A reader inquires of Miss Manners how he should react when his niece rebuffed his offer to donate sperm. The uncle reports that his feelings were hurt when the niece ended up having a baby using another sperm donor. Miss Manners rebukes him because he does not “seem to appreciate that this was not comparable to asking whether they would like the family china, to which they could have replied, ‘That’s so dear of you, but we already have as much china as we can use.'” But she does tell the reader that he has a legitimate gripe over his niece not thanking him for the flowers he sent when the baby was born.
Asking a friend or family member to participate in a sperm donation arrangement certainly is a delicate matter. However, an additional challenge often arises after the decision to go forward with sperm donation has been made. Many friends and family members, in a misguided attempt to demonstrate that their offer of sperm is being made purely out of friendship or family loyalty, refuse to be represented by their own lawyer during the contract preparation phase.
Participants in a sperm donation agreement need to understand that they cannot simply hire an attorney to “just draw up the paperwork.” It’s not that simple. Rather, an attorney must advise her client as to the meaning and consequences of the agreement. It is very difficult for one attorney to be able to properly advise both sides to a sperm donation arrangement because the attorney’s loyalty must be shared among the clients, who have competing legal interests. An additional consideration is that the use of a shared attorney could later be used by a judge as a reason to invalidate the contract. For the protection of both the donor and the recipient, the sperm donor should always have his own attorney.