Millions of sperm! There are supposed to be MILLIONS of sperm!
Father’s Day is coming.
What is Father’s Day for a man who was supposed to have millions of sperm and found out that he didn’t have any? What is Father’s Day for a man who was recently told he needs a sperm donor to start his family?
The first Father’s Day after a diagnosis often feels pretty bleak, especially for men who are expected to “celebrate” with their own father or brothers. In fact, it may be a time to find an excuse not to attend the classic acknowledgement of social virility if it will be emotionally painful. That’s OK, Father’s Day will come again next year.
What exactly does sperm do? One job, just one. A sperm fertilizes an egg and that’s it. Mother Nature takes it from there and sometimes makes a baby.
What do fathers do that is so special?
The list is huge! Does a man need sperm to make a peanut butter sandwich? No, of course not. Does a man need sperm to worry about the cost of college? No, anyone can worry about that. Will sperm help a man teach a child how to bat? Nope, too tiny. These are the things that a father does for his children regardless of the child’s genetics.
Being a father is about the relationship between a child and the special grown-up he calls “Daddy.” That relationship doesn’t come from a one-night stand or a little vial packed with millions of sperm. Fatherhood comes from the investment of love, time and energy it takes to create the bond that develops when a child smiles back at you; and then you know that only you can be the Dad.
And what do sperm donors do?
They help other people have better lives by giving something useful. Donors can give time, money, advice, blood cells, even a kidney. Everyone can be a donor to help other people, often without knowing the results of their donation.
Sperm donors have a task they do well too; they help other people make babies. That job doesn’t make the donor a father. He’ll never be your child’s father; just a giving person who helped you begin your family. In fact, the time may arrive when you can share the story about why you selected that donor so you could become a Dad for Father’s Day.
Father’s Day is about relationships, not only genetics, which are created through time and shared experiences. The joy of becoming a family no matter what it took to get started.
Kris Bevilacqua is a clinical psychologist who offers counseling and support while patients are navigating their fertility journey.