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Joe Donor and the Consequences of Online Conception

By |2019-02-20T02:39:42+00:00February 19th, 2019|Categories: Blog, donor agreement, egg donation, infertility, ivf, laws, lgbt, sperm donor, victoria, written agreements|

If you watched  60 Minutes recently you’d know all about Joe Donor – the American man who claims to have donated sperm to over 800 women, resulting in over 100 babies born (admittedly, that means his success rate is less than 13%, which is about average and to be frank, there’s nothing super about his sperm). His method – either ‘natural’ or ‘artificial’ insemination – does not involve any formal agreement with the recipients (mostly single women or same-sex female couples), nor does it involve legal advice or medical assistance. It’s not a unique thing to do (although the sheer number of donations is), and many forums and Facebook groups are set up to facilitate a relationship between sperm donors and recipients in Australia. But what are the legalities and consequences of online sperm donation – for the recipients, donors and the donor-conceived people – that result from online conception?

In my experience as an egg donor, we didn’t require any written Agreement or formal document to confirm our arrangement or intentions for our future relationships, or my relationship with any donor-conceived children. The IVF Clinic had a bunch of consent forms that we completed, with my partner and I signing our consent for the recipients to use the embryos as they wished. Under Victorian law, I can withdraw my consent for the use of those embryos at any time up to the point of them being transferred. I have no parental rights or responsibilities for any donor-conceived children. I am not liable for child support. Under the Family Law Act, the woman who births the baby is presumed to be the legal parent, and her partner is also presumed to be the parent, regardless of the genetics of the child.

So how is sperm donation different? Well, there are a few different ways of conceiving via sperm donation, and the method can impact on the consequences. For example, utilising a ‘clinic-recruited’ sperm donor, usually involves the recipient knowing very little, and having no relationship, with the donor. In this case, the birth mother registers the birth, can list her partner as the other parent, and the donor details can be recorded on the Birth Registration. In Victoria, a Central Register exists where donor details are stored, so that the child can apply for information about their donor once they turn 18. The donor does not partake in any parenting role nor are they liable for child support.

A similar arrangement can exist with a known donor (such as a friend, family member or acquaintance), if it is facilitated through a Clinic. Recipients and donors who use a Clinic are put through counselling about the arrangement, and they have discussions about their expectations for future roles and relationships. Generally speaking, a sperm donor in a Clinic is treated the same as an egg donor. When the birth occurs, the birth mother’s partner is listed as the other parent, and the donor’s details are kept in the Birth Registration and the Central Register.

So what of those conceptions with a donor via artificial insemination at home? Well, this is where written agreement can be really useful. Whilst the presumption is that a birth mother and her partner are the legal parents, there can be questions about whether the donor is a donor, or a parent, unless there is a written Agreement confirming the arrangement. Donor Agreements are evidence of the parties’ intentions prior to conception, and can be used to register the birth and to ensure the donor is not liable for child support.  Is the donor only a donor, or will he take on a parenting role? Will he be known as ‘Uncle’ and take on a special role in the child’s life, or stay completely out of it? Will the child visit him on weekends or not see him ever again? The variations on intentions and roles can play a huge part in how a Court may see him and his role in the future. Whilst Donor Agreements are not enforceable, (and I’ve seen many a keyboard expert tell people not to bother with them), they can be crucial in protecting everyone and ensuring the relationships are clear and understood. The fact is, intentions and expectations can change, and relationships and roles can change. Is a donor just a donor, or can he be a parent? The High Court will be determining this exact issue, in the case of Parsons and Anor & Masson.

What about natural insemination? Well, this is a whole other kettle of fish. If the conception was achieved in the traditional way, then the ‘donor’ is, by law, a parent, and he is liable for child support, and needs to be registered on the Birth Certificate.

And what of the children? Donor-conceived children’s interests are often not considered deeply enough by everyone involved. They’re certainly not considered by Joe Donor. Note that the 60 Minutes interview with him focused mainly on the well-being of the women conceiving with Joe’s sperm, and very little consideration was given to the rights or interests of any children conceived from his donations. But, interviews with VARTA counsellor Kate Bourne and Chloe Allworthy (herself a donor-conceived person) pointed out that donor-conceived people want to know their origins, have a right to information about their origins, and should not be treated as secondary to the interests of Joe or the women seeking to conceive with his help. What will these children say of the legacy of their conception when they grow up? How will the children conceived with Joe’s sperm feel about having 100+ donor siblings? Chloe, and many other donor-conceived adults, are speaking up now, and it would be negligent of us not to listen to them.

As an egg donor, I underwent many hours of counselling and considered the ramifications of my donations from many angles. On the face of it, donation can seem like a lovely, altruistic thing to do, and similar to donating blood. Except donated blood doesn’t grow up and become a real-life person with thoughts and feelings of their own. Even with the significant consideration and counselling, I still find that my feelings and thoughts about donor-conception are challenged and changed all the time. I don’t know how I will feel about the people conceived from my eggs in 5, 10 or 25 years. I don’t know how they will feel about me, or what role they will want me to have (or whether I’ll want to have it) when they are teenagers, adults or raising their own children. Donor-conception should not be a quick decision over some Joe Donor you met on the internet; it has life-long ramifications for the children, their families, the donor and their families.

If you are thinking of conceiving with the help of a donor, I urge you to consider your options, and seek legal advice before you attempt to conceive. This applies to potential sperm donors and recipients. Counsellors with experience in donor-conception can also be really helpful to help you decide the best way to move forward. For more information about donor conception, check out the resources at VARTA here in Victoria.

Want to talk about Donor Agreements and options? You can book a consult with me below.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Book an initial 30 minute consult

Click here to book!

Frequently Asked Questions

By |2019-02-27T06:00:55+00:00January 2nd, 2019|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Australia, Blog, costs of surrogacy, finding a surrogate, ivf, parentage order, surrogacy process, traditional surrogacy|

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Book an initial 30 minute consult

Click here to book!

Egg Donation: Seeing Yourself In Someone Else’s Child

By |2018-12-29T01:16:50+00:00December 17th, 2018|Categories: Blog, egg donation, infertility, ivf, motherhood, parenthood|

My partner and I are parents-through-IVF; survivors of infertility who inevitably became overbearing parents to our precious offspring. Archie was born after 7 embryo transfers, and he was our lucky last. Shortly after Archie’s second birthday, we conceived his brother, Rafael. Without IVF this time. Fertility, as most infertility survivors know, is a numbers game; a fickle friend who changes over time and is never guaranteed.

I decided, when I was going through IVF, that I would like to pay our (relatively good) luck forward and one day be an egg donor. After Raf was born, I investigated it further, and slid down the rabbit hole of google searches and online forums, and eventually offered my eggs to another couple. I decided I wanted to give unconditionally; that the recipients didn’t need to prove their worth to me. I had minimal criteria – they they live in Victoria, for the sake of convenience, and that they be prepared to tell their offspring about their donor conception. For my part, I was committed to being available to any donor-offspring and their parents, for their sake and for Archie and Raf to know their donor-siblings (or ‘diblings’ as they are sometimes called). We know from research with donor-conceived children that they cope better with the knowledge of their donor-origins if they are told early and with honesty and openness; gone are the days when it is considered better to keep it a secret. In Victoria, donor-conceived adults can now access records about their conception, including the identity of their donor and other donor-conceived people related to them.

So I donated, to two couples, and one of them went on to conceive a baby who is now 2 years old. People are often curious about what it’s like being a donor, and about my relationship with the child and their parents. “Is it weird, seeing him and knowing he’s your genetic child?” Well, it’s a good question. Before he was conceived, we’d done all the donor counselling and considered the consequences of what I was doing. We’d talked about it with family, including our two kids. For them, it was pretty easy to understand – mummy gave her eggs to help another family have a baby. No doubt as they get older, they’ll have more questions, as they understand more about genetics and family.

For my part, I was excited to help someone have a child, and excited for them when they announced a pregnancy and then the birth. I visited him in hospital when he was a few days old, and remember thinking ‘what a momentous day, to meet this much-wanted child that is connected to me but not mine.’ But the reality was less exciting. I mean, it was lovely. But my only feelings were for his wellbeing and for his parents’ happiness. I was curious, at first, to see whether he looked like me or my children – my initial thoughts were that he looked a lot like his dad, and a bit like my dad. But I don’t feel bonded to him the way I am to my kids.

This kid, that comes from my egg who is not my child, is now two years old. I was at the park the other day, with my kids, and a little boy raced past me on his trike. My first thought was ‘I know that face!’ and then I realised that it was, in fact, the child that my friends conceived with my egg. He is not particularly interested in me, and I expect that may change when he is older if he has questions about me or his half-siblings. In the meantime, I am happy just seeing his parents enjoy him and grateful that I had the opportunity to help them grow their family.

Have you considered becoming a donor, or do you need a donor? Do you have questions about the donation process? Get in touch!

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Episde 26: Renee (Part 2)

By |2019-01-18T04:52:00+00:00October 9th, 2018|Categories: Australia, infertility, ivf, motherhood, Surrogacy Podcast|

Renee shares her second surrogacy journey with us, with different intended parents. Renee and her partner approached the journey with the benefit of their first experience, but they were met with many challenges along the way. Their friendship with their intended parents is strong, but as you’ll hear, surrogacy is about so much more than just having a baby.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Episode 23: Rachel (Part 1)

By |2019-01-18T04:48:58+00:00September 18th, 2018|Categories: Australia, egg donation, gay dads, infertility, interstate surrogacy, ivf, Surrogacy Podcast, surrogate, traditional surrogacy|

This is Part 1 in a 3-part episode with Rachel, a surrogate who has delivered 5 babies for their intended parents. In this episode, Rachel tells her story of starting as an egg donor, and then as a traditional surrogate. There were many bumps in the road, but Rachel’s tenacity and strength are inspiring.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Episode 19: Charmaine

By |2019-01-18T04:47:32+00:00August 21st, 2018|Categories: Australia, finding a surrogate, infertility, ivf, motherhood, pregnancy loss, Surrogacy Podcast, surrogate|

Charmaine was a gestational surrogate and birthed James for his parents in 2017. Not everything was sunshine and rainbows, and Charmaine has a lot of wisdom for other intended parents and surrogates.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Episode 4: Bec

By |2019-01-18T02:06:41+00:00May 8th, 2018|Categories: infertility, ivf, motherhood, parenthood, surrogacy, Surrogacy Podcast|

In this episode, I speak with Bec. Bec was a gestational surrogate and gave birth to Holly in 2016, for an interstate couple. Bec speaks with candour and humour about her journey and has lots of insights for intended parents and surrogates alike.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Episode 3: Troy

By |2019-01-18T01:58:52+00:00May 1st, 2018|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Australia, fatherhood, gay dads, infertility, ivf, parenthood, surrogacy, Surrogacy Podcast, surrogate partner|

In this episode of The Australian Surrogacy Podcast, I interviewed my husband, Troy, about his experience as the partner of a surrogate. I was often asked what Troy thought of me being a surrogate, so this week I thought it would be good to hear from Troy himself.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Episode 2: Mike & Nate

By |2019-01-18T01:48:06+00:00April 16th, 2018|Categories: Australia, gay dads, infertility, ivf, surrogacy, Surrogacy Podcast, traditional surrogacy|

In this episode, I had the pleasure of interviewing my intended parents, Mike and Nate, about their surrogacy journey and becoming dads to baby Darcey.

Mike and Nate started talking about having children on their second date, and they considered a few different options before committing to surrogacy in Australia. It was another 5 years before they welcomed Darcey, and you’ll hear about what they went through to become dads.

I might be a bit biased, but I think they’re pretty special and it was lovely chatting with them and reflecting on our journey together.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Episode 1: Introducing Sarah

By |2019-01-18T01:44:44+00:00April 5th, 2018|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Australia, finding a surrogate, gay dads, infertility, ivf, motherhood, surrogacy, Surrogacy Podcast, surrogacy process, traditional surrogacy, victoria|

In this first episode of The Australian Surrogacy Podcast, you’ll hear from me, Sarah Jefford, and about why I decided to make a surrogacy podcast.

I am a surrogate and a surrogacy lawyer living in Melbourne with my family. In 2015 I decided to become a surrogate, and in January 2018 I gave birth to a baby girl, Darcey, for her two dads Mike and Nate.

You’ll hear all about my journey to becoming a surrogate, as well as about me as a surrogacy lawyer.

 

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

This Is A Custom Widget

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This Is A Custom Widget

This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.