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Spermfactor: “our generation, it’s what you do”

Thu 29 Oct 2015 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

A lesbian couple searching on Facebook for a sperm donor with "Spermfactor" say their approach to crowdsourcing a donor is simply an extension of how their generation now uses digital and social media to get things done. In their first media interview since posting their public Facebook plea Ashleigh Habgood and Alley Williams spoke to Daily News about their decision to take to social media in an attempt to find a sperm donor. They couple say they had no idea that the story would gain so much traction online “We’re feeling confused, people are calling and messaging and it’s just kind of crazy,” says Williams. “The fact that this went so massive was a little bit scary”.They say most of the feedback they have received so far has been positive: “Obviously it’s our generation and it’s what you do”, says Williams who admits the pair had been discussing, perhaps somewhat jokingly, about crowdsourcing on Facebook for quite some time. “You advertise for anything online now. You wanna sell a couch you put it on Facebook, you want to get a pet you put it on Facebook, it’s what you do.” she says. “It’s just whether or not we wanted to do that and when we decided we would, the only people we really cared about were our families.”Consulting their loved ones before clicking the post button, Williams and Habgood say both families were really supportive of their decision. William’s says her mum was a bit worried about the potential of an angry mob chasing them down the street, but in all seriousness told her daughter: “All I care about is your health and safety, if that is in check then I’m all good.” “We both feel that it’s far more balanced than potentially our parents think it is, it’s a new generation and it’s a cool generation.” The couple, who married in January, grew up together and met at the dance studio which they now co-own. Feeling more than ready to have children they joined the Fertility Associates waiting list but learned that it would take 18 months before they would even have the opportunity to choose a sperm donor and even then they would most likely have only three donors to choose from. Adoption they say was an option that became unavailable to them as soon as they mentioned they were a same sex couple.“The reality of our situation is, four days ago we were thinking; how are we going to get sperm?” says Habgood. “Are we going to have to wait 18 months, are we going to have to wait for some random to come into our life?” Crowdsourcing something such as sperm donation does, however, come with it’s critics, many questioning the list of attributes the couple are looking for. Their Facebook post outlined the ideal donor as having “a kind heart” and a clear medical history as well as someone who is taller than them. Optional extras are creativity and the fact that “You are not white.” They say, “We’re not racist, just would love a mixed bub.” “In that post it kind of sounded like we were looking for a designer baby,” admits Williams. Habgood explains; “The whole looks thing is a very interesting discussion, because obviously no one wants to come across as superficial.”Regarding their decision to include race in the list outlined on Facebook the couple appear to have overlooked the potential controversy this may cause. William’s jokes; “To be honest I’m super fair and I don’t really want to mix with another fair person.” Habgood echoes the lighthearted tone of her Facebook post; “We’ve got global warming to consider too, so if we could get some more melatonin...” “To be honest 99% of our donors have been white and that’s cool, they are amazing, awesome people.” Williams says the desire to have a mixed race baby is “like any girl who really likes brown boys”.Habgood acknowledges the sensitive nature of the very subject of sperm donation and says that when making a list of factors the couple knew that “everything we put down could offend one person or another.” “The whole mixed race thing, I mean we travel a lot, we teach a lot of different kids from all of the world… they’re cute.”For the couple, despite the list included on Facebook, a healthy baby is top priority. “Like we said at the bottom of the post, at the end of the day we want a healthy baby and that is what every person in this world who is having a baby wants, but we are in a position where we can choose slightly.” “None of the superficial factors are deal breakers, at all, there was obviously an element of humour in the post as well which I think accounted for its success in terms of being shared,” explains Habgood. “Our biggest factor is someone who we get along with, someone we we can relate to and someone we know we can have a positive ongoing relationship with.”So far Williams and Habgood have had 35 men approach them to offer their sperm, of which they say about 28 appear to be serious donors who have sent some “really heartfelt, amazing emails”. will tomorrow (Friday) present our full sit-down interview with Habgood and Williams.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Thursday, 29th October 2015 - 8:30pm

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