I like to be in control. I recently cracked open a fortune cookie to find this bon mot inside “Your place in life is in the driver’s seat.” Damn skippy!
I’ve never felt so out of control as I have in the past few months, and I thought I’d made peace with the feeling until recently. A week ago R and I had settled on a new PD, having decided that we couldn’t afford to wait around for a known donor to volunteer because that may never happen. We spent a few hours combing the Fairfax Cryobank site for donors who were willing to be known when the Bean is 18, thinking this is the lesser of all evils. We settled on PD4, a lawyer with dark hair, blue eyes, a kind voice, and a decent essay. I called on Monday to order the vial, and check on the number of pregnancies that have been reported for the donor (a completely meaningless “statistic” but one I asked for nonetheless). My fears assuaged by the low number, I placed the order for 1 of the 15 vials in stock. The receptionist said I needed to sign a new consent form for use of an ‘ID option’ donor, and email it back before I could complete the order. She advised me to be quick about it because PD4 sells out frequently. I filled out the paperwork but couldn’t get the scanner to work, and in the meantime told R that PD4 is Mr. Popular and we both felt unsettled about that. Popularity=high volume of offspring. Sigh.
Later that night a friend called to say his friend was willing to be our donor. We were really surprised and excited by the news, and suddenly the roadblocks to ordering PD4’s sample were fortuitous rather than annoying. The KD is a perfect match. He and I are involved in similar work, his physical features match mine, he’s nice, articulate, and clearly adored by our mutual friend. I can’t think of a more perfect situation.
So we’ve spent the last week on the phone with our attorney and our doctor’s office, trying to navigate this new territory. The doctors had to have a group meeting to decide if they would continue to monitor R’s cycles and prescribe medications if we used a KD without first quarantining the samples. The FDA regulates the transfer of sperm to a recipient in much the same way it regulates other medically supervised human tissue/organ donations. Unfortunately, for us this means that in order to use a KD’s sperm for IUI in the doctor’s office, it has to first be frozen and quarantined for 6 months and then the donor has to undergo a second round of medical screenings before the samples can be transferred to us. This regulation presents a problem in terms of timing and in terms of probability of success because the samples will be frozen and then thawed, thereby reducing their efficacy. So, long story (not so) short, we asked the doctor to consider continuing to prescribe and monitor while letting us do the inseminations at home, at our own risk. After the group meeting, the doctors agreed. One hurdle cleared.
Next we had to talk to our attorney about all the legal procedures. In our state, registered domestic partners are considered the legal parents of a child born via ART. This means that I will be listed as the second parent on the Bean’s birth certificate. However, if we ever leave the state and move to another more conservative state, my parental rights could be challenged because I’m the non-biological parent in a same sex couple. If we were married heterosexuals, and I were the non-biological parent, it would not matter because marriage trumps biology in terms of parental rights. But we aren’t straight and we can’t get married, so we have to jump through some extra hoops to be sure that no one can challenge my parental rights down the road. And now it’s not just the two of us jumping hoops–we’re dragging along a third person who’s trying to help us but can’t make a part time job of it.
It’s all pretty overwhelming, and I have absolutely no control over how it shakes out. Yesterday I was talking to my friend S about all this, and explaining how I’m trying to be hopeful without cementing the idea of this particular KD, because he may decide that all this is more than he bargained for, which is perfectly understandable. S smiled sympathetically and remembered how anxious he was when he was bidding for his first home, and he was so excited and then so let down when he lost the bid. Acknowledging that the stakes are much higher in this situation, he said he doesn’t envy my position.
I’m trying to be calm, and accepting of any outcome, which is pretty tough for a control freak. Being in the back seat is really tough but I’m trying to sit back and enjoy the ride.
Secret decoder ring:
ART = Assisted reproductive technology
PD= Perfect donor [we are now on #4, after numbers 1-3 didn’t work out]
KD= Kind donor [the generally accepted abbreviation for a known, vs. anonymous cryobank donor]
IUI = intrauterine insemination