Real Life

‘I’m surfing the net for a sperm donor!’

Sitting at her computer in her beautiful Auckland home, Kim Bennett took a deep breath, typed the words onto the screen and pressed the enter key. A split second later, her heartfelt plea appeared on the Tradeoe website message board.

“I need a sperm donor who would be willing to father a baby,” it said. “Could you or someone you know help make this dream come true for me?”

For the 39-year-old, putting a message on the auction website was just one of the many ways she has tried to find a donor over the last few years.

“There’s a national shortage of sperm donors and, as they can specify who they want their sperm to go to, single women like myself are often at the bottom of the list,” she says sadly. “All I can do is keep trying and hopefully someone will respond and help.”

Although she is a successful career woman with her own business and a lovely house, Kim says her decision to start a family on her own comes from a tragedy 15 years ago.

“That’s when I was with the man I call my soulmate, and we were talking about marriage and babies. We were so happy and looking forward to the future, then it all went wrong,” she says.

one night, a man broke into the house where Kim was staying with her partner. When he came downstairs to confront the intruder, Kim’s boyfriend was shot dead in front of her. The gunman then turned his weapon on himself and Kim witnessed both of the horrific deaths.

“I was in shock for years,” she says. “I couldn’t get over what I had seen and what I had lost. I concentrated on my career and had a few relationships but it wasn’t the same.”

As more nieces and nephews arrived, Kim, who is from a large family, felt her own biological clock ticking. “I asked a close male friend if he would help and at first he was keen but it was too overwhelming for him and we didn’t go ahead,” says Kim, who is a patient at Auckland clinic Fertility Associates.

“Ideally, I would like two children to the same donor, and sperm can be frozen to make that possible. It would be done by artificial insemination. People always say, ‘oh, just go out and have a one-night stand,’ but it’s not fair to use someone like that. Also, it’s important that the donor is screened for health problems and is fully informed. I could never trick someone into fathering a child that’s wrong. I’ve looked into adoption but was basically told I had no hope, and fostering would be hard, as I don’t think I could face handing a child back.

“I know some people might not approve of the idea of a woman having a baby on her own, but I’ve thought carefully about this and have been fully counselled by the clinic.”

Sperm donors do not have any financial obligation to any children born, but recent legislation means that when they turn 18 a child can obtain details about their donor father. Kim says she will tell any children she has about their origins. Donations take place at the clinic over several sessions. It’s not cheap for the would-be mother, who carries all the costs.

“Every attempt at insemination can cost $1000, and private advertising is expensive too, so it’s clear that I’m very serious about this,” explains Kim.

“The clinic has only a few sperm donors available and most prefer to help couples, so the only other option is for me to find my own donor.”

Unfortunately, Kim’s Tradeoe message hasn’t yet resulted in any offers of help, but she’s not giving up.

“Time is running out, but I’m determined to keep looking,” she says. “It’s not just me, there are lots of people requiring sperm donors, but very few men are willing. It’s the ultimate gift the gift of motherhood and all I can do is hope that someone will make it possible for me before it’s too late.”

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