Real Life

‘I met my sperm donor kids’

Years after Stewart Hunt donated sperm, he met the two children who share his genes.

Stewart Hunt watched as the car drove into the zoo car park and four faces peered intently out the window at him. He waited, a little nervous, as the family got out and made their way towards him.

He greeted the man and woman with a smile, then looked at the two preschoolers who were more interested in rushing into the zoo than chatting to a man they hadn’t seen before.

For Aucklander Stewart, this was an encounter he had never imagined. The 46-year-old, who doesn’t have any children of his own, had just met the two youngsters conceived with his sperm, following an anonymous donation to a fertility clinic.

“It was a surreal experience, looking at two little people who quite obviously have my genes,” says Stewart. “The resemblance is quite amazing. They have the same colour hair as I had when I was their age and they look like my nieces and nephews.”

When Stewart donated his sperm six years ago, he never expected to meet any children who might be born as a result. He made his contribution before the law changed in 2005, making it possible for children born from a sperm donation to be able to learn the identity of their donor.

“When I did it, it was a completely confidential process, although of course the clinic knew who I was,” says Stewart.

He started thinking about donating sperm after noticing an advertisement outside the office of Fertility Associates, which was close to his partner’s workplace.

Stewart, who is divorced, says he had never reached a stage in his life where he wanted children, and his current partner said she didn’t want kids.

“I accepted that it was something that wasn’t going to happen.”

But becoming a sperm donor was an interesting concept, he says. “It was looking less and less likely I would have children of my own, so I thought it would be nice to add my genes to the gene pool. I also liked the idea of being able to help someone who might not have been able to have children otherwise.”

Stewart, a former radio announcer who is now a musician, voice-over artist and property investor, underwent tests to screen for any diseases that could be passed on and to check his sperm count was high enough. He then filled out a profile of himself and a form outlining the kind of people he would like his sperm to be used by.

Later, Fertility Associates got in touch to let him know one family had had two children using his sperm.

“I was chuffed,” says Stewart. “But I didn’t think it would go beyond that.”

Then, about two years ago, he got a call from the clinic saying the family was interested in meeting him.

“I was advised to think about it which I did for a while. I wondered where it was going to lead. Some of my family were a bit concerned. They felt it might create problems for me in the future if the children wanted to get hold of my assets. But I was fascinated. I wondered what the children would be like.”

Getting a letter from the family helped Stewart to make up his mind. “It said, `Thanks so much for the happiness you have brought to our family.’ They sent some photographs. It was incredible to see the pictures of the kids. There was no question that they had my genes. In the end, I said yes to a meeting. I couldn’t have not met them.”

The children, who were two and three at the time, had been told Stewart was the man who helped their mum and dad to have them.

“That’s all they know – they are still too young,” says Stewart. “But the parents will tell them the truth when they are old enough to understand.”

He spent the afternoon with the family, looking at photographs and getting to know them. “It was really heart-warming,” he says. “The parents are the nicest people. The children couldn’t have been born into a more loving family. Any concerns I might have had about them having some sort of financial claim are not a consideration.

“I also think the parents are very special people to be prepared to have me involved in the children’s lives.”

Stewart and the family have yet to work out the exact extent of that involvement. He has seen the children on three more occasions since that first meeting, including one outing when he took his dad along.

“It’s a learning experience for us all,” says Stewart. “I would never tell the parents how to raise their kids or refer to myself as the kids’ father. I’m not – they have a great father. I just feel very privileged to be able to see these children grow up.” Story by Donna Fleming Photographer Phil Crawford

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