- Pay for artificial insemination at a hospital, using 'anonymous' sperm. I use parentheses because at 18 any child conceived with donor sperm in this way can still get in touch with the sperm donor.
- Ask a friend to donate sperm to us without taking on parental responsibility and inseminate at home.
- Use a third party website to identify a local sperm donor and inseminate at home.
We both knew that R would be giving birth, so I took the decision initially that I would prefer option 1. It seemed the most 'scientific' and legally protected. However, after an unpleasant appointment at the 'infertility clinic' (in spite of no evidence of infertility), and a potential cost of £750 a go, we had a rethink. How hard could doing it ourselves be?
So to option 2. A friend had flippantly suggested to me that he would be willing to help some months before. I went back to him in the cold light of day to see if the passage of time and sobriety might have made him think better of his offer. It hadn't. So we started to plan how it would work. Several months later though he felt unable to continue for personal reasons. It was a real blow. Not his fault, but it definitely brought home to us how much we wanted this child, and how invested we were in the process.
And finally... Option 3 was the one I was least keen on. Basically, it felt like just getting in touch with a stranger and asking him for sperm. It felt odd. I changed my view though after speaking to a friend who had done just that. She pointed out that it wasn't that different from the clinic option, if much cheaper and less exact. We'd have full control over the donor, and as civil partners we'd have legal rights as parents.
So option 3 it was. We set about putting together a profile. It was a whole step into a different dimension to online dating, although there were definite similarities. For example, when we'd found someone we thought we liked and had exchanged photos, we arranged to meet. Inevitably it was in a public place - a cafe. Somewhere safe. This was as much for his benefit as ours. There we sat, teapot full, expectations high, and in he sauntered. Thankfully he looked like his photo, and not like some weirdo. Not of course that looks have any correlation with weirdness. But I digress... We had a lovely chat and resolved, by the end of it, that he could be our sperm donor.
The whole process from option 1 to 3 took us about eight months. It's at times like that I question people who say gay parents cannot provide for a child. We have to work so much harder and think about it so much more to become parents in the first place!