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Having a baby with the aid of third-party reproduction technologies such as donor sperm, donor egg, donor embryo and surrogacy is relatively successful and is becoming more widely acceptable in Nigeria. If this is your preferred method of conception, it is an important decision to make. 

But it is important that you should be clear about what kind of donor arrangement you want – whether it is known, anonymous, semi-open, or open arrangement. Each has its pros and cons and this decision applies to sperm, egg, embryo donor and surrogacy arrangements.

The selected arrangement will have an impact on you, the intended parent, and on your child as well as on the potential donor(s). The potential impact of your choice is a good reason to carefully consider your options.

No doubt, your options will depend on what is available and accessible to you. For instance, using a known donor will not be an option if no one you know is willing or able to donate to you. 

In addition, you may not be able to get an open donor arrangement if the fertility clinic or donor agency you use does not offer it. It could also be that your personal finances are inadequate and can thus affect your available choices when it comes to donor arrangements.

You should be aware from the onset that navigating third party reproduction relationships is tricky, especially if surrogacy is involved. A good counselor should therefore be consulted before you embark on this exercise. A lawyer who is familiar with family and reproductive law is also someone to consult before you make any decisions or sign any contracts concerning this arrangement.

As intending parent(s), you are recognized by law but in some countries, you may still need to have an adoption procedure after the baby is born if a gestational carrier was also used. 

Just as being a donor can bring you closer together, it can also push you apart. A known donor may be an acquaintance, a co-worker, a close friend, or a relative. If you are looking for an egg, sperm, or embryo donor, you may decide to ask someone you know to consider being your donor.

There are advantages to using a known donor, there are also  potential problems. Using a known donor is useful because you know more about the donor and their background. 

When the donor is someone you know personally, you can feel more confident in knowing who is providing the genetics for your future child.

Another advantage is that a known donor will be less expensive. A known donor usually will not receive a fee for the trouble of donating, and only direct medical and legal costs of the donation will need to be covered. 

The experience may bring you and the donor closer together. The process of donation can be intense and emotional, especially when the donor cares about the family trying to have a baby. 

Going through the fertility treatments together and then (if successful) bringing a baby into the world can create a strong bond between you and the donor.

However, as convenient as using known donors is, there is potential for a legion of future conflict on parenting decisions. While the legal contract in a known donor agreement should make clear who the parents are and that the donor is giving up any parental rights or decisions, this doesn’t guarantee there won’t be disputes in the future. 

As the child grows up, the donor may disagree with the parenting choices of the intended parents and conflicts can arise.  There is also the possibility of an increased risk of legal disputes even with contracts before donation. 

Failed treatments could still happen and be emotionally difficult as an intended parent of a donor arrangement, and it can also be painful for the donor. 

An anonymous egg, sperm, or embryo donor’s personal details are not revealed and there is no way for you as the intended parents or the donor-conceived child to contact the donor. Also there is no way for the donor to contact you  and the donor-conceived child. Complete anonymity was once considered ideal for all parties involved because it seemed like an ideal choice when the concept of third-party reproduction was newer. Reasons anonymous donors are favoured include the reduced  risk for the donor who doesn’t have to worry about being sued later for child support.  

When third-party reproduction began, specifically with sperm donors, ideas about children were very different. It was thought best for both donor-conceived children and adopted children that their true origins be kept secret. However, with time, and availability of modern genetic technology anonymous donation may no longer be as anonymous. 

Whatever the options available to you are, it is very important to speak with a qualified fertility counsellor to properly understand the choices you are making and its attendant implications, both in the short and long term.

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