Creating a family as an LGBTQ+ person is anything but easy. There are so many decisions to be made: IUI, IVF, reciprocal IVF, adoption, embryo adoption, surrogate, fostering and the list goes on. Finding out which way is the best for you is a huge decision; Katie and I always knew we wanted to do reciprocal IVF. 

With reciprocal IVF, there are still many more decisions to be made. Who would carry, whose eggs would we use, who would be the sperm donor? Katie always wanted to be pregnant while I always wanted kids but didn’t mind if I was ever pregnant. It was an easy decision for us. Katie would carry my egg, fertilized by donor sperm and hopefully nine months later a little baby would be born. This was the plan put in place and our fertility journey began. 

Fast forward and we had already begun shots and estrogen patches. We started looking for a sperm donor. When we first started talking about reciprocal IVF, we thought we might use a friend for a sperm donor. However, after we learned more about the process, we decided to go with a donor from a sperm bank.

Sperm from a cryobank is already thoroughly tested. When it came to picking a donor, we didn’t realize that both the person donating the sperm as well as the egg needs to be tested for many things. We learned that if we used sperm from a friend, they would need to go through blood tests, physiological tests and more. We also didn’t realize the stress it might have on our friendship if our friend’s sperm didn’t work and it was the reason our eggs didn’t fertilize. We weren’t sure if it would change our friendship. If everything worked out, would our friend feel like the child was his and we would feel obligated to have him be called the “father” rather than the “donor?” There were just too many things to think about and we were already overwhelmed with the process of reciprocal IVF.  In the end, we decided to go to a cryobank, but how do you choose one?

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I wanted to thank everyone for all the supportive comments in my post I shared about my father. I thought I would share a few more things about our lives. One of the things you probably didn’t know about Katie and myself is that we were actually in couples therapy for several years towards the beginning of our marriage. I don’t think therapy is anything to be ashamed of and it really helped us grow as a couple. We were married in less than a year and since we rushed into marriage, we didn’t know a lot about each other. We knew we were in love, which was definitely the most important thing to us. But we needed to deal with what comes with each of us. We were both very stubborn on getting our own way. There were family issues. We needed to find out what was best for us a team. I don’t know if we would be as solid of a couple as we are today if it weren’t for therapy. We were on an emotional roller coaster when we did IVF and who knows if we would have stood strong like we did if we didn’t do therapy for years before IVF. Today if you saw us, you will see us bicker at each other. You will also see us get over whatever it is we are irritated about fast. We move on. We love each other and that’s what always wins in the end. I love our therapist and everything she did for us. She taught us to not be so intense with we argue. She taught us to put our relationship first and now our kids first. Katie recently went back to seeing our therapist to get her through some tough times she is facing (but we won’t get into that). To end my post: I’m not saying everyone needs therapy, but we definitely did 🙋‍♀️ If you are ever debating therapy, do it! It’s awesome!

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We asked our clinic which cryobanks they recommended. They gave us the name of two but said any cryobank would work. It blew our minds that we could just go and buy sperm off the internet. You can literally buy anything off the internet these days. We had many stereotypes in mind when it came to sperm donors. One was that we would actually go to a cryobank and they would put up my baby picture with the donors on a TV screen and mesh them together to show what our baby would look like. Does anyone else think about the movie Baby Mama during this process? Finding a sperm donor is nothing like the movies. Going online wasn’t what we had imagined but we were told that is how it is done. Once you order, the sperm is mailed to the clinic and they handle it from there.

We went online and began our search. We learned that not many cryobanks have baby and adult pictures available. We did find one that had both pictures available and wow, there is a huge change some boys undergo when they go from child to adult. We wanted as much information about the man who would play a genetic role in our children’s lives as possible, so having both pictures was important to us. We even used facial recognition to help us pick a donor. We used a picture of Katie’s face and put it into the search engine of the cryobank’s website. From there, it generated results of men who have similar facial traits to Katie. This didn’t mean all the men looked exactly like Katie and there were some who were closer to her physical traits than others. We felt it was worth it to buy an all-access pass rather than pay to look at each guy’s photos; with an all-access pass, we could click on any profile and see the photos.

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If you are just following our account, I wanted to do a little introduction/summary of who we are since its been awhile. We are the Baileys! My name is Christina and for the most part, I manage all our social media pages but Katie steps in from time to time 😊 Katie is my wife. We have been married for 7 years now! We did Reciprocal IVF to create our family. Our daughters, Kennedy and Charlotte, were created using my egg and a donor sperm. Katie carried both our daughters and grew them from embryos to beautiful babies. Kennedy is our spunky and sweet threenager and Charlotte is our little adorable and dramatic one year old. We chose Reciprocal IVF because we both wanted to be part of the experience of making our children. It’s hard to both be part of it when we can’t use both of our DNA (but I feel like science is almost there). This is the process that best fit our family but there are so many wonderful ways to create a family for an LGBTQ couple. We started our Instagram account after our first round of IVF failed. I searched for help on what to do next and found so much help and support from the online community. I wanted to do the same for others after my experience. Katie and I enjoy helping others, sharing our lives, and taking our kids traveling whenever we aren’t working. We love meeting new people and we have met so many through Instagram! You can never have too many friends! Tell us about yourself!

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We tried our best to find someone who had similar interests on their profile as Katie did but in the end, it was hard enough just finding someone who had some characteristics similar to Katie. Once we found someone, we looked at their interests and were happy to see similarities like music—Katie studied music. We imagined that when we went on this website, every guy would be in a suit and a tie. What we found was the opposite. Watching Baby Mama really set us up for failure. In the end, we found someone who we thought would be perfect for the other half of genetics in our children.

By the time we found someone, we didn’t even look at the available option for contact when our children turn 18 until it was about time to place our order. The one that we chose didn’t have that option: He was anonymous. The contact information they give to a child when they turn 18 is the last contact the donor left with the cryobank. Does this guarantee the donor will have the same contact they left when your child goes to contact them? No. Does it guarantee the donor will talk to your children? No. It would have been nice to have that option for our children but our donor didn’t have that on there. We aren’t against having our children meet the donor but it won’t be a choice they get to make, unfortunately.

We are beyond thankful for sperm donors. Because of them, we were able to have children. Our daughters would not be here without our sperm donors. We had to through picking a sperm donor twice since our first round of IVF was unsuccessful and I think I know more about sperm than I can care to ever know.

Picking a sperm donor online is a very lengthy process.  The person you pick will be responsible for 50 percent of the genetics in your future children. That’s a lot of stress! It’s hard to pick just the right one. Is a sperm donor a father? In my opinion, no. He will not be raising our children with us. He will not be another parent to our kids. Our children will only know what was available on his profile and he will be called, “a donor.” This isn’t a bad thing. We chose an anonymous donor because that was what is what was best for our family.  It doesn’t mean this is for everyone. Remember that there are many options for creating a family and the donor is another option. How you choose this piece of creating your family is entirely up to you and your partner.

We are a girl meets girl love story! We fell in love, got married and we now have two children via reciprocal IVF. We love to travel and show our kids as much of the world as possible. You can find Christina and Katie on Instagram and YouTube.