Still single at thirty-six, I became more than slightly worried about my prospects to have my own children
and the family I always dreamed of. After a string of monogamous relationships, I found myself breaking up with
yet another serious boyfriend. That day, I cried a lot and attended the local Single Mothers By Choice (SMBC) meeting.
It was surreal to be in a room full of women who had either already made this choice or were contemplating it. There was
this sinking feeling of, “is this really happening? Do I have to buy sperm and do it on my own to have a family?”
Immediately the questions bubbled up, and “what would I tell the child?” was one of the first things on my mind.
And so my investigation began. I started a video diary, joined the SMBC discussion groups, ordered a pile of books
and tried to get hold of every documentary already existing on the topic. These films were all well-done poignant accounts
of different women’s journeys to becoming single mothers – the tears and the joys and the births and the disappointments.
I used a lot of Kleenex and rode a roller coaster of feelings. While a few of these films touched on some of my questions,
they didn’t dive deeply into the issues I was concerned about. What was missing was a look at the other more complicated
side of the coin – so after I lined up my interviews with women and mothers, I picked up the phone and called the kids,
the donors and the sperm banks.
Most of the women I interviewed had no regrets about having used donated sperm to have their children and were ecstatic
about being mothers. However, what I found out about the sperm bank industry was disturbing– lack of regulation, inaccurate
record-keeping, limited follow up, hundreds of children from the same donor, incomplete donor medical histories. I also found
out that while some donor-conceived children have no issues around their conception, others are curious or feel a sense of loss.
I remember a conversation with one woman who told me about the more than 600 letters she sent out looking for her biological father.
I could hear the anxiety in her voice – the wheel spinning about the missing piece of her.
Meeting a former and a current sperm donor provided me with additional information. As an advocate of sperm banks having an
“open donor” policy, I was heartened to learn that the former donor was eager to find his biological children. However, the current
donor felt it was a “great part-time job” but he was not very interested in any offspring he might father.
My investigation has complicated things for me. Because of all that I have learned, my primal urge to bear offspring has
been dulled by statistics and “what if’s…” At thirty-eight, I feel I still have a few years to decide, though my doctor tells
me not really. We’ll see what happens. In the mean time, I hope the film will shed light on the option using donor sperm offers
to single women who wish to become mothers as well as the issues around donor conception, and bring a greater awareness to this
growing trend of alternative families.
— Anne Catherine Hundhausen