How did we pick our donor?

Picking out a sperm donor is a lot like online dating, only, rather than focusing on their hobbies and interests, you’re looking at their medical information and family background. It’s the one time in your life that it is okay to be extremely judgmental, because after all, if you are paying a lot of money for one vial, you want it to be exactly what you’re looking for! 

Our doctor’s office recommended that we begin by looking at California Cryobank to purchase our sperm. They were located here in California, which was easier for shipping purposes, and if we didn’t find a match we liked, there were many other banks we could use. We got home that day and created an online account, and the search was on! This particular cryobank was fantastic and had so many helpful tips for picking out our donor. They have three different subscription levels that you can purchase, and each level gives you more information and detail about your donor! You begin by narrowing your search into different categories;

  • Height, eye and hair color, hair texture
  • Ethnic origin 
  • Blood type
  • Ancestry
  • Religion
  • Genetic testing
  • Education level

That is just the baseline. Once you have narrowed your search, you typically still have a few hundred donor matches! For us, while physical looks are important, we were more focused on their medical background. We wanted to eliminate as many medical complications as possible, and this bank went into great detail. The donor had to disclose all medical information for himself, his immediate family and extended family. They cover every ailment that you can think of, from cardiovascular and neurological problems to mental health. 

Beyond medical information, they provide childhood photos of the donor (some choose to have adult photos, but most are childhood), genetic testing, a psychological evaluation, and a personal essay provided by the donor, detailing their hobbies and interests, athletic abilities, and educational choices. 

Once we sorted it down to the final five profiles, we narrowed it down in two ways. The first was the donor with the cleanest medical background, as this was most important to us. The second, was the donor who had the most physical similarities to Lauren. Since I (Katie) was the one carrying, we wanted our child to look like a mixture of the two of us as much as possible. The donor we chose ended up looking so much like Lauren as a baby that they could have been related. The same eye color, facial features and a lot of the same hobbies and athletic abilities as her! 


Once you chose you donor, you face the cost…$895 per vial plus storage and shipping. You purchase your vials and pay for storage for the bank to keep them safe! Shipping alone cost $300 per cycle to overnight to our doctor office. We chose to purchase eight vials, which allowed us to hopefully have enough to have more than one child if we choose to. It is recommended to purchase four vials per hopeful pregnancy, as it can take many tries and the doctor may prefer to use more than one vial per cycle. One thing you have to be careful about, is that you need to buy enough sperm, because they can actually sell out of that donor! If you are able to achieve all of the pregnancies that you want, you are able to sell back the vials to the bank, but you always want more than not enough!

We decided on a closed, anonymous sperm donor, which means that when our kids turn 18, they can reach out to the sperm bank for more information if they choose, but neither we nor the donor can search for one another or initiate contact. For us, the donor got paid to help provide us the opportunity to create our family, and while we are extremely grateful, donor does not mean dad. Love is what makes a family, not DNA! 


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