Donor conceived person
A donor offspring, or donor conceived person, is conceived via the donation of sperm (sperm donation) or ova (egg donation), or both, either from two separate donors or from a couple. In the case of embryo donation, the conceiving parents are a couple.
Donor conceived people may never learn of their true birth origins as information about their true biological parent(s) is not recorded on the birth certificate. However, many can get information through DNA testing. Donor conceived people may have many half siblings as a result of the same person's donations.
With the significant increase in the numbers of donor-conceived individuals (38,910 live babies were born in 2005 as a result of 134,260 ART cycles performed at reporting U.S. clinics in 2005, compared with 20,659 babies born as a result of 64,036 ART cycles in 1996), many have questioned the ethics surrounding the technologies and human decisions surrounding donor conception, and there has been plenty of controversy. For example, the term "Snowflake baby" was coined in reference to unused frozen embryos (left over from other couples' attempts to conceive through in vitro fertilization) that have been "adopted" by families. Pro-life advocates tend to support such adoptions.
"ART Cycles" are not accurate as many people (<40%) who use IVF (egg donation) do not report their births, and that there is no tracking or record keeping required for children born from sperm donation. Estimates of 30,000-60,000 often used are from estimates made with incomplete records from the mid 1980s.
The psychological and social impacts of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) on donor-conceived children and their families has gained a great deal of interest in recent years as this population has continued to grow. An increasing number of family-support organizations strongly encourage parents to openly discuss their children's origins, whether through donor insemination or following treatment with donated gametes.
For most sperm or egg recipients, the choice between anonymous sperm or egg donor and a non-anonymous one is generally not of major importance. For some donor conceived children, on the other hand, it may be psychologically burdensome not having the possibility of contacting or knowing almost nothing about the donor. Thus far, studies have found that a significant number of donor conceived children want information about their donor.
Coming forward publicly with problems is difficult for donor-conceived people as these issues are very personal and a public statement may attract criticism but ultimately are the only remaining option in activism on the issue. Additionally, it may upset their parents if they speak out. A website called Anonymous Us has been set up where they can post details of their experiences anonymously, on which there are many accounts of problems.
Donor and sibling tracking
There are donor sibling registries matching genetic siblings and donors. However, with modern information technology, there are other ways of getting information.
Donor registration facilitates donor conceived people, sperm donors, and egg donors establishing contact with genetic relatives. They are mostly used by donor conceived people to find genetic half-siblings from the same egg or sperm donor.
Some donors are non-anonymous, but most are anonymous, i.e. most donor conceived people don't know the identity of their donors. Still, they may be able to obtain unique donor numbers or known donor characteristics, e.g. hair, eye, and skin colors, from fertility clinics to find matched genetic half-siblings.
Clinics or sperm banks
Many clinics and sperm banks offer non-anonymous donors, where donor conceived people may get the identity of their donors.
However, an Australian study concluded that potential donors who would still be willing to donate without a guarantee of anonymity were not automatically more open to contact with offspring. Most potential donors would be willing to meet offspring in a single contact.
However, even sperm donors who have not initiated contact through a registry are now increasingly being traced by their offspring, and in the current era there can be no such thing as guaranteed anonymity. Through the advent of genetic genealogy and DNA databases, it is now possible for "anonymous" sperm donors to be identified. Possibly the first such case was in 2005, when it was revealed in New Scientist magazine that a fifteen-year-old had used information from a DNA test and the Internet to identify and contact his sperm donor.
In 2018, it was reported that DNA testing has led to a significant increase in donor-conceived people finding their siblings and sperm donors.
- Stephenson, John; Blyth, Eric; Kramer, Wendy; Schneider, Jennifer (2012). "Donor type and parental disclosure following oocyte donation". Asian Pacific Journal of Reproduction. 1 (1): 42–47. doi:10.1016/S2305-0500(13)60046-9.
- U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, Artificial Insemination: Practice in the United States: Summary of a 1987 Survey—Background Paper, OTA-13P-BA-48 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, August 1988).
- Wanted: A Few Good Sperm nytimes.com Published: March 19, 2006
- Ekerhovd E, Faurskov A, Werner C (2008). "Swedish sperm donors have been said to be driven by altruism, but shortage of sperm donors leads to reproductive travelling". Ups. J. Med. Sci. 113 (3): 305–13. doi:10.3109/2000-1967-241. PMID 18991243.
- Donor Babies Search for Their Anonymous Fathers. By Craig Malisow. Published on November 04, 2008 at 11:22am
- Telegraph.co.uk: Sperm donors should get cut-price IVF to tackle shortage By Rebecca Smith, Medical Editor in San Francisco. Last Updated: 4:12PM GMT 11 November 2008. This ref, in turn, cites Dr Joanna Sheib from the University of California Davis
- Ilioi, E. C.; Golombok, S. (2014). "Psychological adjustment in adolescents conceived by assisted reproduction techniques: a systematic review". Human Reproduction Update. 21 (1): 84–96. doi:10.1093/humupd/dmu051. ISSN 1355-4786. PMC 4255607. PMID 25281685.
- Van Den Broeck, U.; Vandermeeren, M.; Vanderschueren, D.; Enzlin, P.; Demyttenaere, K.; d'Hooghe, T. (2012). "A systematic review of sperm donors: Demographic characteristics, attitudes, motives and experiences of the process of sperm donation". Human Reproduction Update. 19 (1): 37–51. doi:10.1093/humupd/dms039. PMID 23146866.
- DNA = Donors Not Anonymous huffingtonpost.com Published: November 25, 2015
- Anonymous sperm donor traced on internet newscientist.com Published: November 2, 2005
- From sperm donor to 'Dad': When strangers with shared DNA become a family
- Information for donor conceived people - UK Regulator (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority)