There are two types of sperm donation:
In general, selecting a sperm donor from a sperm bank means the donor is anonymous. Typically, an anonymous sperm donor will not meet the couple that uses the sperm, and he won’t have any information about any resultant child’s whereabouts. The process is less complicated because the sperm bank has already dealt with medical and legal issues.
It’s important to note that sperm banks differ on the amount of information they will provide the donor about resulting pregnancies, so be sure to check out a sperm banks’ specific policies. For example, some sperm banks have anonymous donors who will allow themselves to become known after the child turns 18.
The benefits of using an anonymous donor and going through a sperm bank are that the sperm and the donor are thoroughly screened for sexually transmitted diseases, genetic diseases and more. In addition, the sperm is of good quality, meaning the sperm count is good.
Sometimes an individual or couple will choose a known sperm donor, also called a directed donor, who is a family member or friend to the couple. For example, in a lesbian couple, one partner could become artificially inseminated by a relative of her lesbian partner. In that way, both of the partners have a biological connection to the child. The known sperm donor is not genetically related to the woman who will conceive the child.
The biggest benefit to using a known sperm donor is that it is less expensive. The known donor typically doesn’t charge for the sperm, and the artificial insemination may also be done at home, which further reduces the costs. However, it is always recommended that a clinician be involved with sperm donation and artificial insemination in order to make sure the sperm is thoroughly screened for diseases. Known donors should also be screened according to American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) guidelines just like an anonymous donor would be.
Another benefit of known donation is that intended parents often better know the donor’s characteristics, personality and mental health. In some instances a known sperm donor will remain in the child’s life as a father figure.
If a sperm donor is known, all of the parties involved should undergo counseling together in order to clarify how involved the sperm donor will be in the child’s life. In addition, there are many legal issues that must be addressed when using a known sperm donor, and a legal contract should be drawn up. Legal issues that have potential to arise when using a known donor include parental rights and financial obligations. It is important to seek legal counsel from a lawyer that is familiar with your state’s laws on both known and anonymous sperm donation.