We’ve probably all made an online purchase in our lives, more than likely in recent days. We can order anything we like, from a takeaway when we’re hungry and there’s nothing in the fridge, to an outfit for the weekend or a gift for a loved one. That knock on the door from the Postie is enough to turn a dull day into an exciting one.*
So imagine the emotions involved in using an online sperm bank to expand your family!
That’s exactly what Charlotte and Samantha Mills did, and they’re now using their story to highlight the use of sperm donors – both the wonderful nature of being able to become a family via the use of a donor, but also the importance of knowing the legal and ethical side to ensure that other people have a positive experience, just like them.
Charlotte, 31 and Samantha, 33 from Woodchurch have been together for 10 years and always knew they wanted to have a family together. It was experiencing the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing whilst they were both enjoying the Arianna Grande concert that made them think seriously about their future.
Charlotte told the Globe, a newspaper based in the Wirral, “When it happened, we were really shaken up by it and it gave us a different perspective on life. We decided life’s too short, and we should start a family”.
They began exploring the options available to a same-sex couple and decided to go down the IVF route on the NHS. Whilst on the NHS waiting list, a friend offered to become a sperm donor for the couple. The next step was getting his medical records checked and having a health screen.
With NHS waiting lists long, Charlotte and Samantha decided to try the insemination process at home
Charlotte told the Globe, “There’s only a 15% chance of a successful pregnancy with frozen sperm whereas when it’s fresh it’s the same percentage as it is when a heterosexual couple tries for a baby. So, while we were on the waiting list, we decided to try ourselves”.
In just one attempt, Samantha became pregnant to the delight of the couple. In March 2018, their son Jasper was born.
“It was absolutely overwhelming at the time because it was all new to us”, Charlotte said. “We never thought it could be that easy. It was amazing.”
Because the experience was so positive, Charlotte and Samantha decided they’d like to try for another baby
Their original sperm donor had a change in circumstances, so they took to the internet.
“We knew we didn’t want to go through the clinic because we didn’t have a choice on who we were going to get, the sperm would be frozen meaning the success rate would be less and it costs a lot more money”, Charlotte said.
“We had been so successful doing it ourselves and there was no stress involved so we thought we might as well try it again.”
The couple discovered a website called Pride Angel who specialise in helping people find donor eggs and sperm. They were matched with a suitable donor after numerous conversations and medical checks. Then, in 2019, their second son, Rupert was born after Charlotte became pregnant.
The couple are now sharing their story so that other people can experience parenthood, who might not otherwise, without a suitable donor
“It can be quite a taboo and awkward subject when you explain to people that you’re getting sperm donations from online websites, but we want to raise awareness that you can control how you do it.”
“We can’t stress enough how many legal sides there are to it and also how important it is to make sure you pick the right donor because there are some seedy and not very professional people out there.”
And now the couple are pregnant with their third son, also conceived using a sperm donor, this time through social media app, Just a Baby. They’ve used a different donor again, as the second donor had to move abroad during the pandemic. But the couple don’t have any regrets over using three donors, and say it’s been very exciting.
“We just feel very lucky and proud because there are so many people out there who really struggle with what we’ve gone through.”
“We call them miracle babies because we did it with the hope that it would work and not actually thinking it would, but it has.”
What a beautiful family!
We are so happy for Charlotte and Samantha and their wonderful family. However, we would always recommend that anyone considering donation, should consult regulatory bodies in your country such as HFEA in the UK, ASRM in the US, ESHRE in Europe. Also we urge you to do the necessary research ensuring you are using a reputable donation agency.
Find out more on paths to parenthood for the LGBTQ+ community here