Ms. Behavior: Adoption, Insemination, Ours?


Dear Ms. Behavior:

My partner and I have been together for nearly 11 years. Now that graduate school and quandaries over career paths are over, at 40 we both feel financially and emotionally secure enough to become parents. We have discussed this extensively over the past five years, and feel as though we would be great fathers. There is, however, one problem: Greg wants to have biological children, even though none of our women friends are willing to serve as a mother, and I want to adopt. My reason is that the bonds that should exist between two people raising children–and they do exist between Greg and me–are absent from the relationships we have with our women friends. Given this, it seems, biology limits our options.

Enter Evelyn. She and I grew up together and came out together nearly 25 years ago. She and her partner of eight years now live in the Midwest and would love to become mothers. Recently, Evelyn and I spent three days together, during which time she asked if I would be willing to serve as sperm donor to her and her partner. My role would go no further than that, and Evelyn and her partner would be the parents. Evelyn asked me because I am the only man that she and her partner know well enough to ask and because, after spending nearly $15,000 at a fertility clinic last year, Evelyn eventually miscarried. Economically they could not go through the experience again. I told her I would think over all of this.

Ms. Behavior, I have no emotional or philosophical problem with becoming a donor; however, Greg is livid that I would consider Evelyn’s proposition at all. If he and I cannot become biological parents, he reasons, then why should I help anyone else become one? Essentially he has forbidden me to give the matter any more thought, which I think is vindictive. As a social worker, I realize that there are plenty of children in the world who could use parents like Greg and me. But why should this preclude two very loving and capable women from becoming parents as well? I want to do the right thing. Could you lend some advice? Thank you.



Dear Anonymous:

You’re dealing with three separate issues here: 1) Whether or not you and Greg will ever reach an agreement about adopting vs. having biological children;  2) Whether you can donate sperm to your friend Evelyn even if Greg doesn’t want you to; and 3)  Why your boyfriend is so stingy.

Starting with the first one, you haven’t mentioned the surrogacy option – perhaps because the going rate through an agency seems to hover near $100,000 in most places. Does Greg think he’ll just find a sweet and compliant Good Samaritan volunteer, who’ll agree to be impregnated, carry the baby, and then just hand (or toss) the baby over to him?  It’s important to resolve this issue; if you don’t, you risk stalling out and doing nothing, even though you both want children. Spend some time talking with a couples’ counselor until you sort it out (or become willing to let it go), rather than letting it become a missed opportunity.

It sounds like Greg’s primary purpose for withholding your sperm is spite, rather than any philosophical belief about fatherhood.  Given that spite is bad and wrong, you might remind Greg about Karma, if only because the vindictive can occasionally be moved to a change of heart out of fear of payback from the Universe.

(Ms. Behavior would like to point out that most men have no trouble flushing their semen down the toilet in a wadded up tissue or spewing onto those non-disposable Fieldcrest towels or any old sock that’s on the floor, but if you ask them to borrow some, it suddenly becomes too valuable to part with.)

The decision about whether to help your friends is ultimately yours, but if you and Greg intend to stay together and you can’t get Greg to change his point of view, you may need to forego donation.  If you were to inseminate Evelyn despite Greg’s protests, in addition to the strain on your relationship with Greg, he’d probably shun Evelyn and the baby, which would compromise that friendship too.  And while Ms. Behavior has heard of men donating sperm secretly, she does not recommend harboring such secrets within the context of an intimate relationship. (Never mind the fact that the kid could end up looking exactly like you, which would be difficult to explain.) So, unless you can convince Greg that sharing is beautiful, Ms. Behavior would advise you to keep your cherished spunk to yourself.

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