Known Sperm Donors and the Same-Sex Couple Adoption Process

I handle of a lot of adoption cases for lesbian couples in which one partner becomes the biological mother through alternative insemination.  One of the most common misconceptions (if you’ll pardon the unfortunate pun) is that when the couple uses the sperm of a donor whose identity is known to them, everyone can just agree that the baby will belong to the lesbian couple and that’s the end of the story.  Nope.  Sorry, folks.  That would be way too easy.

The known sperm donor is the biological father unless and until his parental rights are terminated by the Probate Court.   He has rights and obligations associated with the child including the right to custody and visitation.  He may also be obligated to pay child support to the mother, if she is the custodial parent.

We all know that the intent of the couple and their known sperm donor is for the lesbian couple to both be deemed the legal parents of the child.  That can certainly be accomplished but it does require a court decree.  I’ve had couples tell me that they simply won’t put the known sperm donor’s name on the birth certificate as the father.  Problem solved, right?  Nope.  As part of the co-parent or step-parent adoption process, you will have to produce documentation from the sperm bank that the sperm donor was anonymous if no known father is listed.  Sorry folks, you can’t mess around with the court.

Other people have suggested that they’ll just write up an agreement between the known sperm donor and the couple and that will solve everything.  Again, nope.  Sorry.  Too easy.  The guy is still the biological father unless and until the judge terminates his parental rights.

There are a lot of reasons for this, not the least of which is that the State has an interest in protecting your child.  It also has an interest in not having to support your child for the next 18 years.  Let me explain.  It’s wonderful when a couple decides to start a family.  They are full of good intentions, lots of love and plenty of dreams for the future.  Unfortunately, not all couples stay together until the baby is born and the adoption has been completed.  The State is aware of this.  The Court is aware of this.  The Department of Children and Families is aware of this.  Therefore, it is not in the best interests of your child to enter the world with only one legal parent.  If something happens to the biological mother, everyone wants there to be another legal parent to step in and raise the child.

But I want my partner to be that person, you say.  I hear you, honest I do.  That can certainly become a reality.  You just can’t do it with a slight of hand.  It has to be done correctly, through the Probate Court.  There are ways to memorialize everyone’s intentions before and during the process.  There are documents that can be created to assist you if something unfortunate does occur.

If you are a lesbian couple desiring to start a family and you wish to use a known sperm donor, please take the time to speak with a lawyer who understands the same-sex adoption process.  It’s always best to be informed.



Disclaimer:  The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice.   I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog. Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2011 Irene C. Olszewski


4 comments on “Known Sperm Donors and the Same-Sex Couple Adoption Process

  1. Pam says:

    Thank you so much for this informative post. My partner and I are about to start our family and I’ve been doing a lot of research on the subject. We have a friend who has graciously offered to be the donor. I’m so glad I read this post. At least we now the legal side of the whole issue. Thanks for your hard work on this blog. I know it makes a difference for people like me.

    • Irene C. Olszewski, Esq. says:

      Thanks for your kind words. I am always pleased when my blogging efforts help someone to learn what they need in order to protect themselves and their family. You’ve taken the first step in doing the research. Best of luck to you and your partner. Thanks for reading. I appreciate your comment.

  2. K says:

    I live in Louisiana and will be trying to have a baby in March with my partner. We have a friend who is willing to give up his parental rights and lives states away. I need a lawyer here in Louisiana to draw up the papers for us.

    Any suggestions?


    • Irene C. Olszewski, Esq. says:


      You should absolutely contact a lawyer in Louisiana and discuss your circumstances. Best of luck.

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