Real People Building Families: Jordan

Jordan is 36-year-old feminist writer and strategic communications professional. She lives in Boston with her wife, 4-year-old, and their dog.

When did you start thinking about having kids? How did you see it playing out?

I’ve always wanted to be a mother—as early as I can remember!—but my wife and I started thinking seriously about having kids shortly after we got married in 2011. At that time, I was 28. My wife was 38. She’s the grandchild of Holocaust survivors and felt strongly about having a child biologically/gestationally as a way to honor her family’s legacy. Getting pregnant with a sperm donor was our preferred method for bringing a child into the world, though we were certainly open to adoption if pregnancy wasn’t possible.

Tell us about the process you went through to have your child.

Our child just turned 4. We struggled over whether to use a known donor or an anonymous donor from a sperm bank. Initially, my wife wanted to use a known donor and we were in conversation with two male friends to explore the possibility. But logistically and emotionally, that felt complicated. Defining clear boundaries, roles, and responsibilities for the involvement of a known donor in our future child’s life (and in our lives, as parents) was challenging. I was concerned that we wouldn’t have shared expectations. Ultimately, we ended up choosing an anonymous sperm donor from a sperm bank. We’re Jewish and felt strongly about using a Jewish donor. There aren’t many Jewish donors—which surprised us—but we found one who met all of our criteria, including being a 'Yes' donor, also referred to as an 'Identity Disclosure Donor.' 'Yes' donors sign away their paternity rights when they donate sperm, but they are open to being contacted by donor-conceived kids once the kids turn 18, should they express interest. We very intentionally chose to do inseminations at a fertility center with a doctor, as opposed to inseminations at home. It was a highly medicalized process with lots of tests, screenings, labwork, ultrasounds, etc. Ultimately, my wife needed to do two rounds of IVF to conceive our son... stressful, but worth it in the long run.

What resources did you have/wish you had access to when you were planning for children?

I would have loved an “FAQ for Choosing a Sperm Donor and Navigating the Sperm Bank Industry” to guide us in our process. Instead, I did a lot of learning on-the-fly. Then I ended up creating my own FAQ document, which I have happily shared with other queer couples and single women who are trying to start a donor-conceived family. I also wish I’d had a clearer understanding of insurance coverage (or lack thereof) for IUIs and IVF. Finally, the relationship between Massachusetts State Law’s infertility criteria and our private insurance company’s definition of infertility was challenging territory to navigate! I learned that Massachusetts state law’s definition of infertility involves “exposure to sperm” not “unprotected heterosexual intercourse.” That’s great and very progressive for non-heterosexual couples and single people with a uterus. But at the time, our private health insurance company referred to “unprotected heterosexual intercourse” in its policy book, so I was worried that our insurance coverage was in jeopardy. What I learned, however, is that our health insurance company was required to adhere to Massachusetts State Law because my wife and I are residents of Massachusetts. YAY.

What advice do you have for other queer and LGBT folks in their planning process?

Ask lots of questions, save lots of money, find a doctor or midwife you love. And most importantly, be your own advocate—especially in a fertility landscape that is always changing. There’s no standard roadmap for queer people who want to have children, so we often need to write our own scripts and pave our own way.

Chanel Dubofsky

Chanel's writing has appeared in Cosmo, Rewire, Lilith, HelloFlo, & Extra Crispy. She has an MFA in Fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts & lives in New York. Follow her @chaneldubofsky.

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