Sperm Donor: Do’s and Don’ts

As a fertility law lawyer, I have had the pleasure to provide independent legal advice to a variety of sperm donors. Known sperm donation is an incredible gift to those seeking to create a family. If you are considering being a sperm donor the following are just a few considerations to think about before going ahead with being a donor.

DO

• DO Get Independent Legal Advice – know your legal rights and the legal rights of the intended parent(s). Be clear of any liabilities or risks under the law that you may face being a donor depending on the jurisdiction in which the baby will be born. Some jurisdictions have very clear laws for sperm donors i.e. Part 3 of the Family Law Act, British Columbia (Canada) but other jurisdictions may have no reference to donors.

• DO Have a Conversation with the Intended Parents – make sure that you have a detailed discussion with the intended parent(s) about your role as the sperm donor; this may seem obvious but sometimes people, especially dear friends or family members short cut these necessary discussions and people walk away with a vague understanding of what each persons’ role will be and more importantly what their roles will not include. Some intended parent(s) want the sperm donor to be involved in their child’s life but others do not. Some people providing sperm to intended parents don’t really want to be donors but they want to be a co-parent; which is a very different arrangement. Taking the time to have these important discussions will be beneficial for all parties.

• DO Get a Sperm Donor Agreement – Well before insemination is planned, have a fertility lawyer draft a sperm donor agreement so that you, the donor, and the intended parent(s) can review the draft with your respective lawyers for legal advice. Leave enough time to get these agreements prepared. Sperm donor agreements should be pre-conception agreements. It’s important to leave yourself enough time to negotiate and finalize these agreements – remember that things always take longer than planned.

• DO Counselling -You may want to speak to a counsellor about being a known sperm donor. If you are going to be involved in the life of the intended parent(s) and ultimately the child, you may wish to speak to a counsellor specializing in the area of fertility to discuss the emotional and psychological impacts of being a donor. Counselling can also assist a sperm donor in knowing that they want to be a donor versus a parent to the child being conceived by their sperm.

DON’T

• DON’T Assume Anything – Many times sperm donors will say to me “I think that…”; “I’m sure that it will be fine if…..”; or “I know they will be fine with…” etc. Don’t assume anything. You want to be clear about everyone’s intentions, understanding and agreement to what the specific details of the sperm donation arrangement will look like. There are serious matters to discuss which can include the ownership, provision and quality of the sperm provided, liabilities that may or may not result from sperm donation and any resulting legal obligations that may emerge to children born by sperm donation (depending on the legal jurisdiction) that need to be very clearly laid out. An agreement should reflect in detail what everyone is consenting to in advance of any insemination.

• DON’T Wait to the Last Minute – Leave enough time. Considering that there can be many parties involved in putting an agreement together make sure that enough time is allowed to prepare, review, revise, re-draft, review again and finalize the agreement with each party’s respective lawyers.

• DON’T Be A Known Sperm Donor Without An Agreement – Sperm donor agreements provide clarity and protection for all parties involved in this type of assisted reproduction plan.

Some personal accounts from Sperm Donors**:
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/aug/17/experience-sperm-donor

http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/03/30/a-sperm-donor-uncertain-of-what-it-is-to-be-bio-dad/

** Please note: Articles provided are from the United States. Consult the appropriate jurisdiction for your legal rights and advice as to law for sperm donors and intended parents.