Brittany and Holly conceived through at-home insemination using a known donor, and now they have a beautiful baby girl
Names: Brittany and Holly
Child’s name: Scarlett Mae
Hometown/City: Denver, CO
When did you decide you wanted children?
My partner and I have been together for over 8 years. We knew we wanted children together and would have casual conversations, but seriously started thinking about the logistics a year before we became pregnant.
How did you decide to either biologically have a child or adopt a child?
I had a strong desire to give birth and therefore we decided we would try that approach first. If there had been problems we would have adopted.
Did you share your journey with your family and friends? If so, have they been supportive?
We shared each step of this wonderful process with our families and closest friends. They have been very supportive- providing words of encouragement, asking insightful questions to better educate themselves, and made us feel as though we were not alone or different for wanting to bring a child into a home with two mothers. It really does take a village and we wanted everyone on the same page through both our triumphs and our struggles.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced raising a child as a lesbian couple? How have you overcome those challenges and what advice would you give new parents in a similar situation?
Fortunately, we have been blessed to have not only amazing family and friends to help us through this process, but also support from our co-workers and employers. It is this overwhelming excitement from all of those around us that have made this a very positive experience. The largest challenges that we have faced have been protecting ourselves during our donor selection and legally adopting the child. The legal process constantly reminded us that we did not have the same rights as heterosexual couples. The only thing that got us through these harsh reminders was the thought that we would soon be a family with a beautiful baby… no matter what.
What do you wish you would have known before you started?
There are several hoops that you have to go through just to conceive the child. Regardless of whether you have a known or unknown donor the standard is to have this sperm tested for STDs, held for 6 months, re-tested, and used at a hospital or clinic. This was all very expensive for us because none of these steps were covered by insurance. We chose a known donor, had the sperm tested, and artificially inseminated at home. We had to explore and ask questions about each of these options, which was frustrating because many times our limited knowledge was more than what our doctors knew. My only advice is to get your hands on as much information as possible and ask all the questions you need, no matter how uncomfortable it may seem, to get that information.
How has your life changed during this process? Before having kids and after having kids?
Since we chose a known donor (who is also a close friend), we had lengthy conversations about what this family would look like after the birth of our daughter. However, we knew that no matter how much we planned for the future ultimately we would be faced with unknowns and uncertainty. The only thing we could do was to extend our trust and honesty to everyone involved in our family’s future. Fortunately for us, navigating these important relationships has been ideal. Further, after having to defend ourselves as parents to legally have my partner adopt our child, we are stronger than ever. It has only solidified that we are amazing parents and would do anything for our little girl. I have become more outspoken about the process so that others can start to understand that not everyone in society can just “have a child”. I found that people were shocked at how much it would cost to artificially conceive and even more that we had to have my partner adopt our child. Most people, including gay people, have no idea what it takes to go through the process of artificial insemination and all of the legal processes to protect the rights of everyone in the family.
How much did you budget for the process? How much has the process cost so far? What were the actual costs and how were they different from what was planned?
For the conception we budgeted $2,000 for the legal fees associated with our donor agreement. The actual total was closer to $1,500. For the second parent adoption, we had anticipated legal fees but didn’t take into account the cost of all the steps necessary (background checks, fingerprinting, medical exams, home study, etc.). In hindsight we should have asked more questions about the process in order to budget, however our mentality was that we were going to go through the second parent adoption regardless. The total for the second parent adoption was over $3,000.
Was your state/location a challenge to the process? How did it impact your decisions, if at all?
Being in Colorado did not have a great impact on our decision to have a child. We were lucky to have midwives that were not only supportive but also excited about us being a lesbian couple having a child. We never felt like outsiders at any time throughout the pregnancy. When first talking to our lawyer she mentioned that there was some grey area with using a known donor and home insemination. However, these were slight risks and she felt confident that the second parent adoption would be granted without a problem, and in the end our second parent adoption was approved in 15 minutes without problem.
Will you prepare your children to answer questions about their donor/biological parent(s)?
We all agreed that we would be honest about our relationship and the relationship of the donor from the very beginning. We want to give her all the facts she needs to feel secure in how she came into this world, and will leave it up to her as to whether she wants a relationship with the donor. In the end, it only comes down to more people loving and caring for this child. However, this is one of those areas that you can never fully prepare for and have to take cues from the child.
Would you be willing to share the name of the agency/sperm bank/other resources you used and why? If so, please list them below (and if you have any notes – was your experience good, poor? why or why not?)
For our donor agreement and second parent adoption we used:
WILLOUGHBY & ECKELBERRY, LLC
303 E. 17TH AVE, SUITE #910
DENVER, CO 80203
Laura Koupal was our lawyer and she did a wonderful job.