When wives Danielle Winston and Paige Kennedy decided to start planning for parenthood, they realized that finding the right path for their family might be a little difficult. “It felt like we had no options other than sperm banks, which were shoved in our faces daily,” Winston says.
From early on, the sperm bank experience wasn’t aligning with their priorities. “The whole process is almost like online dating. That’s how it felt for us. You’re just swiping through these profiles and it’s very impersonal,” Kennedy says. Most sperm banks only work with anonymous donors, and the couple wanted their child to be able to find and connect with their donor. The sperm bank route also caused them to worry they might one day learn that their child has as many as 100 half-siblings around the globe, not a number they were comfortable with. They hoped to ensure a low number of potential half-siblings so their child would have the option of building deep connections with them later in life.
The couple also considered their friendship circle: Could the perfect donor be closer to home? One of Winston’s friends seemed like a good option, but the couple was concerned about the lack of boundaries that might come with a donor already so entrenched in their lives.
From there they moved to Facebook groups and donor apps. “We had no luck on there. It was just the guys like, ‘I wanna spread my seed,’” Winston shares.
“We found that if we posted our profile, everyone just wanted NI (natural insemination, meaning attempting to conceive via intercourse),” Kennedy-Winston adds.
Eventually, the two moved on to working through their network of friends of friends. They interviewed somewhere around 100 potential donors before finding Flavio. “The second we got on the Zoom there was something that changed about us. He has the kindest heart, he’s funny, he loves the things we love,” Winston says.
The couple flew him from his home to Rome to theirs in Arlington, Virginia so he could make sperm donations to their clinic. “He was so sweet. He brought all these homemade ingredients and pasta. He cooked for our moms!” Kennedy says. The trip cemented their decision. “He felt like part of our family, like a brother or something,” Winston says.
Winston and Kennedy are now expecting, and are excited to meet their baby in September. For their babymoon, the couple flew to Italy and met Flavio’s family. While they’re glad they finally found their perfect donor, the process of finding him took them almost two years.
In an effort to help other parents-to-be avoid such a long journey, Winston left her career as a lawyer and the couple opened The Seed Scout. Winston serves as a matchmaker, helping potential parents find their perfect known donor and navigate the process. As a pediatrician, Kennedy helps collect donor family and medical histories. With The Seed Scout, potential parents can move forward with a donor in as few as three months.
The Seed Scout is designed to offer a transparent experience. Donors with the company are limited to donating to only three families and agree not to donate to sperm banks. They also sign legal agreements with parents, agreeing to notify them of other future offspring.
To those looking to start their own conception journey, Winston and Kennedy agree that patience is key. “You have to have patience and perseverance to continue no matter what speed bumps arise. It just takes pushing through,” Winston says.