Using a “known donor” you don’t really know.

Q:

I have just recently got your book. Thanks for all the info. I know it will be helpful along the way.

I am a lesbian in a committed relationship with my girlfriend for three years now. We are both very much in love and both of us want to be parents together. However, we live in Ireland and gay people have no rights as parents, adoption etc. My girlfriends wants to be the biological parent however she wants the donor to be an old friend of hers who I have not met. She wants her friend to have an active role in our child’s life.

I’m very uncomfortable about this and would prefer an unknown donor, for all the usual reasons. My girlfriend hates the idea of that and so we are in stalemate. I am not against the child knowing who Dad is. However I do not want to trust a complete stranger. I am feeling powerless and sidelined. I am being asked to be a nanny for the rest of my life with no consideration for how this effects me. My girlfriend does not see my point and thinks that I’m being selfish. She says that this guy will be a “good boy” and do what he is told, even though he has expressed to her that he wants to be a father. She says that I will be an equal partner even though I would have no legal rights and the child.

I am not asking that you solve the problem for us however I am finding it very difficult to find decent information on both sides. I would like to talk to people who have been through this, how they compromised, what the outcomes were, what were the actual agreements they drew up, what are the real realities of both sides? How are the children affected? Although there is information out there I find it vague and am frustrated. Where can I talk to people directly? Where are the forums, etc. as I have been searching in vain. Thank you for your time and your experience.

A:

Sometimes prospective parents get so caught up in the logistics of becoming parents that real discussions about actually being parents for the rest of their lives become low priority. There are red flags all over this situation. If you choose to proceed, do so with EXTREME CAUTION.

There are countless documented cases of women whose pregnant partner promised they would raise the child equally, but then changed her mind and the non-biological parent had no legal standing. One of those women is Lisa Coons-Anderson featured in my book (pp. 80-81). She now hosts a website to support other unrecognized parents: We 2 Have Parental Rights.

Other stories about non-bio moms are in the anthology, HomeFronts: Controversies in Nontraditional Parenting (Alyson Publications, 2000).

There is also an important document that is endorsed by numerous LGBT organizations including COLAGE, and you can find it on their website: “Protecting Families: Standards for Child Custody in Same-sex Relationships.”

In addition to your concerns about defining your parenting role, your question is not really about making a decision between a “known donor” vs. “anonymous donor.” The prospective donor is “unknown” to you. While it is possible to have a successful co-parenting arrangement with a known donor, without meeting him there is no way you can determine if this arrangement could work for your family over the next 20+ years.

This situation is very suspicious. A mature adult knows that co-parenting should never be taken lightly. Why isn’t your girlfriend making the effort to introduce you to her friend? Why isn’t her friend demanding to meet you before he decides to enter into this life-altering agreement with you?

The fact that your partner is challenging you with a game of trust suggests there are some much bigger issues you need to look at before you resume discussions about raising kids together. If you truly want to negotiate a parenting arrangement with your girlfriend, make an appointment immediately with a couples therapist who has experience working with lesbian couples. I’d say chances are high, however, that the demanding, controlling, and irrational behavior your girlfriend is exhibiting now is only a preview of how she will treat you after there are children in the picture.

4 thoughts on “Using a “known donor” you don’t really know.”

  1. Don’t feel comfortable passing further comment on this post only to add that there does seem to be a lot of control issues and lack of honesty that disturbs me about it. I generally feel that there’s more to this situation than is being revealed. The comment that he’s a ‘good boy’ really brought a deeply negative reaction from me. I can though point you to a resource that I’m sure will help. This is Pinkparents. It’s a UK based organisation for gay parents. I know that you are Irish, but I’m certain that they’ll be able to point you in the direction of some local resources.

    Regards

    Danny (Son of gay father and straight mother)

  2. Hello,

    If I may respond to your initial concerns with my story. Perhaps it may add to your reflection…

    I am a 32 years old lesbian. I was 5 years with my ex and she was not opened to the idea of having kids. Thus, when we broke up. Later, a nice looking and very bright man who was trying to seduce me. I told him I was a lesbian but he still insisted and said: “Don’t worry, when you meet someone I will know my place.” So… I slept with him unprotected a few times.

    After the first time, he revealed to me that he was married! After the second or third time, I was pregnant. I told him right away and told him that I would never cause any turmoil in his life but that I would be pleased if he agreed to stay in the portrait just so he could know his child.

    Now, my son is 5 months of age. I live with a woman since my fourth month of pregnancy. She has become the child’s official parent and the daddy is in touch with us. He came over here twice and is soon to move in the same city as us. He and my life partner will soon meet and try to have our second child. We feel that it is healthy if our kids have the same father. My life partner and I cultivate a very healthy communication and we feel that this man is our best chance. The fact that he is a married man indeed seems immoral but that is his personal responsibility. He did not wish to have kids but he is very proud to have one.

    I don’t feel jealous so far. My life partner has strong values and feels bad about infidelity. She often tells me how difficult it will be for her to sleep with him even if it is our plan, simply because she is against cheating. I feel her honesty and I know I can trust her. We have had so many dialogs on the topic…Trust… communication… honesty from both parties…

  3. Sorry, I forgot to mention that here, it is legal for my life partner to adopt my child at birth. Nonetheless the daddy has one year to claim his rights as a father and thus remove that right form the other mom. In our case, he is not interested in taking that responsibility.

    byebye xx

  4. Anne-Marie,

    Your post really disturbed me as a non-bio mother who legally adopted her partners son. (1) The cheating this man is doing is wrong and although it hasn’t effected your life as of yet that is no certainty that it won’t. This behavior is inappropriate and explaining to your children when they are older where they came from and that their “father” has a wife that doesn’t know about them is not appropriate. (2) You don’t have to have sex to have a baby. It is simple to go to a fertility clinic and have IUF (not IVF) insemination done. The fact that you think it is necessary for your partner to sleep with a married man to have a baby is ridiculous.

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