So the decision was made! I could wait to meet the love of my life, but I couldn’t wait to conceive a child… Hence, the child would just have to come before the man! **If he ever comes… I feel like my Prince Charming is actually lost in a forest, travelling on a turtle, afraid to ask for directions!
I still had to be approved for the procedure and, because I wanted to optimize all my chances and show the psychologist that I had thought of all options, I chose to select a “just in case” anonymous donor.
CHOOSING A DONOR
A sperm bank is worse than a dating website. You’re not deciding who to go out for coffee with, you are choosing the characteristics of your future child. 176 potential matches. How is one supposed to choose? Scrolling through pages and pages of personality tests, genetic tests, family medical histories, physical traits, photos… argh… it quickly became overwhelming.
Just a single profile can have over 20 pages of info in it. However, I soon fall upon a quirky guy with blue eyes and a big smile, the type of guy that I would definitely date. He is 6’2″, well educated, works in communications, has traveled and advises his future child to dream big. Wow! A man version of me!
Choose a “just in case” unknown donor – CHECKED! I was now ready to get approve!
NOT SO FAST
Let’s say that my first venture into the world of “Single Mom By Choice” didn’t turn out the way I thought it would. I tried to meet up a couple times with my “sperm-donor-friend” (let’s just call him Buddy) before meeting with the psychologist, in order to hash out his expectations, but all efforts fell through. My emotions were running high and I was starting to feel like Buddy wasn’t as willing as I was (despite saying he was). He was supposed to come to Montreal, his car broke down. I went up to his city, but a HUGE storm with hail the size of golf balls, stopped us from meeting up. We texted and tried to find the time to talk over the phone, but without success. I had to wonder if the universe was sending me a sign? So I met the psychologist without truly speaking it through with Buddy, but I felt confident that I was ready & right for this process.
That feeling didn’t last long…
I walked into the psychologist’s office and I set the tone with my first question.
ME: “I have looked into both the options of a known donor and an anonymous sperm donor with open ID (meaning that the child can contact the donor when he/she turns 18) and I would like your opinion as to what you think is the best option for the child.”
HER: “What do you think? Why would you choose one over the other?”
I explained that I thought that using someone I knew would help the future child have a grasp on his/her heritage and where he/she came from. That it gave him/her answers earlier in life and even maybe the possibility of another extended family. Knowing that my friend wanted more than to be just a donor, that he wanted more kids in his life, it could give me emotional support and a break from time to time…
HER: “So he will be the dad, legally? On paper?”
Oh no! I explained that it would be complicated, since we do not live in the same city to logistically have him truly be “the father/dad”. That I intend on travelling with my future child and didn’t want the headache of always needing his permission. “He won’t be involved THAT much”, I said… he won’t have visitation rights, he won’t tell me how to educate the kid, he won’t truly BE THERE on a consistent basis, but he can be there when he wants.
HER: “If he wants to be involved, is it right to take away his parental rights? Deprive him from being that dad again? A child from an anonymous donor can accept with time that there is no father. In this case, will he/she feel that someone loved mom enough to provide for his/her existence, but didn’t love him/her enough to want to really be there? Have you thought about that?”
It felt like a punch to the stomach… no. I had not seen it as me being egoistical and keeping this child for myself. My friend already had children, so I also did not see it as depriving him from being a real father to my child. Furthermore, I never thought that my child could feel abandoned by him. I thought about the child being teased for coming from a test tube, but I had not thought of him/her feeling unwanted because this person was close to me, but not close enough to him/her.
At this point, the wind in my sails died and I started doubting every answer I gave. I felt unsure for the first time about the one thing that I felt so confident about before walking through that door; that I was so ready for this!
HER: “Let me ask you this. You have a past with this guy, so who says you do not have a future?”
ME: … who knows… (I also babbled a series of reasons why I did not think we’d have a future)
HER: “Ok, let’s take this a step further. Let’s think of what ifs. Since him becoming a donor could take 6 months to a year (he would have to go through testing, be accepted into a sperm bank, retested and then released…) you will do this naturally, right? Emotions can develop when that physicality is present. What would happen if you develop feelings for each other?”
ME: “Then we will raise a child together!” Duh!
HER: “Ok. That would be the ideal situation. It is easier to have a partner. Let’s keep going though. What if you develop feeling and he doesn’t. He also doesn’t end up meeting your expectations towards the child in the future… would you be resentful?”
Another punch to the stomach… I could… I was already mad at him for not being able to meet up before the appointment with the psychologist… I was already mentally exhausted trying to find out how involved he wanted to be… Did I really want a lifetime of potentially being exhausted helping my child get the info he/she wants to obtain from him?!?
HER: “Furthermore, he could say NOW that he would sign that release of parental rights within 48h of the child’s birth, but he has 9 months to change his mind… also, what if he develops feelings and you don’t. You may meet someone while pregnant or soon after & he would have a year to be upset, maybe resentful and potentially come back on his decision… he could go bankrupt in that first year and then decide to take back his rights to get parental support from you… there are many scenarios. What then?
He wouldn’t do that! Of course not… but what if… So many what ifs… this was upsetting me and making me feel like we were so off track from the I-know-what-I-want-to-do path that I thought that I was on… and then she looked at her watch…
HER: “Our time is up and I am sorry to say that since we did not tackle the topic of anonymous donor sperm, I cannot approve you for the procedure. Why not bring Buddy next time for some couple therapy and see what can be.”
PUNCH TO THE FACE! Are you kidding me?! Couple’s therapy? Couldn’t she have steered the conversation towards anonymous donors when she saw that we had 20min left or something?! I was shocked. Not approved? Really?!?
I walked out of there, crying out of frustration! I was so mad that she did not approve me and so mad that she seemed to want me to be in a relationship with Buddy… mad that Buddy wasn’t responding and mad that I now had to pay for another meeting with the psychologist… so mad at being in this “Single mom by choice” situation in the first place… and then CLICK!
I didn’t want to be mad! I didn’t want to be with Buddy. I didn’t want all these extra emotions that came with him being the donor. I wanted a child and I would just have to tell this future child that “mommy wanted you SO much that she bought sperm to conceive you — a magical little vial of baby-making potion”. That’s it! That’s all!
I knew more than ever, in that moment (actually, in the moment after calling my mom in tears and having her tell me – “You don’t want Buddy. You want a baby! You call her back and tell her”), that I was going to use an anonymous donor!
The psychologist did her job; she made sure I understood what I was getting into. I get it… A week later, I went back and I was approved for an IUI (intrauterine insemination) with an unknown donor. Woohoo! Plus, lucky for me, I had already found my “just in case” donor – so I was set! Or so I thought…
My perfect male-version-of-me, quirky, handsome unknown donor was unavailable…
(TO BE CONTINUED)