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Chat: Alison Rodgers

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Interviewer: 60 Minutes presents a live interview with Alison Rodgers.

Interviewer: Alison, welcome to our live online chatroom.

Alison Rodgers: Thank you for having me I'm looking forward to the questions tonight.

shy1_78 asks: How have you dealt with the attitudes of other people?

Alison Rodgers: They have largely been positive which surprised me. I thought I'd get some negative reactions. I've tried to let people know so they don't make assumptions and from when I first got pregnant I've told people about it and I have been surprised how supportive people are. I talk to Roma (my daughter) about it and I tell her the story so she can grow up knowing the story. That's acceptance and just the way it is. Her attitude and my attitude. Basically if we approach it positively, people tend to respond that way. I'm proud of it and people tend to mirror my reaction to it all.

Kcoh asks: Hi Alison, I am a single mum with two sperm donor children. I would like to know where you got your book made for Roma about the sperm donor? It is an awesome, idea and i would like one for my sons to help them understand where they came from

Alison Rodgers: I did it through the K-Mart website through the photo books. They use Snapfish to print up the book but you pick it up from the K-Mart store. You can choose your backgrounds and put your own words and photos in and I made it up myself. I've got photos of when I was pregnant, ultrasound pictures, photos of her donor and his wife holding Roma when she was born. It just tells the story of her conception and I get to choose the words so reading it to her it gets the words routine.

pt49 asks: Is there an age limit for a sperm donator?

Alison Rodgers: For the fertility clinics there is an age limit I'm not sure what it is. I don't think Emma's website - www.freespermdonations.com - has an age limit but I’m not 100% sure. As a man ages his sperm declines in quality and quantity but not like a female's eggs do. So theoretically older men can donate but they may not have quite as much luck.

lollipop asks: Alison as a mum myself i understand the desperation to have kids however as a donor conceived person i wonder what contact your child will have with its donor? Regardless of the amount of love you can give that biological link is so important.

Alison Rodgers: Yes, exactly I completely agree which is why I chose a known donor. The fertility clinic I initially went to only offered identity release donors which means the child can contact the donor once they are 18. For me that was too long I wanted her to know her biological father from birth. That’s why I found my own donor and conceived Roma that way. I saw documentaries of children conceived by a donor who are now adults and they expressed feelings of anger and I didn’t' want Roma to feel that. We see her donor every few months and that will continue her whole life. I often chat about our visit to her donor's farm on my blog - www.makingroma.blogspot.com.au . Also, to the question about how much contact will my child have with her donor, Roma's donor, his wife and I have written a book about our journey together and it details how and why we all decided to choose this path, it's called "Making Roma" and is available on amazon.com.

georgie_313 asks: Were you not scared you would be getting the donation from an absolute weirdo?

Alison Rodgers: I had email conversations with numerous donors before I chose Will. I rejected all of them. When I met Will and his wife Megan, through our conversations and emails I found out what kind of people they were and they were definitely not weirdos, that's how I knew I was making the right decision. It took 6 months to find the right donor, I wanted someone who had similar values to me and had similar ideas about life and raising children. Someone that I could get along well with.

Ryan asks: I have no problems with sperm donation for infertile couples. Emphasis on the word COUPLE. However as man I find it incredibly insulting and demeaning that sperm donation to fertile single women is not just being endorsed by encouraged. The message is clear. Men are required for sperm and after that basically are disposable. In exchange for sperm, the man gives up his rights as a father and yet may still be required to pay child support. As was pointed out, there is little legal protection for men. I will not fuel encouragement for my gender to be reduced to mere fertiliser in reproduction and excluded from the family unit. This is akin to single men using women as incubators and excluding them from the family unit. To think this happened on fathers day is the biggest slap in the face! I am all for supporting infertile couples but allowing single women to use men as merely sperm banks and ATMs, says much about how driven society is against men. The hypocrisy of feminism!

Alison Rodgers: Will and I conceived with the help of a fertility clinic one reason we did this is so Will is protected against paying child support and I am protected against future custody disputes. If I wanted to use a man solely for his sperm I could have had a one night stand and deceived him, but I didn't because I value the man's role and his relationship with my daughter, that's why I chose carefully a known donor who wants to be in Roma's life. He doesn't want financial responsibility or custody and we both agreed on what we wanted. Nobody is suffering everyone wins. Now responding to being single, I would have dearly loved to have met a man who wanted to commit to me and have our child together. Unfortunately life doesn't always have a fairy tale ending, does that mean I should be denied the chance to be a mother?

Carlita asks: How do you refer to Will when you're talking to Roma about him, i.e., as her donor, her biological father or...?

Alison Rodgers: We call him her donor and we use the name Will - so we would say "Wills your donor, lets go and see Will".

charlie asks: Would you consider having another child through sperm donation?

Alison Rodgers: Personally, I have my hands full with one child. Roma gives me all the joy and love that I sought from a child. I'm also back working part-time and I don't feel I'd have enough resources for more than one child with time, money etc.

Mike asks: Hello. What is the current demand for donors. Is it something that is largely sought after or do we have enough?

Alison Rodgers: It is largely sought after. Currently many of the donors conceived in Australia are from the USA because there is a great lack of men donating in Australia. That's one reason I wanted to take part in this tonight, to encourage and inspire more men to realise the potential they have to bring so much joy to everyone's life.

cory asks: Where did you start your journey and what advice do you offer me to start?

Alison Rodgers: I started online. There are a few ways to go about it, you need to decide on the type of donor you want whether it's known or identity release, you need to decide if you want to find them yourself or use one provided by a fertility clinic. The first step once you have a donor in mind is to go to a GP to get a referral to a fertility clinic who will oversee the conception and make sure the donor is tested medically and you are both protected medically, financially and legally. I conceived through IUI - Inter Uterine Insemination but there is also IVF if you have fertility issues. My book "Making Roma" details my entire journey from start to finish and has a lot of information to help women decide what type of donor and what avenue they want to take with the pros and cons etc. It's available at www.amazon.com/dp/B007PPABXE

pt49 asks: Do male donors need to undergo any tests... IQ for instance?

Alison Rodgers:Only medical tests, blood tests, semen analysis, they need to have counselling - one session with the fertility clinic to ensure they understand the implications of their donation.

brighton asks: hi. im 39, 2 failed IVF, n a miscarriage at 10wks 2mths ago. i cant afford more IVF/donor sperm. what can u tell me that may give me hope

Alison Rodgers: I'm sorry to hear you have had a struggle to conceive. Known donors are free, there's no charge for sperm unlike USA donors. IUI is Medicare rebate-able and with a known donor and 4 IUI procedures I conceived for less than $1000. Although you might not be able to afford to continue with IVF, you might be more able to continue with IUI which is relatively cheap, each month with a known donor. Keep going, there is hope, many women still conceive at your age, there is also the option to use donor eggs if that's something you want to pursue. Where there's a will there's a way and you can have a child. Good Luck ! Another option is long time foster care, although it's difficult for single women to adopt outright it is possible to adopt through the foster care system and I know women who have done this.

wtscjs asks: Is it an expensive process, private sperm donation?

Alison Rodgers: No, it's actually cheaper than using a US identity release donor. If you don't have any major fertility problems you can undergo IUI which is out of pocket $100 after Medicare rebate per attempt. In Australia it is illegal to pay for sperm, although you do pay the fertility clinic to store it, but that's not expensive. If you have fertility issues and need IVF that is where the cost increases. As I mentioned before it cost me less than $1000 to conceive Roma and it didn't cost Will a cent, he pays for nothing. I do know women who have had to undergo IVF or travel interstate to see the fertility clinic of their choice and that increases the costs.

kazr asks: In the story it was mentioned that you held the sperm for 6 months and during this time had it screened etc. Where/how was this done. Did you use a fertility clinic? or something similar?

Alison Rodgers: Yes we used a fertility clinic, this is the safest option and safest method of conception when it comes to using donor sperm. Because the HIV virus can lay dormant in you blood for up to 6 months, when you donor donates, he needs a blood test, even if it is negative the semen stays in storage for 6 months and he's tested again. If that result is negative we can be sure he was negative at the time of donation. That is a legal requirement in Australia.

charlie asks: Hi Alison, what is your opinion on donors that father multiple children, like the donor that followed your story who fathered 16 children with three on the way?

Alison Rodgers: There is a ten family limit in Australia, which means only 10 families can conceive per donor. So theoretically if each family has 2 children, that's 20. Given the short supply of donors in Australia I don't think this number is excessive. It allows more women to fulfil their dreams without going overboard. Another advantage to using a clinic is that you can put you donor's semen on ice for a sibling without him having to go through the process again.

Nadya asks: HI Alison, good on you for going live with your story. We have been going through IVF for 2 years and may have to consider donor sperm. As I'm sure you are aware it is very expensive through the clinics here, so much that it is really a money making business and you don’t get much information at all on the donors. Were there a lot of weirdos out there? That’s what scare us the most. And how do you work through weeding them out as quickly as possible, could you pick it up from their initial email contact? Or once you met them in person ?!

Alison Rodgers: By using a known donor you don't pay for the sperm it's free. All you pay for is the storage for the fertility to keep the sperm frozen. I wouldn't say there were a lot of weirdos at all, there were donors who were not a match for me for lots of reason, different ethnic backgrounds, physical characteristics. I really only met one guy I would class as a weirdo. All it took was patience and persistence to find the right donor for me. You will get a sense through emails etc about their personality. I would sent a list of questions and some would reply and some wouldn't. The answers to the questions helped me pick the right donor. Only after emailing and feeling like a particular donor was on the same wavelength as me, would I meet them face to face.

angelebb asks: Alison I thank you for sharing your story. I too dream about that fairy tale ending however as i am desperate to have a child you have given me hope that it is possible and does not cost large amounts of money for my dream to come true.

Alison Rodgers: That's wonderful I'm so glad I have inspired you. There is an amazing website for single women who wish to become mothers it is www.smcaustraliahome.org . Please pursue you dream, you're worth it.

Interviewer: Thanks very much for your time tonight, however we are out of time. Any final comments before we finish up?

Alison Rodgers: Thanks so much for having me online tonight, I really enjoyed it and hope I have inspired women to consider this choice. You can read all about my journey in my book "Making Roma" available at Amazon. You can also contact me by email at makingroma@hotmail.com . Thanks again for having me and I wish you all the bet of luck on your journey to motherhood.

Interviewer: This concludes our chat with Alison Rodgers, Sunday September 2, 2012.

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