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How to Choose a Sperm Donor

Tall, dark, and handsome is nice, but there are more important things to look for when choosing half the genetic makeup of your child. These guidelines will help.


  • Step 1: Decide between known and unknown Decide whether to enlist someone you know to donate sperm, or use an anonymous donor. The former is cheaper and has a better success rate, because known donors can contribute fresh sperm instead of frozen. But some women prefer sperm-bank donors because they have no legal rights to the children they father.
  • Step 2: Consider privacy options If you're leaning toward choosing a stranger, consider how anonymous you want the transaction to be. Some sperm banks offer identity-release donors, also known as open donors -- men who are willing to be contacted by their offspring after the children turn 18.
  • Step 3: Research known-donor law If you decide to ask a friend to donate sperm, thoroughly research the pertinent laws; their rights and obligations vary from state to state. Have an attorney draw up a contract that addresses custody, financial support, and visitation.
  • TIP: Be aware that if you live in a state with parental rights laws that contradict your contract, the state may not honor it.
  • Step 4: Check out sperm banks If you go with a sperm bank, check out a few before deciding on one. Things to consider include live birth data, their policy regarding donor privacy if a child develops a medical problem, and any limits on how many children a sperm donor can father. See if the bank is a member of the Better Business Bureau, and check for opinions and reviews online.
  • Step 5: Carefully consider profiles Review donor profiles, which include the person's height, weight, ethnicity, religion, blood type, and education; a photo and even an audio interview is sometimes provided. Sperm donors also fill out lengthy questionnaires that provide potential parents with insight into their personality and character.
  • Step 6: Stock up If you choose an anonymous donor, stock up on his sperm if you think you might want another child who is a full sibling. Good luck!
  • FACT: At one California sperm bank, would-be parents can be matched with a sperm donor who looks like a celebrity they'd like their child to resemble.

You Will Need

  • A donor or reputable sperm bank
  • State law regarding known donors
  • Careful consideration
  • A legal contract (optional)

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