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Court Says No Child Support for Sperm Donor Kids

By jeannesager |

sperm-largeThe mother of twins born via insemination with sperm from a donor bank has lost a bid to get child support from the anonymous sperm donor.

Anyone else saying “well, thank heavens?”

According to the Boston Herald, the woman identified only as Jane Doe by court papers knows only that her kids’ father was a medical student who donated sperm in the early ’90s. The man signed an agreement that his identity remain “in the strictest confidence.”

Now the mom wants not only his identity but his medical records because her kids are sick, and his financial help in caring for them.

The medical records I get – in fact that’s something that should be standard in any sperm banking deal, just as it should in any adoption. I can’t count how many adopted parents I know who went through stress during pregnancy over what their unknown genetics might mean for their kids.

But the funny thing about artificial insemination via a sperm donor is that it doesn’t actually take two people. It takes a woman who decides she wants to be a parent, and as such is supposed to be ready for the committment it takes to do it alone (or with a partner of her choice). Not being able to afford the care of sick twins is very literally her problem – or one of her own creation, anyway.

Since this man (I won’t say father because he really isn’t one) donated, the sperm bank has changed its rules to allow men to waive their right to privacy – giving kids a chance to get a sense of their history. But that’s limited to when a child reaches eighteen – a date I’d imagine was set to protect the men from child support claims like this one.

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About jeannesager



Jeanne Sager is a freelance writer and photographer living in upstate New York with her husband and daughter, Jillian. She maintains a blog of her award-winning columns at

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18 thoughts on “Court Says No Child Support for Sperm Donor Kids

  1. e says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more, and am so glad the courts ruled the way they did. An anonymous sperm donor is NOT a father and shouldn’t have any parental rights. My partner and I conceived using an anonymous donor (our son has the option of getting his contact info when he turns 18 if that’s what he wants to do). We spend so much time educating strangers (“He doesn’t have a ‘dad’ he has a ‘donor.’ Yes, there’s a difference.”) The idea of a court ruling that this anonymous person (to whom we are ever so grateful) could have any sort of legal rights over our son makes me feel ill. If the court had ruled that sperm donors could be found to pay child support, then I imagine sperm donors could also say that they wanted some parental rights. YIKES!

    I’m sorry that this woman has children that are ill. And I imagine that it’s a terrible burden (emotionally and financially) to carry on your own. But by choosing to use an anonymous donor you choose to go it alone.

  2. jenny tries too hard says:

    Thank goodness. I can’t imagine what sort of crazy entitlement issues this mom is going to foist on her kids if she thinks she’s entitled to money from an anonymous sperm donor. I do agree that medical records should be part of the bargain upfront, but frankly, it’s the woman’s responsiblity to find out the policy of the sperm bank/clinic before she uses their services.

  3. puasamanda says:

    Nope, you are not the only one thinking, “Thank Heavens!”

  4. kristen h says:

    What if the reason that the kids are sick is because the donor had a genetic issue that he lied about in order to “donate” (sell) his sperm? If he was a medical student and he did have some sort of genetic problem that he knew he had or might pass along to his offspring, but still sold his sperm to make a quick buck, I think he does have some liability.

  5. Mistress_Scorpio says:

    Kristen, how do you prove the guy might have known? Besides, if I were picking up some popsicle sperm, you bet your bottom I would be getting it genetically tested before wombing in.

  6. Andrea says:

    Even then, the only possible reasonable claim you could make would be maybe negligence, certainly not child support.

  7. Tara says:

    Child support! This women must be crazy. It was her choice to have this mans children. As for the medical records I can see wanting some sort of medical history on the donor.

  8. e says:

    Kristen- donating sperm is definitely not a way to “make a quick buck.” Donors are rigorously tested, have to provide medical records, and provide three generations of health history. Once a donor makes a donation the sperm is frozen for six months, thawed, and tested again. If the sperm passes all of the testing only then does the donor get paid.

    Of course, many men who donate are young and may have health problems that arise later in life. The industry counts on them to update their records but it’s not a foolproof system.

  9. jeannesager says:

    e – you make a fantastic point about giving the man legal rights. If he has to pay child support, he gets visitation too, right? And maybe even the chance to sue for custody. . .

  10. Jordan says:

    Depends on what the kids are sick with, now doesn’t it? If they have some genetic defect from the father that was either undisclosed or unknown to him at the time then I can see asking him to chip in. After all, he donated sperm with faulty genetic code, either intentionally or unintentionally.

  11. puasamanda says:

    Absolutely not, no way, no how, a million times NO. Procreation is a crapshoot no matter how it takes place, and that is part of the deal. Saying that he should “chip in” because he donated “faulty” sperm is tantamount to saying that my birthmother (sixteen at the time of my birth, severed all parental rights, I don’t know who she is, etc.) should “chip in” if I come down with breast cancer or some other thing that I might be genetically predisposed for….even if my birth mother didn’t know at the time that she would get breast cancer later! Ridiculous. “Hey, Birth Mom, child you’ve never known here…just letting you know I have breast cancer and lots of medical bills…so, write me a fat check, will ya? I mean, it is ALL YOUR FAULT.” Sheesh.

  12. jenny tries too hard says:

    No way, Jordan.

  13. Botanist says:

    Jordan, how do we know that the sperm had faulty genetic? It could be as well the egg’s problem. Every human gets about 50-100 genetic substitutions which are not present in the parents. And about half of them surely comes from the mum.

  14. Mark Lyndon says:

    The real issue here is that either the donor or the sperm bank (or both) appear to have covered up a genetic issue in the donor. Ectodermal dysplasia can be a very serious disability, and if either the donor or the bank knew that any children would be likely to inherit it, they should be held liable. The court should have started off by investigating the family medical history of the donor, and of any other children conceived using his sperm. There have been similar cases where US sperm banks have sold sperm from men that shouldn’t have been donating, continued to sell it after it became apparent that there were problems, and then lied about the facts. One of the largest sperm banks falsified a sperm donor’s medical history form before it was presented to court. I believe that they would have lost their license had they been operating in the UK, but there is almost no regulation of US sperm banks.

  15. Mark Lyndon says:

    It appears that another recipient family had reported problems before Jane Doe was inseminated.

  16. michael says:

    Mark, are you serious? You ASSUME the sperm donor/bank is at fault, when, it could be the mother’s egg. Why don’t they test the mother’s eggs, and her genetics first, THEN assume its the fathers.

  17. frank says:

    the potential of these sperm banks to liberate naive young men from the
    slavery of marriage and the slavery and burden of child support
    is wonderful…..this option should be used more often especially by
    the millions of women
    who marry men for money(gold diggers).a sperm bank being a more moral choice……however….any wise donor should not give up any privacy rights because this case demonstrates the obsession
    of some women and the system to find an excuse to enslave men with child support…also at all costs the man should avoid any contact as courts have ruled that contact with the father might result in a grounds for a child support case…

    the importance of the sperm banks will become more obvious as the dysfunctional marriage institution becomes less common….and hopefully fades into oblivion…


    no fan of marriage

  18. Anne-Marie says:

    If he did hide information, I could see her getting a settlement of some sort but child support? Huh? I’m considering having a child by artificial means, and the biggest consideration is this woman’s situation. Seriously, didn’t she try to plan? I’m not doing a great job of onward and upward, but I’d never go forward unless I had some sort of insurance for this type of thing.

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