An Australian mother of five who has wanted a large family since childhood has shared how she turned to an unorthodox online community to conceive.
Brooke Withington, 28, was told by a friend about the Sperm Donation Australia Facebook group, where hopeful mothers and willing donors are bypassing clinics in favor of informal meetings in cafes and hotels where fresh samples are provided.
“I booked a hotel room and he (the donor) went into the room and messaged me when he had the sperm in a jar, then he left and I went in,” Gold Coast’s Ms Withington told the Daily Mail Australia on Wednesday night.
“I’ve always been a very fertile person which I’m so grateful for, but right before I put in the syringe I remember looking at the semen and thinking, this is never going to work,” she said.
“But I inseminated myself with the syringe and it worked the first time… I was as surprised as anyone!”
Brooke Withington is a busy mother of five who turned to an unorthodox online community for a sperm donor for her year-old Nora
Mrs. Withington with (pictured left to right) Gilbert, Edward, Nora and Odette
Ms Withington explained that she came from a large family herself and had wanted many children since she was eight and when she had her first child, Edward, in 2014 aged 19, her ‘whole life’ changed.
She welcomed her second child Gilbert in 2016 and her first daughter, Odette, in 2018 – whose father is a Japanese friend she knew from her time as an exchange student.
“My other children were all conceived naturally, but I have them alone 100 percent of the time, so that’s why I decided to use a sperm donor for my fourth baby.”
“It seemed like the perfect decision, since I was already doing it all by myself and there wouldn’t be any stress or drama.”
She said she first heard about a friend’s sperm donation Australia just after she had Edward in 2014.
“At first I thought it was very different and I couldn’t imagine choosing to go down that path, but when I got to that point in my life, it didn’t actually sound that wild after all.
“I posted about myself and what I was looking for and I got a private message from a few donors.
“I chose a few that I felt the conversation flowed quite easily because that was really important to me so I wouldn’t feel nervous or uncomfortable.”
The family welcomed a fifth member named Mabel (center) just four months ago
Ms. Withington pictured with donor-conceived Nora who recently turned one
She said she wanted an Asian donor because Odette is of Asian descent and her other children are all white.
‘Once I found the right donor, I told him everything I liked and didn’t like; Personally, I was only comfortable with artificial insemination and the donor I chose was strictly AI.’
She then had her ‘miracle’ daughter Nora, who is now one year old, before welcoming fifth child Mabel through a brief relationship.
“I’m thrilled to have five kids, but I’m definitely thinking about having another kid one day and when I do, I’ll definitely go down the sperm donor path again.”
“Conception and pregnancy with Nora was the most dramatic and stress-free experience.”
The local Gold Coast resident said she would definitely use a donor for another child if she decided she wanted a sixth
She said people often make fun of her online – especially with the phrase ‘taxpayers dollars’ suggesting she makes money on benefits, but Ms Withington said that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“But I have a great job, so I feel like I’m contributing to the community, making my own money and also showing my kids that work is really important.”
The man behind the online Sperm Donation Australia Group, Adam Hooper, recently took the movement to other countries by launching Sperm Donation World.
“The standard is so good in Australia that it’s the main source and way people now (artificially) father children, bypassing clinics,” Hooper told the Daily Mail Australia on Wednesday night.
The man behind Sperm Donation World, 38-year-old Adam Hooper (pictured), is heading to the UK in September
He himself has fathered more than 20 children through donations and claims to have helped bring literally hundreds more children into the world by facilitating his group.
“I’m coming to the UK in September to launch sperm donation in the UK and hope to bring the same recipe for success we’ve seen in Australia.”
Mr Hooper said he started the group ‘in 2015 and in 2023’ we have yet to see the headlines about this going wrong.
“The family court system is full of people who have rushed into relationships and had children, so this way is a logical and safer choice for people to consider.”
“You don’t choose your husband and wife from a piece of paper, you go to meet them”
“Currently, the online donor scene in the UK is poorly moderated and run by people with the wrong motives.”
“I want to raise standards in the UK so that many women like Brooke can share their own local stories.”