Although Neil is relatively new to being a sperm donor, he is firm on what the process means to him, how it adds value to his life and what it means for his future. Donating for the first time in 2016, he has so far helped begin three families.
He is the first to point out that motivations to donate sperm are different for everyone, but for him, it means a chance to help others have what they’ve always wanted – a family – and also gives him a chance to potentially develop great connections with children he has helped produce.
“Initially, I didn’t really care whether I had kids or not”, Neil says, “but as I got older, it was something I really started to think about.” He considered donating for about five years before he acted; suggesting a lack of understanding of the process was partially to blame; explaining that there wasn’t a lot of information around and it definitely wasn’t as easy to access like it is today.
As a known sperm donor, Neil prefers to get to know any woman he will potentially donate sperm to – whether by chatting over Facebook or meeting for a coffee— and he says it gives him a good insight into why they are seeking a sperm donor. He has found that a lot of the heterosexual women seeking a donor he has been in contact with have either previously thought they hadn’t wanted kids or a serious relationship, or have wanted to have a career first and left it too late.
For Neil, being a known donor is the most important part of the experience. “It’s very important to me that I’m a known donor. For me, a connection is very important and I also think it’s important for the child to know their biological beginning.”
A known sperm donor is a person known to the recipient prior to donation. The donation is used only for the specific intended person/people. A known sperm donor is usually – but not always — a friend or family member. The identity of a clinic-recruited or ‘unknown’ sperm donor however remains unknown to the woman undergoing fertility treatment, although legally all donor-conceived children are able to access donor information when they turn 18. If choosing to donate sperm without a specific recipient in mind, this is the typical path.
Although laws differ state to state in Australia on the number of children one donor may produce, Neil has set his own limit below his state’s legal limit, “I was always going to have a limit – I’ll help start up to six families.” After this number, he says he’ll happily assist producing siblings from the same family if he’s able, but won’t start any new ones.
Neil says that his relationship status has not affected his eagerness to donate sperm. Any potential donors must attend two counseling sessions to discuss the process in detail and these sessions must include their partner if applicable. Both partners need to be aware of the social, ethical and legal implications of the process and sign a consent form.
He freely tells his family, friends and colleagues that he is a sperm donor and says he isn’t worried about what other people might think of it or him. Luckily, people don’t think of him any differently, but they are surprised, admitting that when he told the guys at work they thought he was crazy.
“The coming years will be really exciting,” he says. “When the kids are older they’ll be able to choose for themselves whether they’d like more of a relationship with me or not, but I hope I’ll have some kind of relationship with the parents anyway and
get to know the kid earlier than that.”
Neil says he donates on the proviso that he gets to at least meet the child when they are born and he would like to receive regular updates even if that just means being friends on Facebook and seeing photos. There isn’t any obligation from either side, but he does find that trust is a large part of the process of being a known donor. “Knowing whether you want to be a known donor or not is potentially the most important thing to consider. For me personally, being a known donor is what makes the process so rewarding, but everyone is different.”
Neil sees sperm donation as a great way for him to make a difference to the lives of others and feels elated in knowing he has given life. And his parting words for anyone considering becoming a sperm donor?
“Don’t be nervous! When a stranger gives you a jar and sends you to a spare room it can feel like a bit of a weirdly funny situation, but you’re all there for the same result. Remember, the recipient is just as nervous as you are… probably more.”