2nd January 2015 | by MFC Team
My brother and his wife desperately want to have children, but it turns out my brother can’t father a child, due to a serious groin injury when he was a teenager. I’m very close to my brother and he recently asked me if I would consider donating my sperm so they could have a child that carries on our family line. My wife and I are lucky enough to have two beautiful kids and I’d love to help my brother and sister-in-law become parents. Are there things we need to consider, now and in the future, to ensure this works out for both couples, and our children?
Written by our mental health expert, Dr. Karen Kranz, Registered Psychologist.
I hear how much you love your brother and want to help him to become a father and you are wisely asking what you need to consider, now and in the future if you are to become a sperm donor.
If you donate your sperm to your brother, you are giving him a gift: that is, the opportunity to bring a child or children into his life which are genetically related to both him and his wife. It is a beautiful thing to do for your brother as long as all parties involved are clear about their roles, responsibilities, and expectations.
You are in an ideal position to be a sperm donor because you have children and know what it means to be a dad. With your two children, your sperm was involved in their conception. However, as you already know, being a dad is about so much more. It is about relationships, responsibilities, and roles. It is about the day-to-day care, love, and support a parent provides emotionally, financially, physically, spiritually, etc. in order to foster a little person’s development into adulthood.
There are a number of interesting complexities that arise if you chose to donate your sperm to your brother and sister-in-law. First, your relationship with any resulting child or children will not be as a dad. Rather, your brother will be “dad” and you will be “uncle.” Second, although conception will occur in a medical environment – your sperm and your sister-in law’s egg will be combined in order to conceive a child – an experience that until now was unique to your connection to your wife. Third, your children and your brother’s children will have closer genetic connections than most biological cousins.
You will all need to be in agreement about whether or not the four of you will be open in terms of disclosing to the child and to other people, including your two children and family members, the unique way in which these children were conceived. Many people, when they start thinking about being a donor or about conceiving a child with a donor, initially do not want to tell the children or others about the donation. People will often say they will not disclose because this information is private or they are concerned that the children may feel strange about their conception, or they worry that other people will think their children are strange because of how they were conceived. Sometimes there is concern that it will be too confusing to the children. However, generally speaking, children and families do best when living in an atmosphere of openness, honesty, and acceptance. Feeling grateful and proud of the way your families have supported one another and recognizing that these children could only come into the world through the contributions of these two families is worth celebrating.
If you and your wife, and your brother and his wife decide to proceed down this path, I highly recommend (and fertility clinics often require) meeting with a psychologist trained in the psychological and social consequences of conceiving a child with a known donor. Legal assistance is also recommended to help create a solid foundation from which to begin. It is so important that each of you are comfortable with the arrangement and that you all are on the same page in terms of expectations now and in the future. In making this decision, one of the most important considerations is whether or not all four of you have the capability to maintain a warm and respectful relationship with each other during and after the birth of the child(ren). As none of you have been through this process before, and given that there are many unknowns, you will need to be able to discuss issues as they arise. Do you trust that all of you have the capacity to express yourselves, listen to each other, and reach a workable resolution? If your answer is “yes” then it’s more likely that this will be a positive experience for everyone involved. I wish you the best of luck on this journey.