Let’s face it, by the time I reached the decision to become a single mother by choice, I had become an expert at online dating—or at least an expert on reading and decoding guys’ online profiles. “I’m a bit of a geek” sounds cute but equates to “I have limited social skills outside of my ability to speak Klingon,” while “I’m working towards a degree in . . .” means “I’m still living in my mom’s basement.” So I thought wading through the waters of donor profiles would be a familiar and simple task. You know, just like finding a husband. *Bangs head on computer desk*
Healthy and handsome, and a little height wouldn’t hurt. That’s all I thought I needed to worry about when I started my search. After all, genes are tricky, unreliable buggers; I know this as the five-one daughter of a five-eight mother. So why get too hung up on all the details of baby-to-be’s donor daddy? I could choose a donor with features like mine and those of my family, but there’s no guarantee which traits B2B will get, and, really, will it matter? I’m going to love this child like crazy no matter what he or she looks like or how tall he or she grows to be.
But after twelve years of living alone, I need to get used to the idea that very soon I’m not going to be the only one that matters in my house. If all goes as planned, sometime in the not-so-distant future I will have a child that will some day likely grow curious about his donor. (Funny expressions aside, the word daddy doesn’t apply.) When I realized I would some day have to answer the question, “How’d you choose?” to someone to whom the answer would matter very much, the jokes about getting tipsy and playing Russian roulette with the search feature on the cryobank’s website all seemed a little less funny.
To me, the donor will simply be a very generous guy who helped me achieve a miracle. But to B2B, he will have a much greater significance—not just a medical history, but a whole half of his or her being. From what I’ve read and from my conversation with the social worker who meets with families using donor sperm or eggs, some children place very little importance on their donors. But others do. I can’t promise my child he or she will ever get to meet the donor, but I certainly can promise him or her that I picked him for a better reason than his height and eye color.
So, how did I choose? Well, I suppose my online dating profile expertise did actually play a roll. Just like with those profiles, donor profiles have a number of sections. After reading far too many, I decided which were important (aside from health histories and, yes, a little height). For me, the personal responses, staff impressions, and the expression section meant the most.
From the handful of answers the donors provided and the section where donors could choose to share a little more about themselves or their passions, I could get a little glimpse of their voices and a little insight into what was important to them. I looked for someone who cared about his family, was driven but also somewhat laid-back, and who cherished creativity and learning. In other words, I looked for someone who shared my values.
That said, having spent enough time online to know it’s relatively easy to paint yourself a wee bit rosier than perhaps you really are, I then compared my impressions to those of the staff. Granted, in all the profiles I read, none of the staff ever said, “This guy’s a real jerk.” But by reading between the lines a little, I could tell when they were digging for something nice to say versus when they genuinely seemed to mean it. It seems odd to rely on the opinion of a stranger, but I believe good people leave good impressions, and that’s important to me.
Though the childhood pictures were helpful to narrow down the final few, in the end I went with a judge of character. My child may never know his donor, but he or she will know that I did the best I could to pick a donor who spoke to me as someone who shared those traits I value most in myself and others: intelligence, kindness, and creativity.
Oh, and he is tall. So if B2B is pint-sized, he or she can blame genetics, not me!