Donor-Conceived Childrens’ Rights vs. Anonymity

September 29th, 2011

It goes without saying that certain aspects of assisted reproduction can be a bit tricky, but one – the issue of donor anonymity – has moved to the forefront of our industry discussion recently. A recent NPR blog broached this complicated topic through the eyes of several donor-conceived women and their efforts to find the identity of the men who donated the sperm that help create them. These women are not the only ones taking this path. We’ve seen a notable increase in the number of participants, on both sides of this relationship, who are interested in (or at least open to) future contact. In fact, some donors are even willing to meet with their recipient during the cycle.

I think it might be surprising to some that most donor-conceived children search for their donors mainly for the biological link. They report the three main reasons as curiosity about donor characteristics, medical reasons, and just wanting the experience of meeting the donor. In fact, one of the women highlighted in this NPR story noted that in addition to a sense of loss, she felt there was an obvious irony to this situation: “Couples use donor sperm or egg because they very much want at least some biological connection to their child.” And yet, she says, “by using anonymous donors they cut off that child's other links.”

As more and more donor-conceived adult children seek out their donors, it’s imperative that donors and recipients work with reputable agencies who not only educate all parties about anonymity and how laws can and likely will change in the future, but to help navigate the complexities of this issue in a way that respects and protects everyone involved.

Obviously, this issue is still working itself out. I’m interested in what you think about it, so please share your thoughts.