Voices of Equality: Allie Shares Her Beautiful Journey To Motherhood

  • Ashley Nackos
  • June 24, 2024

Allie is a long-time juvenile industry veteran and has two children with her wife, Lisa, who she birthed and conceived through sperm donation. This is her unique story to parenthood. 

Q: Let's jump right in with your coming out story!

Allie: I’ll give you a little bit of background on my family first.  I was raised by very liberal parents, especially my mom who was very politically active and considered herself very progressive (for the 80s). When I was born, people still handed out cigars as birth announcements... well my mom tried to hand out cigars that said, “It’s a Lesbian” instead of “It’s a Girl.” Since my dad was a little less provocative, they compromised on “It’s a person.” So now you have an idea of the environment I was in when I came out. 

I chose to come out to my mom on National Coming Out Day (October 11th) when I was 16, and the rest of the people in my life shortly followed.  I came out pretty publicly and became really involved in community groups, my high school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, etc. In Junior and Senior year, we traveled to Sacramento to lobby California Representatives to pass a bill including LBTQ as protected class in public schools. I really found my community through my involvement in these groups.  While being out with my family was super easy the kids at school were not so much. Young people in the 90s were not as accepting as they are now, and I had some not-fun incidents, like slurs written on my locker and inappropriate comments from teachers. It was hard to deal with because it felt unexpected coming from my protected liberal bubble. 


Q: When did you know you wanted to pursue motherhood?  

Allie: I didn’t really think about family building until I met my wife. I always knew I wanted to be a mom and I always knew I wanted to be pregnant and experience that feeling. But I hadn’t really thought about how or when it was “supposed” to happen. 


Q: Well, now we have to know the story of how you met your wife. 

Allie: I was 27, taking  black and white photography classes at the community college for fun (big passion for me, by the way) and I ended up getting a job in the darkroom as a part-time lab technician. My now wife, Lisa, was a teacher there, so we got to know each other first as colleagues, then she was my teacher, then we started dating when I wasn’t her student anymore. It was great for our relationship to have a shared creative passion for photography. Then we got married and we started thinking about babies. In fact, as soon as we got engaged, the baby fever hit me. 

We were actually married for a second time a few months after our first son was born – it was right when same-sex marriage became legal. Our first wedding may not have been “legal” but that was where we committed to each other for life in front of all our family and friends – that is the more meaningful anniversary date for us.  


Q: What a fun story! Okay, so now you’re married and you have babies on the brain. What did that path look like for you and Lisa? 

Allie: We started getting serious about it approximately a year after marriage. We spent time researching and understanding the process, and ultimately chose an anonymous sperm donor and decided that I would carry. It was a fairly quick and easy process, and I was very lucky to conceive rapidly. We had our son and for a long time thought we were done, but then a few years later decided to try again and eventually got our second son. It wasn’t so easy the second time around and we faced many challenges, and several years, to conceive.  

Since my wife was not the gestational parent, with both kids we had to go through an adoption process in order for her to be legally recognized as their mom and have the parental rights that come with that. It felt like just one more obstacle we had to overcome. With our first, we even had to wait for a court date and be seen by a judge in order to finalize the adoption. Our second was born during the pandemic so the process was actually a little easier and more streamlined with him. 


Q: Why did you decide to go with an anonymous sperm donor vs the alternative? And, what would the alternative be? 

Allie: We chose an anonymous donor for a few reasons... 

First of all, it was less expensive and at the time we weren’t sure that we wanted another parental figure as part of the equation.  

All I had about the donor was medical history, photos of him as a child, nationality, height, eye color. Oh, and a voice recording talking about something he was passionate about which was dog rescuing (which is another thing we’re passionate about and also fit into our values). 

The alternative was a non-anonymous sperm bank donor, which after the child turns 18, they could choose to connect with the sperm donor. OR you could work with a friend/family/contact, but that’s got its own set of nuances. 


Q: If you wanted to, do you or your children have any resources that help in connecting with anonymous sperm donors?

Allie: Honestly, going with an anonymous sperm donor is something we would change if we could. A lot more information has come out in the last 10 years, and it’s now widely accepted that the most ethically responsible way to use donor genetics (egg or sperm) is to have a known donor so that the child could know them if they chose to down the line. 

One thing that has been a gift, is there are sibling registries out there where you can register using your donor number and sperm bank, indicate when you had a baby, and how many children. You can also indicate whether you’re open to contact with other people who conceived through the same donor. We registered and we engaged early on in a relationship with one family, mostly related to health stuff, but it was pretty infrequent. More recently we got in touch with an influx of other families from the same donor and now we are all in a private Facebook group with 7 families, sharing photos and life updates with each other. It’s been super validating for us as we uncovered similarities in personalities, health conditions, etc. It was through this group that we were able to get more familial heath information which led to finding a diagnosis for our youngest son who had ongoing unresolved health issues. 


Q: That’s so neat. Have you thought about meeting the other families in person? 

Allie: We’ve had a few zoom experiences with them. In a few weeks, we’re actually going to the East Coast to meet up with several of the other families.  

It's going to be just me and my oldest, who is 11, and he was ambivalent at first. He got really excited about the trip when it first came up but then got nervous and kind of lukewarm about going. It’s a new experience for all of us.  


Q: At what point did you bring up the community with your kids? 

Allie: From the get-go - it’s part of who they are. "Donor conceived” is a topic that our 11-year-old has been comfortable with since they were little, and one that our 3-year-old is now starting to understand. They’ve had increasing degrees of interest over time but have never been extremely intrigued by the concept. 


Q: How are you handling this whole thing? 

Allie: I hope I get along with the other parents. It’s a mix of queer and heterosexual couples and single moms by choice. I do wish that my wife and younger son were joining us, but it just didn’t work out this time. We will probably wait a few years until he is older.  

My kids have a lot of pride in their family - It’s been fun to see how much they embrace it. They are always correcting people when they incorrectly refer to me as Mommy or Lisa as Mama (I’m Mama and Lisa is Mommy), which is awesome. They have such a sophisticated understanding of gender and identity, which a lot of kids of this new generation have, and it’s so cool to see. The kids have a lot to teach us all. 


Q: What are you doing for pride month? 

Allie: We are going to be out of town for most of June on our annual summer trip to visit friends on a lake house in Georgia. Oddly, San Diego, where we live, celebrates Pride in July so we actually won’t have to miss it. 


Q: Do you have any resources for other LGBTQIA+ families? 

Allie: We love to read and read a lot as we started the journey and now as parents to our children. Some of our favorites have been “Mommy, Mama and Me” and pretty much all of the books by Todd Parr. When it comes to conception, the book “What Makes a Baby” is fantastic. It explains the science of baby making in a really non-gendered way.  

It’s great that there are options for books to read to our kids that represent us, and all types of families, but I do wish that more parents read inclusive books to their children. It would really help normalize families like outs for other kids if gay families were included more in mainstream children’s books. 

If you used or are using a sperm donor, the sibling registries are a great resource. We used donorsiblingregistry.com 

We’ve also make an effort to make friends with other families through Meet-ups and Facebook groups for queer parents. One huge gift to us was finding an LGBTQ affirming soccer league (Lambda Rising). It’s a place for children of LGBTQ and/or LGBTQ kids and allies to come together and play soccer in an inclusive way. For example, the coaches and players are super respectful of pronouns, teams aren’t divided by gender. It’s been a really great experience for all of us.  

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