Mommyish Poll: In A Pinch, Would You Use Your Father-In-Law’s Sperm To Conceive? (Because Some People Would!)

sperm donorCouples struggling with infertility have quite a few options. Between IVF, surrogacy, and adoption, avenues to a child can vary depending on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. But apparently for some couples who are encountering male infertility, asking the father-in-law to make a sperm donation is considered appropriate infertility dinner table conversation.

Msnbc reports on a couple in the Netherlands who very much want a child with their genetic makeup. Hubby doesn’t produce sperm, they are not okay with using that of a stranger, and he has no brothers. Husband then came up with the idea of asking his father to pitch in and everyone agreed that the solution was perfect. There were some lengthy conversations with the ethics committee, but the fertility clinic eventually agreed as well.

But the decision has experts in the United States worried as they talk of the ethical challenges:

“I don’t know that laws should encompass forbidding intrafamilial donation,” said Adrienne Asch, director of the Center for Ethics at Yeshiva University in New York City. But couples who request it “should be very carefully counseled about the psychological pitfalls that could await them,” Asch said.

Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania, said:

“I’m not saying it can’t be done, I’m just saying it’s ethically high-risk.”

Another expert added:

“The notion that this child’s grandfather would be his biological father is just too bizarre for the child’s sake,” said George Annas, chair of the Department of Health Law, Bioethics & Human Rights at Boston University School of Public Health. “Family relationships are confused enough as they are when they’re not intergenerational,” Annas said.

So how does this practice sit with you? Because if hitting up your father-in-law for sperm donations isn’t “bizarre” to you, you’re clearly not alone.

Sorry! This poll is now closed.


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  • lilacorchid

    I would consider other avenues like an anon. sperm donation before adoption.

  • Cate

    How about a less judgmental ‘no’ option. Like, “Probably not, but I might think about it.”

    I don’t see how it’s any weirder than getting his brother to donate sperm or getting your sister to be your surrogate. I’m not saying I’d do those things either, but I can say “no” to them without saying “no way.” People make tough choices.

    • Clericsdaughter

      That’s exactly what I was thinking. I can’t picture myself choosing this avenue, but I would never try and tell somebody else that they couldn’t do it. Decisions like these are only the business of the family involved.

    • LCT

      The surrogate option isn’t a good comparison–surrogates don’t provide the egg, just an “incubator.” And yes, the brother option creeps me out too. That’s my personal opinion, though.

  • badbadwebbis

    Leaving out my personal visceral response of ‘no,’ I would point out that the older a man gets, the more likely his sperm is to pass on genetic problems. Like eggs, the older the get, the more likely they are to contribute to genetic defects.

    Particularly if your father-in-law is the same age as the guy in the picture.

    • fig

      I totally agree. And those genetic issues can be major. Schitzophrenia is strongly connected to old fathers.