3. Navigating the donor search
Updated: Jul 19, 2020
For all you science majors out there, you know that both an egg and a sperm are required to make a baby. Together, Kara and I only have eggs. So we have to find a sperm donor.
I've gotten a lot of questions about this process. How do you choose a donor? Do you know who the donor will be? Do you want your kids to know who it is?
Let's start with the fact that folks that need to go this route, can either use a known donor or an anonymous donor. This decision is entirely up to the couple or individual. I know couples that have done it both ways, carefully considering the pros and cons of each and things have worked out beautifully. For us, although we have had some pretty stellar men in our lives offer their goods, we decided to go with finding an anonymous donor. We feel that by working with a Cryobank that thoroughly vets the donor applicants and their sperm, we should have a good shot at finding a great one.
Starting the search evokes a whole lot of nervous excitement. It is a big decision to select the person who will make up 50% of our future child's DNA. At the same time, we are determined to make this process fun and look at it as an opportunity to select a someone perfect for us.
Our fertility specialist told us that there two main sperm banks: California Cryobank and Fairfax Cryobank. There are many others but we thought we’d stick with the two most well known. We looked at both sites and decided to use the California Cryobank because I liked their site a little better. Oddly enough, it reminded me of Match.com. You can filter qualities of the donor you want and it's easy to navigate. There are rows of pictures with short descriptions beneath them like "Musical Mathlete" or "The Entertainer". We have yet to figure out if the donors or Cryobank staff chose those descriptions but there are some good ones!
California Cryobank Donor Search Page
Match.com Search Page
The California Cryobank has A LOT of information available. Before diving into the donor search, we were able to review how the donor selection, storage and retrieval processes work. We also learned what services the Cryobank provides, how they select their donors, and the costs involved. It certainly helps to get a more complete picture of how this works and a feeling that it isn't a novel thing. We are clearly just two of many people who started their families this way.
As I mentioned earlier, one “perk” to going this route is that there is an expectation that the Cryobank thoroughly vetted the donors. For the California Cryobank, this means that the donor has met their stringent Donor Qualification Process. If you take a look at the link, it’s pretty intensive and not just a one time collection kind of thing like we originally thought. There are several visits, lots of testing of the sperm and physical and mental evaluations required prior for approval. The California Cryobank accepts fewer than 1% of applicant donors in their program. This gave us the assurance we needed that our donor would be a decent person with high quality sperm. Can’t ask for much more than that!