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Tag Archives: Donor Insemination

Types of Donors

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There is a lot of confusion even within the community of people who have conceived via donor insemination about what the different labels regarding anonymity of donors actually mean. This is especially frustrating for me as a donor conceived person. If people do not even have a full grasp of the terminology, how can they make a fully informed decision? So just in case you’re stumbling across this post and could use a better understanding of all the labels and options, here you go…

Two types of donors are typically available from cryobanks.

  • Anonymous donors have no ID or contact options. Unless, at some point the donor contacts the bank and wants to allow for contact (this is rare), the only information ever available to offspring will be the profile information from the bank.
  • Willing-to-be-Known (WTBK) Donors, also known as ID Release Donors, have agreed to contact from offspring. Typically this option becomes available when the child turns 18.
  • Some people choose not to go through a cryobank. Most of the time, donors found through a registry or known previously by the family are referred to as Known Donors regardless of the actual level of contact or how well they’re actually “known”. These arrangements go from biological relatives of the non-biological intended parent to the equivalent of a one night stand and everything in between.

    The last possibility that comes to mind is a co-parenting arrangement. This is when there is an agreement in place for the donor to be a parent to the child whether legally or otherwise. This is the only time you should even remotely assume that it would be okay to refer to a child’s donor as the child’s dad.

    I know it can get confusing, but using the right terminology, especially when discussing the effect of anonymity on the donor selection, is critical.

    Genetics Update

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    During the time I wasn’t writing publicly here, we submitted my mom’s kit for DNA analysis. Because the testing company lowered their prices drastically, their processing times have increased. I’ve been obsessively checking for my mom’s results for several weeks now. They’ve made a lot of updates to the site and are now much better at keeping you informed of your testing status. Today, I saw this:

    Almost ready

    I am suddenly nervous and excited. In just a few days, I will know what I inherited from my mother, and what I inherited from my donor. I will also know which relatives are from which bloodline. That will help me make more informed decisions about what contact I want to pursue and when. I’m not opposed to exploring connections with people on the donor’s side, but I’m still not sure if I want to actively pursue it either…

    Back to the present for a moment

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    I sometimes (often) struggle with just how much to share here. This blog is public and searchable, but this struggle has been very personal and painful. I decided to share the entries in my previous post that I made during the time I was struggling, because I think it’s time that we are more open about depression, anxiety, and the medications used to treat them. I decided to share our latest TTC journey, partially because I need to “talk” about it, but also because I think it’s about time we talk more about infertility and pregnancy loss as well. So, I’m trying to be as open as possible even when it’s a bit uncomfortable.

    I’m going to fast forward for a minute from my recent posts to the present.

    Our IVF intake appointment was yesterday. It was much more detailed and thorough than I expected. I was thinking this would be a “here’s how we do it, call us back when you’re ready for all of your testing” kind of appointment. It was much more than that. We’re to the point where we just have to call on the cycle before we’re ready to start birth control (BCP) to give them a heads up so they will put us in the schedule and then call back on CD1 of the following cycle to start the BCP. In the meantime, I have to have some (a lot of) bloodwork done. We already did antral follicle counts and mock transfer yesterday. We’ve decided to wait for my July period which should be mid-month and get in on that clinic schedule. That gives me 14 weeks to drop some more weight which will help optimize our outcomes and get all the insurance pre-approvals. I spent an hour and fifteen minutes on the phone yesterday afternoon just trying to find out what medications are and are not covered by my medical plan and which ones are covered under my pharmacy plan. It was slow and frustrating, but I think I got all the answers I need for that part of the process. I’ll also have this wait time to get all of the required bloodwork out of the way. They’re still trying to decide which, if any, blood tests Mommy will also need. Mid-July seems like forever but not at the same time. If we’re lucky enough for our fresh transfer to stick, our kids will have close birthdays which is something we considered trying to avoid when we were doing IUIs around the same time last year, but at this point, we’re just ready to be pregnant!

    So that’s where we are now. I’ll get back to telling you how we ended up here in my future posts.

    A Change in Plans

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    After Little Man was born, we asked Mommy’s OB when it would be safe for her to get pregnant again. We had assumed she would carry all of our children, and we knew that age wasn’t on our side. The OB recommended starting trying again in 9 months. As we began to approach that 9 month mark (early 2012), something started gnawing at me, and so this twist in our plans began…

    Deciding to carry a child was not easy for me. There were a lot of reasons I felt like I shouldn’t – that I should just be happy to be a mother and not complicate things. The problem with that was this feeling I couldn’t shake that I would regret that decision some day when it was too late if I didn’t at least try. I don’t have a need for biological relation to my child, but I do have the “need” to gestate, to grow and nurture a child inside my womb. So, when I finally admitted to myself and then to Mommy that this was something so important to me, we started to look into all those things I felt should/would/could keep me from becoming pregnant.

    I had always worried that I inherited my mom’s fertility issues long before we were actually planning for children. This was before I knew that I’d been conceived using donor sperm. When my mom told me that her doctor during the time she was trying to get pregnant had attributed much of the struggle to my father’s issues stemming from Agent Orange exposure, that worry became less intense. I felt like maybe I wasn’t doomed to a decade of struggling and multiple miscarriages before I could carry a baby to term. That was my mom’s reality, but maybe, I wasn’t doomed to repeat it.

    One thing always at the front of my mind is my Fibromyalgia. I was afraid to put any more “burden” on my body. I also knew that I was not comfortable taking any of the daily medications I had been prescribed just to help me function, while pregnant or even while trying to conceive (TTC). Lastly but certainly a big one for me, I didn’t want to pass this on to my child. My mom has it, I have it, and I didn’t want our child to have it. That is the worry that led us to speak to the RE about reciprocal IVF (in vitro fertilization).

    For those of you less versed in reproductive assistance, reciprocal IVF is when one partner’s eggs are retrieved and fertilized with the intent to place the embryos into the other partner’s uterus. We wanted to use Mommy’s eggs to make embryos that I would carry. We had a long meeting with the RE about this. I honestly wasn’t even sure he would go for it since Mommy is already considered to be advanced maternal age (AMA). He did though. He said that he would do that if we wanted to, but these were his concerns. There’s no data on how likely it is that our child born using my eggs would have Fibromyalgia, but there is plenty of data that shows how much age affects egg quality and the possibility of fetal abnormalities. We would be taking eggs seven years older than my own to make embryos. He said that he would be more concerned about that than the chance that a child may inherit Fibro. That discussion along with some other information led us to start looking into regular IUI (intra-uterine insemination) using my eggs and donor sperm.

    So, after many long discussions and lots of reading, we decided that we would move ahead along the path of considering IUI with me carrying. Now, it was time to address the rest of my concerns. My other concerns about Fibro and pregnancy were greatly reduced by a visit with my rheumatologist. She said that in her experience, women with Fibro who get pregnant do really well. Something about the pregnancy hormones helps alleviate the symptoms of Fibromyalgia in the majority of cases she’d seen. I also have anecdotal evidence of this from e-friends I’ve made over the past few years. (This makes me wonder why they aren’t researching some sort of hormone therapy to treat Fibro, but I digress) The rheumatologist and I made a plan to wean me off several medications, and I set up an appointment with my general practitioner to discuss the others. All of my care providers were very supportive of our decision which certainly helped me to feel more secure in it.

    By the time I was finished with my GP, we had a plan and a timeline. We were moving forward and started to look at donors. This was the same month as Little Man’s first birthday.

    …to be continued

    Wanted

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    This post over at Offbeat Families really spoke to me. When people ask me how I feel about having been conceived using donor sperm, I tell them that it assures me that my parents wanted me even more than I knew…that they went to extraordinary lengths to have me. This poster says it beautifully in the last two paragraphs of her post. Though neither my parents nor my wife and I had to go “all the way” to IVF, the sentiment is the same.

    “She will know how much we wanted her, our precious result of a mad science experiment gone wonderfully right.”

    http://offbeatfamilies.com/2013/01/sperm-donors-ivf-and-mad-science-experiments

    Relative connections

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    So, a couple of weeks ago, I got a message on the genetic testing site I used to verify my conception via donor sperm. The person contacting me was obviously related to me on my mother’s side due to the listing of surnames in his profile. It actually turned out to be his mother contacting me via his account. Anyway, I’m finding that tracking down exactly how we are connected is fascinating. It looks like my mother’s paternal grandmother was the sister of his father’s paternal grandfather which would make us 3rd cousins. I’m pretty sure that’s correct. My genealogy is a little rusty. We’re still in contact and tracking down all the details. I’m thoroughly enjoying the investigation.

    Then, TODAY, I got a message from someone who has done extensive genealogy research and has a LONG list of surnames on his profile. I recognize none of them. This means that he is probably most likely related to me via my donor. I’m not quite sure how I feel about that connection. This is obviously something that I considered could happen, but now that it actually has I’m not feeling the way I thought I might. I had actually thought I might be a little freaked when/if such contact actually did happen, but my curiosity has been peaked, and I responded. We’ll see where things go from here. It’s likely to be a dead-end since he may not even know if anyone in his family has ever been a donor, especially considering how distant our relationship might be, but I would never know unless I responded.

    Biology is the least of what makes a family

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    I can say that with more certainty than ever before. My cousin’s DNA results finally came back. We have basically 0% blood relation. This means what I’ve suspected for a year now. Approximately half of my DNA was passed down from an anonymous donor. My daddy is not my biological father. He is however, my father in every way that matters.

    I think a lot of people expect me to be upset about this…to need time to process…time to grieve. The thing is, I feel like I’ve already done all of that. This time last year, my mom told me that they had sought help getting pregnant, that donor semen was involved, and that she wasn’t sure if my dad was my biological father. I processed so much then, that now, more than anything, I just feel relief at having an answer. The only aspect of this that has been emotionally difficult for me is that it makes me miss my daddy. My grief over losing him is intertwined with this quest for information.

    Most of the people in my family who know about all this thought for sure that my DNA would show that daddy was my biological “father”. I share so many physical and even temperamental characteristics with him. It just goes to show how so much of what we attribute to biology is also heavily influenced by environment. On the same note, my wife took a picture of our son and me the other day. He and I were both looking into the camera. When I saw the picture, I was amazed at how much alike we looked…at how we were making almost identical expressions. I know in my heart that my father loved me as much as I love this little boy, and really, that’s all that matters.