Like I said before, the word sperm has never been uttered so much in one household. What’s even more annoying is that A insists on saying it in the style of Clarice Starling.
Any excuse for bit of Jo Fo
The sperm bank we found, Cryos, has all their donor in-depth, online and free to view.
The clinic rigorously screen all donors and although their identities are concealed with fake names you get to see a huge questionnaire which includes questions like, ‘what is your favourite colour?’, ‘what celebrities do you look like?’ and, bizarrely, ‘do you have mechanical skills?’ and ‘do you ride a bicycle?’ There’s a huge section describing their personalities, family tree, medical background and really cute baby pictures of the donor. If you want you can also listen to audio interviews, although I don’t really recommend this as they all sound like police interviews with serial killers broadcast on Crimewatch.
Only 1 in 10 donors are accepted at the clinic and staff impressions are highly valued. The owner of the clinic implements a ‘daughter test’ – if the interviewing doctor would not want an applicant’s sperm to be used on his daughter, they are rejected.
Here’s an example of a questionnaire:
(try to ignore the fact that he’s named after Ikea bookshelves)
Ethnicity: Danish, Swiss
Eye colour: Blue
Height (cm): 180
Weight (kg): 65
Hair colour: Brown
Year of birth: 1974
List one or more international known person(s) (celebrities) you look alike: John Lennon (body type)
Hair texture (curly, wavy or straight): Straight hair
Hair (thin, medium, thick or bald): Thin hair
Colour of beard: Light brown
Colour of eyebrow: Dark brown
Skin tone (dark, fair, medium, olive, very fair): Light skin
Build (slim, medium, large, athletic or heavy): Slim and tall, I have the shape for being a basketball player or a ballet dancer.
Do you wear glasses or lenses: I have reading glasses but I use them very seldom
Left or right-handed: I am right handed
Shoe size: 6.5 (UK)
[Tiny feet. If we have a son he will hate us]
General clothing size (S, M, L, XL, XXL): My general clothing size is Large.
Education and occupation: World literature at the University – I studied some of the classic literature mainly from Europe and America. I stopped because I missed working with people especially children.
I went to England to work with mentally handicapped children in a Camphill Community for a year.
I work in a Danish kindergarten. We have both Danish children and children from all over the world. I teach Danish children to respect and appreciate other cultures and prepare the foreign children on how to live in the Danish society. Mostly I try to give the children experiences and understanding of each other as human beings. I am also a teacher for students in work placement. And I am a safety representative for both my co-workers and the children.
I have dream to study further and to research better ways of pedagogy, teaching, education – especially ways to bring the best out in the children, to teach them how to be themselves and to contribute to society with their own unique.
What jobs have you had (list all): Newspaper delivery boy. Cleaner in a psychiatric hospital. Office clerk in a consultant company. Social worker for mentally handicapped children. Social Educator in a day nursery.
Which words describe your personality: Honesty, Responsibility, Trust, Appreciation of other people, Compassion, Humour, Creativity.
Describe some of your strong sides: When I start something, I continue until it is finished. I don’t stop half way. I am good at taking initiative and improvise.
Describe some of your weak sides: Laziness
What is your relationship status: Happily married
Which sports do you like to participate in: Running
Which sports do you enjoy watching: Non. I prefer a good movie with a great story.
Describe any additional hobbies you have: Singing in the shower. Listening to all kind of music. Reading. Walking in nature. Cooking/baking recipes from all over the world.
Do you play any musical instruments: I only play on my wife’s nerves – from time to time.
Are you a member of a church: No
Favourite colour: Blue and green – especially together. Because the remind me at summertime in the Swiss Alps.
Favourite animal: Do not have any.
Favourite food: I like all kinds of food from all over the world – mostly vegetables. I do not like fat meat.
Favourite type of music: It depends very much on which mood I am in. I like almost all genres of music.
How much sleep do you get on an average night: 7-8 hours
Do you eat healthy: Yes. Mostly vegetables and light meat.
Are you a smoker? No.
Do you drink alcohol? Yes occasionally
Do you ride a bicycle? Yes everyday to work and as often as possible.
What is your native language? Danish
Which other languages do you speak? Swiss-German, German, French, Russian, English.
What is your most memorable childhood experience? Whenever I had a chance to spend time with my grandmother. She was a very kind and warm hearted woman to everyone she met. It was very hard for her to stay mad on other people and very easy for her to forgive anyone. She loved me very much and through her example, she taught me what real love is. From her I inherited a strong sense of love and openness to my fellow human beings.
Which countries have you visited? Switzerland, France, Italy, Germany, Holland, Ireland, England, Austria, Norway, Spain, Czech Republic, Russia and Hong Kong (before it became a part of China).
Describe one of your favourite vacations to another country: Once I went to visit my grandparents in Switzerland, with my parents. It was in the summer. Weather was hot and we went to Ticino (the Italian part of Switzerland). I played a lot with the local children. We often went for long walks up the mountain and back. I still remember driving up the mountain on a hot summer day. The air gradually became cooler as we came closer to the top. Suddenly we came to a patch of snow. We stopped the car and had a snowball fight in shorts and t-shirts. Afterwards we got back in the car and drove down into the hot summer temperatures in the valley.
Describe a few things you like most about your own country: Our traditional humanistic approach to education and childhood.
Do you have mechanical skills: Self learned engineering skills.
He’s a teacher, he works with the mentally ill, he loves reading, hates fatty meats, gets on his wife’s nerves and was really close to his Nan. It’s me! I too could look like John Lennon if you were really pissed and squinting.
Of course, there’s nothing to say that the men aren’t lying but who cares? You get some picture of what kind of person they are and can at least try to match them to your own characteristics.
I desperately want to go through them with A but she is working late so I make my own list of people I like the look of and email her to tell her to do the same. It’s hard to know what your requirements for potential donors should be. Surely it’s ethically wrong to go all Hitler-like and start culling people based on height, looks and whether they read? But then again, that’s how many people choose partners in real life so would it really be that bad?
I looked primarily for people who seem like they might be similar to me – you know, just in case I was wrong about the nature/nurture thing. It’s also be nice to have someone who looks similar too.
I also study their family trees to check that everyone in their immediate family didn’t die from a horrific genetic disease aged 35. I discount anyone under 5″7 (sorry!) and cull anyone who can’t be bothered to fill in the questionnaire properly but make allowances for poor spelling (come on, they’re Danish).
Only after an hour or two of browsing do I realise that at the end of the questionnaire is a space for the men to write a message to their potential donors, if they so wish. Lots of them don’t bother and a few write generic notes like ‘good luck with your search!’ but some have taken the time to sit down and pen a message to their biological offspring and to the future parents.
I think I may have been hormonal and I know I do have a tendency to sob at any cliché-riddled films (the Bridges of Madison County! Where she has her hand on the door knob at the end!) but really, some of the messages are just lovely.
I wish you all the very best and congratulation with your new family. Hope you will all enjoy a long, happy, loving and harmonious life together.
He’s even written in calligraphy and everything *sigh*
I think that ultimately the message is the most important part for me. They might be lying about being an airline pilot with an IQ like Dolph Lundgren’s but you really can tell a lot from what’s been written at the end:
“I have chosen the extended profile because should my donating result in children I deem it only fair that they should have the possibility to explore their biological background. I specifically write biological as I will consider myself only a donor and not a parent. Parents are the ones you grow up with, who watch over you, take care of you and guide you through the various stages in life. Not a person far away who doesn’t even know you exist.
To anyone who reads this, I wish you the best in life. And should our paths ever cross – don’t be a stranger.’
I am a bawling, weeping mess after reading this. He sounds perfect. Unfortunately on closer inspection of the childhood picture he has a massive head and is boss-eyed. Still, he makes the long-list.
When A comes home I show her and she agrees that this way just feels right. It’s nice to know something about where our child has come from and good to think that should he or she want to trace him when they’re 18, they’re hopefully going to meet a somewhat decent bloke.