During a recent Fertility Fair in Berlin I had a chance to speak to Erica Tranfield from the Pride Angel. PrideAngel is an unusual website, kind of a “dating service” which brings together egg donors, sperm donors and co-parents online. On the website, it is possible to get an onsite-mail, create a profile and search for thousands of members and communicate with them safely. Can you imagine something like that to exist in Germany? I certainly can’t.
Me: Hello Erica. What is PrideAngel doing at the fertility conference in Germany? What is it that you would like to share with the German audience?
We’re based in the UK and our website is an online-service to anyone looking for sperm donors, egg donors, or co-parents to build a family with. The way we’re trying to help people is by providing a service by which people can find somebody they can communicate to in a safe way, without giving any personal information before they’re ready to.
Me: Is that not what fertility clinics do: provide egg and sperm donors?
The difference is that in the fertility clinics it is possible to pick donors only according to some basic criteria, such as height, hair or eye color. But I can tell you that Kylie Minogue, too, has blue eyes, blue hair, and several other profile features just like mine…but look at me – I’m a totally different person, right? (my comment: I find Erica much prettier).
Often, there is hardly any correspondence between what’s written on a profile and meeting a real person. To this, in many countries sperm and egg donations are anonymous or regulated in some special way. For example, in the UK, we don’t have anonymity like here in Germany; still, the child will be given the information about the donor only after he or she turns 18.
So what if it turns out that there are huge social or economic differences between the child and its genetic father?
If a mother turns out to not like the donor? Will there be some sort of rejection?
So we were asking ourselves, is there not a better way? What if you could meet the donor face-to-face? If you could choose him based on many more criteria than what clinics would ever give?
And also, importantly, what if we gave donors a chance to also choose you?
Absolutely. The sperm or egg donor that you might pick in the clinic might not be the same one you would find attractive face-to-face. While talking to that person, you may find a donor that wants to donate only to a small number of people, or maybe only to you. You may find out that you want to stay in contact with this person, which opens a whole new world.
Me: I saw a video the other day about the guy who fathered 800 children. How do you deal with prolific donors? Do you have them in your database?
This is an extreme, I know about that case. On one side, it’s good for women who use their service to know that sperm is working (laughs). But we don’t allow them on our website. Prolific sperm donors are banned from PrideAngel for the reason that you don’t know if your child will in the future unknowingly run into other people (and build close relationships or possibly fall in love with them) without knowing they’re siblings.
Obviously, we can’t advise on many of this due to specific legal issues in Germany; the more I learn about it, the more I’m amazed – even in Germany itself there seem to be substantial regional differences.
Me: While I understand egg and sperm donors, I’m not sure what you mean by co-parenting. Can you explain that option?
Co-parents agree to legally and financially bring the child up together. A lot of women and men are going through this option when they haven’t find Mr.Right or Ms.Right until a certain age. Or they were simply focused on the career and at some age concluded that instead of having a partner with whom they would focus on a sexual or romantic relationship, they prefer someone with whom they can focus on raising a child.
Me: How do people find you? How do you manage to work internationally given the legal complexities of the issues?
We’re found by the word-of-mouth. We’ve got 45,000–50,000 members worldwide. Another thing that helps is our personal motivation. My partner and I don’t have wages, but use our own money to finance this project. You might think I’m crazy, but we do all that because we want to help people.
Thank you very much Erica for sharing the information about your awesome project! Good luck!
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