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Tech & Science Seeking sperm donors via social media sees one Western Australian couple join a growing family

20:50  08 november  2019
20:50  08 november  2019 Source:   msn.com

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a close up of a woman: WA couple Cait and Maddy have looked to Facebook to find a sperm donor. (Supplied: Light the Love Photography)© Provided by Australian Broadcasting Corporation WA couple Cait and Maddy have looked to Facebook to find a sperm donor. (Supplied: Light the Love Photography)

It is a modern-day romance — girl meets girl, they fall in love and get married, then go on Facebook to find a sperm donor.

Maddy and Cait are both 21 years old and from a small town in the south-west of Western Australia.

"We kind of said since day one that we wanted kids," Cait said.

"Although Maddy wants to have eight kids and I definitely don't."

The couple were googling 'how to find a sperm donor in Australia' when they discovered a group called Sperm Donation Australia — a Facebook page that currently has more than 5,800 members.

Seeking sperm donors via social media sees one Western Australian couple join a growing family

  Seeking sperm donors via social media sees one Western Australian couple join a growing family This young Western Australian couple are joining a growing community of people using Facebook to search for a sperm donor to start their family.Maddy and Cait are both 21 years old and from a small town in the south-west of Western Australia.

Some are men who provide sperm donations, while others are searching for donors.

And they range from same-sex couples, single women, to heterosexual couples.

The 'personal' route

Cait and Maddy thought about going through a clinic to find a sperm donor, but decided it was not for them.

"Doing the research on it, it felt a bit impersonal for me," Maddy said.

"If you do it through Sperm Donation Australia, you actually get to have the chance to have a proper conversation with them [the donor].

"I think that's a bit more real than just collecting sperm from someone you don't even know."

Cost is also a factor for the couple, but they said if they are unsuccessful on their own, they will consider trying to get pregnant through a clinic.

The couple said being on the Facebook page makes them feel accepted.

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"It's not often in the media that its normal for us to have kids, so yeah it just gives you some community," Maddy said.

Sperm shortage

Stephen White is a behavioural economist at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and his research delves into electronic conduits for sperm and egg donations.

He said since assisted reproductive technology came about in the late 1970s, there has been a global shortage of sperm.

"When there's an under-supply of a product, human beings are great at solving these problems," Dr White said.

Some of the most popular websites, he said, are 'Free Sperm Donors Worldwide', based in Queensland, and 'Pride Angel', based in the United Kingdom.

"If you think about what dating websites were in the early 2000s, they sort of fit the same profile or same organisational structure," he said.

And Dr White said these kind of 'donations' are not new — in fact, he said they have been happening for millennia, but the Internet has brought the practice to light.

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Through his research, Dr White has found less than eight in 1,000 men who visit a clinic to donate sperm produce offspring.

He said there seem to be a lot of men that want to donate, but that the formalities are putting them off or stopping them from donating.

Choosing a donor

In picking their sperm donor, there are a number of things Maddy and Cait are looking for: health, personality and looks.

Cait will be carrying the child so they would like the sperm donor to have similar physical characteristics to Maddy, and also contact with the child.

"We're not looking for a co-parenting type thing where they would be a part of our lives," Cait said.

"We would like the opportunity if the child wants to know their sperm donor and we're happy to send them updates every now and then."

The couple have found a possible donor.

He is from Perth, young and is currently completing tests for the couple.

"He wants to be able to give people that opportunity to people who can't get that," Maddy said.

"Like single Mums and people like that or single Dads or same sex couples or couples who can't have kids, he wants to give them the opportunity have what they can't have."

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Legalities of sperm donation

Family Law expert Kym Kerr said while this is not a common case, her law firm is receiving more enquiries surrounding reproductive technology and artificial fertilisation.

She said the safest option is going through a clinic.

"A clinic requires counselling with sperm donors, a clinic requires medical testing for sperm donors and the clinic keeps the details of the sperm donor," Ms Kerr said.

A child can apply for a sperm donor's details through the Department of Health when they are 16 years old.

Under Western Australian law, when a de-facto same-sex couple wants to become pregnant through artificial fertilisation, the de-facto partner is presumed to be one of the parents, while the man who produces the sperm is presumed to not be the father.

But there have been exceptions.

Ms Kerr said the case of Masson and Parson in the High Court of Australia has redefined the definitions of a parent and a sperm donor.

The High Court ruled that the sperm donor had parental rights.

Ms Kerr said the sperm donor in this example always wanted to be the girl's father.

"That case really turned on the intention of the sperm donor," she said.

"Anyone in that situation now really needs to have a properly drafted agreement between the parties to put the intention beyond doubt.

Though this agreement would not be legally binding.

"The reason that can't be enforced is, under the Family Law Act, the rights belong to the child not the parents," she said.

"So the parents of a child don't have the options of contracting away a child's rights ,and in the court a child's best interest is always the paramount consideration."

Five years from now Cait and Maddy hope they will be living in their own home, with their dogs and a kid or two.

The couple are talking to a lawyer to gain protection for themselves and the sperm donor.

"We're doing what we want to do," Cait said.

"It's kind of like you have your own life: we'll do ours, you do yours.

"It's not any of your business."

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