This post is for anyone who is selecting a sperm donor or considering Spain as a destination for in vitro fertilization.
How I learned about open ID vs. non-contact donors in my family building journey (I share this, so you don’t have to waste your time in deciding what’s right for you WHILE you learn about the process!)
I chose Spain because of the overall reputation of the clinics within Spain. Spain is continually rated as one of the most attractive and affordable destinations in the world to receive IVF. I selected a clinic in Barcelona in February 2019. I was both…super nervous and excited. And, really green.
In 2017 I received the results of my ancestry.com test and learned I was 10% Iberian. At that point, I regarded cultural heritage as something essential to me in my donor selection. I held the hope that my donor-conceived child would have an additional option to self-identify with cultural heritage to help them establish their self-identity as he or she grew up.
And about this time…I had made my first mistake. I failed to determine if Spain even allows donor selection, meaning I failed to find out whether I was permitted to use open ID donors.
According to Phoenix and European Sperm banks, here are the textbook definitions of the differences between the different types of donors.
- An open identity (or open ID) sperm donor agrees to at least one form of contact with any donation-born offspring once the child turns 18. … The children may want to know more about their donor’s story, including family history, personality traits, and other details.
- There are two types of sperm donors: open and non-contact. It is up to the sperm donor to decide whether to be an open or a non-contact donor. Whether both types of sperm donors are available in your country of treatment depends on the country’s legislation.
For couples and other single recipient parents, perhaps choosing a non-contact donor is less of an issue for them. For me as a single individual attempting to family build, attempting to do IVF in Spain with open ID donor sperm opened my eyes to the problems that donor-conceived people may have as they get older. Strong opinion coming up: Donor-conceived people should have the right to contact their genetic parents, if they choose, for their mental well-being and be able to have proper access to the genetic parent’s health history medical records for apparent reasons.
Discovering how I began to delay my process, I realized I could not move forward with an anonymous donor.
Through each additional correspondence, I realized that it was becoming more and more challenging to choose a donor in Spain. It was a wishful thinking trap: You want something to be true even if it isn’t true, ignoring the real truth because of what you want to be true.
The doctors I spoke with were confident that they did not have any half Filipino/half Caucasian donors in the bank and shared that the donor would be assigned to me based on matching facial features. They called this process phenotype matching.
The doctors told me to send two pictures of my face to be used to match the face of the donor. Clinics in Spain, are by law, required to use phenotype matching.
I had more follow-up conversations with the patient care coordinators.
- How would the algorithm see my biracial makeup determine what donor to assign me?
- What would the race of the donor be since I am multi-racial?
I tried to show them pictures of my nieces for reference, but they could not guarantee what the computer would select. One of the doctors finally said the Mediterranean. Today no less than 21 countries border the Mediterranean Sea. I mean, could the algorithm be a little more precise?
Considering the many different countries and their corresponding cultures, which comprise the 21 bordering countries along the Mediterranean, that seemed like a lot of ambiguity. To be able to get a little more precise on the ethnic origins of the donor would have been of help to me to be able to work with the potential questions that would come from my child around their genetic father’s origins.
I really regretted letting go of a donor of Spanish descent. I would have liked to think that a cultural and genetic tie to using a Spanish sperm donor while doing IVF in Spain could have possibly made it easier for my child in their path to establishing his or her self-identity. Still, I was not permitted to make that choice due to the donor anonymity laws in Spain. This is not to say that potentially I was trying to eliminate any questions that would arise around self-identity.
Whether you are single, or in a relationship, selecting a donor, you are making important decisions on what kind of donor to use for your family building (if your finances and your country’s legislation permit your selection). I share my drawn-out experience with the clinic in Spain because it is ok to change your mind about what you want! Regardless of how you find out!
If you are making these decisions jointly with a partner, it’s essential to consider their perspective but also the donor-conceived person to be, who, at this point, has no voice yet. Looking back, I have shifted and now consider the lost time going back and forth with the clinic in Spain as the time needed to get clear on what kind of donor I would prefer to have to move forward in my process.
I’m hoping that my experience with the clinic in Spain will grant you your own full access for you to be able to look into what is ultimately essential to your family building needs. It begins with asking yourself, “What do [I/we] want?” Also, permit yourself to ask yourself, “What is the likelihood my child will be curious about their donor?”
You and I are coming to the family building plan with different priorities based on our experiences and situations. Everyone is unique! And that is absolutely the cool thing about it! In considering the options meaningfully, you will be more prepared to be able to deliver a strong and supportive birth narrative and be able to support what our donor-conceived child may feel one day in their own journey! Babydust to you!
Do you want to make sure you are doing everything you can while finalizing your family building plan? Do not miss out on my free checklist that covers some essential mental and physical tips to make sure you can extend your family building window out as long as you can! This checklist is a very empowering one that can help you decide to have children exactly when it’s right for you!