Known Donor Agreement

Filed under: Parenting

When a person finds a donor through a sperm bank, they do not need a donor agreement. Typically called an unknown or known donor, they will have signed an agreement with the sperm bank and surrendered any parental rights in the process. As a result, there should not be much concern that this individual may later change their mind and try to claim that they are the parent and deserve visitation or even custody of the child. Even if the donor does, there is little chance they will have any legal ground to stand on.

In contrast, when someone wishes to become pregnant through a known donor, such as a friend or an acquaintance, there is a greater risk that the donor may later claim a parental relationship to the child. In such situations, attorneys highly recommend that the person looking to conceive consults an attorney and that both they and the prospective donor sign a donor agreement before beginning the process of donor insemination. This agreement is designed to define the role and responsibilities, if any, the donor will have with the child.

Generally speaking, there are two types of donor agreements: One that is used in counties or states where second-parent adoption is available, and one in counties or states where second-parent adoption is unavailable. Both forms are provided here with this difference between them: Where second-parent adoption is available, the agreement states that the donor agrees in advance to consent to the adoption by the second or nonbiological lesbian parent and agrees to the termination of all parental rights of their own. (Some states allow the donor to have some diminished role in the child's life, if requested and agreed upon.) Attorneys consider this the preferred agreement if the choice is available to you.

To find out if second-parent adoption is available in your area, see the Second-Parent Adoption article.

Whichever form you use, it should be noted that this area of the law is extremely fluid, and it is difficult to predict whether a particular judge will honor such an agreement. In some situations, for example, donors who have signed such agreements have later changed their minds, sought a parental role in the children's lives and judges have granted it - essentially declaring that they were the legal parent, despite the agreement they signed with the other parent.

You also should note that donor insemination laws vary from state to state. For example, in some states, you are required to be under the care of a physician. Your attorney can tell you if this is required where you live.