If you don’t want to be known to your offspring, don’t sell your gametes.
In a recent Donor Sibling Registry Facebook conversation, the rights of donor-conceived people to connect with genetic relatives on DNA websites was questioned, with regard to violating a donor’s privacy. Some feel that a donor-conceived person shouldn’t contact close genetic relatives found on DNA sites, for fear of infringing on a donor’s privacy.
When donor-conceived people spit into a cylinder or swab their check and send it in to commercial DNA testing sites such as Family Tree DNA or 23andMe, there is a good probability that they will connect with distant or even close relatives. This includes half-siblings and/or genetic mothers and fathers. I believe that donor offspring have every right to make those connections, of course respecting the boundaries, wishes, and privacy of those they connect with.
For decades, the rights of donors to remain anonymous have been first and foremost. It’s now time that the rights of donor-conceived people to be curious about, search for, and connect with their first-degree genetic relatives are acknowledged. In this day and age of commercial DNA testing, here’s my advice for prospective egg and sperm donors: If you don’t want to be known to your offspring, just don’t become a donor. Because even if donors don’t submit their own DNA, chances are that some known or distant unknown relatives of theirs has spit or swabbed, and this makes donors very findable.
If you are a former donor and think you’ll never be found, it might be time to start educating yourself about what donor-conceived offspring are looking for when reaching out to their genetic mothers and fathers. We have heard from thousands of them, on the DSR and through research projects, and we know that they are not looking to invade or disrupt your life. They are not looking for an active parent. They are not looking for money. They just want to know where they come from — their genetic and medical history, along with their ancestry. And if relationships evolve after connecting, then that’s the icing on the cake.