Women ask me all the time, “How should I pick a sperm donor (or egg donor)?” For many it can be one of the most daunting parts of becoming a single mom by choice. After all, picking a donor to provide half of the genes of your child is very significant. Many women contemplate a known donor because the idea of using a stranger, who their child may never meet, does not sit well with them.
For me, the idea of picking a sperm donor (and eventually an egg donor), kept me on the fence about solo motherhood for a long time. I knew nothing about sperm banks or the process and I refused to take any action towards figuring it out. Even though it was 2012, I had convinced myself that I’d have to physically go to the sperm bank to look at donor profiles. My mental block around sperm donors was that big!!
But once I started looking at donor profiles I started to get excited. The guys seemed smart, good-looking, well-rounded and even, in some cases hot! In self-deprecating moment, I actually believed I’d find a better set of genes for my child through a sperm bank than I would dating. Maybe that’s a testament to how badly dating had been going recently.
In the end, I had to pick three donors –two sperm donors and an egg donor, and I got more comfortable with the process and my ability to make the right decision for myself each time.
So how do you pick a sperm or egg donor?
The answer is that there is no one way to pick a donor. How you choose your donor will depend on your personality and how you like to make decisions. Click To Tweet How you choose your donor will depend on your personality and how you like to make decisions. Here are some composite sketches/archetypes of the styles I’ve seen and personally used in choosing a sperm donor. The truth is that most women use a blend of a few styles. I hope this list helps you understand yourself better and gives you some confidence about what methods you should use to pick your donor.
- The SpreadSheet Maker: Some women are amazing at making spreadsheets. They love Excel and can manipulate variables with the flick of a button. They start looking at sperm profiles and enter the information into a spreadsheet with categories such as height, weight, eye and hair color, education level, medical history, languages spoken, or musical instruments played. There may be some factors that are deal breakers such as Identity Release Donors, or education level. They may even create hyperlinks in the spreadsheet to the actual profiles. They pour over the spreadsheet ranking and re-ranking the options, slowly prioritizing a few donors over others. They may have a certain ideal mix of characteristics that they are looking for and seek to find the donor that meets the most criteria possible.
- It Takes a Village: This woman enlists her friends. She may even throw a “Sperm Donor” party, complete with a projector, white boards, wine and snacks. She values her friend’s opinions as much as her own and is willing to accept their input. She may also feel that she can sense her own priorities better when in discussion with friends. She likes to have people weigh in, sometimes even playing devil’s advocate. Picking alone might feel scary to her. Just as she would want her friends to sign off on any guys she was dating, she similarly wants her friends to sign off on her donor.
- The Gut Instinct: This person considers themselves an instinctual person. They are good at processing a lot of information and taking a step back to feel into what makes sense. They may actually make a spreadsheet or some sort of cheat sheet to keep track of the donors, but then they make their choices intuitively, rather than based on a set of criteria or a list of pros and cons. They may simply look at each donor and make a yay or nay decision based on their overall impression of the donor. They more than likely can’t articulate the reasoning behind who they cut and who they do not cut. And in fact, research shows that when people make intuitive choices they are happier with their choices when they have not been required to articulate their reasoning. The act of stating their logic or reasons causes them to change or doubt their original decision. In other words, if you are this type of person, don’t feel bad if you can’t really articulate the reasoning behind your choice!
- The WooWoo: The woo woo is the person who thinks beyond the donor’s list of characteristics and interests in favor of something less articulable, such as resonance or karma. They may believe that the donor’s spirit will pick them. They think about esoteric concepts such as “stickiness,” meaning whether or not the sperm is attracted to them as a mother—from the perspective of karma or past life connection. They may consider whether the combination between the donor and themselves is fortuitous spiritually. Or, they may enlist a psychic or other metaphysical ideas and approaches to choose the donor. The woo woo might create a ceremony, or write a list of the type of spirit they want to attract into their life and look for a donor through this lens. It would make sense to this person to use their gut instinct or heart center to evaluate these characteristics of the donor.
- The Resonance Seeker or Would I Date Him? Many women look for men they feel like they would date. After all, babies are usually the result of physical and emotional attraction. They want to find someone they would resonate with if they were going about this the old fashioned way. They may even believe that in order to find someone capable of getting them pregnant, they have to feel drawn to the person as if they would be a potential partner.
The problem some women run into is that many times, there are only baby pictures of the donors available. It’s virtually impossible to size up a donor in this way, when the only visual representation of the donor is a baby picture. And, even when the sperm bank provides pictures, the donors, who are often recruited on college campuses, are so young it feels plain wrong to be thinking about whether you’d date them.
However, some sperm banks provide other information, such as audio interviews, written questionnaires that can aide in this type of inquiry.
- What Will My Child Think? This person looks at every donor through their future child’s eyes. It’s counterintuitive, but this part sometimes gets lost. Of course when choosing a sperm donor, the woman is supremely dedicated to future baby’s best interest above anything else. But somehow that focus does not always remember to think of that question through the child’s eyes. While this might not be a style unto itself it’s an important consideration.
I know I was so focused on what I wanted or thought would be the best for my child, that I almost forgot that my child would only have the information in the sperm donor’s profile to understand his origins. This wasn’t my main strategy, but it played a very important role in narrowing down donors. Some donors had impressive lists of interests, education, talents, but their audio files or written responses were flippant or sarcastic. I thought of how embarrassed I’d be if I had to show my child this part of the donor’s profile. I imagined how my child, presented with the file of information I had about my donor, would hang onto every word in the file. If I couldn’t stand behind every word, I couldn’t choose the donor.
Before you set out to choose a donor, consider some of the best decisions you’ve made in your life. How did you make them? Which of the composites resonate with you? Can you prioritize which few methods you’d like to incorporate into your process?
If you feel you need more help choosing a donor or need someone to process options with, contact me for a consultation. I’m happy to help you clarify your priorities, talk through various donors and help you decide.
Did I miss any types? How did you choose your donor? Be sure to leave a comment below and tell us how you chose your donor.
Stay tuned for:
Part 2: My Special Blend, in which I detail the blend of these I used to pick my donors.
Part 3: Not All Sperm Banks Are Created Equal: How to Evaluate Sperm Banks