One of the things that most of us don’t think about when we are selecting a sperm donor is the other women who have chosen that same donor before us. We tend to focus on health history, appearance, CMV status and often we will look for a donor who has had successful pregnancies. When you are searching through profiles, these attributes are often just a check box or one word answer. The only face you look at is that of the donor.
I was one of the people who gave zero thought to the fact that my future child already had half siblings. Once I was pregnant it hit me in a flash – my son had donor siblings (or diblings as some call them.) I had this wonderful opportunity to see other children who were half of what my son would be. Perhaps he would look similar to them? It was too irresistible to not want to have a peek.
At 9 weeks pregnant I connected with other families who had used the same donor and found myself in a secret Facebook group with a bunch of women who had adorable little people – my sons half siblings. It was pretty surreal and incredibly cool!
The decision on whether to connect with your donor group is, like everything else in this process very personal.
Some parentss feel that their families are enough and are very uncomfortable with the idea of connecting with their children’s half siblings. They never look for them and they never connect with them – they leave the decision 100% up to their child.
Some parents connect with the group but stay very much in the background. Their main reason for being there is so that they can be aware of any health issues that might come up. Maybe they also want to make it easier for their children to connect if they should want to in the future.
Then there are the male infertility recipients (heterosexual couples) and I’ve found that they are much less likely to connect and have a higher chance of not telling their children that they used a donor. Some do tell their offspring but they stay away from the donor groups for the most part. I know we have at least one couple that used our donor but they have not reached out to us.
When I first connected it was mainly out of curiosity. I wasn’t sure how much involvement that I wanted. It was interesting but overwhelming. We have some strong characters and I wondered whether or not I really needed this many new people in our lives.
Time went on and my son was born. This group of women had become a cheerleading team of sorts – genuinely excited to welcome a new child into the group. They were among the first to know that I had given birth and it was so fun to compare my baby’s picture to all of the other newborns!
I gave it some genuine thought. I considered what I would want and what my future son might want. I came to the same conclusion for us both: Honesty and love.
I felt that hiding the donor family from my son could backfire. He would feel lied to and could even resent me for the missed opportunity of getting to know others who were not only donor conceived – but by the same man who had helped gift life to him. If I left my child out of gatherings and meet ups, other kids would form bonds and it would be much harder for my son to connect and form the kind of relationships that occur when you have been friends through all the awkward stages of life.
I decided that I would embrace the donor families and I can honestly say that it has been the best decision for us. We have met multiple families and it has always been a very positive experience. Some of these women have become very good friends – to the point that I now cannot imagine my life without them! I am excited for our children to know one another and so glad that I have opened this door for my son so young. I feel like he will never feel that it’s weird or uncomfortable – it will just be his life and another part of his amazing story.
And if my son decides that he doesn’t want to pursue friendships with these children when he is older, that’s fine. It will still be his choice. It will also be my choice to stay connected to the Mothers who have become friends.
We are going on vacation later this month. It’s our second donor sibling meet up and this time we will have 10 children (7 families total.) I’ve no doubt it will be absolute chaos but of the sweetest variety.
We plan on doing a meetup for those who want to every year until the kids are old enough to do it on their own and then – who knows, maybe us Mums will just do it on our own. We’ll pick somewhere exotic and enjoy our cocktails, kid free and full of stories.