I love online shopping, but ever could I have imagined that I’d one day be purchasing a vial of some random dude’s swimmers. After three failed rounds of IVF with my husband’s sperm, it was time to go on the most important shopping spree of my life.
Getting started was a little awkward. My husband and I decided that I would narrow down the donors to a “Top 5” list, then we would choose our donor together. I sat down at my computer and started searching through one of the top sperm banks in the US. Each profile comes with a childhood photo, which as you can imagine basically tells me nothing. I was born with dirty blonde hair which grew into a chocolate brown. I was a really chubby baby (like infant sumo wrestler style) but thinned out by the time I was in kindergarten. What purpose is this childhood photo serving, other than feeling awkward about the imagery of getting inseminated with sperm from a 3-year-old?
Narrowing down features is as easy as choosing your shoe size on the DSW website. Seriously, though. In the search criteria box, I chose height, eye color, hair color, and ethnicity. After everything we had been through, I would have been OK with literally any baby, but here I was acting like some sort of designer of humans. I wanted our child to have my husband’s coloring and temperament. I wanted this because I wanted my husband’s DNA, but since I couldn’t have that, I wanted second best. Once I hit “search,” my results were narrowed down to about 30 eligible baby bachelors.
I became obsessed with every little detail of my donor’s profile. When you’re in a position to choose half of your child’s DNA, you get pretty nitpicky. I must have spent about four hours a day screening through every single word in their medical histories, educational backgrounds, and extracurricular activities. Then I thought, if it was my donor profile people were sorting through, there’s no way I’d be a hot commodity. My GPA slipped in high school and Alzheimer’s runs rampant in my family medical history. I’d be lucky if I got past the first round of the screening process, but here I was, looking for a sexy Einstein with the athletic abilities of Lebron James.
I wanted an open ID donor. For those of you who haven’t indulged in this very peculiar shopping experience, there are two types of donors: open ID and anonymous. I haven’t met my future children, but one thing I know for sure is that I don’t want to take away any opportunity before they even become an embryo. I stumbled upon the absolute perfect donor but it turned out that he wanted to remain anonymous and I couldn’t bring myself to go through with it. I just imagined an angry teenager yelling at me for that hole in their life. It would be my fault because everything is our parents’ faults, obviously.
Once we narrowed it down to two donors, I stressed about making the right choice. I had a gut feeling about this donor. I knew when I saw his dimple and heard his audio interview that this was the one. Of course, with my luck, I chose a donor that was new to the program and therefore had no pregnancies reported. On one hand, I loved that my children wouldn’t be born with 1,000 donor siblings. I actually had visions of my child dating one of his half-siblings by accident. On the flip side, I wondered if pregnancies were reported because something was wrong with his sperm. The last thing I needed was a fourth failed round of IVF and the devastation that comes with it. I wondered if I should go with the donor who has fathered children, just because he was a sure thing.
In the end, I went with my gut. The truth is that most donors are a catch because they go through an extensive screening process. Some donor banks only take 1% of applicants and the screening process is really intense. If you’re not intelligent, attractive, and tall, you can keep your swimmers to yourself. However, I did an extensive screening of my own because I want every advantage for my child. Plus, I’m terrible at math so I needed some analytical skills in the mix. When it came time to make the final decision, my husband and I followed our gut.
Checkout felt a little too easy considering I was purchasing DNA. I added two vials of sperm to my cart, entered my credit card information, signed a waiver, and voila! My future children’s DNA was traveling halfway across the United States. Shouldn’t there be background checks? What if the donor was somehow related to the purchaser? What if I was a sociopath? Do they really just offer sperm up so easily? Apparently yes. The best part of it all? There was a 20% off sale going on, so I received a discount on my future children.
This was hands-down the most money I’ve ever spent in my extensive online shopping history. For something that is so simple to produce for the guy (and quite pleasurable actually), I was shocked at the price tag—$900 per vial. I racked up almost $2,000 for two vials and shipping. Do you know how many pairs of shoes I could buy for that amount of money?
I get overwhelmed when I think about proper shipment and storage. I can’t even imagine how many times they check to ensure that the correct sperm is shipping to the correct buyer. Once it’s in the fertility clinic, there’s an entirely new set of processes to ensure that the sperm is stored under the correct patient name. When I start to think about this, I get super stressed. I might end up with a surprise baby that looks nothing like what I “ordered.” And you know what? I’d love that child just the same.
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