Once we found the sperm bank we then had the daunting task of finding the right donor (for us). Now let me explain how the sperm bank worked. Each male person who wanted to donate had to fill out an extensive medical and personal history. If they were selected, the next step for them was genetic testing/counseling. If the donor had the proper qualifications set up by the facility, they were then asked to make their donation. A number would be given to that donor and be used on their registry. That number would be their ID. Potential sperm buyers would always use that number to identify that particular donor even 10 years later. Also, once that donor had been documented as having impregnated a specific number of woman, he was removed from the registry as an available donor however he would stay on the site. The bank would keep him there so updated information could be placed about that donor over the years. If they were in graduate school, had developed an illness, or had a child with an illness the sperm bank would post that information under that donor’s number (and send a notice to you).
It was overwhelming thinking about how to begin our search. The thought that we were creating a person with this donor made it very nerve racking. We wanted the perfect donor.
We started with making sure the donor’s blood type was compatible with mine. The other thing was we knew it was not important to us to find a Jewish donor. Because my family carried many genetic Jewish diseases our first concern was to look for a donor who didn’t carry any of those diseases (which meant looking outside of the Jewish pool). We also wanted the child to possibly have some of Carol’s physical features. And then there was the other stuff a parent always wants. We wanted our kid to be smart and cute. So, when we went to their online site we pulled up the form where we entered this information and much more. Once the form was filled out, we pressed enter and a list of available donors with the qualifications we specified popped up. Now here was the part that really got Carol and I laughing one night. The donors were placed in one of three categories. One category was called “economical” and only the medical history of the donor was given along with very basic physical features. The two other categories included the medical history of the donor and detailed information about their families about 2 generations back. Those two categories also gave detailed physical features of the donor and their relatives. The information would include details such as the donor and his family’s left or right handedness and whether their ear lobes were attached or detached. Both of those included their SAT scores and even their hobby likes and dislikes. So, I bet you’re wondering what the difference was between those two categories. Well, I’m glad you asked. One of them included donors who were in college only. I wish I could remember the name of that category for humor sake but I can’t. Now the “top” level category was the “executive” category. That included donors who were working on their higher degrees receiving their Masters or Doctorates. OK, so as Carol and I sat at the computer night after night trying to find the “perfect man” we couldn’t help but to find the entire process mind boggling and hysterically funny at the same time. It just all seemed so weird. Come on…you have to admit that it was. We were buying sperm for G-d sake!! How weird it that? And then to read the category names and the detailed information about each donor was just so foreign to us. Carol and I were raised by heterosexual parents so every aspect of our lives was new and a learning experience. And at times (like these) OH SO VERY STRANGE!
Have you guessed we had no desire to choose a donor from the “economical” category. Even though it was only $100.00 a vial we were willing to pay more to get more information about the donor. That was very important to us. However, we weren’t able to afford the “executive” level because it was $400 per vial which would only allow us one insemination try. That left one category for us. So, let me fill you in on our strategy. Yes, there is strategy to the “picking a sperm donor” game. Ha, little did you know. With the information the sperm bank gave us we felt we could possibly guess (pretty accurately) if the donor would choose to get a higher degree later in their life. We felt we could do this by looking at his SAT scores and the professions of his family members. Oh, yes, the sperm bank gave us all of that information. Amazing isn’t it? So, if the parents, siblings and other relatives had higher levels of education then there was a good chance the donor would aspire to do the same. AND so night after night for hours on end Carol sat at the computer learning more about men than she ever wanted to know.
After a month we couldn’t find a donor who embodied the things we wanted. Time was ticking and by that point we had only a couple of weeks before we were to have our first insemination. We were feeling the pressure to choose a donor but not so much so to make an unintelligent choice. Worse case scenario we’d have to wait an extra month before our first insemination. It was so hard to make a decision. We were waiting for the “right donor” and one who would make the both of us say, “That’s the one!” But as time passed Carol and I started to think maybe we were being way too picky. Maybe our expectations were way too high. We felt discouraged and really unhappy with the donors we found. None of them seemed to be right for us. Listen, each of the donors we found weren’t all bad. They had parts of them we liked. But, none of them seemed to have the entire package we wanted. Not finding the right donor, we almost put everything on hold. I wasn’t happy. I just wanted to do the insemination. Of course Carol was right. We needed to wait to find the right donor. But, I was scared somehow the infertility doctor would find out about me and then refuse to inseminate me. I felt pressured from that side to go ahead with the insemination. The entire time though Carol was always trying to keep me grounded. She often had to bring my head back down to reality. It was all of the uncertainty that was killing me. I had no control over any of it and letting go was not an easy task for me to say the least. But, I had no choice.
One evening when I came home from work I felt so discouraged. How could the timing feel so right for having a baby and yet we couldn’t find a donor? Maybe it really wasn’t time. Maybe I wasn’t meant to be a mother. Listen, I’m Jewish. For whatever reason I was born with this doomsday kind of thinking and I am guilty of letting it get the best of me. There, I admit it. Well, I will never forget coming home from work that evening. While opening our front door to our home (while thinking maybe it wasn’t meant to be) I saw Carol sitting at the computer. Gee, wonder what she was doing? Nothing like looking up sperm, I mean donors all day. Anyway before I could fully walk into the house she yelled, “I have found our donor! They just posted him. He’s fantastic, MaLea!” Now for those of you who know my partner, she’s not easily excitable. SO, I knew when I saw her so excited that this was it. I could feel my heart racing. I didn’t even put my things down -I just ran to the computer to see for myself. She started telling me he had perfect health and none of his family had any medical problems. Well only one family member had health issues but that was caused from her being in a concentration camp. I remember stopping Carol when she read that part. What? He had a family member in a concentration camp? Did that mean he was Jewish? Carol looked it up in his profile and sure enough he was Jewish. I was amazed he was Jewish and had no family history of any major illnesses. Our findings up to that point was if the donor was Jewish there was an on slot of illnesses in their family history. Listen, we were aware if we had been straight women and had husbands it wouldn’t matter. But in this case we could choose to try to water down my side of the genetic illness pool. So, I had resolved to the fact a Jewish donor was not going to be an option for us. So to hear this one was, I was surprised to say the least.
The more Carol told me about the donor the more thrilled I got. It was the first time the both of us were excited during the entire process. We had the option to get a photo of the donor when he was 2 years old. We could get a short essay he had hand written about his future goals and we could also get a recording of him talking. Of course those would cost extra. Each of them was an extra $10 each. We felt a bit nickeled and dimed at that point. Come on! How could we not purchase those things? We were in love with this donor (figuratively speaking of course) and we wanted to know as much about him for the sake of our possible child. I have to tell y’all it made us angry but of course we ordered them.
Y’all want to know the best part to the whole looking on line for a donor thing? We could order all of the donor’s information including his photo and his essay and download it instantly. Even though we felt somewhat taken advantage of (to have to pay extra for those things) our exhilaration and excitement we had picked a donor far out weighed any of those emotions. I must admit our first extra purchase was a picture of him at 2 years old. He was cute with curly dark brown hair. But what really sealed the deal for us was his essay. He exhibited kindness, strength and integrity. All the qualities we wanted in our child. We knew this was the guy/sperm for us. We had only one more step to take to get him. We had to purchase the sperm. Because our doctor had already sent the bank all of the needed medical paperwork, our last step was to fill out the last bit of paperwork and pay for it. We whipped out our credit card and started on the last part of this process. I will never forget that moment. It took about 30 minutes to fill out the needed information and to pay for the two vials (and the extras we ordered). At the very end there was a message that read something like, “Are you sure you want to purchase (2) of donor number *****?” Before pressing “OK” Carol hesitated, looked at me and said, “So, are we ready?” I smiled and said, ” Hell no! But, lets go for it.” Carol laughed at me and pressed, “OK”. The next moment we spent hugging each other. We were scared shitless but ready for what was to come. We were one step closer to our dream of having a baby together.