The making of a family for a gay couple can be a whole lotta weird. It’s weird, it’s awkward and full of challenges that affect you in more ways than you could possibly even hope to expect. A couple of years ago, two of my lesbian friends decided it was time to start their own family and asked me to be involved…
I’ve known these girls for years, and the topic of starting a family is something that we’d spoken about numerous times. Ever since we had first met we’d always had a deep connection and if I was ever going to help someone else start a family, it would be them. So, when they told me they were ready and wanted me to be their donor, I felt like I was well prepared for the situation.
Obviously there are inherent challenges with this type of situation. There are doctors, specimen cups and syringes- none of which are particularly “sexy” (okay, except the doctors… they can be sexy). Our situation, however, was even more complicated because I live in Vancouver, BC now and they still live in Salt Lake City, UT. Clearly I would need super-sperm to make that kind of swim!
So, challenge 1: How to get Kevin-juice to Salt Lake City. In the end, we took 2 different approaches. First, the girls got an amazing deal on flights to Vancouver, and came to visit me! Their doctor equipped them with the necessary tools, (sterile cup, syringe with some freaky extension thing, etc…) and we spent the weekend trying to get pregnant without actually touching each other.
Okay that sounds worse than it actually was. Basically I went to the bedroom and did my thing, passed the cup outside the door where the girls took it, did their business and let me know I could come back out. At which point we watched a movie while the one getting pregnant had her hips/legs propped up on pillows. It. Was. Brilliant.
In the end, however, she didn’t get pregnant this go-round.
The girls also knew that they wanted more than one child eventually, and that they’d like them to have the same donor as their father. So, even had they gotten pregnant from our weekend tryst, we knew we’d need more baby batter for future attempts. To address this, the girls started researching sperm banks, and were presented with yet another challenge: Utah is an anonymous donor state. This meant there was no way for me to donate to a bank there and be able to ensure that the girls selected me from the “catalog”.
In the end, they selected a bank located in Georgia, which sounds ridiculous since it’s even further away from Vancouver than Salt Lake City is. But here’s actually how it worked:
So that was all the easy part. The real challenge, then, was figuring out how to ship my sperm from Canada to the US without having it get stuck in customs. (Can you even imagine?) In the end, we realized that it’s just not an option, so I was going to have to get myself over the border beforehand, which then begged the question, “Where the hell am I going to jerk off into a cup in Blaine, Washington?!”
Enter Shell. As in, the gas station located directly behind Mailboxes International, where yours truly keeps his US address. That’s right kiddies, I put my “kit” in my Jack Spade bag, traipsed into the gas station and walked directly to the washroom. Thankfully they have a large one-person bathroom with a lock and I was free to do my business in peace, if not comfort. So… problem solved.
Immediately after my intimate washroom experience, I had to add the “additive” to the “sample”, place it in a medical bag with the refrigerator-pack in a separate pocket underneath it, which then went into the box (which was padded so the cup didn’t fall over). All of this then went into the bio hazard shipping bag which was sealed and sent overnight to Indiana.
The lovely sperm-people in Indiana then took the sample, split it into vials, counted my swimmers and jotted down all sorts of information, which they then called and relayed to me. “Hi Kevin, this is so-and-so. Just calling to let you know that we received your sample. We’ve gotten 3 vials, with 30% motility. Thanks” click. I can’t lie… it was a little weird. They then sent the frozen vials to Georgia, where they waited for deployment back to the girls whenever they decided to use them.
That’s basically where the funny stuff ended. The other part of this story is an emotional roller coaster all three of us took a ride on. For the girls, they knew that asking me to do this for them would make me a permanent fixture in their lives. For me, I knew that I was accepting them into my life permanently, and even more significant… I was going to have children out there who weren’t actually “mine” outside of the fact that they came from my sperm. The girls and I had talked about this extensively, and agreed that I would be a part of the kids’ lives and they would know I was their biological father. I would be able to hang out with them, take them for the weekend, etc… but the girls were the actual parents (obviously).
In the end, I weighed out all of the pros and cons, and I truly felt like I was prepared to take this on. Knowing that I want to have kids of my own someday (whether biological or adopted), I felt like the opportunity with these girls who I love with all my heart might allow me to accomplish that. At least to a certain extent. It was one of the hardest decisions I’d ever had to make and I felt like I made the best decision I could at the time.
Since our weekend hookup didn’t result in a bun in the oven, we had to turn to the sperm bank vials. Here’s a little background on the stats. Motility should be at nothing less than 30%- which means that 30% of your little guys are actually still swimming when they get the sample. The setup with this sperm bank, however, makes that challenging because of the additive, the shipping to and fro, blah blah blah. You also have to consider your lifestyle during the period of time that you’re making donations. Alcohol lowers your sperm count, using a laptop on your lap can as well, you get the general idea.
For me, the three donations I made were at 30% and then 29% for each of the other two. You wouldn’t think that the 1% makes a big difference, but it does. The fact that we were dealing with anything less than 30% made the chances of pregnancy significantly lower, which also made us have to question the cost effectiveness of moving forward.
Now it was decision time for the girls, and I didn’t envy them at all. In the end, they had to weigh out all of the options and decided that the logistics of me being in Canada, the sperm bank, etc… just wasn’t going to work.
The subsequent conversation was difficult for all of us, but it really came down to remembering that we love each other and it wasn’t personal. They made the decision to go with an anonymous donor from a bank in Utah- which didn’t mean they didn’t want me to be the donor- the situation just wasn’t going to work. We talked for a good long while, and I experienced such myriad emotions that I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to laugh or cry.
To be honest, part of me was relieved. I wasn’t prepared for what I felt once there was a chance I had fathered a child. I knew at that moment there was no way I was going to be okay with having a child out there who was mine but not being an actual parent. I couldn’t imagine knowing my own child was out there and not being the one they turned to for advice, for problems, for guidance. I just knew I wasn’t prepared for what I’d agreed to- which was no one’s fault, it’s just impossible to make that type of decision without any life context to put it in. Everything changed the second I emerged from my bedroom, and I couldn’t take it back.
Another part of me was more disappointed than I can express with words. I’m sure it’s not the same, but I actually felt like I had lost a child, rather than just a hypothetical situation. Ultimately, this made me realize that I truly wasn’t prepared to take this on though. There was just no way I was going to be able to emotionally detach myself enough from the situation to accept that I had children, who weren’t “mine” outside of the biological proof.
So in the end, Kevin has no kids. There are no little people running around with his DNA, and that’s for the best right now. In truth, there may never be any kids running around with my DNA, and unless I can be their actual parent, I’m actually okay with that.
What I have been left with, however, is one amazing Goddaughter, two girlfriends who I continue to love… and a completely random story about how I had to jerk off into a cup in a gas station washroom. Oh… and a really great life-lesson that I would never have figured out otherwise.