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My friend donated his sperm, I had a baby then we fell out

June 25th, 2024

When Alice* 34, from Bristol, and her partner, Charlotte*, 28, decided they wanted a baby, they tried Facebook, then afterwards turned to their friend for help. Alice, a stay-at-home mum, explains how it all went wrong….

My friend donated his sperm, I had a baby then we fell out

Alice* and her partner Charlotte* were clear from the start that they only wanted a donor, not a dad. Posed by models. (Getty Images)

My partner Charlotte* and I had been together about four years when last year we decided we wanted to have a baby. I grew up in a big family with lots of siblings so I always knew that I wanted children of my own one day and fortunately so did Charlotte.

As a same-sex couple, we knew it wasn’t going to be straightforward so when a family member said she had heard about Facebook groups which connected same-sex couples with sperm donors, we went online to find one.

It meant we were in control of who the donor was and could not only ensure he had the same eye colour and hair as Charlotte, but also that it would be a quicker process than a clinic. Within a few weeks, we had found a suitable donor.

We were clear from the start that we only wanted a donor, not someone to act as a father. We were a complete family unit and wanted the child to grow up with two mums, not a dad too.

“Will you want contact with the baby after it’s born?” I asked over Facebook messenger. “We just want a donor, not someone who wants contact.”

“No,” he reassured us. “I’m married and have children.”

He explained that his wife was fully supportive of him donating his sperm for free to help same-sex couples. He had previously helped seven couples, some who had fallen pregnant after the first try and some after the second.

We asked him to send us his STI test results to make sure he was clean, and he did. Then we arranged for him to come to our house in April 2023. Beforehand, I bought an insemination kit online for £20 which contained a cup and two syringes.

It was a bit awkward when he arrived but it was a good way to check him out properly and he was very professional about it, going into the bathroom to do his business and then handing us the full cup.

He explained that his wife was fully supportive of him donating his sperm for free to help same-sex couples.

“Just let me know if you need me to help again,” he said.

“Thank you so much,” we replied, feeling a huge sense of gratitude.

After he left, we inseminated Charlotte and then we waited and hoped for the best.

Two weeks on, we were both gutted when a pregnancy test came back negative. We sent the donor a message explaining and asking if he could come back next month. But we didn’t hear anything back and then we discovered he’d blocked us on Facebook.

We were so upset and confused. I just couldn’t understand why he’d block us without explaining why after he had offered to help us again.

Man ringing doorbell (Getty Images)Man ringing doorbell (Getty Images)

They found their first sperm donor via Facebook, who came to their house, but afterwards he blocked them with no explanation. (Getty Images)

Our friend, Daniel*, 28, had been staying with us for about five months ever since a relationship breakdown had left him with nowhere to live. He had recently moved out but often visited and whilst he was over we told him how upset we were. It was then he offered to become our next sperm donor.

Charlotte had been friends with Daniel* for 10 years and I’d known him for five so he seemed like a safe bet.

Charlotte had been friends with Daniel for 10 years and I’d known him for five so he seemed like a safe bet. He was straight and single, and we knew he had a son from a previous relationship, although we had never met him. After what had happened last time, it seemed safer to use a friend as a donor rather than a stranger because we knew more about him.

Daniel also had the same eye and hair colour as Charlotte, which was ideal.

“Don’t worry, I don’t want anything to do with the baby as it grows up,” he reassured us. “It’s the least I can do to help you both out after you’ve done so much for me.”

By then, he had moved out, so in April 2023 he came over and we used another artificial insemination kit we had ordered online. He went into the bathroom and came out a short while later with a cup containing his sperm.

This time it wasn’t at all awkward because we knew him so well, and like our previous donor, he didn’t want any payment.

We inseminated Charlotte and two weeks later, she was eating chicken for dinner when she said it tasted funny.

“What do you mean funny?” I asked. “Mine tastes normal. I reckon you’re pregnant!”

The next day Daniel popped over, we did a test and when it came up positive Charlotte and I hugged each other with excitement.

“Congratulations, I’m so happy for you,” Daniel smiled, looking a bit surprised that it had actually worked.

We contacted our GP surgery to say that Charlotte was pregnant and at our first appointment the nurse asked how the baby was conceived. When we told her, she asked how we knew the donor was clean and we explained that we had seen an STI test.

After that, they didn’t ask anything else about it and the pregnancy progressed as normal, despite Charlotte being incredibly sick.

Towards the end, Daniel kept texting to see if the baby had arrived. Charlotte gave birth via emergency C-section three weeks early in February last year, with me right beside her in hospital.

We both fell instantly in love with our gorgeous little boy and once Charlotte was out of theatre we messaged Daniel too.

‘He’s healthy and he’s fine,’ I wrote.

A couple of days later when we were back home, Daniel replied, asking, ‘Can I come and meet the baby?’

We were annoyed because we had made it clear from the start we didn’t want our donor to be involved in the baby’s life. We hadn’t thought that he would want to meet him.

‘No,’ I replied firmly. ‘We agreed you’re just a donor not the baby’s dad.’

We were annoyed because we had made it clear from the start we didn’t want our donor to be involved in the baby’s life. We hadn’t thought that he would want to meet our baby.

But he didn’t leave it at that and in the days and weeks that followed, more and more messages flooded in. He only lived about five minutes away and we both got so anxious about all the messages and the fear of bumping into him when we were out, that we hardly left the house.

After two and a half months, we gave in and let him come and meet our son once, hoping it would settle things and allow him to move on.

To our relief, it seemed to work and after that he stopped messaging us. We’ve bumped into him a few times when we’ve been out but he’s just said a quick hello to us and the baby.

Their friend and sperm donor Daniel* wanted to meet their son, which they weren't expecting. Posed by models. (Getty Images)Their friend and sperm donor Daniel* wanted to meet their son, which they weren't expecting. Posed by models. (Getty Images)

Their friend and sperm donor Daniel* wanted to meet their son, which they weren’t expecting. Posed by models. (Getty Images)

Now we’re keen to have a second baby, a brother or sister for our son. However, there’s no way we would turn to a friend again after how complicated it turned out last time.

So we’ve already started reaching out on the same Facebook page for a suitable donor and have found a lovely man who has offered to help. He wants £65 to cover his travel expenses which we are happy to pay. We’ll make sure he shows us his health and STI checks first.

We want our son to have a sibling close in age so we’re hoping to do this soon. Despite all the stress and heartache, we don’t have any regrets about having our son. It’s been worth all the upset and anxiety.

As soon as our son starts asking questions and is old enough to understand, we’ll explain to him how he was conceived, although we won’t tell him who the donor was.

Our advice to other people who are looking for a sperm donor would be to be careful. We’ve had bad experiences on Facebook and also with a friend, but it hasn’t put us off going back to Facebook again this time. I think that the key is to be vigilant and do your research to find the right solution that works for you.

*Names have been changed to protect identities.

If you go through a regulated fertility clinic to find a sperm donor, then your rights as a parent are better protected. (Getty Images)If you go through a regulated fertility clinic to find a sperm donor, then your rights as a parent are better protected. (Getty Images)

If you go through a regulated fertility clinic to find a sperm donor, then your rights as a parent are better protected. (Getty Images)

Fertility Clinics in the UK are regulated by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). If you’re thinking of using a sperm donor, here’s a summary of your legal rights…

  • The donor will be screened for STIs, such as chlamydia and HIV, and be offered counselling and information about their rights and obligations.

  • The donor’s sperm can only be used to create babies in up to 10 different families (siblings count as one family).

  • The donor can only receive a maximum of £35 for each clinic visit in line with the requirements set by the HFEA.

If you have fertility treatment using a donor at a UK clinic, the donor will not:

  • Be the legal parent of the child born

  • Have any legal obligation to the child

  • Be named on the birth certificate

  • Have any rights over how the child will be brought up

  • Be required to support the child financially

  • You will have parental responsibility and, if you are married or in a civil partnership, your spouse will automatically be the child’s second legal parent.

  • If you are in a relationship, but not married, your partner will be the second legal parent if you both sign the relevant legal parenthood consent form.

  • From 1 April 2005, men were no longer able to donate sperm anonymously. This means that if someone donated after then, when their donor-conceived child reaches 18, they can ask for the donor’s name, date of birth and last known address.

  • If you decide to undergo a private arrangement, for example via Facebook, you will always be the child’s mother.

  • However, the law on who will be the child’s other parent is not straightforward. It is possible that the donor will be the legal father of the child with all the parental and financial responsibility this involves.

  • The 10 family limit doesn’t apply to private sperm donations, because they are unregulated.

Parental responsibility can depend on:

  • Whether you are single, married or in a civil partnership at the time of conception

  • Whether the insemination took place through artificial insemination or sexual intercourse

  • Who is named on the birth certificate

  • Whether the donor has established a relationship with the child.

  • Whilst using a private donor can be good for some people – often popular because you can have ongoing contact with the donor during the child’s life – this donor conception route is unregulated so it does have certain risks.

  • Also, if the donor were to decide to stop contact with you and your child, then your offspring will have no means of finding out about the donor or making contact with them in later years.

Source: HFEA

Read more

Woman has a sperm donor baby after going through a break-up at 35 (Yahoo Life UK, 7-min read)

How does the IVF process work and who is eligible? (Yahoo Life UK, 6-min read)

Couple raise £8k in four weeks to pay for IVF baby after 12 years of infertility (Yahoo Life UK, 3-min read)

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