Friday, April 04, 2008

Stuff Lesbians Like #4: Shopping for Sperm Online

Ever heard that saying "women need men like fish need bicycles"?

Well, now you're just a click away from having sperm delivered to your door (or your clinic's door), no mess, no fuss, no wetspots.

Despite the fact that national surveys like the General Social Survey (GSS) report that GLBT people are just as likely to have children as their heterosexual counterparts (mainly through dissolved marriages), the phenomenon coined the "Lesbian Baby Boom" is relatively new, perhaps only 15 or 20 years old(Arnup 1998, and later expanded upon by Tulchinsky, 1999 and Patterson, 1995).

As an aside the National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study is the only national data of which I am aware that covers children of lesbian parents over a period of time.

Lesbian couples who wish to get pregnant and have a baby (i.e. not through adoption or a previous marriage) acquire sperm through various sources. These breakdown into two main categories: known and unknown donors. Some couples know the male donor and establish an arrangement (legal or otherwise) with him regarding both procurement as well as the potential offspring (for a great story turn to LesbianDad and her post on the "turkey baster"). Other couples who do not have access to a willing donor, or who do not want to use a known donor, can go to what is colloquially known as a "sperm bank" to purchase sperm (note that sperm banks are also frequented by heterosexual couples who have trouble conceiving).

We've come a long way from the turkey baster! With the advent of the Information Age, sperm banks have moved to Internet portals from which interested individuals can sort and select donors from a wide variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds. Furthermore, in addition to (some) physical details, information is provided about adult interests of the donor, family medical history, blood type, etc.

Arnup, K. 1999 "Does the word LESBIAN mean anything to you?" Lesbians raising daughters. In S. Abbey & A. O'Reilly (Eds.), Redefining Motherhood: Changing identities and patterns (pp. 59-68). Toronto: Second Story Press.

Patterson, C. J. 1995. Lesbian Mothers, gay fathers, and their children. In A. R. D'Augelli & C. J. Patterson (Eds.), Lesbian, gay, and bisexual identities over the lifespan (pp. 262-292). New York: Oxford University Press.

Tulchinsky, K. X. (1999, May 8). Two moms, better than one? Staking claim to Mother's Day: Once we decided which one of us would bear the child, our little family adventure was underway. Vancouver Sun, pp. E5.

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