The Washington Post recently reported that black women who want to be mothers via artificial insemination are limited options. This is because they do not have the option to choose a child with their own skin, culture, and background. This isn’t a new problem for cryobanks in the United States.
The number and variety of Black women choosing to become parents is increasing, whereas the numbers of Black sperm donor options are limited. Scrolling through the websites from twenty American cryobanks would present you with a plethora of boys (well, men born as males) that you could sort by eye color, education and pedigree. Although you can filter by race, Black women looking for their likeness will find the selections narrower. You must act fast.
Angela Stepancic tells the Washington Post That she wasn’t quite quick enough as she was outpaced by a sorority sister who she was on the phone with as she was trying to add her Black sperm donor to cart. Yes, it’s that deep. So what do Black women do when the options are few and they don’t want to fight with friends like they’re at a Telfar warehouse sale? That varies.
It is possible to choose a donor who is not African American. Although this may seem like an easy decision, there are many problems that can occur once the baby is born. In Reese Brooks’ case, the hopeful mother to be had been desperately searching for months to find a Black donor. After a tragic loss in 2019, when she gave birth to her son Kemet at 24 months (a pregnancy she had with the help of a Black friend), she and her partner agreed that they would try again. They would then expand their search at cryobanks to eventually find a Latinx donor.
Brooks shares her feelings that, while Brooks loves her mixed-race baby, a beautiful little girl born November 20, 2021, she faced backlash from the Black community after posting her daughter to TikTok.
“I got comments like, ‘Of course she’s mixed,’ and ‘You only wanted a light-skinned baby. You don’t like being Black,’ ” Brooks told The Washington Post.
“I am not going to raise her strictly in the African American culture because that’s not who she is,” Brooks said. “I’m learning as much as I can right now about Peruvian culture.”
Leslie Fickling was a single lesbian who wanted to be a mother. Just A Baby, an unmonitored app, offered a chance at this dream at a fraction of what cryobanks cost and gave her a better chance of finding a Black donor.
“I’m not a rich White woman who can just go to IVF or cryobanks and spend that money, and let alone save for a baby,” Fickling said. “I started looking at other ways I can find donors without spending thousands of dollars for sperm.”
Fickling finally found her match with a Black male 50 miles from her Atlanta home. The pair met at a restaurant. They later went to a hotel to use an insemination kit. After their failed first attempt, they decided to have sex again the next month in order to increase the chance of getting pregnant. Fickling’s daughter Justice was born on Halloween of 2021.
While Fickling’s match was tested for STIs, there was no further testing conducted, nor do they have a legal contract between them. Fickling has achieved her parenting dream at a very low cost and with low risks. However, there are still dangers she could have experienced during this interaction.
How did we get to this point? What are the measures taken by cryobanks to increase Black sperm donor recruitment? Perhaps it’s due to a general distrust of the medical system in Black communities, or perhaps it’s because for decades Black men have been fed the myth that they are all absent fathers, and are then being asked to create babies they’ll likely never see. Although sperm banks claim they have tried many ways to recruit Black donors, including talking to college fraternities or partnering with influential people, this has not had much impact.
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