The number of children being born via donor conception (donor sperm, donor egg, and donor embryo) is expanding. In many ways it feels that we are standing on a precipice. We have such an opportunity in front of us to avoid some of the mistakes made in the past with both sperm donation and adoption, and yet I fear we are not learning.
The real experts on the best way to raise a child conceived by donor sperm, egg, or embryo are the adults that were conceived by donor conception way back in the day (or not so way back). I recently read the results of a fascinating survey of 82 donor conceived adults on We Are Donor Conceived.
The people who responded to the survey were from around the world, mostly female (84%), raised by heterosexual parents (82%), and conceived by donor sperm (81 out of 82). They were born between 1954 and 2000, with 42% being born in the 1980s.
Donors and Donor Siblings are Important
According to We are Donor Conceived, 65% of respondents agree with the statement “My donor is half of who I am”. 94% indicated they often wonder what personality traits, skills, and/or physical similarities they share with their donor. 96% of respondents said they would like to know how many donor siblings they have, and a strong majority indicated they are open to forming a relationship with their donor (87%) or donor siblings (96%).
Eighty-six percent of the respondents thought that anonymous donation should not be allowed.
When Did They Find Out They Were Donor Conceived
The results on when they found out they were conceived by donor surprised me because I assumed that more of them would have found out later in life. The survey, however, found that 61% were five years or younger when they found out.
How Do Donor Conceived People Feel about Their Conception
The majority of the survey was multiple choice, but I was most interested in the open ended questions. Here just a few responses and I strongly encourage you to go to the We Are Donor Conceived site to read the rest and to see the word cloud made of the responses.
Q: When you first found out you are donor conceived, how did you feel?
“As a child, it was just a fact, nothing more.”
“I did not know how to feel. At 5 years old I could not articulate what it meant to be donor conceived. I honestly didn’t feel any different.”
“I felt shocked and hurt. I also felt very sad because my mother told me I wasn’t allowed to ever speak of it or tell anyone and that I could never find out the identity of my father or half-siblings.”
“I lost my identity. I didn’t know who I was anymore and I lost trust in my parents.”
Q: How do you currently feel about being donor conceived?
“It’s a mixed bag. On the one hand, I’m grateful because I wouldn’t BE here without the donor but then again I’m also angry that I’m not able to know more about half of my genetic identity.”
“It’s a human trafficking loophole and needs to be abolished because it proliferates and involves eugenics, abortion, serious human trafficking situations, serious health risks and broken kinship bonds.”
“I’m fine with being donor conceived, I just don’t like the anonymity.”
“I still feel that a large part of me is a mystery, one that I should always have been entitled to know. Regardless, my Dad is still my Dad, but I also have a strong desire to know and connect with my hidden family.”
If you are interested in donor conception and how to do it well, check out the survey and the website for We Are Donor Conceived.
Other Creating a Family Resources You Will Enjoy
- Donor Conceived Adults Speak Out (one hour audio interview with a panel of donor conceived adults)
- Is Donor Sperm/Egg or Surrogacy Harmful for the Kids?
- Top Ten Tips for Telling Children About Donor Egg, Sperm, and Embryo
- Books on Talking With Your Kids about Their Conception
Image credit: Yudis Asnar