10 Tips for Contacting a Donor for the First Time

By admin on June 17, 2020

Contacting your donor for the first time can be an exciting yet scary experience. You might be nervous about making a good first impression, or you might be worried about scaring them away.

Here’s some advice for contacting your donor for the first time:
  1. Be gentle and respectful. This can be a scary situation for donors who haven’t yet been contacted, or who haven’t told their families they donated, or who have family members who are against contact. You want to get your foot in the door as gently as possible.
  2. Reassure them so they know you will allow them to set the boundaries. It can be very important for the donor to know they’re in control of the situation.
  3. Let them know that you don’t want to disrupt their family in any way. You just want to give them the opportunity to know you. This should be an invitation, not a demand.
  4. Let them know that you don’t want anything from them — not time or money or another parent, just the chance to know more about where you come from. For starters, explain the importance of knowing about your ancestry and medical background.
  5. You can also let them know what type of relationship you’d be open to. A friendship? A more familial relationship? Tell them why you think this connection could be fulfilling for both of you.
  6. Appeal to the donor’s heartstrings. Tell them about you (or your kids); it’s helpful to make yourself more than just an idea — an actual human being, and one to be proud of.
  7. Send photos. Again, this appeals to the donor’s emotions. Seeing similarities with the children they helped to create can be profound for a donor who wasn’t sure about contact.
  8. Know that if a donor doesn’t reply or says “no,” it isn’t because of who you are. It’s likely because of their family situation, their lack of emotional bandwidth, or a lack of understanding about what connecting might mean for them and their family. Their hesitation might also be about their own health issues, fear of not being “good enough,” etc.
  9. Have patience. Sometimes a donor needs some time to work things out with their family members. If you get no reply, try again in a few weeks/months. If they say no, let them know you’re always available if they change their mind. Give them space to hopefully work it out and come around.
  10. Keep the focus on yourself (or your kids), even if you know about other half-siblings. Consider sharing that news in upcoming correspondence.

For more advice and tips, see the Donor Sibling Registry’s Counseling page.