The mum who fell in love with her sperm donor

Aminah Hart and Scott Anderson with their daughter Leila, who was conceived before the couple even met.
Aminah Hart and Scott Anderson with their daughter Leila, who was conceived before the couple even met. Photo: Australian Story, ABC

Not many couples can say they had a baby together before they even met, but that's the truth for Aminah Hart and her partner Scott Anderson.

After the heartbreak of losing two baby boys to a genetic disorder, advertising professional Aminah found herself newly single at age 42 in 2011. But the Victorian woman hadn't given up on her dream of motherhood, and decided the only way she could make it a reality would be with donated sperm.

"It takes the romance out of it a bit, doesn't it, when you decide to take on donor sperm to try and have a baby," Aminah says on tonight's episode of the ABC's Australian Story.

Scott Anderson with his daughter, Leila.
Scott Anderson with his daughter, Leila. Photo: Australian Story, ABC

"It wasn't going to be (a) picture postcard, being single, but I was raised by an amazing single mother and she taught me that I could do it."

Little did Aminah realise her time as a single mother would be short-lived thanks to a very romantic - and modern - twist to her story.

After selecting a sperm donor who described himself as "happy and healthy" in the clinic documents, Aminah went on to give birth to daughter Leila in 2012.

The new mum, who is half West Indian, was overjoyed to have a healthy baby, but noticed her daughter's colouring was very different to her own. 

"I thought 'I can't have a blonde baby, I'm a black woman. Black women don't have blond babies'," she says.

The physical differences made her worry how her daughter would feel not having knowledge of her biological father's background when she got older.  

These concerns were particularly strong for Aminah, as did not know her West Indian father when she was growing up. When she started searching for her dad as a young adult, she learnt he had passed away a short time earlier.

"I call myself half West Indian," says Aminah. "And so the notion that I was not ever going to be able to delve into that from the person who was the other part of my history was quite devastating."

The new mum didn't want her daughter growing up with the same questions about her own identity, so she set about requesting more information from the sperm donor via Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority's voluntary register.

Under Victorian Law donors can only donate sperm on the basis they are not anonymous, and offspring are legally entitled to information that identifies the donor when they turn 18. Prior to that, offspring or their parents can request information via the voluntary register.

Fortunately Scott, a cattle farmer, had consented to recipients and any offspring being able to contact him before they turned 18, but he never thought he would hear from any children until he was elderly.

The twice-divorced father of four told Australian Story he "didn't know what to think" when an email with photos of Leila arrived in his email inbox. "It didn't seem kind of real," he said.

Scott agreed to meet Leila just before she turned a year old, and quickly developed a friendship with Aminah.

Not everyone was happy with the situation; Scott's partner didn't think he should be spending time with a child who was the result of a sperm donation. The pair separated.

Shortly afterwards Scott and Aminah started a romantic relationship, and they have been together ever since. 

The happy ending to Aminah's journey to motherhood is particularly uplifting considering the heartache she suffered, losing two baby boys in 2005 and 2008, who both died from the X-linked myotubular myopathy. Her first son Marlon lived until he was 14 weeks old, while her second baby boy, Louis, died at 14 months.

"[It's] a condition where the muscles don't have any contractile ability, so they can't breathe properly, they can't swallow, all their muscles are very floppy. And that is catastrophic," Aminah explains on Australian Story

Little Leila's parents still maintain separate homes - Aminah in Melbourne and Scott on cattle breeding property near Phillip island - but they spend most nights together.

"It's real Mills and Boon stuff, isn't it," says Aminah's mother Helen Marshall. "It's a bit of a fairy story really. But it's real, so that's good. It's not just a dream, you know?"

Watch How I Met Your Father tonight on Australian Story, ABC, 8pm, or view it it on iView after the original air date.