Aspiring Queer Mom Seeks Black Sperm Donor, Can’t Find Too Many

My wife and I have wanted kids since we were kids ourselves. I mean, I definitely have. I guess I can’t really speak for her, but she swears up and down she’s been baby crazy for as long as I have. When people say baby fever, I think they mean temperatures in the high 90s, but I’m talking 150 degrees Fahrenheit and rising since I was probably about seven — there was a small stint in my early childhood where I didn’t care for babies. There’s a video somewhere in my mother’s closet of me at age six and I’m leaning over my newborn brother’s crib and whispering “you smell like all the throw-up in this whole world.” But other than that brief hiccup, I’ve been all babies, all the time.

It’s not just babies, either. I’m an elementary school teacher; I spend my whole life hanging out with, and frequently, accidentally impersonating a bunch of ridiculous 4th grade boys. I have worked at two different summer camps, volunteered in countless preschools and after-school programs, and babysat for over 125 hours since 2015. My wife works at a library and wants to be a children’s librarian, and she babysits even more than I do, possibly because she is better at making sure we actually have the money to splurge on something before she goes out and buys it. The way we interjected ourselves into our Quaker meeting, and made ourselves known, was by volunteering monthly in the nursery and Sunday school (or, as Quakers call it, First Day School), and befriending every baby, child, and parent we could. It’s been over two years since we first began attending our meeting, and I’m still closest with the moms.

We’ve also known we wanted to start a family since long before we were married. We had a gazillion conversations where I expressed my fear that I was falling in love with her too quickly, that it was too easy to imagine a forever with her, a big family, and our own mini-menagerie somewhere green, and she would always say with so much gentle patience, “But we want the exact same things. That’s half the battle.” If the joke is that lesbians move in together after one date, what does it say about us that we revealed baby name ideas about a month after the first time she slept over? (We’ve changed our ideas a lot about this since then — Evangeline is off the table for now.) The last almost-two-years since we got legally married in July 2015 have been full of meticulous budgeting and planning for children, as well as conversations about how and how soon we could acquire them.

What I’m saying is: we’ve been ready for kids for a weirdly long time, for two millennials in their late twenties. And it just so happens that 2017 is the Year We Try to Get Pregnant.

Here’s what you have to wrap your head around when you’re a cis woman, married to another cis woman, and you want to have a baby that comes from one of your uteruses: it’s expensive, time-consuming, and more stressful than it has to be. Like, there are all these tests that you have to do that barely matter to people who can have babies without medical intervention. CMV status? Blood type? If I, like a majority of baby-seeking heterosexuals, wasn’t paying $900 a vial for sperm, I would not give a single fuck.

Oh, and yeah, you read that correctly. Nine hundred buckarinos for one single measly vial of sperm. And that’s just for one cycle. So that’s how much I have to shell out every single time an insemination doesn’t work and we have to try again. And that’s just for the sperm.

There’s also all the testing, for both me and her, and the actual insemination process itself. It would be really helpful if our insurance covered any of it, but lucky us, we just got rejected on account of us not really being eligible, despite meeting the standard our insurance company sent us in a letter last week: “six months of unprotected sex that does not result in pregnancy.” It’s probably not kosher to say so, but I’ve literally never had anything BUT unprotected sex, and still no baby. The insurance fiasco is rage for another day, though. Just focus on the part where this is getting really, really expensive, and we’re a public school teacher and a library worker. We’re doing pretty okay but we have pinched and saved to get to this point and it’s going to milk us for all we’ve got.

Of course, there is variation in price for sperm banks, so there are cheaper (and more expensive) options, and those are all well and great. If you happen to want white children from a white sperm donor. (Which I guess, most people do. White people always seem to be in some kind of vogue for no real reason that I can understand.)

I, however, am not white, and I don’t particularly want white kids. I’m actually a little horrified by the idea of buying white sperm to put inside my (albeit white) wife. If I had sperm it would not make white babies. I do not want to pay for white sperm. I want sperm from some anonymous guy that looks at least kind of like me, so that my kids look kind of like me, and can lay claim to the same heritage I do.

I was really worried about this for a while, and what my wife would think of my total refusal to bring more white children into this world. I still worry about it, actually. She is a pretty wonderful person, but it does mean she’s risking a lot of weird-ass comments from strangers for the rest of her life. On the other hand, at least the inevitable “oh, you’re so kind to adopt!” comments imply some kind of familial belonging. If our kids looked more like her, I’d be dealing with “are you the nanny?” for all eternity. But she says she’s cool with it. More than cool. She’s trying really hard to learn what it means for her to be a white parent of a black kid long before there’s even a hint of a fetus.

Then again, all my worries might mean nothing if I can’t get my hands on some damn black sperm.

Here’s my challenge to you: go to any sperm donor website. Go to the part of the website where you get to check out the donors and take a look around. (This part is very fun. One website tells you what their favorite animals are. So many of these people go out of their way to be specific as hell, and I just can’t imagine that this is a question that truly matters to anyone who is trying to get pregnant.) Usually, a website will have hundreds of donors to choose from, with a variety of interests, backgrounds, astrological signs, and favorite pets. Now let’s do something fun! In that little drop down menu where you choose the race of the sperm donor, click “black,” or even “African-American” if that’s what you fancy, and watch your dreams of little chubby black babies wither away to dust as “hundreds of donors” narrows suddenly down to, um, 11. Or sometimes four. One of the larger banks I know of has TWO up for offer.

“Does it really matter?” you might be wondering. “Can’t they just choose one of the four and get on with their life?”

Let me point you back up to the cost of a vial of sperm. When was the last time you rolled a pair of dice and paid $900 for it, after shelling out an additional $500-800 for the opportunity to roll the dice in the first place? I’m not here for that nonsense! You wouldn’t buy any old random blue car at the dealership just because your heart was set on blue and they only had two options, right?

That’s the part that really pisses me off. Variety matters when it comes to something important like, I don’t know, choosing the genetic material that will be an eternal part of your future child’s DNA. So why should white people invested in filling the world with more of members of the future minority of America be allowed to choose this white, brown-haired, blue-eyed Sagittarius from Milwaukee over the other, while I’m stuck with either the Scorpio chef or the Leo film student, both of which tested positive for two of the genetic diseases that my wife also tested positive for?

After several months of deliberation and desperate searching for a sperm bank with just the slightest hint of variety, by the way, we now have our hearts set on someone special. According to his profile, his dream lunch date would be with Octavia Butler and he did a project in school about police reform. Octavia Butler Police Reform, if you’re out there reading this, please know how much trouble we have gone through to ensure that you are the biological father of our children. At this current time, the insurance we were depending on is leaving us high and dry and it’s making this other rando’s $500 sperm a stronger possibility over your $900 sperm (is it gold? It better be gold)… so, like, if you ever do free samples, hit me up.


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Profile gravatar of Brittney Thornburley

Brittney is a special education teacher who lives with her wife, two dogs, two cats, and sadly zero goats in Atlanta, GA. Likes: women's colleges (she went to one), southern queers (she has developed into one and married another), Quakerism (she attends a Quaker meeting), dissecting and disseminating the school-to-prison pipeline, and applesauce. Dislikes: allergies, books with not enough kissing, and not having any pet goats. You can follow her Twitter.

Brittney has written 1 articles for us.

34 Comments

  1. 6

    Oh god, I relate to so much of this. It really is a process and as a white woman with a non-white wife it was difficult to find sperm with her background. In the end we had to go with a CMV+ donor, while I am CMV- which makes me nervous, but not much I can do when literally all the donors [with her background] we had to choose from are CMV+!

  2. 8

    Thank you for writing this, we went through this too, with Native American sperm. So basically in the end we could not find any 100% Native American sperm. My hopes aren’t high to what our baby will look like but I’ve come to a place of acceptance about it. The other day my wife looked at me and said “I hope she looks like you” which was cute. Our daughter is due on May 1.

    Best of luck to you both! <3

  3. 5

    Ugh I hear this!! My girlfriend and I are no where near ready for kids, but on a whim we looked at banks in the New England area. We’re an interracial couple (she’s White and Middle Eastern and I’m White and East Asian) and we decided to settle on a Middle Eastern/East Asian mix as a compromise–which is nearly impossible to find. If anyone knows a guy, hit a girl up!

  4. 4

    Hi Brittney – thanks for writing!
    My partner and I are currently looking for Chinese sperm (she’s Chinese) and we are in Australia and it is the fucking worst.

    The public health system offers nothing to non heteros by the way of rebates and legally anonymous sperm can’t be released to individuals – it has to be medically ‘inserted’ which costs $3000+.

    Getting sperm is like a practice in feeling shit about yourself and losing all of your life savings. You can pay $700 and go on a waiting list for local sperm – but the wait is usually 12 months plus and there really is only white or more white to choose from. Oooor you can buy from the states but you have to do a minimum order and pay for shipping and mandatory counselling which all up totals $8000! At which point we run into a similar problem to you – very few options. The pool is even smaller considering that the Aus government requires all sperm donors to be identifiable and to go on a contact register.

    Anyway I feel your pain and my partner and I are both kicking ourselves that we have spent so much time being angry feminists and now have no men in our lives that we can request sperm from.

    Good luck making your babies – it looks like they’re gonna be so so loved.

    • 3

      Hi, Gem! There’s a YouTube channel called “the dandy birds” about a New Zealand lesbian couple who used a local Chinese sperm donor to have their daughter. Maybe he’s an option, if you fancy a flight across the ditch? Check them out and see what you reckon.

  5. 4

    oh my gosh, also a baby crazy queer lady in her mid twenties, though not in a position to have a kid right now, but I look around on donor sites in my spare time and wonder and freak out about what race my kids will be because I’m multiracial and I have a lot of feelings about it, and also how to go about the kid thing when queer. There are like, 4 Vietnamese donors on the website of the largest sperm bank I can find? And then if I adopt domestically, I would likely be raising a black child, which as someone of color-ish with a white mom I am not sure I feel is a service to the child (or maybe it would be fine? I do love my mom, I don’t know!) also, side note, I’m also a Quaker and I would love to hear more about all the stuff you (and others!!) have learned along the way of doing this. I wish autostraddle listed a way to contact you! or did more articles on this topic.

  6. 7

    My wife & I just went through the exact same thing!! I’m white/native and she’s black. We looked online and same thing, hundreds of options dwindled to 4 choices!!!

    Luckily in those 4 options we ended up choosing a donor that is black & native but as you also mentioned, at $800 a vial, we only got 3 vials for now. If none of them work out we have decided to move on to another donor but then our options will be even more limited!! Ugh

    The struggle is real!! Good luck to you & wish me luck as we’re hoping to do our first IUI this cycle 🙂

  7. 1

    Don’t blame the sperm banks, blame society for the lack of genetic variation. Well the sperm banks do cater to those who want kids and can afford it so unfortunately that is also the case. But blame society for the bad connotation you get for giving sperm or eggs.

    • 3

      I can blame this sperm bank: “Applicants with a history of sickle cell anemia or cystic fibrosis, to name two examples, are automatically disqualified. So are those who have ever had sex with other men or used intravenous drugs . . . , if you have tattoos, and whether you’ve been exposed to radiation, among many others.”

  8. 0

    I don’t think you can blame the sperm banks for this. The reasons aren’t clear, but even on the private sperm donation sites (where anyone can sign up), there simply aren’t very many minority donors. I help run the Known Donor Registry, and 78% of the donors listed in the USA are white, with just 4.4% being black and 5.3% being Latino. The population is around 63% white, 12% black, and 17% Latino.

  9. 1

    This will be my life in a few years and I’ve been stressed about it for awhile. I sometimes comb through donor databases when I’m bored and I’ve damn near memorized all the Latino ones because there’s only so many. Native ones are a nonexistent. My brother donated (donates?) and is Latino/Native/white and thankfully I’ve narrowed down which one is him so I don’t have to worry about that hahaha. It’s frustrating and rough when you start narrowing down other things like genetic positives, age, number of vials, and willing to be known, etc. Ayyyyy. Good luck.

  10. 7

    I wish this article addressed the major underlying problem with anonymous sperm donation: That it’s still legal in the United States. If you are in a queer relationship trying to conceive with third-party egg or sperm, you need to know: The majority of surveyed adult donor-conceived people in the US _oppose_ anonymous sperm and egg donation, and countries that actually care about donor-conceived people (the UK, Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, for example) are outlawing anonymous donation and regulating the industry. But in the USA, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine has fought to keep their industry unregulated and to keep actual donor-conceived people from having any voice in their policies. Before you buy into an industry that treats donor-conceived people, like me, like products instead of like human beings, and before you contribute to purchasing a human being away from half of their biological family, genetic health history, and ethnic and cultural heritage, please educate yourself by visiting the Donor Sibling Registry website and AnonymousUS. Then choose a known donor. Thanks for reading.

  11. 2

    Thank you so much for writing this. Sometimes I feel like nobody understands why I don’t want to sell out $900 to have a child that doesn’t represent my partner and I and all our beautiful Blackness.

  12. 2

    Have you considered a known donor?
    I know it’s not for me everyone, but for us it was cheaper.

    It has not hurt our friendship with the donor.
    Yes it complicated as well– with screening tests for fertility, motility and viability after freezing. But it is another option

  13. 1

    My coworker and her than girlfriend asked an acquaintance one of them, who she knew for years, for a sperm donation and my friend got pregnant on the first try. The procedure was simple. He said he’d produce his sperm at the appointed time (say 7 PM), they would pick it up 2 minutes later (in a cup) and then squirt it inside my friends vagina with a syringe within a half an hour (sperm doesn’t live more than an hour outside he body). This was the first and only time they did the syringe procedure (and they did it in their car!) The sperm donor was Mexican/White and my friend (is Spanish/Greek/German) baby looks Native Indian Mexican, not European. The cost to them was a syringe and they guy received no payment.

    The only concern I would have is that the guy take a STD test and be questioned on genetic diseases in his family before proceeding (which I don’t think they did). They also didn’t have the guy sign a legal agreement, waiving all parental interest in the baby (I thought that was really dumb of her.) All is well with my friend (who had the baby) but her marriage to her now wife is on shaky ground 4 yrs after the birth of their daughter.

  14. 3

    Feel you! When I listen to my white friends talk about picking their donor, it’s like they went on tindr dates with all these donors. The world was their oyster! It was hard to pare down the choices! Or it was easy to choose someone they liked!

    Not for us. I really wanted Korean sperm (because I’m Korean) and I also had exactly two options at the sperm bank we chose. So I picked the one that was most medically compatible with me and that was that… We couldn’t “shop” from the donors that were already on-site at the fertility center because–big surprise–no Koreans to be found, so we had to pay for shipping and storage on top of the cost of the damn sperm. I didn’t have the luxury of choosing a donor who shared values with me. I just have to hope that it doesn’t matter that our donor seems like someone I definitely would not have mated with outside of a sterile IUI environment!

    Aaaanyway, I’ll tell you it is 100% worth it to have a beautiful baby who is 100% Korean. <3 Good luck to you both!

  15. 0

    Have you ever thought of obeying GOD’s law for your life. He has laid it out for us in a special book He sent to us. There are many instances where He has heard the cries of His children. Remember what He told us in Galatians 6:7. And yes I’ve reaped what I have sown. Yet the GOD of mercy still sees me as son. Please come back to your first love and seek He’s will and way.

      • 0

        Thank you Ms. Eve. GOD has truly giving me the peace that passes all understanding. My statement is based on 5k years of recorded history. When we follow HIS plan for our lives we will truly be blessed.

    • 2

      Is that the “special book” that’s riddled with contradictions and abusurdity? You know, the one where owning slaves or killing your children is ok, but eating shellfish or wearing clothes of two fabrics is a sin? The one that doesn’t mention sperm donation or lesbian parenting?

      • 0

        Thank you ml66uk. Those are questions that can be answered by taking the BIBLE in its entirety. The law in the Old Testament shows us that we can never work to earn our salvation. It also points to the only ONE that can save us from sin.
        The contradictions that you might be speaking of have all been validated as not contradictory and an open mind study of the Scriptures will reveal this to you. Please continue to ask questions and have an open mind of what GOD can teach you.

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