Sperm donors are treated like a punchline, and that's pretty unfair to a lot of men who are providing a much needed gift to people who want to have children. Part of this comes from the idea that sperm donors are broke 20-somethings looking to make drinking money "for something they do anyway," but that stereotype is untrue for many of today's donors.
According to The Daily Beast, while most people think of sperm donors as faceless bros giggling about being paid to masturbate before disappearing from the face of the Earth, not all donors are looking for anonymity. Many are even looking to be a part of their biological children's lives.
“The biggest misconception about donors is that they all want to be anonymous. Wrong. Wrong!” said Wendy Kramer, founder of the Donor Sibling Registry, which helps donor-conceived children find their donors and any biologicial half-siblings they might have. She says some men always wanted their identities to be open, while others come to the decision when they get older and possibly find themselves without children, which makes them curious about meeting their donor-conceived offspring.
Richard Hatch, the winner of the first season of Survivor, donated sperm in the 1980s when he really was a 20-something college student looking for a way to make some extra money. But that didn't mean he took it lightly or didn't know what he was doing.
"Before signing up, I thought through everything,” he told The Daily Beast. “I considered potential contact with my donor offspring at a later date or no contact at all; what I might feel if I met him or her."
Another thing that came into play for Hatch was that he had wanted a family, but because he was gay did not think that was something he could have. To a certain extent, donating seemed like a way around that. Now Hatch is married and has an adopted son, but he also has relationships with a young man and woman who were conceived through his donations and who found him through the DSR.
According to a 2012 study, 78 percent of sperm donors surveyed said a main motivation for donating was to help people have children. 61 percent said they were motivated by money, and 41 percent said they wanted to pass on a genetic legacy. Ninety-seven percent of the donors surveyed said they thought about their potential biological children regularly, and 94 percent said they would be open to being contacted by them.
Most of the surveyed men, however, were donors who had registered with the DSR. Considering they had signed up specifically to be found by potential donor-conceived children, of course the study results skew significantly in favor of contact. But it remains true that many donor-conceived children want to know who their donors are, and many donors would love to be found and contacted. And even those donors who do want to be anonymous are doing something great and generous for people who need help having children. Maybe it's time to retire the tired old stereotypes and recognize sperm donors for what they are: Men who are providing an essential and valuable service to people who want to have children.