Online sperm donationAn article recently appeared in The Telegraph written by Bryony Gordon. It was more an opinion piece, but is still worth reading.
The general slant was that meeting people online for the purposes of sperm donation is unregulated, seedy and generally terrible.
Sperm donation and co-parenting is definitely out in the open now, and is rightly coming under scrutiny.
We need to be clear this (sperm donation and co-parenting) has been going on quite happily for years off the internet, and before the internet. The first instance I can recall was of a gay friend co-parenting (before it was even called that) with a lesbian couple more than 20 years ago.
Like a lot of things these arrangements started in the LGBT community and have now been adopted by more people. The fact that it is in the papers all the time shows that it is emerging into the mainstream.
Then there is Ken Livingstone (ok not everyone's favourite politician) revealing that he acted as a sperm donor to female friends.
Like any community there are bad apples who need to be removed. The internet actually makes this easier, as the word gets around fast and people compare notes. This gives good donors a better chance to meet those they wish to help.
From our experience the bad apples stand out quickly by the way they operate on the website, this gives us a chance to remove them from PollenTree, which we do.
The article also referred to the increase in payments to sperm donors. This is a good way to increase the number of sperm donors, and so is a good idea. However, the idea that this has been done to put websites such as our own out of business is flawed.
It is not only about how much donors receive it is also very much about the cost of treatment in fertility clinics and sperm banks for those who would like to use them, but cannot afford to.
We also need to be clear that clinics and sperm banks are commercial operations looking to make a good profit, which we assume most do, which is fine. But those who wish to donate for altruistic reasons and those that wish to receive sperm should not be decried.
In the end this is all about people who wish to have children, but for various reasons go down an alternative route. You would need a heart of stone to think ill of the couple who seek a sperm donor because the husband has a low count and they cannot afford the high cost of fertility treatment. Or the couple who have tried treatment unsuccessfully, but have now run out of money. Or the career woman who realises that she wants children, but has not met Mr Right. Or the gay man who wants to be a father. Or the lesbian who would like children and finds a gay man to have them with.
Behind the headlines there are real stories.
People who go down this route think about little else than the children that may be lucky enough to have. How likely are these children to be loved and cherished?
As much as any other child.
More to this story
There is a lot more to this story, some good, some bad. However, sperm donation and co-parenting is not about to go away, but it may go underground again for another 20 years.
The fact that I am a married white male middle-class professional with two children writing this short piece (badly) should be a clue to how far things have moved on, and are still moving. I will even admit to reading the "Tele" and agreeing with it, mostly.