My lesbian partner and I both want to become mothers using the same donor. How do we decide which donor characteristics are important – given our different ethnic backgrounds?

Written by our mental health expert Karen Kranz, Ph.D.

Choosing the right donor can be a challenging process, especially if you and your partner have different ideas about what donor characteristics are important to you. See our section on third party information for more general information about using donor sperm.

First, I’d suggest that you and your partner ask yourselves:

·    What is important in creating our family?

·    What is the role of biology in family?

Your choices will ultimately be determined based on your answers to these questions. As a lesbian couple, you are choosing to create family that isn’t based on biology. Rather, family is based on biology and roles and relationships.

In our society, biology and genetic ties tend to matter more than social ties. We’re raised with the idea that “blood is thicker than water”. You’re already stepping outside that box when you’re choosing to create a family with two moms and no biological dad in the picture. In a sense, you’re saying biology is important, but roles and relationships are more important.

Then from this position, ask yourselves:

·    What is important about having both of our ethnic backgrounds reflected in all our children?

·    Is it important that our children have a genetic connection by using the same donor?

Let’s start with the first question. Will you feel less connected to your children if they are not the same ethnic background as you are? Are you afraid that your family won’t recognize your children as a member of your ethnic group?

Now consider the second question. What (if any) are the benefits of your children being genetically related? Will they feel less connected if they’re not conceived from the same donor?

Remember that given that each of you want to conceive a child, you’ll only be biologically related to one child, and your relationship with the second child will be based on roles and relationships rather than biology.

Unfortunately, if you’re both from different ethnic backgrounds and you want to use the same donor, it’s impossible for each of your ethnic identities to be reflected in the resulting children if you both want to become biological mothers – unless you happen to find a donor who is a combination of your ethnicities. So ask yourself,

·    What is more important: that our children reflect both of our ethnic backgrounds, or that our children are biologically related?

If you find yourselves at a stalemate and unable to make a decision, you may want to seek the assistance of a mental health professional. In Canada, all individuals using third party reproduction to build their families must attend a counselling session. Deciding the most important characteristics when selecting a donor may be something that a mental health professional can help you navigate if you find yourselves stuck in a deadlock.  Our sections on LGBT Optionsresolving deadlocks, and decision making, may provide useful information as well.

You might find the American Fertility Association’s LGBT Family Building library helpful as you navigate these decisions:

You may find the blog “Two Mommy’s” interesting as you read one couple’s experience of using donor sperm to build their family.

Another useful Canadian Resource is:

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