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Alternatives to Surrogacy for Same-Sex Couples

More couples than ever are looking for alternative ways to have a child. It’s important they know their various options. One of the most common is donated sperm.

How Does Sperm Donation Work?

Same-sex couples may have the option of sperm donation.

At Gjesdahl Law, we have intimate experience with the process of sperm donation. Our own Anna Dillon and her wife, Jenna, recently had their first child with the help of donated sperm.

We asked Anna and Jenna about the process and their advice for others who are considering this option.

What were your motivations for having a child? Did you both want kids, and what was that conversation like?

Anna: I’ve always known I not only wanted to have kids, but to have a big family. I have one sister and, when I want to talk to a sibling, wonder what it would be like to have more than one to choose from! Then, meeting Jenna, the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, made it a no-brainer to carry out my dream of raising children and growing a family together.

Jenna: Having children wasn’t something I was completely set on. Anna changed that for me because I knew what a great household she and I built in our time together. Bringing kids into our family was the next exciting step in our journey together because we knew we’d be good at raising tiny humans together.

What options did you consider for having a child besides via sperm donation?

Anna & Jenna: We’ve always been open to adoption, and we may try that route down the road. But to be honest, for our first child, sperm donation just seemed right.

How did you decide who would carry your baby?

Anna: Just like I always knew I wanted kids, I’ve always had a strong desire to experience pregnancy and carry a child. It’s definitely not for everyone, but it wasn’t a hard decision. We knew for kid number one, I’d be the one to carry.

Did you have an anonymous donor or someone you know? If their identity is known, do you have an ongoing relationship with them? What was that experience like?

Jenna: Our choice to use an anonymous donor was based on the anonymity of the process itself. We didn’t want to be analyzing personality or physical characteristics of someone we knew for the rest of our lives. Even if the donor was a distant acquaintance of ours, the urge to look him up online would be undeniable. Also, I would worry about possible interference in our parenting decisions.

What was the experience of choosing a donor like?

Jenna & Anna: Choosing a donor was daunting at first. The profiles have so much information, it felt impossible to pick one. Then we had the realization that “this profile won’t define our child. We will!”

In the end, other than medical history and some eye color preferences, we filtered out little else.

What kind of unique legal obstacles did you face along the way, and what would your advice be to other same-sex couples who are intimidated by the legal aspect of the process?

Anna: Actually, since the Obergefell decision in 2015 legalized same-sex marriage across the country, no legal action was necessary. As my legal spouse, from the moment of birth, the law recognized Jenna as Riley’s other parent.

Jenna: Legally, no obstacles, though we did face a few outdated forms when filling out documents for birth certification, medical files, etc.

Another major barrier for many couples has to be cost. What cost saving measures would you advise?

Anna: Cost is definitely a huge factor. Insurance covers some medical costs, but not the cost of the sperm. Sperm banks vary in cost. We saw ranges from $500 to $1,000 for a single vial, and one whole vial is used for each attempt.

For us, that was the biggest cost. Some couples require IVF, which can cost exponentially more.

Some people choose to try at home, which then the only cost is the sperm itself. However, you then don’t have the additional medical support, i.e. ultrasounds, medication, and planning to ensure the best possible timing of insemination.

We used doctors and did everything preemptively we could to ensure success. You’d have to choose what’s best for you.

What surprised you about the overall experience?

Anna: We were surprised at how quickly it can all happen. We went to our first consultation and the doctor said, “We could start as soon as next month, you just need to pick a donor.”

Choosing the donor was the hardest and longest part. It was surprising how many options there were. You’d think that would be helpful, but it really got to be overwhelming. But once we had picked the donor, it all happened so fast.

What challenges have you and your wife faced during the process or since having a child that you didn’t expect or you think other couples in your position should be aware of?

Anna: We were very lucky and have had it very easy. We were successful on the first try, I had a very easy pregnancy, and Riley is a very good baby.

Parenthood has challenges of its own, but considering how easy we’ve had it, I can’t really allow myself to complain!

A few people have asked, “So, which one of you is the mom?” We’re good at going with the flow, but it gets old always having to “come out.” Heck, we practically have to do it every time we go out to a restaurant. “No, we do not need not separate checks.”

Any books or other resources that you found especially helpful that you would recommend?

Anna: The best resource we had were friends who’ve done this before. They were the biggest help when we had questions or just wanted to talk about and compare processes.

I’ve already had the opportunity to be on the other end of those conversations and would welcome anyone who has questions to reach out. I’d love to chat.

Jenna: Our medical team that helped get us pregnant was amazing and very patient with all our questions. Find a team you’re comfortable talking with. They’re a huge part of your life during that time!

Any final thoughts, advice, or questions that you’d like to share?

Anna: The decision to have a child is a big one, and not to be taken lightly. As a same-sex couple, the process is much more deliberate and, obviously, can’t happen on accident.

Having a child has turned our lives upside down in the best possible way. It’s only been 4 ½ months and I now can’t imagine life without her. It’s true what they say, there’s no comparison to the love you feel for your child.

Jenna: The instant Riley was born, my life changed. Yes, sometimes it’s hard. And yes, sometimes I’m so tired I can’t see straight. But then she smiles up at me or snuggles in close and I forget everything else. This is the biggest decision I’ve ever made, but it’s also the best.

Other Alternatives to Surrogacy

Sperm donation isn’t an option for everyone. The other alternatives to surrogacy for same-sex couples are gestational carriers and adoption.


Whatever alternative you’re considering in bringing a child into your family, it’s important to receive experienced legal counsel. At Gjesdahl Law, we are lawyers for families, it’s what we do. We’re excited to help you start or grow your family.

Learn more about how we can help or take the next step by reaching out to us today.



Michael L. Gjesdahl

Mike founded Gjesdahl Law, P.C. in 1989. His practice is exclusively devoted to families, their transitions, their needs. Throughout his career, he has confronted every imagin…
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