Advice

Miss Information

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Should I donate my sperm to my gay best friend to help her conceive? 

Dear Miss Information,

One of my best friends is gay and just recently she asked me if I would be willing to donate my sperm when she reached the point in her life when she wanted a child.

We are both in our mid-twenties and this scenario is still a ways down the road. We have known each other for years and I have no doubt she would be an awesome mom. I myself am not interested in ever starting a family of my own for personal reasons. So, in theory, there is nothing wrong with this scenario, as long as I thought whomever she ends up with is someone I feel would also make a great parent. In fact, my initial and immediate response was "absolutely." That being said, I have started thinking more about this and some curiosities have arisen.

How am I going to feel knowing that I have a child in the world that's not mine? What sense of responsibility am I going to feel? She has told me that I would not be required to do anything or help in any financial way, which I completely believe coming from her. I told her I would definitely want to be in the child's life, but just as "Uncle ******". In fact, I think it would be best for no one to know I was the donor for the simple fact that I wouldn't want the child finding out from anyone other than us. Which brings me to my next series of questions. If they do reach a point where they want to know who their biological father is we would obviously tell them, but then how is that going to change the relationship dynamic? As I've mentioned I will want to be involved in the child's life as much as I can, despite potentially different geographical locations. I want to make sure that they know they are loved and not forgotten about should they reach the point of finding out my actual relationship to them. But I don't know how this will affect my role, my view towards the child, or their views of me. Will they want me to be more than the uncle I've been? If so, to what extent? Will I, at that point, want to be more than my current role, even in the scenario where the child doesn't want anything more of me? How will my friend and her partner feel about that should that scenario arise? Does this scenario have more risk for adverse effects on the child than my friend instead looking for a random donor?

These are just a few of the questions I have, and I know most of these questions and concerns are only something that I will be able to answer, and only in time, but I was wondering if you had any experience with this kind of a situation. 

–Unknown New Circumstance Led Enquiry

Dear UNCLE:

You’re thoughtful; you punctuate well; and you constructed the hell out of your acronym. The world needs more of those traits. Please, go forth and multiply!

So you think you want to be a baby daddy. Where do you start? See if you can track down other men who have been in your position. If you can’t find any through friends of friends, try phoning local sperm banks, LGBTQ organizations, or even open-minded adoption agencies to see if they can put you in touch with donors or birth dads. Everyone comes to parenthood (and non-parenting) differently, but you should be able to find men who can serve as advisors and support. Next, make sure you’ve got contracts on your side. Decide whether you want to sign away your parental rights; get explicit with the baby moms about what they can expect from you and what you are willing to provide. Legal parameters may not feel warm and fuzzy, but being clear on everything from the outset will only benefit your various future families.

It’s easy to get caught in the “what if?”s, but worrying how you will tell a nonexistent ten-year-old about her paternity is a waste of your time. The biggest gift you can give a child is your own assuredness and stability. Be clear on some tough questions: how will you feel about having a biological child in the world, really? Will you feel comfortable telling your future dates and partners about this child? What if you later decide to start a family after all: will that complicate your decision? If you are strong on these fundamentals, then the details will shake out just fine. Bottom line: every kid deserves to know they are wanted and loved.

Or scrap all of this advice and watch “Queer As Folk.” You’ll learn very little about the nuances of donor parenthood, but you will be exposed to a lot of strobe lights.

Just look at it this way. Relationships and family are always going to be messy; the best ones have enough love to counterbalance the mess. Do you think you can land the right balance of love (/cooperation/respect/flexibility) and embrace the chaos? You may not be a physical presence in the kid’s life, but are you willing to be a stable one, regardless? If your answer is yes—an emphatic yes, not “I guess so, okay”–then you’ll make a great Uncle. Go forth and teach ‘em how thoughtfulness and acronyms are done.