Thinking about the Kids in Egg, Sperm, & Embryo Donation

Dawn Davenport

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It’s hard to know what our donor conceived kids will want or need when they haven’t even been conceived yet, but we have a clue by listening to donor conceived adults.

All decisions in parenting are supposed to be made with the children in mind. Keeping the child’s interest in the front of our mind is easier once the child is here. We have a real live kid, with real live needs to see. Far harder is anticipating the needs of a child that is only in our dreams, but that is often the lot of all parents– especially parents who have to really work to get their children.

Parents using third party reproduction (egg, sperm, and embryo donation and surrogacy) are in a particularly hard spot. Before this precious child is even conceived they must make many decisions that will or may profoundly affect their child. In addition to deciding whether to use a donor and which donor to use, they also have to decide whether to choose a donor that will share identifying information.

That’s a lot to think about when you have no idea who this child will be or what he will want. Heck, at this stage, you’re not even sure that you’ll ever be a parent.

Should You Get Identifying Info on Your Donor

Unfortunately, the decision on whether to choose a donor that will share identifying information and/or agree to contact once the child is of age must be made at this very beginning stage. Once you select an anonymous donor with no identifying information, neither you nor your child can’t go back and demand this information.

Whats Best for Children Conceived via Egg, Sperm, or Embryo Donation?

If you’ve been reading this blog for long, you know that I am the last person to make broad generalizations about groups of people. To make generalizations, we need long term, well designed research on a large number of donor conceived people – the larger the better. There has not been a lot of this type of research focused on the benefits of identifying genetic information, and most of the research that has been done has been on people conceived via sperm donation.

We do have this type of research on people who were adopted that indicates that some degree of openness and knowing their genetic roots is beneficial to children. While I think this research has relevance and is worth considering, there are significant differences between people conceived via egg donation, sperm donation, or embryo donation and people who were adopted.

I suspect, given human nature, that once the research is finally done, we’ll see a broad spectrum of needs for identifying information on donors. For some donor conceived people, this information will be crucial to their well being – they will feel incomplete without it. Others will likely not care at all. The majority will probably fall somewhere in between.

What will your future child want?

Ive heard parents imply or say that their child will not want or need information on their donor because:

a)  They will be raised by both a mother and father, thus never experience a lack of a parent.

b) We will be such great parents that our child will have no need to search.

c) We won’t tell them, so they will never know they were conceived with donor egg or sperm.

Ahhh, if only wishing could make it so.  The truth is that you don’t know in advance what your child will need or want, and it has little do with good parenting, and given the developments in genetic testing, it will have little to do with what information the parents share or withhold.

What Donor Conceived People Say

In doing research for an upcoming Creating a Family show with a panel of donor conceived people, I ran across this blog on Donor Sibling Registry with quotes from people joining their registry just in the month of May. While it’s fair to assume that people joining the Donor Sibling Registry are going to fall somewhere in the “I want to know info on my donor” camp, their thoughts are well worth considering when deciding on how much information to get on the egg donor, sperm donor, or embryo donor since you don`t know where your child will fall. Note also the frequent mention of wanting info on siblings, which I hear a lot. With their permission we share some here.

  • “I didn’t really mind not knowing who my donor was until I turned 18. Now it’s all I can think about. I’m just trying to reach out and see if I can find any siblings. I would like to know if I have any siblings and would like to meet them and to hopefully meet the man that help give me life.”
  • “I was conceived by a donor egg. My mom says she does not remember any of the basic information about the egg donor (ethnicity, medical history, etc). I have called the clinic where I was conceived multiple times, left messages and never gotten a response back. The only information I have is the serial number of the petri dish I was made in, because the clinic gave my mom the petri dish as a souvenir. I am ****. I got that number tattooed on  my back, I guess it was my way of trying to re-establish control and ownership of my own body after I had been told I had no legal rights (seeing as I was the product, and not one of the people involved) to my own genetic history and information. I love my mom and her family, but it has always been extremely obvious that I do not share genetic material with them; aside from physical appearance, we have absolutely nothing in common in terms of shared interests, aptitudes, dislikes, taste or personal traits.”
  • “Hello, I found out that my conception was the result of an artificial insemination when I was 13 years old. Although I’m very fortunate to have a loving father who has been an important and active part of my life since birth, not knowing anything about the other half of my genetic code has always been in the back of my mind. Now, at 32 years old, I have decided to take action and reach out to see who else shares my genes and possibly solve some questions that have been long unanswered.”
  • “I recently learned as a result of a population finder DNA test that the father who raised me is not my biological father. I received confirmation that my mother did, in fact, use a sperm bank in order to conceive me. Unfortunately, my mother is unwilling to reveal any information about where the treatment took place.”
  • “Its scary when I think of trying to find out who my father is. . .what if he wants nothing to do with me? The idea of finding my siblings however is more comforting though. We all just want the same thing, to find out where the other parts of us are. I want to be able to talk to someone who has had similar experiences as me. My sister is also a child of a sperm donator, and although we have the same mother, we have two separate fathers. We’ve grown up together, I love her more than anything, and I don’t consider her a “half” sister, but I would love to meet someone who shares the same DNA as me… the genes I received from my father. “
  • “Hello, I found out that my conception was the result of an artificial insemination when I was 13 years old. Although I’m very fortunate to have a loving father who has been an important and active part of my life since birth, not knowing anything about the other half of my genetic code has always been in the back of my mind. Now, at 32 years old, I have decided to take action and reach out to see who else shares my genes and possibly solve some questions that have been long unanswered.”

What do you think? Is it fair to donor conceived children to choose an anonymous donor? Is it fair to parents to put their future child’s potential desires over their own needs?

P.S. In July we will have a panel of four donor conceived people on the Creating a Family show to talk about this and the perspective of adults who were conceived by donor. Sign up for our twice weekly newsletter to get more details and to submit a question for the panel.

 

Image credit: HoboMama

03/06/2014 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Blog, Infertility, Infertility Blog | 60 Comments



60 Responses to Thinking about the Kids in Egg, Sperm, & Embryo Donation

  1. OK folks, we are shutting down the comments on this post. Everyone has made their point and now we are just talking “at” each other rather than “with” each other. Thank you all for your willingness to share your divergent points of view. Now, go out and have some fun!

  2. marilynn says:

    Parenthood is not something that a person earns for good behavior, it’s a burden an obligation that people have if they have offspring. They made a dependent human being. A person exists and is helpless to care for themselves because of their actions. Who else on earth should a minor have a right to rely upon for care but their bio parent? It’s nice that the state and or other people are willing to step in and help when their parents fail but it’s not like the state or those people are the one’s that caused them to be dependent. There is massive deserved entitlement to care from our bio parents when we are minors and it’s very unjust and unfair that the law would let some bio parents off the hook because their kid’s suffer. Don’t look at it as something a person earns. They are people. Can you should you be able to earn yourself control of a person? Not even if you are a bio parent should you be considered as earning your parental tite – gawd what can be earned can just as easily be bought or given as a gift. They are people having a right to rely on your bio parents for care is totally different than having a right to rely upon whatever random person paid to raise you. It lacks depth and love its al contrived.

  3. marilynn says:

    Anon 48. I do get it. Life is not always fair nature can be cruel and unjust and it is outside our hands beyond the control of man. Human’s can’t stop a tornado from killing innocent people. There is seemingly no rhyme or reason for the suffering that nature inflicts upon people who absolutely don’t deserve it. But Anon 48 Nature can be unfair but the laws of mankind don’t have to be and are not supposed to be. To the extent that we can draft laws to treat all living people equitably – giving them the same social obligations, holding them personally accountable for the results of their own actions we can and should and must because it is only fair to the people who are impacted by their actions. We can control the fairness, the justness of the laws we live by. Discrimination is not a force of nature its a frailty of mankind. We can control that, we can fix that. People don’t have to be subjected to differential treatment under the law even though nature is arbitrary and cruel and unjust sometimes in making good people sick and bad people healthy often.
    Donor offspring and adopted people and those with false and incomplete birth records are treated unfairly and unjustly under the law. It’s correctable its something that can be cured and turned around without harming anyone at all. Nobody else will be treated unfairly or unjustly by holding their bio parents accountable for them no different than the bio parents of others. No harm will come to anyone from recording their identities accurately and giving them full legal rights and kinship in their bio families. Nobody will suffer the loss of their rights by allowing them theirs and they won’t be at some greater advantage than the rest of us, they’ll simply be on equal footing. Granting all minors the same level of protection against trafficking by making sure that nobody ever gets parental authority over another person’s offspring without going to court and being fully background checked – that would be a good and healthy and just thing since most people have that meager protection prior to having someone who is not their bio parent granted parental authority over them. Equalizing the rights of donor offspring and adopted people and people with fallse/incomplete birth records does not subject infertile individuals to unfair or unjust treatment under the law, they’d simply all have to follow the same rules in order to obtain custody and control of someone else’s offspring. There should be no short cut around legal guardian or adoption. A woman should not be able to skip that process just because she paid a fee to give birth to someone else’s kid or because someone else gave her a pregnancy experience as a gift. She still won’t be the bio mother of the child she delivers no different than any other adoptive mother so why should the child she want’s to raise be denied that basic protective action of a court approved adoption where they at least try to identify the bio parents and find out why they are reinquishing – what if they received some kind of reimbursement for being willing not to raise their offspring? Is that fair decent treatment of a minor? They are not objects to be doled out to needy people who want them, they are people with an identity and history all their own and it’s not OK to try and buy that, nor sell that.

    I do have great sympathy for how unfair life can be especially to adopted and donor offspring but it’s not their fault those people were stricken with tragedy. Why should they be forced to loose their identities and their families it is not their responsibility to correct that unjust force of nature. Other people obtain kids to raise that are not their own offspring and they do it fairy and justly and with respect to the identity and family of the person they choose to raise and adopt or act as guardian for. So it can be done. There is a good working model to follow that won’t harm anyone in the process that will help connect kids that need hopes with loving homes of people who have much love to offer a growing child. They don’t need to treat donor offspring and adopted people like a lower class with fewer rights. It’s correctable, it can be overcome if we just correct the law. We can’t do anything about nature, or at least most of us who are not scientists fighting for a cure can’t. Donor gametes make the donor’s children. That’s just what happens and sadly they fail to raise them and care for them. There are ethical ways to bring a kid home and paying a bio parent not to raise their kid is not one of those ethical methods.

  4. cb says:

    “Of course there are ethical issues for all of these family creating options, but the solution is not to throw more obstacles in the way of those who require access to them in order to become parents.”

    Just out of interest, what would you consider unethical practices? Perhaps we can agree on some of those? For example, I find the following rather horrifying:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-186802/Should-eggs-aborted-babies.html

  5. cb says:

    “Having to pass a homestudy (or a number of them) just so that I can lose a child to his/her birthparents if they decide to parent-said decision having been made without having to be screened by anyone at all-no homestudy required?”

    @45 You are not “losing a child to his/her birthparents”, the expectant mother is deciding to parent her child.

  6. cb says:

    First of all, there are too many anonymouses lol. Anonymi @44,@45 and @47 are you all different people? Please confirm.

    @45″I know folks like Marilynn and cb claim to be IF themselves, but you obviously haven’t learned anything from your experience if you can still pass such judgements over what the rest of us might choose to do or to consider us to be in a position of power.”

    I have never claimed to be IF. I am an adoptee talking from the adopted persons point of view, from the view of someone who knows what it is like to have never had any contact with genetic relatives until recently. I am glad I took the leap and glad I had the opportunity to take the leap. I didn’t expect anything much from the experience but I have learnt a lot about myself from doing so.

    “What about the equal rights of IF couples to become parents?”

    In what way has anything I’ve said stepped on your rights? I am just trying to point out that your future child has rights too. Why can’t you see that? Your rights are important but so are your child’s rights.

    “Parents through gamete donation and adoption are parents, and the rest of the world needs to grow up and accept this, just like it has had to grow up and accept the reality of interracial marriage, women gaining the right to vote, and same-gender marriage (ok, so we’re not 100% there on the last one yet, but thankfully we’re getting there).”

    @44, For crying out loud, NO-ONE is saying that you will not be your children’s parents. You will be their mum and dad. However, your child also has the right to know about their genetic heritage if they so wish. Please STOP trying to imply that I am discriminating against you because I don’t think anonymous donation is fair on a child.

    @45″IF leaves you powerless, and it is insulting for anyone to suggest that it allows you to have power over anyone else in the scenario-ESPECIALLY if that person is fertile and feels that they should have the last word on what we who are IF SHOULD do in our quest to become parents. Until you have truly walked in our shoes, you should keep your opinions to yourself.”

    You seem to be refusing to walk in the shoes of your hypothetical child. My opinion IS relevant because I have been in the position of never knowing any genetic relatives until I was 46 thus I am trying to shed light on how your child *might* feel. Certainly, there are many different views by adoptees and many different views by DC adults and thus your child *might* feel like me and the again yourchild *might* not. You won’t know until your child gets older. As Dawn said earlier:

    ”You simply don’t know what will be in your child’s best interest until you know your child, so perhaps you should plan in advance for most contingencies”

  7. Anna says:

    “The child is also affeced by conception since they are the one actually being conceived.”

    I don’t believe a child exists pre-conception. I don’t think sperm, eggs, or pre-embryos are kids.

    “Thus any decisions being made should be in their best interest.”

    No one does this. Even if it’s planned sex. Even if it’s ART. No one engages in procreation with the child’s best interest in mind.

    Adoption isn’t procreation activities. Adoption is about real, live kids. Procreation isn’t about kids because there is no kid for it to be about.

  8. Anna says:

    “Anna it may be your right to procreate anonymously but it is not your right to have offspring and remain anonymous to your offspring unless you have the donor exemption”

    No. It is my right. Every American woman has the constitutional right to procreate anonymously. No names exchanged.

    Out of town, out of the country, at a bar. This is legal activity. The constitution protects it.

  9. Anna says:

    “Justin and Anna, I’m just trying to get you to see what it can be like growing up never knowing one’s genetic background”

    You don’t seem to get something. There’s a BIG difference with advising people on open or closed adoption.

    And telling me what I can and cannot do with my downstairs. Or should and should not do. Crosses a line for me. And for other people, it sounds like.

  10. Anna says:

    “Denying IF people the same rights that fertile people are able to take for granted is wrong,”

    This. Infertile people’s rights are not less then fertile people’s rights to conceive.

    Americans believe that the right to engage in procreative activities trumps other things.

    People with blindness, disabilities, AIDS, heritable diseases all have the right to procreate.

    Women get to conceive anonymously out-of-town at a bar. Not legally obliged to get social security numbers of sex partners.

    People who conceive via ART don’t have less rights then everybody else. They have the same fundamental rights as people who conceive via coitus.

  11. Anna says:

    “I am sick and tired of others telling infertile people how to procreate. Live and let live, I say, and that includes choosing anonymity over openness. The only thing I would change in your comment is the gender element. It is not only a woman’s freedom to decide how to procreate – it is every person’s freedom.”

    Yep. It’s my Constitutional right to conceive however I like. At the bar, in the medical office, out of town, with a husband. Not your choice, but mine. It’s my moral obligation to decide for my own body what is right and what is wrong. You get to control your own body, not mine. End of story.

    Most people don’t ask complete strangers to butt in on their never-mind. If you know what I mean. It’s not that sort of decision.

    People conceive in less then ideal ways all the time. Ain’t anything new under the sun. No one is morally obliged to provide ideal circumstances before they attempt to conceive.

    Everyone gets to engage in consensual activities that maybe gets you to implantation. And a child MIGHT result. A whole lot else needs to go good before a live infant is born.

    Open-ID donors that don’t cost much more then anonymous? Allright. Figure more choice can’t hurt. But if it’s a lot more $$? Nope.

    Debt = slavery. Not just for you but for your kids. If I gotta chose it’s moral to be economically solvent. Good for the kids, too.

    Nope. Not going to not try because of what some stranger thinks. You chose for you. They ain’t my morals.

  12. Anonymous says:

    “Be fair and stop pretending that you don’t know what’s best for a person just because you don’t know how they’ll feel because being treated unfairly is wrong no matter how they feel about it. Come on. Like its some how OK to deny a person equal rights….”
    OK, Anonymous @37 who preaches about equal rights. What about the equal rights of IF couples to become parents? Rights that we are born with and entitled to until it is discovered that we are IF-rights that are then stripped away from us as soon as it was discovered that we had within us a disabling condition that made it difficult if not impossible to become parents through unassisted means? Rights that we must watch fertile couples abuse everyday-getting pregnant and giving birth to children that they are unfit to care for again and again, all the while knowing that these rights are being unfairly denied to us due to circumstances beyond our control? Rights that we are too often blamed for having taken away by our disability, because it is easier to blame IF on those who suffer from it than it is to offer up real solutions to a very real problem. Instead of rights, we get to live with helplessness and stigma and judgement from those have done nothing to earn their fertility or their ability to conceive naturally, but who somehow feel that those of us who are IF are what is wrong with the world. Denying IF people the same rights that fertile people are able to take for granted is wrong, and until fertile people and couples are judged by the same criteria and are made to EARN the privilege of being parents the same way that IF couples are, please don’t speak to me about rights or justice, because you haven’t begun to learn what those words even mean.

  13. cb says:

    “Anonymous – You write as if infertile people are a malevolent bunch who are looking to hurt others. As an infertile person, I can tell you that this is not the case.

    Babies born of donated gametes are not separated from their families – they grow up with their families. An adoptive parent, or a parent through gamete donation, is not inferior to a biological one. He is not a baby-sitter or a poor replacement – he is the family. The same goes to the uncle through adoption, the sibling through egg donation, and so on. Babies born of egg, sperm or embryo donation know their families, and those families are as “real” as the biological ones.
    And a logical error. The baby born of embryo, egg or sperm donation was not transferred to another by the donation. Rather, he or she were created and born because of the donation. The option of having them live with the biological parent was never even a possibility.”

    No-one is saying you won’t be their mum and dad, of course you will, Justin 🙂

    However, you seem to miss the point that the egg and/or sperm hold different genetics and by deliberately choosing anonymous donation, you are deliberately “keeping a door locked” so that they can never know what is behind.

    I think part of the problem is that you haven’t learnt to separate the family from the process.

    For example, I am adopted and I love my mum and dad and I don’t consider them to be inferior to any of my friends’ bological parents – they are mum and dad just like my friends parents are their mum and dad.

    However, I am born of different genes – it is as it is. 10 years ago if you asked me, I might not have felt that mattered – now that I am in connection with biological family, knowing the biological side has helped put certain behaviour/traits into context – as I have said earlier, this came as a surprise.

    Justin and Anna, I’m just trying to get you to see what it can be like growing up never knowing one’s genetic background – yes, I adapted pretty well but I am grateful to have that extra knowledge. It saddens me to think that if my nation of birth still had sealed records, I would never be allowed to know anything. Although records were sealed when I was adopted, my parents are glad that they are now unsealed and that the option for getting our OBC and/or making contact is there for all of us if we wish. My older asis has no wish to do meet an of her bfamily but I suspect that she is glad that the option is there. Btw my sister is my sister and will always be my sister. My brother are my brothers and will always be my brothers, my mum is my mum and will always be my mum and my dad is my dad and will always be my dad (he has passed away). I now just have extra family – I am not swapping one for the other.

    Knowing my biological background doesn’t mean I am betraying my afamily. Mum and dad always understood that we children might be interested in our origins – that didn’t mean they loved us any less.

  14. Anonymous says:

    “Let me ask all of you something – why is it that people who raise donor offspring or raise adopted people get to have so much more power than the average parent that makes their own kid? ”
    I’ll stop laughing my head off long enough to respond to this bit of ridiculousness. Here goes….people who raise donor offspring and some who raise adopted people do so because we are INFERTILE. If you believe that being IF puts you in a position of power in any sense, well, I’d like to chat with you about a bridge that I have to sell….In response to your naieve query, let me ask you one in response-which part of the “power” of IF are you referring to? Having to make a baby in a laboratory instead of in a naturally occurring conception with someone you may or may not be in love with? Having to jump through a million social worker’s hoops in order to be placed on a waiting list to even have the chance to possibly maybe become a parent one day, while your neighbour down the street can pop out one kid after another without having to think for one second about fit she is to care for what she has so easily created? Having to pass a homestudy (or a number of them) just so that I can lose a child to his/her birthparents if they decide to parent-said decision having been made without having to be screened by anyone at all-no homestudy required? Having to pay thousands of dollars on medications and procedures that do not have a guarantee of success, just to have an opportunity to try to have a baby of my own? Having to give up on it all just because the money has run out that would enable me to do something that others can do for free everyday whether or not they should? Please identify anywhere in that scenario where I would be in a position of power over anyone or anything? IF leaves you powerless, and it is insulting for anyone to suggest that it allows you to have power over anyone else in the scenario-ESPECIALLY if that person is fertile and feels that they should have the last word on what we who are IF SHOULD do in our quest to become parents. Until you have truly walked in our shoes, you should keep your opinions to yourself. I know folks like Marilynn and cb claim to be IF themselves, but you obviously haven’t learned anything from your experience if you can still pass such judgements over what the rest of us might choose to do or to consider us to be in a position of power.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Well said, Justin and Anna. Even though it’s not everyone’s freedom yet, it SHOULD be-otherwise it is discrimination. Such discrimination is seen as wrong in many other places, and it’s high time that such freedom be extended to those of us who are IF. Those who disagree with this view are entitled to their privilege, but they need to remember their privilege in matters such as this. Parents through gamete donation and adoption are parents, and the rest of the world needs to grow up and accept this, just like it has had to grow up and accept the reality of interracial marriage, women gaining the right to vote, and same-gender marriage (ok, so we’re not 100% there on the last one yet, but thankfully we’re getting there). All of these examples I have just listed were social movements and ideas that were once seen as too radical to be good for society-amazing how some will balk at extending freedoms to others if they are ones that they themselves can take it for granted. Somehow the world survived THOSE extensions of freedom-and in many cases the world became a better place for those changes, except in the minds and hearts of those who still mourn having their “privilege” taken away from them in order to give others a sense of freedom that they had been deprived before. Of course there are ethical issues for all of these family creating options, but the solution is not to throw more obstacles in the way of those who require access to them in order to become parents. That will not make things more ethical-just more discriminatory.

  16. cb says:

    Well said, anonymous@37

  17. Justin says:

    Anonymous – You write as if infertile people are a malevolent bunch who are looking to hurt others. As an infertile person, I can tell you that this is not the case.
    Babies born of donated gametes are not separated from their families – they grow up with their families. An adoptive parent, or a parent through gamete donation, is not inferior to a biological one. He is not a baby-sitter or a poor replacement – he is the family. The same goes to the uncle through adoption, the sibling through egg donation, and so on. Babies born of egg, sperm or embryo donation know their families, and those families are as “real” as the biological ones.
    And a logical error. The baby born of embryo, egg or sperm donation was not transferred to another by the donation. Rather, he or she were created and born because of the donation. The option of having them live with the biological parent was never even a possibility.

  18. Justin says:

    Anna, right on! I am sick and tired of others telling infertile people how to procreate. Live and let live, I say, and that includes choosing anonymity over openness. The only thing I would change in your comment is the gender element. It is not only a woman’s freedom to decide how to procreate – it is every person’s freedom.

  19. Greg says:

    “Dawn you said that a person can’t know what’s best for a child until that child is born – what a cop out that is. ”

    Marilynn,

    Dawn’s point was it’s impossible to know how kids will handle certain situations before they were born. Because we all deal with things differently you can’t know. You don’t know how a child would react to their parents being divorced or a single parent raising their kid. All you can do is learn to adapt to how the child reacts to the situation.

    “Anna it may be your right to procreate anonymously but it is not your right to have offspring and remain anonymous to your offspring unless you have the donor exemption which applies to males only by the way under the UPA.”

    Marilynn,

    It is your right to disagree with decisions others make but you don’t have a right to tell them how they should procreate. Just as no one has a right to tell you how you had your child. That’s your business.

  20. cb says:

    ““Even if it did reduce the numbers, then so be it. In the end, it has to be about the child, not the parents – sorry.”

    No. You don’t get to tell women how to procreate. It’s my constitutional right to decide when, how, and with whom I procreate or conceive. I can chose to procreate anonymously if I wish.”

    I’m not telling anyone how to procreate, just recommending that one is as responsible as possible when doing so. Presumably you plan to love the child you will be giving birth to, so you would surely want to do what is in their best interest. Procreating anonymously means you are deliberately “locking a door” for your child.

    “Who is most affected by conception? The pregnant woman. That’s why a woman has the right to make the decisions.”

    The child is also affeced by conception since they are the one actually being conceived. Thus any decisions being made should be in their best interest.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Anna it may be your right to procreate anonymously but it is not your right to have offspring and remain anonymous to your offspring unless you have the donor exemption which applies to males only by the way under the UPA. This exemption is tremendously unfair to offspring for obvious reasons and needs to be eliminated.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Dawn you said that a person can’t know what’s best for a child until that child is born – what a cop out that is. Let me ask all of you something – why is it that people who raise donor offspring or raise adopted people get to have so much more power than the average parent that makes their own kid? Cause other people don’t get the luxury option of lying to the kids about who their biological family is and they certainly don’t have the government’s support in helping them lie by allowing them to falsify their medical records to make it appear as if they were the parents of a biological child. Ya’ll get power and authority over the adopted or DC person that outlasts their childhoods do you realize that? Your authority does not expire when they turn 18 – they can’t just walk into to the vital records office and order a copy of the birth marriage and death records of their bio relatives the way everyone else can – the way you guys can.

    How can you say that it’s impossible to know what is best for a person before they are born? What’s best for all born people is to be treated equitably and fairly by the law and that is not the current state of affairs for people with false and biologically incomplete birth records. What would be best for donor offspring is if they, like all other offspring of unmarried bio parents, had identical rights to have their bio parents named on their birth records and be held accountable for them the same as for the rest of the population. Why are the rules different for them and their bio parents than for the rest of the population? Why are we as a society placing them and their relatives at a disadvantage compared to the rest of the population whose parent’s are not classified as donors? They are born with less rights than the rest of the population in order to make blank-slate infants readily available to people that want to raise them. They are born with less rights to short cut the safe guards of a court approved adoption – they don’t have the meager rights the rest of the population does when their bio parents don’t raise them they get no background checks or investigations to make sure their bio parents were not compensated for their absence. What would be best for donor offspring would be laws that treat them equitably.

    Getting to know the identity of your estranged bio parent at 18 is hardly equitable or fair compared to the rest of the population. It is a slap in the face actually. This argument of anonymous vs. identity release is incredibly insulting to the people who are subjected to not having a right to care and support from their bio parents. Can you imagine what it must feel like to know that its a crime for bio parents to abandon their young and conceal their identities to avoid responsibility – but not their bio parents because they don’t deserve the same legal protection as other minors because someone bought the right to treat them like a blank slate with no history.

    Instead of asking “what’s best” ask “what’s equal” and you’ll quickly find out that nobody else has to wait until they are 18 to find out the identity of their bio relatives. Honestly look at what you are even suggesting – getting to know who your biological parent is when you turn 18 is swell but it’s still lying to them and everyone else because you are not writing it down on any of their identifying documents so they will still always be living a lie with no legal right to correct their records. Historically their records will always be falsified and that will outlast them and their children and grand children – you will have permanently falsified their existence forever. Don’t pat yourselves on the back for telling them the truth about who they really are if you are not willing to write it down and let them actually live the truth. If you were offering the right to know the identity of their bio parents at 18 and have their birth records corrected to reflect the facts I’d say your getting closer to a situation that would be fair and equitable but still not the same as the rest of the population and therefore still not fair to them.

    The reason there comes harsh judgement is not that people are somehow unqualified to raise the children they are raising its that ya’ll actually think it’s perfectly OK to have a whole section of the population with reduced rights in order to put a baby in the crib of people who want to raise one. Ya’ll could still get babies into those cribs if the laws were changed to treat those little people fairly.

    If donor offspring and adopted people had the same rights as the rest of the population guess what people would still be clamouring to raise them. Instead of asking what losses are acceptable for donor offspring and adopted people to suffer why don’t we ask if people would still be willing to open their homes to children separated from their families if they did not get to falsify the medical records of those kids by putting their names on their birth records. The answer would be a resounding ‘yes we will still raise them and love them anyway’.

    Be fair and stop pretending that you don’t know what’s best for a person just because you don’t know how they’ll feel because being treated unfairly is wrong no matter how they feel about it. Come on. Like its some how OK to deny a person equal rights because of crap that happened before they were born – they were an embryo duh everyone was a freaking embryo before they were born and who cares whether their parents want to be anonymous or not, nobody else gets that right of anonymity when they have offspring. You act like you have to take their rights to save their lives or something and you don’t have to take their rights to save their lives. That’s ridiculous.

  23. Greg says:

    A non bio parent of a donor conceived child is always the parent of that child unless they choose not to be. Regardless of whether the donor is anonymous or non anonymous.

  24. Anna says:

    “Even if it did reduce the numbers, then so be it. In the end, it has to be about the child, not the parents – sorry.”

    No. You don’t get to tell women how to procreate. It’s my constitutional right to decide when, how, and with whom I procreate or conceive. I can chose to procreate anonymously if I wish.

    Who is most affected by conception? The pregnant woman. That’s why a woman has the right to make the decisions.

  25. marilynn says:

    CB if you are going to assume that a person might want contact at 18 why would you not assume they’d want contact earlier?

  26. marilynn says:

    Anonymous’ point is good about not having enough donors of other kinds either. Just don’t forget that donating eggs and sperm and embryos is not the same as donating blood or a liver. The donated material never stops operating to reproduce the person that it was harvested from whereas a donated liver once transplanted will stop operating to filter toxins in the body it came from and will start operating to filter toxins in the body its transplanted into. All that gets accomplished with gamete donation is that it puts distance between the bio parent and their child at birth making abandonment easier and less emotionally charged. It’s not like a donor’s genes helps other people conceive their own children. The donor is conceiving their own children still, they just won’t be raising them….if that is what they agreed to and they keep their promise when their children are born.

  27. marilynn says:

    Justin
    Hi you seem to be confusing gametes like eggs or sperm with actual people who have biological parents. I don’t know anyone that would equate giving up sperm or eggs with giving up a child. Some egg and sperm donors only give up their eggs or their sperm, say for research purposes and their contracts don’t include requirements to give up their biological children when they are born. Even still the contractual promise to give up their biological children when born is just a promise until they actually go through with it when their children are born and they follow through with the terms of their agreements and actually abandon their parental responsibilities. Most of their contracts have them abandon responsibilities as the first option with a back up clause of agreeing to give their children up for adoption if the contract is ever held illegal or invalid.

    The people I help in their searches surely do feel abandoned – how could they not its written into contract terms their bio parents signed off upon. I mean donors who won’t agree to abandon some of their bio children are not real popular with users right?

  28. Greg says:

    “Did I say “ignore the parents”? Why go from one extreme to the other? What I’ve said doesn’t go against what you are saying here -”the child is the main focus and the situation needs to work for both parents and children.” In fact, one might say that some of those parents who chose a totally anonymous donor are doing so because of their own insecurity and thus are inadvertantly hurting their child. (note I say “some” not “all”.”

    Oh, I wasn’t advocating for an extreme to go the other way. I think you and I are almost on the same page. I believe those who choose an anonymous or even a donor they know who don’t reveal to their child at an early age are insecure. Like you said I believe that inadvertently hurts the child.

    I think you and I have misunderstood one another at times and are in more agreement than we originally thought. 🙂

  29. Anonymous says:

    “And, what if ending anonymity did result in the number of donors dropping? Do the ends always justify the means? We don’t have enough heart or liver donors in the US either. But does that make it ok to resort to unethical manners of procurement? No. Sometimes there just might not be enough donors, of all kinds. We need to be asking, “what is in the best interests of the children being born” and start focusing on the answer to that questions as we move forward.”

    Exactly. Well said, Wendy.

  30. Dawn Dawn says:

    I am posting this for Wendy Kramer, with the Donor Sibling Registry who has trouble posting on her own.

    “Dawn, you say this: “The donor conceived community will need to figure out what applies and what doesn’t, but I certainly think there are some lessons they can learn from adoption!” Yes, there are indeed many parallels, and we have learned much from the adoption world.

    Donor families have been figuring it out for a while though, (we have donor conceived people on the DSR born from the 1940’s – present). It’s the industry and the public that haven’t quite caught on yet. We have conducted years of research and have many published papers on donor families in peer reviewed academic journals: https://www.donorsiblingregistry.com/resource-library/dsr-research For instance in the largest study to date on 751 donor conceived people, (where almost half came from outside the DSR), more than 75% recommended that parents do not use anonymous donations.

    We have told our stories on Oprah, 60 Minutes, GMA, The Today Show, CNN, Newsweek, TIME, The NY Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/06/health/06donor.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0) and most media outlets- around the world.

    We have more than 43,000 people on the DSR, donors, offspring and parents, who have had to “figure it out” and would love to help move this industry forward in a more ethical and responsible manner. Please read through the pages on our website for personal stories, testimonials, research, media stories and experiences of all those in the “donor family”.

    I also recommend reading the book “Finding Our Families: A First-Of-Its-Kind Book for Donor Conceived People and Their Families”. It contains everything I wish I would have known when beginning my journey 25 years ago.

    You also said this, “I believe most report that banning anonymity reduces the # of donors, but I may be wrong.”

    Banning egg and sperm donor anonymity did not result in a drop of donors in the UK.

    There are frequent comments that ending donor anonymity will automatically result in a drop in donor numbers.

    The HFEA in the UK has updated its figures to include two more years showing that the numbers of UK sperm donors have gone *up* six years in a row since the ending of anonymity, thus reversing a three year decline. The 480 sperm donors in 2010 was the highest figure since they started keeping records, and more than double the figure in 2004 just before anonymity ended. The numbers of egg donors have also gone up four years in a row, and the 1258 egg donors in 2010 was the second highest figure ever.

    All new donors registered (their numbers only go through 2010):

    Year Sperm donors Egg donors
    1992 375 451
    1993 426 528
    1994 417 732
    1995 414 749
    1996 419 806
    1997 343 910
    1998 256 943
    1999 302 1,120
    2000 323 1,241
    2001 327 1,302
    2002 288 1,174
    2003 257 1,032
    2004 239 1,107
    2005 272 1,023
    2006 303 803
    2007 360 1,024
    2008 405 1,167
    2009 438 1,202
    2010 480 1,258

    And, what if ending anonymity did result in the number of donors dropping? Do the ends always justify the means? We don’t have enough heart or liver donors in the US either. But does that make it ok to resort to unethical manners of procurement? No. Sometimes there just might not be enough donors, of all kinds. We need to be asking, “what is in the best interests of the children being born” and start focusing on the answer to that questions as we move forward. Please feel free to contact me via email if you wish to chat, as I am not sure when I can get back to this board. wendy@donorsiblingregistry.com

  31. cb says:

    “Completely disagree with this concept. To me it has to work for the parents because if it doesn’t it won’t work for the child either. You’ll end up creating a situation where you encourage insecure parents that end up hurting children. For any type of family to work the situation needs to work for both the parents and children. Of course the child is the main focus but ignoring the parents can be a dangerous place to go.”

    Did I say “ignore the parents”? Why go from one extreme to the other? What I’ve said doesn’t go against what you are saying here -“the child is the main focus and the situation needs to work for both parents and children.” In fact, one might say that some of those parents who chose a totally anonymous donor are doing so because of their own insecurity and thus are inadvertantly hurting their child. (note I say “some” not “all”.

    “See I think that an open donor only policy will lead to a better quality selection of donors that is worth sacrificing the quantity. An open donor is more likely to be engaged in answering questions that the child has updating his profile with regards to medical conditions as well. I don’t think intended parents benefit from a weaker quality of donors. But that’s just me”

    See Greg, we can agree 🙂

  32. Greg says:

    “Most adoptees who seek out bfamily and I am sure that most DC children who do so are usually expanding their family, not replacing their afamilies.”

    I think it depends upon the situation. As the case with some adoptees if they don’t feel they fit in with their raising families they may be looking to replace that family with the biological family. But who are we to judge not being in their situation.

    “I am tired of people making me feel bad for caring about my biological connections – they are my family ALONG with my afamily – deal with it.”

    Those people are wrong for making you feel that way. Who are they to tell you who your family is? Who are they to judge you? I am so sorry that you have to put up with that non sense. You don’t deserve it.

  33. Anna says:

    On adult donor conceived interest in identity information.

    The sperm bank was surprised at the percentage asking for information. They thought it would be higher.

    Scheib, J.E., Ruby, A. & Benward, J. (2008). Who requests their sperm donor’s identity? Analysis of donor-conceived adult requests at an open-identity program. Fertility & Sterility, 90 (supplement 1), S8-9.

    “RESULTS: Since the first release 6 years ago, 37/142 (26.1%) eligible adults requested donor information.”

  34. Anna says:

    Someone asked why?

    Open ID is easy if you have unlimited funds.

    Frozen eggs are cheaper then fresh. A lot cheaper.

    More selection of donors if you want to find a physical match.

    Put 15K into an index fund. How much is it in 21 years for the grown child?

    Parents ask themselves: what will the kid want more? Info and parents paying off debt or a college fund? What is our greater responsibility to our child?

    You can hire a private eye in the future for your kid if you have pics and info.

    Open donors at 18. No guarantee of info. exchange. They need to update their last known contact info.

    Is it worth paying an extra 10-30K? Expensive egg donor consultants will find a perfect open-id donor. But it’ll cost you. You’ll go into big time debt unless you’ve got an extra 30-40K in your sock drawer.

    Eggs from that perfect ID-donor might not work. You need $$ for a back up plan.

  35. cb says:

    “That inflation comes from others in the blogosphere, from folks who go by titles such as “my parents donor is my REAL father” and bloggers who demonize parents through 3rd party reproduction for taking this path to parenthood.

    “These folks seem to want more than mere answers-they seem to be on a mission to uphold a bio supremacy that I believe should be classified in the same category as racism, homophobia, sexism, etc.”

    Thay may seem to YOU to be doing that but perhaps that is your misinterpretation of the situation. It is very common in the adoption world for APs to misinterpret the motives of adoptees so I can imagine it is the same in the DC world.

    “I believe this is wrong on so many levels, and would like to be steered towards information provided by donor conceived folks who do just want answers about their identity, and not those who are on a quest to find their REAL parents-the ones who are related to them by DNA, nothing more.”

    I’m not going to get into the “real” thing, you’ll need to get over that if you want to become a parent via donor egg/sperm or adoption. You will share a history with your child, your child will share biology with others – it is as it is and you have to accept that. Most adoptees who seek out bfamily and I am sure that most DC children who do so are usually expanding their family, not replacing their afamilies.

    And btw although I have never met my bmother, I do have deep feelings towards her for various reasons and some of that is purely due to her being my biological mother. although, obviously as an adoptee, there are other factors as well. I did NOT expect to have these feelings, they took me greatly by surprise. I know that there are those out there who think I am placing too much emphasis on that biological connection and that I should have no more interest in her than if she were a bar of soap, however, I can’t help my feelings. Each adoptee and DC individual are different and often they can’t help having those feelings either.

    Btw in regards to extended family, my adoptive cousins and uncles/aunts are my cousins/uncles/aunts and my biological cousins and uncles/aunts are my cousins/uncles/aunts (aunts are by marriage to uncles but they are still my aunts). No prefixes needed. All are real and yes some are biologically related. Btw I didn’t really have much to do with adoptive cousins/uncles/aunts as they all lived overseas – it doesn’t make them any less related does it? In fact, I know my extended bfamily better than my extended afamily.

    In the end, you just have to remember that it isn’t either/or and not look at everything in black and white. I am tired of people making me feel bad for caring about my biological connections – they are my family ALONG with my afamily – deal with it.

  36. cb says:

    “cb-in judging me you make my initial point abundantly clear and prove it to be true. Uh-thanks for that?? I just hope that you would reserve the same judgements for the other scenario that I put forth-a woman who has a consensual one night stand with someone that she doesn’t even take the time to get his name before the deed is done, gets pregnant, and then has no way to fill her future offspring in on the other half of their identity. But knowing how you think from comments you have made on this site and in other places, I have a feeling that you would forgive the woman in this scenario before you would extend that same compassion to someone who chose an anonymous donor.”

    If a woman INTENTIONALLY had a one night stand with an unknown man in a deliberate attempt to get pregnant so that she could be the only parent in the situation and so that the child would NEVER know who the father is, yes, I would consider that irresponsible – not for having the one night stand but for DELIBERATELY choosing that method to create a child.

    However, if she was using contraception while having that one night stand and it failed and she got pregnant, then I would not judge her because she didn’t intend to create a child without knowing whom the father is.

    It is the DELIBERATE intent of the first scenario to actively exclude one’s child from knowing one half of their gene pool that I would have the issue with, not the one night stand. I would equate the first scenario to choosing an anonymous donor.

    This is what you are deliberately and wilfully misunderstanding. I am not against people using donors. I am not even against there being no involvement during the child’s childhood. However, deliberately depriving another human being of genetic knowledge FOREVER is not particularly fair on that child.

    ” Also, I believe that open ID should become more encouraged, but if it ends in making more people hesitant to donate, that will be a terrible thing because it will mean less help for IF couples to become parents-which I believe is still a worthy cause, even if it only helps “adults” who need help”

    As I said previously, when there has only been one choice, one can’t assume that it is necessarily the choice of the donors. Maybe not all the same donors donating now will still do so but I suspect that many still would. One might also find that other people would be more likely to donate. In the end though, when there is more than one person’s future at stake, then sometimes compromises need to be made. One has to remember that one is creating a thinking human who might have opinions of their own about things.

    In the end, you will all do what you want to do. If you do a totally anonymous (never to be released) donation, and should you end up having one of those children who is interested, then I would be interested in knowing what your response to them will be.

  37. Kristine A. says:

    Dawn, I see the things that you have shared that the parents have said to imply/say that their child will not want/need information on their donors like echoes from the past of things that I imagine adoptive parents in the closed adoption era used to think and say. I had a mother who used a donor egg say to me in an online group that she was her daughter’s only mother and while she was both her child’s mom and biological mother (because she also carried and gave birth to her) she was not her daughter’s genetic mother and the mom can think what she likes about this, but what is more important is what her daughter thinks/feels about it. In answer to the question that you posed Dawn, no I don’t think anonymous donation is fair to children and is like ‘sealed adoption records.’ I do differentiate though between anonymous eggs/sperm and embryos… no one needs to ever accept anonymous eggs/sperm ever again, but frozen embryos are already little persons and I would want them to have the chance to be born even if their genetic parents’ information is anonymous. (I also personally am a fan of embryo adoption/donation, but not the other two)

    • Kristine, in my mind you are right about the analogy to closed birth certificates–it’s one I’ve made before. You raise an interesting point about the distinctions between donor egg/sperm and donor embryos. I need to think on that one for a while.

  38. Greg says:

    “Also, I believe that open ID should become more encouraged, but if it ends in making more people hesitant to donate, that will be a terrible thing because it will mean less help for IF couples to become parents-which I believe is still a worthy cause, even if it only helps “adults” who need help.”

    See I think that an open donor only policy will lead to a better quality selection of donors that is worth sacrificing the quantity. An open donor is more likely to be engaged in answering questions that the child has updating his profile with regards to medical conditions as well. I don’t think intended parents benefit from a weaker quality of donors. But that’s just me.

  39. Greg says:

    “Even if it did reduce the numbers, then so be it. In the end, it has to be about the child, not the parents – sorry.”

    Completely disagree with this concept. To me it has to work for the parents because if it doesn’t it won’t work for the child either. You’ll end up creating a situation where you encourage insecure parents that end up hurting children. For any type of family to work the situation needs to work for both the parents and children. Of course the child is the main focus but ignoring the parents can be a dangerous place to go.

  40. Anoymous says:

    “I’m not inflating the role of the biological donor – I am just trying to point out that they may have answers to questions that the DC child might want answered. It is perhaps you and others on here that might be overinflating the role of biological donor”

    “I think there seems tobe an assumption that a DC child wanting to meet their biological progenitors means that they are looking for another mummy and daddy and I find that rather patronising. They often just want to know answers”.-

    Fair enough, cb-you yourself did not make any statements inflating the importance of the bio donor. That inflation comes from others in the blogosphere, from folks who go by titles such as “my parents donor is my REAL father” and bloggers who demonize parents through 3rd party reproduction for taking this path to parenthood. These folks seem to want more than mere answers-they seem to be on a mission to uphold a bio supremacy that I believe should be classified in the same category as racism, homophobia, sexism, etc. I believe this is wrong on so many levels, and would like to be steered towards information provided by donor conceived folks who do just want answers about their identity, and not those who are on a quest to find their REAL parents-the ones who are related to them by DNA, nothing more. I am hoping that the upcoming CAF show about donor conceived adults might provide such insights-that would be helpful. I can find enough of the other kind of “misinformation” and hate speech on my own, thanks

    ” Also, I believe that open ID should become more encouraged, but if it ends in making more people hesitant to donate, that will be a terrible thing because it will mean less help for IF couples to become parents-which I believe is still a worthy cause, even if it only helps “adults” who need help”

    Sorry to quote my own comment, but I wanted to add one more thought-abortion is intended to help adults only when it comes to making a choice in their lives. Should it therefore outlawed because it doesn’t have the best interests of children in mind? I know that if I were a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy, there were some that would encourage me to put my needs first when deciding what to do-and this is when there is an actual “baby on board”. And yet IF couples are judged unfairly for trying to balance their needs with the needs of their future offspring-offspring BTW which are still only in the realm of possibility. Just a thought. I have no personal views of whether abortion is right or wrong-I just find it another gross double standard. Seems some will fight tirelessly for some women’s “right to choose”, but only if they are fertile.

  41. Anoymous says:

    “If you are talking about an anonymous donor where the DC child will never ever know who they are, even when turning 18, then yes, I will judge you, sorry. You would be thinking of yourself before your child.**(see below)”

    cb-in judging me you make my initial point abundantly clear and prove it to be true. Uh-thanks for that?? I just hope that you would reserve the same judgements for the other scenario that I put forth-a woman who has a consensual one night stand with someone that she doesn’t even take the time to get his name before the deed is done, gets pregnant, and then has no way to fill her future offspring in on the other half of their identity. But knowing how you think from comments you have made on this site and in other places, I have a feeling that you would forgive the woman in this scenario before you would extend that same compassion to someone who chose an anonymous donor.

    I see no difference in the 2 scenarios-except that for the woman choosing a donor, her decision is not as led by selfishness as the woman who naturally conceived a child with someone anonymous. One was making a decision based on the information she had at the time, the other was driven by lust and hormones. But I’m sure that you and others would excuse the woman who naturally conceived and explain away her selfishness (“oh, she was in love (“love”-really???), she was young, she was just following her heart, she didn’t know any better, times were different, etc”.) In this case you would still have a child with a missing piece of their identity but this time this lack of information would be due solely to their mother’s neglect, which came from her own sense of irresponsibility and inability to think about the consequences (or anything beyond the thrill of her anonymous fling).

    I bring this up because I know that situations like the one I just described happen every day, and in my mind are much more damaging to a child’s sense of identity than the anonymous nature of 3rd party donation. I would like to know where you truly stand on such naturally occurring anonymous conceptions-heaven forbid I should make assumptions about where you stand, but I have a feeling that I will see a huge double standard coming up-it’s okay if the conception is natural, but not if it’s done in a lab to help an infertile couple to become parents.

    BTW-as I said before, when it comes to choosing a donor in our situation (if such an occasion arises) we will not go out of our way to choose someone who chose to remain anonymous, but if such a person proves to be the best match, we will likely choose them. I hope that we will find an open ID donor who is right for us, but I cannot control that or determine that-that remains to be seen. Also, I believe that open ID should become more encouraged, but if it ends in making more people hesitant to donate, that will be a terrible thing because it will mean less help for IF couples to become parents-which I believe is still a worthy cause, even if it only helps “adults” who need help.

  42. cb says:

    And just back to donors wanting to be anonymous.

    Donors were anonymous in the past because that was the ONLY option available. The actual donors themselves nay have had various different desires (i.e. some are glad of the anonymity, others might actually want to know what happened to their sperm/eggs).

    It is a bit like people saying to adoptees “your bparents chose a closed adoption for a reason” – well, no, that was the only option, again some might never want contact, others may want contact.

    The point is that if there was only ONE option (such as anonmymous donation/closed adoption), then that doesn’t mean that every participant wanted that ONE option.

    • cb, I’ve seen varying reports on what banning anonymous donors does to the donor pool. I believe most report that banning anonymity reduces the # of donors, but I may be wrong.

  43. cb says:

    Again, I just want to make sure that we are all on the same page in regards to the meaning of “anonymity”.

    I personally am specifically talking about the donor never EVER having their identity revealed. I am NOT talking about knowing the donor during the child’s childhood, just in case anyone is assuming that I am expecting the donor to be part of the recipient family’s every day life. I am not. I am specifically talking about having NO OPTION EVER to know who that donor is.

    I just am not sure why anyone on here would be against the OPTION of contact at age 18 and beyond – how is it their parents’ business? They are an adult by then.

    “Not all that long ago, the thought of getting identifying information on a donor seemed absurd.”

    I suppose that could probably have been said about adoption as well. And thankfully we have moved on from that.

    “I think that many in the “banning all anonymous donation” camp are reacting to the fact that a surprising number of medical professionals are still in the “why would you even tell your child” camp”

    I am not reacting to any such thing, though of course that is wrong. I have heard that up to 40% of Finnish recipient families haven’t told their children that they are donor conceived.

    I just think that children have rights, that’s all.

    “We are not selfish-we are trying to do the best we can, and we should not be unfairly judged by others who claim to know best for our potential children. You only know what you yourself wanted in your own situation-please don’t presume that you know what my child or anyone else’s child will want.”

    I agree that I have no idea what your child would want which is why I agree with Dawn’s statement:

    “You simply don’t know what will be in your child’s best interest until you know your child, so perhaps you should plan in advance for most contingencies.”

    Having the option of contact at 18 is planning for most contingencies.

    “Please don’t forget – a child that was born of gamete donations has a family. He has loving parents. He may have siblings. He hopefully has grandparents, aunts, uncles, and a whole loving clan of people around him. By inflating the role of the biological donor, we tend to forget the actual loving family the child has been born to.”

    No-one is saying that the child doesn’t having a loving family. I am not sure what that has to do with anything?

    I’m not inflating the role of the biological donor – I am just trying to point out that they may have answers to questions that the DC child might want answered. It is perhaps you and others on here that might be overinflating the role of biological donor?

    Btw even though as an adoptee, there are differences, there are some similar experiences. For example, seeing certain similarities with my bfamily has helped me to put certain things in context. One strangely reassuring thing is that by seeing how similar to my bfamily, I realise that I have always been mostly “me” and that those similarities with my afamily are us “complementing” each other rather than my being influenced by my upbringing. That has actually helped me become closer to my amum :). It is a bit hard to explain.

    I think there seems tobe an assumption that a DC child wanting to meet their biological progenitors means that they are looking for another mummy and daddy and I find that rather patronising. They often just want to know answers.

  44. cb says:

    ”” You simply don’t know what will be in your child’s best interest until you know your child, so perhaps you should plan in advance for most contingencies””

    I think you answer the question right there 🙂

    “I agree with this, but if an anonymous donor proves to be best for me and my family, then this will be the one that we will choose, and we should not have to tolerate such judgement as I have seen in other articles and posts on 3rd party reproduction.”

    If you are talking about an anonymous donor where the DC child will never ever know who they are, even when turning 18, then yes, I will judge you, sorry. You would be thinking of yourself before your child.**(see below)

    “Would a child conceived of egg or sperm donation be curious about his genetic inheritance or biological roots? That is likely. Should she be allowed to contact them? If both she and the donor wishes it to be so, certainly. Might setting such contact as a rule hurt future donations? Absolutely.”

    Would it necessarily hurt future donations? Other countries have banned anonymous donation. I think you would just get a different type of donor. You might actually get people donating who might not have donated before. If I were a DC child, I would probably think that a donor who was OK about contact was “nicer” than one who wasn’t.

    My observation is that many donors in the past have been anonymous because that is what was wanted by the recipients, they may not all have necessarily desired anonymity per se. My uncle was a donor and he donated anonymously but I also know that he would have been welcome to contact.

    Even if it did reduce the numbers, then so be it. In the end, it has to be about the child, not the parents – sorry.

    **Note that when I am talking about anonymous donation, I am specifically talking about the DC child NEVER having any way of knowing who their donors are – I just want to make that clear.

  45. Jessica says:

    Marilynn, thank you. I’m part of a large and growing number of APs with children born in Guatemala who have searched for and found our kids’ birth moms, and who maintain contact. Your words resonate. Thank you again.

  46. Anoymous says:

    “All decisions in parenting are supposed to be made with the children in mind. Keeping the child’s interest in the front of our mind is easier once the child is here. We have a real live kid, with real live needs to see. Far harder is anticipating the needs of a child that is only in our dreams, but that is often the lot of all parents– especially parents who have to really work to get their children.

    Parents using third party reproduction (egg, sperm, and embryo donation and surrogacy) are in a particularly hard spot. Before this precious child is even conceived they must make many decisions that will or may profoundly affect their child. In addition to deciding whether to use a donor and which donor to use, they also have to decide whether to choose a donor that will share identifying information.

    That’s a lot to think about when you have no idea who this child will be or what he will want. Heck, at this stage, you’re not even sure that you’ll ever be a parent”.
    Thank you so much for these affirming words, Dawn. They summarize for me the careful balancing act that all of us who try to become parents through 3rd party reproduction must undergo in our quest to become parents through these methods. As someone who is on such a path, I know that there are some out there who assume that those of us who choose anonymous donors are doing it for purely selfish reasons, and that we are not looking to the best interests of our potential children. But has it ever occurred to these “experts” that perhaps we are just doing the best we can with the information we have been given with which to make a decision? Perhaps a donor that has been chosen has all of the qualities that the couple making the choice desires in terms of what they can offer their future offspring, but unfortunately has chosen to remain anonymous in terms of their identity. The choice of one’s donor is a personal choice, and while all efforts to choose someone who might be able to be contacted by a future child one day should be made, a couple should not automatically be assumed to be bad or selfish just because at the end of the day they chose to conceive their child with the DNA material of someone who chose to be anonymous, because this person’s genetic material was closest to what the couple wanted for their future child. We are not selfish-we are trying to do the best we can, and we should not be unfairly judged by others who claim to know best for our potential children. You only know what you yourself wanted in your own situation-please don’t presume that you know what my child or anyone else’s child will want.
    ” You simply don’t know what will be in your child’s best interest until you know your child, so perhaps you should plan in advance for most contingencies”-I agree with this, but if an anonymous donor proves to be best for me and my family, then this will be the one that we will choose, and we should not have to tolerate such judgement as I have seen in other articles and posts on 3rd party reproduction. I have a feeling that if I were someone who conceived a baby through GOFI (consensual) with someone that I did not even take the time to get to know their name first (a la an anonymous one night stand), I would get a lot more understanding from some of the critics of 3rd party reproduction on here and elsewhere if I put myself in a situation like that that would leave me unable to fill in the blanks of my child’s questions about the other side of their genetic identity. Thank you again, Dawn, for presenting this issue with a sense of understanding and compassion for those of us who must make these choices.

    • Anonymous, you raise an interesting point about judgements being made. Not all that long ago, the thought of getting identifying information on a donor seemed absurd. I think that many in the “banning all anonymous donation” camp are reacting to the fact that a surprising number of medical professionals are still in the “why would you even tell your child” camp. Maybe they feel they have to bend pretty far the other way to get anyone’s attention. We’ve come a long way in a very short period of time if we’ve reached the point where those considering anonymous donors are being judged as uncaring. I understand what you mean about choosing qualities over identifying information.

  47. Justin says:

    It is so easy to moralize over others when you have never walked in their shoes. I think we should all have knee-jerk reaction to those who say on personal and difficult decisions that “my way is right, and anyone who does not agree with me is evil\unthoughtful\horrible”. Unfortunately, I see that a lot of this in this string of comments.

    A gamete is NOT a baby, but a cell. If the two were equivalent, abortion would be equivalent to child murder (which in my opinion it is not). In the same manner, a gamete donation is not an equivalent of adoption, and giving away a baby for adoption is not the same as allowing a couple (or single person) in need to use your genetic material.
    The motivation behind the transfer is entirely different. Instead of parent’s inability to raise a child, we have the wish to help others conceive. The reason to give one’s cells to help another couple should by all means be related to charity and altruism. I doubt a child conceived of gamete donation would ask why was he abandoned, since he was never abandoned (his biological parent donated cells, rather than gave up a baby).
    Please don’t forget – a child that was born of gamete donations has a family. He has loving parents. He may have siblings. He hopefully has grandparents, aunts, uncles, and a whole loving clan of people around him. By inflating the role of the biological donor, we tend to forget the actual loving family the child has been born to.
    Would a child conceived of egg or sperm donation be curious about his genetic inheritance or biological roots? That is likely. Should she be allowed to contact them? If both she and the donor wishes it to be so, certainly. Might setting such contact as a rule hurt future donations? Absolutely.
    Let’s not set such a rule for everyone, in law or in so-called-morality, but leave the choice as an individual one for parents and donors.

  48. Greg says:

    “Again in regards to the recipient parents, one should just assume that one’s child MIGHT want identifying information at 18 and thus act accordingly. By that very act, one will then one has covered ALL bases (because those who don’t want identifying info will not be affected at all).”

    With how accessible and easy it is to find information on people I think that even those who are anonymous donors can be found one way or another. So I think that even if the donor wants to remain anonymous the reality is they won’t be thus they should just make the donor anonymous from the beginning.

  49. Greg says:

    Having considered utilizing a sperm donor to build our family I can say that it’s very easy for couples to forget that their baby will one day grow up to become an adult. I didn’t really think about it until after we decided not to pursue it. Prior to our decision I leaned towards anonymous donation which I would not have done now if we had decided to pursue it. There was also a time that I didn’t think about telling the child until they were a teenager that they were donor conceived. After some research I learned that it made sense to tell them at a young age with the messaging being age appropriate.

    I do think it’s important for every couple or person considering utilizing donor conception to take their time making their decision. They need to not only listen to perspectives of parents of donor conceived children but also donor conceived adults who like adoptees feelings vary. It’s easy to dismiss donor conceived adults who are hurting but I think you can learn a lot for them. A couple needs to be open minded and recognize that their child could have a wide range of feelings that are beyond the parents ability to influence. They also need to be as comfortable as possible and work through their infertilty grief (if applicable). That grief can’t influence any decision and parenting that impacts the child in any way.

    I recognize and understand that the parents taking this approach is easier said than done but in the long run they and most importantly their child will benefit from it.

    • Greg:YES. [It’s easy to dismiss donor conceived adults who are hurting but I think you can learn a lot for them. A couple needs to be open minded and recognize that their child could have a wide range of feelings that are beyond the parents ability to influence.] That is my point exactly. Your child may not care a whit about her donor, her genetic history, or medical history. However, what if she cares a lot. What if she has medical issues that she and you want more info on. What if she is a worrier who imagines she has every genetic disease she hears about. You simply don’t know what will be in your child’s best interest until you know your child, so perhaps you should plan in advance for most contingencies.

  50. marilynn says:

    Jessica as a free searcher that helps separated families I can’t tell you the importance of what you did by seeking out and finding the relatives of the child your raising. It shows tremendous respect for them as individuals with uniqe identities and solidifies your position as someone who has NOTHING to do with separating a person from their family – you were available to provide a loving home and lifelong family for a person already separated.
    What you have or will have in terms of a relationship with that person who you so specifically chose to respect and regard as a whole person with a family and past of their own…cannot be had by someone who underwrites and requests separation from family for their own personal benefit.

    Anyone can follow the logical path of how much trust you’d give a person who went out of their way to care for you when you lost your family, helped you find your family, treated you like an individual – that person can be loved and trusted they care about you for real and you don’t have to give anything up in return. That is someone behaving like a parent. Anyone can follow the logical path of how much trust you’d give a person that asked and maybe paid your bio mother or father to abandon you once you were born – who wanted you separated for at least 18 years who told you your bio parents never intended to be your parents (your not worthy) but they might raise their other kids who are worthy. You would not trust that person if they took away your family you’d tell them what they wanted to hear for fear of what else they might take away.

    I hope you get a lot of joy out of your relationship with the child whose lucky to have you in their life. I have a few friends that would give their left arm for that.

    Peace lead by example. 🙂

  51. cb says:

    “There are similarities, but there are also differences.”

    The main difference is that donating is toally voluntary so one doesn’t need to think about how FUTURE donors might think about the choice of “contact at 18” or “totally anonymous” – one makes it one choice only and then only those donors willing to abide by that choice will be the ones to donate.

    Again in regards to the recipient parents, one should just assume that one’s child MIGHT want identifying information at 18 and thus act accordingly. By that very act, one will then one has covered ALL bases (because those who don’t want identifying info will not be affected at all).

  52. Jessica says:

    It’s interesting to see the parallels between people who are adopted and those conceived through donors, especially the desire to know one’s biological roots. I’m an adoptive parent to two children born in Guatemala, and we searched for and found both our kids’ birth mothers. The need to connect on a blood level feels very elemental to me. As time goes on, and fewer adoptions occur–for the many reasons we all know–and births through assisted reproduction increase, debate around this subject undoubtedly will become louder. Thank you for posting.

    • There are similarities, but there are also differences. The donor conceived community will need to figure out what applies and what doesn’t, but I certainly think there are some lessons they can learn from adoption!

  53. cb says:

    The decision is not really difficult at all. At the very least, there needs to be the OPTION of contact at age 18, if the donor conceived adult so wishes. If they don’t want contact then fair enough, they don’t need to have contact as it is entirely up to the DC person whether they want contact.

    Totally anonymous (i.e. never to be released information) donations should be banned. As the people making donations are doing so totally voluntarily, then if they aren’t happy about that, then they just don’t get to donate, simple as that.

    Some countries have banned totally anonymous donations and I don’t think that affects the numbers of people donating. Also, in a weird sort of way, one might get a better “quality” of donor because the donor is taking more responsibility for their donation.

  54. marilynn says:

    Whoa I take it back! You just posted my other comment – thanks I guess delete this most recent one. I just want people to know what they are getting themselves and the kid into before they do it. The information they receive is skewed by people who have a financial interest in them choosing to raise donor offspring. They won’t tell them about the legal inequities. They won’t tell them that of course socially it’s the same as being adopted only without the due process protection of a court adoption. Some people will change their minds and not involve themselves in it, I know I get email from them. The rest can’t say that nobody told them. Donor offspring or people that side up with them have no financial interest in swaying the opinion of potential users. People should consider financial motivation of their information source when seeking out facts. I don’t make money or even get reimbursed for helping with searches and they don’t get money for having to search. Thanks and I am sorry I said you were not showing opposing view points. I was wrong.

  55. marilynn says:

    A person who chose not to raise all their offspring has made a choice to give some of them up. If they follow through with that decision and are not raising all they offspring they have, it can be said that they’ve given up some of their children. If they gave them up in a legal adoption it’s called relinquishment. If not then it’s called abandonment.

    Donor offspring are not typically given up for adoption by the parent who acted as a donor so most of them would meet the definition of abandoned by their bio parent. That’s just the plain contractual facts of any donor agreement known or unknown. People are abandoning their children as a service to people who are unable to reproduce alone or with their partner. Sometimes money is exchanged, other times expenses are reimbursed, still others it’s done as a charitable act.

    People who are not raised by their bio parents do want to know why they are not being raised by them. I’m not saying they’ll be all heart broken about it but the reason should be unrelated to charity or commerce. Like they’d probably rather hear their mother was a teen ager or a junkie than that she was a perfectly healthy educated 4.0 Ivy League Junior who was looking to pay off her student loans. There is no reason why she could not be raising them where they could have cut the teen ager or the junkie some slack and empathy….it’s hard to empathize with someone who was tested drug free and determined to be stable and sound minded. Those are just fact’s how they’ll feel about them is another thing. It’s just a fact that when a bio parent does not raise their kid a reason is required and some are easier to swallow than others.

    Also they won’t remember being gestated so to them the whole born to the parents that raise them thing is illogical. They have bio parents who are not raising them, just as any adopted person would. Why should a pregnancy they were not even alive for impact how they view the same facts? They won’t remember who gestated them and in the end they will not have been raised by their bio parents. No brownie points is earned by gestation as far as not feeling like their bio mother gave them up because she did. or that their bio father gave them up he did.

    Skipping the adoption in court does not change the social arrangement of it being the same. They just wind up with less legal rights but socially it is the same.

    They may feel differently about it I agree. I’m again not saying that it’s wrong because people’s feelings are hurt. I’m saying its wrong to put someone in a compromised position and bio kids are not supposed to be sold or gifted. Those things are wrong for everyone else and should be for donors as well.

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