May 20, 2024

Sperm donor children share experiences in new research

Survey sheds light on sperm donor/parent relations

Are sperm donor children interested
in their biological father and half-siblings? How does the knowledge
of their unusual conception affect them?

An article published in the latest issue of the journal Reproductive BioMedicine
, gives a few
clues. It documents the results of a study conducted by Donor Sibling
Registration (DSR), a US-based worldwide registry set up for exploring
donor relations.

The 165 members participated 
in the online survey. All participants were conceived by donor insemination,
not IVF: 58% had heterosexual parents, 23% came from a single mother
family, and 15% from lesbian families. All offspring from lesbian and
single mother families as well as 67% from offspring of heterosexual
families had found out about their conception before age 18, and all
offspring who found out about their conception after age 18 were from
heterosexual families.

Recent years have seen a burgeoning
interest among children conceived by donor insemination in finding and
contacting their donor and donor sibling relatives. Many express frustration
at the lack of information about their donor which has led to the removal
of sperm-donor anonymity in many countries.

According to the study, most donor
children seeking to find their donor parents and donor siblings did
so out of curiosity. But they also wanted to know more about their personal
and genetic identity. The majority of those who were informed about
their conception after age 18 were doing so for medical reasons, whereas
those who found out before this age tended to do so out of curiosity.

A very high proportion of the children
who took part in the survey felt as though something was missing from
their sense of identity.

Interestingly, it is mainly the parents
who are asking. Many of the members on DSR are parents of donor-insemination

Due to the need to explain the absence
of a father, lesbian and single mother families were found to be more
open about the donor conception of their child than heterosexual couples.

Many of the participants expressed
concerns about inadvertently starting an incestuous relationship with
a donor-sibling (i.e. a donor half-brother or half-sister). This might
sound improbable, but the authors say, “…some sibling groups are
concentrated in specific areas, and therefore unknowingly meeting a
donor sibling is a genuine possibility.” ~ Reproductive BioMedicine
Online, April

Jared Yee
sperm donation