What If You Don’t Get What You’re Expecting?

You can pick your donor, but what if there’s a mixup?

Last month, a news story involving a lesbian couple and a fertility clinic mishap made national headlines. They had originally selected a white donor and were given the sperm of a black donor instead, resulting in the birth of a mixed-raced baby.


I know this is a serious situation with lots of angles and sharp edges to it, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that my wife and I joked about this exact scenario when we were going through the fertility process ourselves. Let me explain. 


Selecting the right donor is not an easy thing to do. You’re basically picking the person who is going to supply half of the genetic make-up of your child. It’s overwhelming and easy to over think the whole thing. At first, we were very selective. I was insistent that the donor had to have some of my heritage as well as some of my physical traits. He had to be educated, creative and athletic. We were so picky that it soon became difficult to find a single donor we both agreed on. 


As the process dragged on, I began to drop some of my initial requirements. I realized that finding the “perfect” donor would be nearly impossibly. So, I settled for “almost perfect” instead. We chose someone who had part of my heritage and part of my physical traits. He was educated, creative, athletic and seemed like an overall nice guy. At least, that’s what we inferred from his application questions and personal essay. 


After we selected the donor, we contacted the local fertility clinic we were using and gave them the information. The hard part was over, but we were emotionally and physically exhausted. It was only then that we started joking about the possibility of a sperm mix-up. Sometimes, you have to laugh about these things to ease the stress. We didn’t think it would actually happen. 


And then it did happen to that lesbian couple. I have empathy for them, knowing that they too experienced the emotional rollercoaster that goes hand-in-hand with selecting a donor. I don’t know what we would do in that situation. Joking about it and dealing with the reality of it are two very different things.


However, I do know this. Even though we picked a donor that somewhat resembled me, it didn’t matter. My daughter still doesn’t look anything like me. She has none of my genes or lineage. Our DNA doesn’t match. She has none of my physical characteristics at all. Picking a different donor wouldn’t have changed that and you know what? I don’t care. She’s still my daughter and I love her completely as she is, not who I envisioned her to be. 


All joking aside, that’s what matters most.