The Donor Insemination Decision

By DI Mommy

The decision to use Donor Insemination (DI) should not be taken lightly, and you should be prepared and have worked through any issues you have. This is truly a decision that will not only affect the rest of your life, but the life of a child as well.

Most couples*, when contemplating parenthood, figure all they have to do is “what comes naturally” and sooner or later they will be blessed with a little bundle of joy. Unfortunately, that is not the reality for about 7% of couples.

In the USA alone, according to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the number of women using infertility services was 9.3 million (1995). The reasons for a couple’s infertility varies. However, infertility is caused by a male factor in approximately 20%-30% of cases. In these instances, DI (Donor Insemination) is an options that many couples consider.

DI is widely practiced throughout the world. The pregnancy rate is high: 70 to 80% of couples who choose DI eventually have a child by this method. 30,000 to 50,000 babies are conceived each year in North America with the help of DI.

DI offers a range of benefits to couples:

  • The experience of pregnancy from the start to the birth, often seen as an important preparation for parenthood, is shared by the couple.
  • One parent has a biological and genetic link with the child.
  • By attending the inseminations the husband can share in the child’s conception.
  • DI is a relatively simple and usually painless procedure requiring neither surgery nor a stay in hospital.
  • Public opinion is showing a far greater acceptance of DI as a means of having a family.
  • Many couples find they receive support and reassurance from their family and friends when they tell them they are receiving the treatment.
  • The treatment is confidential. Couples decide for themselves who knows that they are being treated. The use of anonymous donors ensures against any legal, material or emotional claim by him on the couple or child and vice versa.

The dilemmas of DI

  • Some religious groups and others are still opposed to donor insemination.
  • The secrecy that sometimes surrounds a DI conception can perpetuate the notion that it is naturally and ethically wrong. This can, in some cases, lead to feelings of guilt and fear in relation to the child’s birth and nurture.
  • As with adoption, the husband has no genetic relationship with the child, and his procreative desires cannot be fulfilled.
  • Both partners need to reflect on their attitudes and feelings towards a child conceived by DI and its impact on their relationship. A mutual acceptance is of the utmost importance. If it cannot be reached, then other options must be considered.
  • The right of the child to know about the method of conception is a controversial question which some couples find hard to resolve.
  • Remarks about family likeness should be expected when the baby arrives. These are perfectly normal, but they can cause embarrassment if parents are not prepared for them.

We have a beautiful son who was conceived with the help of DI. As the parent of a child conceived through DI, I understand the challenges and choices couples turning to DI face. Many of the clinics that offer DI also offer counseling sessions prior to donor selection and the inseminations. If your doctor or clinic does not have this, it is a good idea to seek some counseling on your own.

My husband is every bit our sons father — we believe that biology does not make a family — love does. One of our favorite quotes is that “Almost anyone can be a father, but it takes a special man to be a daddy”.

It is our hope that society will become more accepting of this option to family building that has been in practice for over 100 years so that our son may be proud of his origins — he truly was conceived out of love.

More on DI
Psychological Considerations
How DI is done


* Although this article focusses on married couples since that is where my experience comes from, many of the issues are the same for single women or lesbians who turn to DI.

What do you think?


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