When Adoption Is The Best Alternative
Question: My husband and I found out that he cannot have children. We both want a family. We now have three choices. We can adopt, we can get an anonymous sperm donor or we can ask his brother to donate sperm.
We are trying to consider what would be best for the child. My husband really wants to ask his brother. I know that this has its complications. I also wonder if it is fair to ask this of my sister-in-law. We are very close, and she wants us to have a child, but is this asking too much? -- Atlanta, Ga.
DR. LAURA: I think your instincts are right on. Adoption makes you a "new" family without an ongoing sense of dual relationships between any of the parts. Although there eventually is knowledge of a prior set of "parents" (biologically speaking), there is no ongoing intervention and confusion to loosen the primary bonds you would be trying to establish.
With a sperm donor (anonymous), the same is true. Frankly, though, I don't recommend that option when everybody knows about the situation. Adoptees at least have a sense of history, where someone thought of their best interest in giving them up. When you are the product of some anonymous fellow ejaculating into a cup for $100, there isn't the same pride of history -- nor is there anyone you could "meet" in the future if there were a desire to put closure on curiosity. This is why I recommend this procedure only when "no one is ever going to know," except the two of you and the M.D.
The problem with using the uncle is that the uncle is the dad -- and don't think there won't be complicated psychological issues later, as uncle/aunt (dad and step/mom) feel a sense of connection and power inappropriate to the realities. Also, their children are no longer cousins; they are siblings ... and so it goes.
Wouldn't you, in their position, feel more of a right to comment, intervene, etc., because the child is "yours"? Might not the child have some difficulty with this dual identity (uncle equals dad), since the interactions would be continuous?
I really vote for adoption -- it is emotionally the cleanest, considering all the circumstances. I realize your husband might be feeling an ego problem with the sperm of a stranger, and that the uncle alternative is close to his own genes... but the ultimate price is too iffy.
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