How I got my five children from a sperm donor on Facebook –
Brooke Withington has opened up about becoming a mother of five children with the help of a sperm donor she found on Facebook.
According to her, as a child, she longed to be a mother to many kids who would fill her house with joy, laughter and love.
Now at 28 years old, she is living her dream life with the big family she has always wanted. Brooke stated that her journey to get to where she is today,has not been as straightforward as she once imagined.
Her children Edward, eight, Gilbert, six, Odette, four, and Mabel, four months, were a happy surprise, and were conceived during relationships that have now ended.
But her daughter Nora, one, was actually brought into the world with the help of a sperm donor, which the mother found on Facebook.
The Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia local is now sharing her story to help other single mothers who choose to expand their family feel less alone in their parenthood journey.
She has also opened up about the cruel comments she sometimes gets for wanting to have a big family.
“Ever since I was about eight years old, I knew I wanted a large family,” Brooke told news.com.au.
“I always wanted at least five children. Of course, I thought I would be married before I started having kids.
“It didn’t work out that way, but I feel like it all happened exactly how it was meant to.
“After I had my third baby Odette, I didn’t want to date anymore.
“I was so happy and content on my own, but I still wanted more children.
“That was when I decided I would go down the sperm donor route instead.”
Turning to Facebook
Brooke did consider the possibility of going to a sperm bank, but had her reservations about that process.
She said she did not like the sterile nature of the environment, and would prefer to be able to meet the man in person.
That was when she decided to seek out an Australian sperm donor on social media.
“I had heard about a Facebook group called Sperm Donation Australia after I had my first child,” she explained.
“But I didn’t consider it at all back then. After I had Odette, I remembered the information I had heard all those years ago.
“It sounded perfect for my situation. I loved that you could learn about the donor, and actually meet with them and know what their personality is like.
“The whole experience is a lot more personable than a donation clinic.”
Brooke made a post explaining her situation, and was contacted by a few potential donors.
After deciding who she wanted to pick, the pair made a plan to meet in person, and she was able to ask him plenty of questions.
She also obtained vital information about his family history and health checks, to ensure both her and her child would be safe and healthy.
“We got to know each other beforehand and I told the donor I wasn’t wanting any co parenting arrangements,” she explained.
“I requested to see recent sexual health checks and I was also able to see genetic tests he had done.
“It was also really important to me that my donor had a limit of families he donated to.
“This donor had a Facebook messenger group with the other families he had helped, so we can keep track of the kids and organise catch ups from time to time.”
The donation process
She booked a hotel room, and allowed the donor to go in first so that he could leave the donation.
Brooke then followed, and used a syringe device to artificially inseminate herself.
“After I submitted a post about my situation, I had a few donors private message me,” Brooke said.
“I asked a lot of questions and explained what I felt most comfortable with, especially the method of choice.
“I had chosen to do artificial insemination because I felt too nervous about doing natural insemination with a donor. This is when you have sexual intercourse with them.
“I made sure I picked a donor who I found easy to chat to. It made the whole experience that much easier and that way there wasn’t any awkwardness.
“I stayed laying down for about 15 minutes after I inseminated the semen.
“One thing that I believe is important is getting the semen into the syringe incredibly slowly and also inserting it slowly to make sure no sperm get damaged in the process.”
Brooke was over the moon when she found out she was pregnant, and gave birth to her gorgeous daughter Nora, in May 2021.
The mother says that while this decision may not be for everyone, it worked out perfectly in her situation.
Brooke added that while she does sometimes receive negative backlash online for choosing to be a single mother, she would not have it any other way.
“I have gotten a lot of rude comments on social media about choosing to have five children on my own,” she said.
She said there were a lot of people using three words — “tax payers dollars” — to troll her.
“But I work at a great job, so I feel that I am contributing to the community, making my own money and also showing my children that working is very important.
“The main comments I get at the shops are ‘you’ve got your hands full’ or ‘you must be very busy’.
“This has been one of the most incredible and rewarding experiences.
“It is all worth it when you get to hold your baby in your arms for the first time. I’m so grateful everyday.”
Medical and legal issues
While Brooke’s experience has been a positive one, experts have warned that this may not be the case for every woman who goes down this route.
Fertility specialist and associate professor Dr Alex Polyakov from Melbourne University highlighted the possible risks that can arise from using a sperm donor obtained online rather than from a clinic.
“There are long and short term dangers for women and their future children that we have to consider,” Dr. Polyakov said.
“The men who are donating outside of the proper channels are not usually subject to appropriate screening procedures.
“They have not done thorough evaluations or been tested for various genetic conditions and different types of infectious diseases.
“There are risks of various adverse things happening throughout the process.”
Dr. Polyakov also warned of potential legal ramifications that can occur.
“Something I have seen happen many times is the donor wanting parental rights and custody,” he said.
“It can be a legal minefield when these things are not documented properly.
“There is also the issue of not knowing who these men have donated to previously.
“At a clinic or sperm bank, we keep records and there are strict limits on how many families one man can donate to.”