her simply due to their relationship with you. If you plan to keep your child’s biological paternity a secret, you need to consider the risk that the secret may get out over the course of the child’s life, especially if other people know who you used as a donor or the child strongly resembles the donor. While you and your donor should be explicit about your agreement beforehand, you should also consider how effectively you will adapt together if needs and desires change, especially as the child gets older and expressed her own opinions on these issues.
Legal Considerations with Known Donors
Georgia law determining who are the legal parents of a child conceived with assisted reproductive technology is limited. In one limited instance — when a child is born to a married couple as the result of artificial insemination — the law is clear that the married couple is considered the legal parents of the child (not the sperm donor). This law does not include all types of reproductive procedures – in vitro fertilization (IVF), for example, is not covered under this law. This law also does not apply to unmarried couples or single women, and legal arguments could be made that it does not apply to same-sex married couples. Considering that Georgia’s laws related to sperm donation are quite limited, couples and individuals using sperm donation should consult with an attorney prior to conceiving the child to ensure their parental rights are appropriately established and that the donor does not retain any parental rights. The sperm donor may also want reassurances that he will not have a legal relationship to or responsibility for the child. Being able to provide legal assurance may increase his willingness to donate.
Many individuals and couples are proud parents, thanks to the involvement of known sperm donors. But with this fertility procedure, prospective parents should make sure everyone is on the same page, take legal steps to effectuate their agreement, and anticipate how to handle any changes in the future. Setting a strong foundation prior to conception can be the key to avoiding personal and legal disputes.
If you have additional questions about the legalities of using a known sperm donor, please contact Porchlight at (678) 435-9069 or you can make an appointment through our online scheduling system.