Choosing the right sperm donor

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“Choosing a sperm donor is quite a journey. Initially, you think it will be easy, but it can be quite overwhelming, because there is so much choice and also so much information. Ultimately, what I learned is to narrow your focus, and look at the things that are most important to you. It can be difficult as a couple to find a donor that you are both really happy with, but we got there in the end.”  [Chloe Jenkins]

Finding the love of your life often results in the great wish of having a child. Being a lesbian, it is pretty obvious that it’s nothing you just do – or that comes naturally. 


When Chloe and Emma from Glasgow, UK, met each other while in their mid-30s, they quickly starting talking about having a child. Emma was going to be the one to carry the baby being slightly younger than Chloe – and also healthier, according to Chloe. 

The couple hoped they would conceive quickly and it was clear to both of them that using a sperm donor from a professional sperm bank, was the only right option for them. They knew others who had gone through the same reflections, and who spoke fondly of getting help through a sperm bank: 

“The first big decision is choosing a known donor or not. I pushed for us using a sperm bank because I didn’t feel comfortable with using someone we knew, as I felt it complicated our family relationship with our future child”, Chloe says.

As the couple resides in the UK, choosing a non-contact was not a legal option. It might not be the right solution for everyone, but Chloe and Emma felt from the beginning that openness and honesty was the way to go, so there was no doubt in their minds that using an open donor was the best decision for them and their future baby.

The couple was overwhelmed by the many options on the European Sperm Bank website. They started out by going through the donor list separately – hoping that afterwards, when comparing the donors, they would have selected some of the same donors. That did not happen, as they had different approaches: 

“I started out by looking at very detailed information in a search for the ‘perfect’ donor, which soon became a little overwhelming. I took some advice from my parents and some friends, to be much more instinctual about it – which coincidently was Emma’s approach! They told me: Find donors who I connect with either based on their pictures or simple information like jobs and interests, and only if I  like someone then check out the detailed info”, Chloe says.

Finally, the couple sat down together and started their search for a donor by only using one filter: a Caucasian donor. They didn’t want to put any further layers of complexity on their future baby’s identity than necessary. They both wanted a donor, they could relate to, rather than being very specific about hair and eye colour. 

Family medical history is something that takes up quite a bit in the extended profiles. This is very important for some people when choosing a donor, but for Emma and Chloe it was much more important to feel some kind of connection with the donor’s interest:
 
“This for me made it all a much more natural process. After all, we don’t rule out potential partners  based on their grandparent’s health history”, Chloe states.

The donor list showed 50 available donors and the couple started out by looking at baby pictures. It was not anything particular they were looking for – they went by gut feeling. They narrowed it down to about a dozen donors, and then began to look through the donors’ profiles and staff impressions. Chloe and Emma continued going with their gut feeling, and ended up with seven potential donors. They asked each other which of these really stood out and were left with the final three options. 

The final match came with the handwritten note. There was no doubt in their minds that they had found their donor. He was not perfect, but then who is? 

“In the end we are really happy about our choice as a couple, and we feel that we have a strong story to tell any future children about the donor, who so kindly helped us to bring them into the world”, Chloe concludes.

//posted by Stinne, Client Service Manager at European Sperm Bank