Unusual Online Quest for Motherhood

PHOTO: Tanya met her sperm donor online.
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Tanya has always dreamed of having a child of her own. "I've wanted to be a mom since I was a child," she told "20/20's" Elizabeth Vargas, "I just loved children my whole life."

Tanya's journey to motherhood began when she was just 19 and was forced to make the toughest decision of her life, one that still haunts her 21 years later. She became pregnant and gave her child up for adoption.

It was not a decision that came easily, but at the time, it felt like the right thing to do. She wanted her daughter to have a family that would love and provide for her while Tanya could focus on school and a career. But after the adoption, she became sidetracked and says the decision "changed me forever."

"I spent my twenties being a little bit lost… very sad that is a decision that I had to make," she said.

In her 30's, Tanya's life began to take shape. Her career in finance took off and she was in a serious relationship that she hoped would turn into marriage and a family…. until one day her boyfriend told her that he did not want to have children. That news came as a "huge shock" to Tanya and resulted in the end of their six-year relationship, leaving her single and childless at 39. That young girl who once gave up her child for adoption had become a woman who now found herself desperate for a second chance at motherhood.

"I have a hole in my heart," she said. "If I could have another biological child, that I could have the chance to be her mom, it would at least make me feel a little bit better."

After a visit to the doctor, she was encouraged to waste no time getting pregnant.

"I didn't want to take the chance of never being a mom," she said. So she turned to sperm banks where she would go on to spend between $60,000 and $70,000 on vials of sperm, doctors' visits and inseminations. "I didn't have any infertility insurance at all, so I had to pay for everything out of pocket."

Throughout the process, she became pregnant three times but each one resulted in a devastating miscarriage. At that point, she was out of work and had depleted her savings. Running out of options, she turned to the Internet, where she discovered a site called Free Sperm Donor Registry. There, she found hundreds of men looking to donate their sperm to women in need… and it was totally free. She created a profile for herself, and within no time, men were reaching out to her, interested in providing her with their sperm. One donor caught her interest.

"We spent weeks emailing and talking on the phone and really getting to know each other," she said.

Eventually, they agreed to meet and Tanya found herself conducting the interview of a lifetime—over dinner and wine.

"We were both shaking as we were lifting our wine glasses," she remembered.

They revealed a lot about themselves to each other and what started as an interview, ended as a date.

Soon, their relationship evolved into more than what she initially intended.

"I hit the jackpot," Tanya said of her donor. "I never imagined that I would have gone on this website and found someone so wonderful."

Though it was never her plan, Tanya and the donor started sleeping together. They exchanged STD results before consummating the relationship.

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