If it hasn’t already become abundantly clear by this point, there are any number of ways lesbian moms create their families, and in the debate between known and unknown donors, there doesn’t seem to be a wrong answer— only personal preferences and individual experiences yielding individual results. No matter what method you choose, the most common cautionary advice from nearly every single couple, mental health professional, and attorney in this field seems to be the following:
- Communicate openly and honestly with your partner and your known donor/sperm bank to make sure everyone is on the same page regarding parental roles, expectations, and agreements. If using a known donor, insist that all three of you undergo individual mental and physical health screenings before beginning the conception process.
- Know your rights. If you use a known donor, seek legal counsel and sign an iron-clad, specific contract with your donor drawn up by your lawyer—don’t simply use the standard forms at a fertility clinic. The laws around fertility are not always clear, and differ from state to state, so assume nothing. For example, as described to us by Assisted Reproduction and Family Formation Attorney, Kate Lyon, in the state of California, your family is protected under Family Code Section 7613, which states, among other things, that a man donating sperm to a woman other than his spouse relinquishes all his paternal rights only if you undergo an insemination in a doctor’s office, rather than at home. If you decide to do home insemination, and the sperm does not pass through a doctor’s hands, you are not automatically protected by the law. Additionally, did you know that as the non-biological mother, you can be on your child’s birth certificate, but still not be considered a legal parent in some states without doing a second or co-parent adoption? (Didn’t know that? Neither did we. Lawyer up!) To learn more about your rights state-to-state, visit LAMBDA Legal’s “Protecting Your Children” page