This page is for donor offspring. It includes stories, advice, articles, and research related to donor offspring.
The following success stories, quotes, and photos represent some of the many donor offspring connections that have taken place after connecting on the DSR.
The second Donor Sibling Registry member (after Wendy Kramer) waited for 12 years to connect with her son's donor, who finally found them on the DSR. Here is Jennifer, her son Nate, and Nate's biological father Cliff.
Here is Nate, Cliff, a half-sibling Billie, and her fiance Mike.
Four (adorable) siblings from different households went to summer camp together in 2021. A couple of these sisters met as babies, two met at camp for the first time, and the youngest met the rest at various times as a toddler.
2020: Karlee and Austin's Unfolding Story: "Here a couple of pictures of my daughter Karlee with her brother Austin. Our families connected through your site in 2005. Karlee and Austin physically met in Austin’s home state of Florida, in 2008 (first picture 5 years old) and have vacationed many times together. Most recent visit in 2018 (2nd picture 15 years old) in our hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Stay tuned for more updates in 2020!)"
"There are 10 of us half-siblings that we know of, including one set of twins and a set of triplets — and we could very possibly have many more out there!"
Sometimes half-siblings can be more than 20 years apart in age.
2019: Jami's Story: Meeting half-siblings at a half-sister's wedding.
"I walked out of the weekend meeting all of my half-siblings and my donor on cloud 9. I had been working in therapy in the weeks leading up to the gathering. What if I didn’t like someone? What if they offended me, or we didn’t agree on something? This was my “what if” brain working in overdrive ... it was an exciting yet scary weekend to be walking into and I really just wanted the best for everyone involved. My fears melted immediately after meeting everyone. I felt love in the room. We were all curious, maybe a little reserved, but respecting each other, our journeys, and our possible permanent places in each other's lives moving forward. I noticed myself thinking “I love her” about one of my half-sisters not even two hours after knowing her. The thought took me back a bit, but I told myself it’s okay to love these people. Everyone that came to the half-siblings gathering that weekend wanted to know their half-siblings, and that leaves a chance of loving your half-siblings. I felt like I could be myself, which is huge because I can be silly and goofy, loud and obnoxious. I felt the same love being given back to me.
None of my fears or anxieties that I had worked out in therapy came to fruition. I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend, and I truly feel so blessed that everyone brought their authentic selves to the table for us to learn about and love."
2016: CBC: Canadian sperm donor registry overdue, families say. Many Canadian donor-conceived kids turn to the Donor Sibling Registry to connect with half-siblings. "Now the online resource boasts more than 51,000 members and claims to have helped unite more than 13,000 half-siblings and donors. [Wendy] Kramer said the website has become an essential resource for children conceived through sperm donation around the world. The site is managed and operated with the help of membership fees. 'For Canadians, I think it's really important to be on the Donor Sibling Registry, as that's the one point of contact,' Kramer said. 'U.S. sperm banks ... claim on their websites that they ship to 40, 50, 60 countries around the world.' Kramer said she's tried to get government agencies to pay attention. 'We've gone everywhere and asked for help. We've gone to senators, legislators, the National Institutes of Health. We've gone to the Surgeon General, U.S. Federal Drug Administration, everywhere. And nobody wants to help.'"
Wendy Kramer and her son Ryan started the Donor Sibling Registry after Ryan began asking questions about his origin.
2016: CBS Sunday Morning: One sperm donor's extended family. Donor-conceived children meeting half-siblings and their donor.
3 Half-Siblings: "Ari & Katie are 15, and Zander is 11. We all connected via the DSR. This was our first meeting with Katie."
"I just found my half-sibling this year. I am 29 years old and wish I could have known him my whole life. It is really special. I'm so thankful to have found him. We met a couple months ago; it was like we have known each other all along."
Five years after first connecting on the DSR!
Morgan (formerly Bree)'s Story: "'I am an only child with five siblings,' is what I said to my mom when in March 2006, I was informed that I have five biological brothers and sisters. I was eleven years old and hearing that fact blew my mind. How do I have brothers and sisters? Why wasn't I told about them until now? Who are they? Where are they? All these questions raced through my mind as my mom was telling me the details." Read the rest of Morgan's story: Extended Family (Personal Essay by Bree)
Awesome family reunion with about 20 siblings and their donor dad! Best family ever!
Stacy and Chris's Story: "At 27 years old, finding a brother has been both exciting and a little scary at first.... I'm already a 'grown up,' with opinions and likes/dislikes fully formed, who now has someone else out there with similar traits, that has my same DNA coursing through his body! After four months of talking and emailing from Seattle to Togo, West Africa, where he [was] a Peace-Corps Volunteer, we finally met in person. It was AMAZING. Like looking in a mirror but better, because there was a three-dimensional, living, breathing person standing in front of me, with my eyes and nose and smile and posture and hands, and big toe ... the list goes on and on. (More than one stranger has asked if we are twins!)"
Stacy and Chris allowed their meeting to be filmed by Oprah, and there wasn't a dry eye was in the house when the piece aired in 2008. More from Stacy about their experience:
A "Twin" Brother!
Stacy and her half-sisters in 2019!
Six half-siblings ages 17-19 having a summer rendezvous: one of several get-togethers they've had over the past 4 years.
A summer "bro-down show-down": they're 18 and 16 and have known each other for 3 years.
Cayley and Jannah in 2015. They met for the first time and took a picture in front of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.
"We met a sibling today! If I hadn’t taken this picture myself, I don’t think I’d be able to tell which hand is my son’s and which is his sister’s. Sister let us know she didn’t care for 'half.' So they are 'brother' and 'sister.' Thank you so much, Wendy! These were the first people we matched with on the DSR about five years ago. Such an incredible gift for all of us."
"Over the past several years we have connected with my son's half siblings and their families. If it weren't for you this would not be possible. From the bottom of our hearts ... Thank you, thank you, thank you!!"
"Wendy, thank you so much for all you do! We had such a wonderful time together! All four families got together and stayed at our home in Round Rock, Texas. It was amazing to watch our kids act so natural together. We truly are a family. All of us talk daily. It’s amazing. Wish I could put into words how much this has changed our lives for the better!"
"We all had an amazing time swapping stories and playing our donor's recording from the cryobank. We are just all really grateful for your website and that it opened up so many doors to this loving extended family we all have now! We're the 610 kids ... 19 so far!"
Two half-brothers meet (and wrestle).
Jonathan and Liana are donor siblings from Xytex donor AGL 9354. Liana is 17 and Jonathan is 15.
Lexie and Hunter meet for the first time!
Lexie and Hunter with half-brothers Briley and Jake!
Lelani and Wendy meet: "57 years old and meeting my half-sister for the first time."
3 half-siblings meet for the first time.
Twins (on either end) meet their 2 half-siblings for the first time.
Kendall with some of her half-siblings, and the moms.
"Our journey started when I was 8 years old; I am now 19, and the number of siblings continues to grow! We live all over the country and see each other roughly twice a year. The DSR has truly given me best friends & family for life. Thank you thank you thank you!" —Kendall
It's never too late to look for (and find) half-siblings! We have donor-conceived people on the Donor Sibling Registry born all the way back to the 1940s. Here are two half-sisters, both born in 1973 who connected in 2015. "I'm 43 and I just found out that I am donor conceived this past year. My sister is 42. This picture is from when we got to meet this past September."
Hannah and Radar, half-siblings only three weeks apart in age!
"My son, second from left (above), with all but one of his matched siblings from their donor. Very grateful to the DSR for allowing us to make these connections and to have relationships with these families who are so special to us." —Carmen, DSR Mom
More half-sibling connections made on the Donor Sibling Registry:
Experiences of Donor Offspring
From the blog post Zero-Sum Thinking and Donor Family: "Acknowledging a donor-conceived person's biological mother or father doesn't take away from the non-bio mother or father that raised them. Too many parents (and sometimes offspring) are afraid that if they connect with, acknowledge the importance of knowing, or even call a 'donor' a genetic/biological mother/father/parent, it will somehow diminish the importance of the non-bio parent. When donor-conceived people have the opportunity to incorporate previously unknown genetic relatives into their lives (e.g., biological parents, biological grandparents, or half-siblings), it in no way takes away from the family that raises and loves them. When egg and sperm donors connect with children that were born from their donations, it in no way threatens the integrity of their existing family. One doesn't threaten, diminish, replace, or negate the other."
2021 Trevor Love's Story: The event that most influenced my path forward in life happened when I was in 6th grade. A momentous event in the life of a child, it represents the first tangible sign of growth from a child to a young adult, it is a time when the individual is at its most malleable and the trajectory of one's life is easily changeable. That is why whenever my mother told me that I was donor-conceived and that my father was not biologically related to me in the slightest, it changed everything about my life to the core of my being. It made me question who I really was, and the truth of my being has been the mystery that has been key to my life ever since then. The rabid pursuit of tangible and existential knowledge has been at the forefront of my life because of the hunger for some understanding of the state of my being. So many questions about my existence and abstract ideas such as the definitions of paternity and paternal relationships overall have had an effect on me that is unmeasurable. Especially because whenever my mom found the donor, his adverse reaction to my existence, and the regret and disdain he had for his decision to bring me into life made me question the deservedness of my existence.
But there are other ways that news has changed my life. It gave me a community. Another family to rely on that at this point in my life I wouldn’t be able to live without. Twenty-five half-siblings and all of the parents of these children have created an indescribable support system in my life. All of these people have a deep and complex understanding of how I feel, which is somewhat rare for someone who has come from the circumstances that I have. We all have found comfort within ourselves that would have been impossible without the community in which I have luckily found myself in. I have a group that whenever I am feeling bad or I need someone to ask questions with I can be understood. These people are of utmost importance in my life, because they help me understand myself and my existence like no one else has ever been able to before, and understanding my existence is the most important thing to me. They have changed me forever.
Not only by giving me a support system, however. The circumstances of my birth have completely opened my mind to so many things. This is because people who are donor-conceived are born into so many different positions. The reasons for sperm donor conception vary greatly between families. And I have met, stayed with, and loved so many people who are so beautifully different in their own ways it has opened my eyes to people. Expanded a worldview that otherwise would have been so closed with my lack of perspective on so many things. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to be changed for the better in this way. I couldn’t imagine myself any other way; being shut off to the world and not being able to empathize and understand people in the way I do now. The closure of my mind is a nightmare I would rather not think about.
That’s why no matter how confusing my life gets, and how existential my thoughts get, sometimes questioning my existence and the many paths my life can go down, and my habit of sometimes finding myself stuck in the infinite possibilities of life. That state of being in my opinion is infinitely better than the alternative of being stuck in the finite and finding my definition of life within societal norms, and I think that the conditions of my birth and the effects that it had on my life are paramount in my ability to live outside of the box that would have confined and asphyxiated my life.
2020: Carissa's Story: "After a year knowing the TRUTH I am ready to share this information. I am not afraid to talk about it and I am not ashamed. This post is still NOT EASY to write though, as it puts me in a super vulnerable place. I have pondered this many times. How would I share this information? How would people interpret it? Would they tell me to be thankful for what I had or would they be upset? Would they not understand? (Which honestly MOST do not unless they have walked this same path.) I will try my best NOT to have any expectations for this post and hope that I will receive love, understanding, grace, and support. I am putting myself out there but this is WHO I AM and I should not have to HIDE IT anymore as my parents did to me. This will be long so if you're at all interested please bear with me.
My parents were divorced when I was 2 (born in Alaska). My mom married my step-father and he raised me most of my life. I still always had a longing all my life to be more like my Father. I questioned our similarities, qualities, and even asked his blood type, but little to no avail — answers were scarce and far from in between. He had other children. I questioned that and wanted to find my siblings, however there was again little conversation about it. I asked about my health and his family's health ... again little to no answers, but I always knew he was my Dad deep down inside.
My dad passed away over 2 years ago and I longed to find my siblings. So, I took an Ancestry test of course. ;) I knew right away I probably would not know all the people as there are so many that show up: 1st, 2nd, 3rd cousins, etc. Six long weeks later my test came back and it was VERY STRANGE, to say the least. I did not know almost any of my top matches. I never really knew any of my dad's side of the family so I figured I wouldn't know their names but I wasn't seeing any with my dad's last name come up. It was so weird. I did see some relatives on my mom's side though. However, within hours some of my top matches were private messaging me that they knew who I was but didn't know if I knew. MOMENT OF FREAK OUT AND PANIC!!! I thought it was a scam! Who are all these people I have never met but they were so closely related to me? I had to know more! I went back and looked at my dad's pictures to compare and kept asking, "Mike, don't I look like my Dad?" and he kept saying, "Yes you do" — but there were some things that didn't match. Very shortly after I found out the TRUTH of my IDENTITY. Something that would SHOCK me and turn my world completely upside down. Yes. I found out that I was donor-conceived.
Can you imagine living your entire life basically a lie of who your father was? Looking back I always knew something wasn't right. I am not going to blame my parents because they were told by the doctors to never tell; however, I still feel it was best to be HONEST. It would have truly shaped me in a different way. They are now saying tell your children AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE because of the psychological effects. Was it traumatic? You bet!!! Imagine looking in the mirror and trying to figure out who you are again? I was angry, hurt, traumatized, broken, lost, and it was a long grieving and healing process. Do I still believe my parents loved me? Absolutely. Did I still believe my parents believed they were doing the best for me? Yes, absolutely. However, this was not an easy walk. Now, I am choosing not to hide my IDENTITY of WHO I AM. I will not keep it a secret and follow the same path and be filled with shame. Just like when we know someone was adopted it is very similar in that way. We go through the same psychological factors as when someone doesn't find out they are adopted until later in life.
So here I am sharing my story. I came into a family of almost 20 siblings that we know of, and an Aunt who is lovingly involved in our lives. Unfortunately, the donor does not want involvement but he is a doctor and is healthy and in great shape (he competes in competitions). I have met 2 siblings so far in person. We have Skype meetings and yearly group meetups, although I am not quite ready for that yet. ;) I have finally found WHY I do what I do and can see qualities that I share with the other siblings. It has been a crazy journey but this is WHO I AM and where I came from. I hope you will be understanding with me opening up as well as be compassionate — and if you have a story to tell, please don't hold back. It could change someone's life."
A donor-conceived person (who found out via DNA testing that she was donor-conceived) shared what it was like to meet her half-brother and biological father for the first time: "They felt like family, and for me there was a sense of relief in that too. Like it's hard to put a finger on it but I think a good analogy would be like finding people who speak the same dialect as you. Like I've been trying to speak [my last name] all these years and it just never came naturally to me and it was always a struggle and I didn't know why. Then I find out it's because I was speaking [donor's last name] the whole time and discovered that talking to them is so much easier and intuitive in a way I haven't experienced before."
John's story: A 53-year-old donor-conceived man tells his story of finding out that he is donor-conceived later in life: "My initial reaction was one of exhilaration — finally everything made sense. My second reaction was that nothing made sense — the bottom was dropping out of my life."
Susan Kane's letter: An excerpt of an open letter to the ASRM from Susan Kane, a donor-conceived person, who also has 2 donor-conceived children. Susan's letter was in response to Todd Essing's commentary (2011: Forbes: Balancing the Rights of Donor Offspring With Those of Donors: But What About Parents?), which was a response to Naomi Cahn and Wendy Kramer's commentary (2011: BioNews: The Birth of Donor Offspring Rights in the USA?).
"As anyone in the mental health field should know, decades and decades of adoption research has taught us that secrecy in families causes damage. It has taught us that learning that your parents are not your parents late in life wreaks havoc on your basic sense of trust. Most of all, adoption has taught us that genes matter.
They don't matter more than love. I never said they did. But I challenge you to find an adoption professional in North America today who would tell you that genetics is irrelevant in family creation. Genes matter — today more than ever. Genes matter to donor families. These families have specifically pursued infertility treatment rather than adoption. The fertility industry *exists* because genes matter. Allowing people to pass on their genetic material is what fertility treatment *does*. It amazes me that genes can matter to the families and doctors you serve and yet both you and Allison Rosen can't believe that they also matter to *me*."
(It's worth reading Susan's entire letter!)
From a mother: "My son was on the DSR 9 years before his donor sister signed up, so hang in there; it can happen anytime. He did not feel like he was missing anything before they connected, but he sure feels like he found something. Both our families feel very enriched."
Two Siblings So Far: "Since joining this site I have found two siblings. We have since shared a number of e-mails and have gotten to know each other more. It's amazing how much we discovered we have in common and look alike."
New Little Brother! "Today I found my younger half-brother and am absolutely thrilled! I contacted his mother and hopefully we can start a correspondence and maybe even a relationship. I am so happy that DSR has enabled me to find my 'other family'! I was brought to tears when I saw my donor's ID on this boy's post and I am so excited that I finally found him! Thank you so much DSR!"
From a 13 year old: "I am 13 years old and in 8th grade. My name is Lauren and I am also a twin. I found out about a month ago now that my dad wasn't my real biological dad. I was shocked at first but then the next day I was excited to tell my friends the news and curious about the donor and what he looked like. I know that my dad is my real dad and will always be, but I still wanted to do some research about the donor. That night I sat on the couch with my family and we all went through the packet about the donor (heritage, looks, health, etc.)." Continue reading Lauren's story: I am 13 and just found out.
From an adult conceived in the 1960s via donor insemination: "When I signed up with the DSR a year ago, I did it more with the hopes of finding information about my donor, than with any thoughts of actually finding a sibling. After all, I'd be conceived in the late sixties, well before the existence of sperm banks with registered donors. At that time everything was very secretive, with absolutely no information given to the parents. When I got to the DSR, I was the first person to create a listing under my mom's doctor's name, from New York City." Continue reading this amazing story of older half-siblings connecting: Never too old to find a match!
A donor-conceived girl turned 18 and made a profound statement with a new tattoo. The connection is much more than just a "donated cell"!
2017: From Laura, a 37-year-old donor-conceived woman:
"When I was an early teen, I had this fantasy that I had a secret identity, which would eventually be revealed to me later. I've never admitted this to anyone until now. It wasn't a grandiose secret identity — just mysterious and a total wildcard that would eventually make sense. I had no idea why this idea cropped up at the time because who I was and where I came from seemed so obvious (I wasn't told about my conception.). But how appropriate that was, in hindsight.... I had real problems with my sense of identity until about 2 years ago (when my truth finally and shockingly emerged through technology) and had been inhibited in the public eye because of it. Asperger or introversion or family dynamics or just plain uniqueness were once the theories for this tendency, but there was obviously something else going on that made me feel like the odd woman out and made me want to retreat. There are so many things I've wanted to do but could never complete due to shaky confidence in who I was and what I had to offer. (For example, singing.)
This problem has been melting away quickly of late, and things are very clear now, like a light has been switched on. Secrets are felt viscerally, even when they aren't explicitly known, which is why they can be so toxic. And to fully build out who you are, you need to know where you came from. It's easy for those who don't know what this is like to take what they had for granted and tell you to get over it, because 'all that matters is who you choose to become.' But there's a primal need in all of us to understand our roots first (at the parental level) — before that can happen — like a psychological foundation for individuation. I've had an incredibly fortunate and privileged life and loving parents, for which I've always been grateful, so this isn't me bellyaching in a spoiled way. It's just that some things can't be replaced by a nice lifestyle or all the love in the world. Humans are weird, with all our specific needs. Wish it could be simpler."
2016: From a donor-conceived woman: "Genetic uncertainty has clouded my life since I was twelve years old, when I learned that my conception was facilitated by an anonymous sperm donor and artificial insemination. Though the shock dissolved in the following months, I’m reminded of this obscurity entwined in my DNA when I’m asked to fill out a medical history form at the doctor’s office and have to indicate that, genetically speaking, half of my family tree remains in shadow."
2016: From Kelly, a donor-conceived woman, on National Siblings Day:
"So, since I'm being prompted to remark on my thoughts on National Siblings Day, here's this from a sibling-without-her-siblings: I'm currently drinking tea out of my Sisters By Heart mug that my best friend gave me a number of years ago. I'm grateful for her and a number of good, close friends that I may or may not see or talk to often. But that's it as far as what I can count on for siblings, even though I know I have half-siblings out there.
Will I one day know them? While I can maybe learn who my biological father is at some point, I can't ever count on finding them. I wish. I wish I wasn't forcibly blocked from them by an unregulated medical industry that believes it depends on anonymity and deception, along with a number of other unethical principles it abides by.
One day, perhaps there will be justice for us. And, perhaps, one day, parents will actually tell my fellow donor-conceived people, including my half-siblings, of their true origins. Whether or not those DC people begin their own searches is up to them, but until then, there's almost no other explanation for why so few of us are actually looking for each other. Please, siblings ... don't let me be the only one forever."
2015: From one of the oldest egg donor offspring on the DSR:
"I was conceived by a donor egg in 1988. 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 G**80.
I got that number tattooed on the back of my neck. 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. We are polar opposites to a comical degree."
Connecting with half-siblings should happen early:
"Just imagine being 20 something and finding siblings on your own when DNA testing is even more wildly popular, or they find you. You then develop some kind of relationship. You find that many of these siblings had parents who encouraged these relationships, even from babyhood. You see the pictures, you hear the stories. Disney, camping, birthdays.... A couple of them will be roomies in college, maid of honor in a sibling wedding, etc.
To me, this would be crushing. I would feel so cheated, whether or not I had great neighbor pals, awesome cousins, or even siblings from the same home."
From Sue Kane, a donor-conceived person and mother to a donor-conceived child:
"A family that is lying to a child about parentage is, by definition, not stable. The truth is always out there, only one internet search or blood test away from being exposed. Like adultery, like the closet, this lie is toxic to families.
It is not okay to lie to a child about who his parents are for 10, 20, 30, 40 or 50 years. Infertility treatment exists because genes matter. People sue each other because genes matter. People take their own children home from the hospital because genes matter. Love matters too. But genetics mattered to our parents and they matter to us. Stop lying about it."
Tips for Donor-Conceived Adults
The following tips are for donor-conceived adults who just learned the truth of their conception. We also have tips for parents of donor-conceived adults; see the DSR Counseling page for those tips.
8 Tips for Donor-Conceived Adults Who Just Found Out
These tips are for donor-conceived adults who just found out, either because their parents finally told them or because they discovered the truth on their own. Also available as a downloadable PDF.
Take some deep breaths, and try to relax. Many people have walked this path before you, and although the road can get a bit bumpy for a little while, they have all survived. Secrecy implies shame, and you have nothing to be ashamed of, so do not let the “secret” persist. Set aside time as soon as possible to discuss the situation with your parents. Talk with other close family members and friends who can provide good support.
Ask your parents why they used a donor and what the experience was like for them. Ask them why they kept the secret. Most parents don’t tell because they’re afraid of how the truth will affect the family. Often, the non-biological parent is afraid of being looked at as not the “real” parent. You can assure your non-bio mom or dad that this news changes nothing in your relationship. Your parents will always be your parents. This knowledge doesn’t change that fact or diminish your love for the parents who loved and raised you.
Tell your parents what you are feeling. You might be experiencing a wide variety of emotions, including anger, sadness, confusion, or even relief. Understand and explain that your feelings are valid and to be expected — and that working through these emotions might take some time. Have patience with yourself. If you’re upset, don’t feel guilty. This was your information to have, and it was kept from you.
Your parents may have made the best decisions they could with the information they had at the time. Many parents were advised to lie to everyone, including their children. Find out what they know about the donor or any half-siblings. Gathering information about the other half of your genetic identity and relatives may help you better understand yourself. Many offspring report feeling a sense of relief as they reassemble the puzzle of their physical, emotional, & intellectual selves.
You may never fully understand or agree with your parents’ reasons for keeping this information from you. However, staying angry doesn’t help you move forward. Empathy and compassion will be extremely helpful in repairing any damaged relationships. Work through your emotions, with the help of a therapist if necessary. Understand that forgiveness is the only path to true healing. It’s important for your parents to know that you can forgive them for not telling you the truth, even if this might take some time.
This is not a one-time conversation. Let your parents know that you will ask them to continue the conversation as you process this new information, tell family and friends, and incorporate it into your identity. Invite your parents to walk beside you as you explore your genetic roots and figure out what it means to you and your life to be donor-conceived. There is great opportunity for a stronger family bond if you can keep the lines of communication open. Let your parents love and support you.
Feel good about the fact that your family will now have a basis in truth. Understand that any curiosities you have about your half-siblings and/or your unknown biological parent, your ancestry, and your medical history are normal and to be expected. It’s an innate human desire to want to know where we come from. You can’t change the past, but you can control how you move forward. This is your story to own and share as you see fit.
If you do desire to know more about your donor family, give yourself permission to search for the information and the genetic relatives you’re curious about. Your curiosity is not a betrayal to your parents, particularly your non-biological parent, in any way. Adding new family members or ancestral information doesn’t take away from or diminish the importance of your family of origin. Let your parents know how important it is for you to have their support as you look to discover more about your ancestry, your medical background, and your genetic relatives. Join the Donor Sibling Registry for connection and support.
10 Tips for Contacting a Donor for the First Time
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:
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.
It can be very important for the donor to know they’re in control of the situation.
You just want to give them the opportunity to know you. This should be an invitation, not a demand.
For starters, explain the importance of knowing about your ancestry and medical background.
A friendship? A more familial relationship? Tell them why you think this connection could be fulfilling for both of you.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Consider sharing that news in upcoming correspondence.
Wendy's Psychology Today Articles
Words Have Power in Sperm and Egg Donor Families
The language of reproductive medicine can be tricky.
Happy Mother's Day to Solo Moms (of Donor Kids)
Personal Perspective: A special shout-out to single mother (only) parents.
Tips for Parents of Adult Donor-Conceived People
Are you about to disclose, or do you have a child who just found out the truth?
DNA: Donors Not Anonymous
Sperm and egg donor anonymity has not been possible since 2005.
Donor-Conceived People Who Have Always Known the Truth
Being donor-conceived can have inherent challenges, even if told early on.
Egg and Sperm Donors: It's Complicated
Some common thoughts and feelings surrounding selling one's gametes.
August: USA Today
Finding lots of siblings is common and a result of a lack of donor limitations, co-founder says
Wendy Kramer is a co-founder and director of the Donor Sibling Registry, a Colorado organization that helps people conceived via sperm, egg, or embryo donation find relatives. It happens every day through her organization, she said.
She has been connecting people from Siperko’s group for decades, including 38 of Siperko’s siblings. Altogether, the group has connected nearly 25,000 people with their half-siblings and biological parents. And while some people are happy to find so many siblings, there is still an underlying issue she wants to see addressed: a lack of limitations on donating sperm.
Many sperm banks initially promised that each donor would result in no more than 10 kids, Kramer said, but − evidenced by Siperko's case − that obviously didn't happen.
What sperm banks are missing, Kramer said, is "accurate record-keeping on the children born."
“That's why we have so many half-sibling groups over 100 and even over 200," she told USA TODAY. "Those groups just keep growing.”
“We all came to understand that that was a complete lie and they still lie about it,” she said, noting that in some cases, people find out they have more than 200 siblings.
Large sperm banks also ship sperm to clinics across the country and sometimes worldwide, she said.Her organization has asked donors and parents of donor-conceived people what they think the limit should be and the most common number they hear is 10.
She said it’s unethical and irresponsible for the reproductive medicine industry to create so many half-siblings groups without updating families on medical information and limiting the number of births there are from each donor.
Part of the problem, she said, is that companies need to do a better job at keeping track of births. They aren’t always reported and record-keeping isn’t as precise as it should be.
“It's just about a profit for selling sperm with no thought whatsoever given to the human beings they're helping to create,” Kramer said.
“I used California Cryobank and my son has … half-siblings coast to coast, up and down, even in Puerto Rico,” she said. “You never know where your half siblings can be.”
June: New York Times
"It’s a strange thing to feel the absence of someone you can’t picture, an ache you can’t name. After all, it’s not like I missed a particular dad, just the idea of one. But what I didn’t understand until I heard that CD is that it wasn’t just a father I was missing — it was also a piece of my identity."
McKenzie Cooper remembers being roughly 12 years old and sitting atop the school monkey bars, as the ‘cool kids’ did, and explaining how artificial insemination works.
“It’s been a very normal part of my life, a very normal part of my childhood,” she said. After all, she grew up with two moms. As she puts it, the math would not have added up if a sperm donor were not involved.
But it wasn’t until high school when her journey of sibling discovery truly began. After an Oprah episode, she says her mom signed her up for the Donor Sibling Registry, and soon after, she found her first two half-siblings.
February: the Guardian
Every year, in the UK, about 2,700 people have treatment with the help of a donor, according to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. And yet the UK’s Donor Conception Network (DCN), the UK’s main support organisation, says it has known only “a handful” of cases where British families are in contact from early in the child’s life. The 70,000 members of the Donor Sibling Registry come from 135 countries, and include about 1,000 UK families. “We created the DSR so parents, donors and offspring could make mutual consent contact,” says founder Wendy Kramer, herself the mother of a donor-conceived son. “And there are many good reasons – medical and psychological – to connect while children are young.” Sperm banks, Kramer says, can’t be relied on to notify recipient families about medical issues, which could be vital information for offspring. She adds: “It’s also an innate human desire to want to know where and who we come from; it helps with identity formation.”
December: UK Human Rights Blog
"Respect for private and family life requires that everyone should be able to establish details of their identity as individual human beings. This includes their origins and the opportunity to understand them."
From Barry Stevens: "I am donor-conceived with about 600 half-siblings. I made a documentary criticizing donor anonymity. It will be shown in Canada on CBC-TV Docs POV on Thursday, October 1, at 8:00 p.m. ET and on CBC streaming service GEM after that. People in the U.S. near the border may be able to get CBC. Eventually, this documentary will be available in the USA and elsewhere."
Barry's previous documentary, Offspring, tells the story of Barry's search to identify his sperm donor and find as many of his half-siblings as possible.
September: Washington Post
September: LA Magazine
August: CBS This Morning
March: Huffington Post
Irish Journal of Legal Studies
The perspectives of donor-conceived individuals on the importance of access to identifying donor information prior to the legal age of maturity in Ireland.
Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde
"At the end of the first 5 years, 786 people were registered with Fiom’s KID-DNA Databank (figure). About two thirds of the people registered are donor-conceived children; others are donors (30%) and mothers (7%). During this five-year period, 129 people were matched to another registered person, whose kinship was confirmed."
February: WISC-TV Madison WI
"I'm not looking for a new Dad. I have a Dad. He's the best Dad I could ever ask for. I'm just looking for a part of myself and I'm sure there are lots of people out there doing the same."
January: Clarín (Argentina's largest newspaper)
An interview with Ryan Kramer: Diálogos a fondo. Ryan Kramer: "Hay que abrir toda la información a los niños sobre cómo fueron concebidos". English Translation: "You have to open up all the information to the children about how they were conceived"
January: Teen Vogue
January: The Guardian
"'Donor-conceived' is a clumsy term, because, in relation to me, the man in the clinic was not a donor. He gave something to my mother, but nothing — less than nothing — to me. He is, or was, my father, but by co-operating with my artificial conception, he deprived me forever of the possibility of knowing him. I do not know his name, what he looks like, what his personality is, what his voice sounds like. I do not know my paternal grandparents, my aunts and uncles, my cousins."
Queensland University of Technology
Joanna Rose's PhD thesis presents a critical analysis of donor conception practices from a child-centred perspective. It examines the personal and social effects of intentionally disrupting the unity of biological and social relatedness. Important implications are drawn from this analysis, which challenge the deliberate fracturing of kinship for the offspring. Comparisons are drawn with adoption experience and the stolen generations regarding kinship loss to help to guide and inform future policies, laws, and responses to this practice and other types of reproductive technology developments.
Behind Closed Doors: Moving Beyond Secrecy and Shame
A chapter written by Karen, a donor-conceived woman and mother.
Queensland University of Technology Applied Ethics Seminar Series
This paper examines the notion of disenfranchised grief for donor-conceived adults.
Research on Donor Offspring
Collaboration with the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility Department. Donor-conceived people research study. The study had 529 donor-conceived people respond. Three abstracts were published in Fertility and Sterility (awaiting notice on full paper publication):
1. How experience frames donor-conceived people's feelings about utilizing donor-assisted reproduction themselves: insights from individuals conceived via donor-assisted reproduction. Dana R. Siegel, Jeanelle Sheeder, Wendy Kramer, Cassandra Roeca
Fertility and Sterility, Published on 01 Sep 2021
2. Where are the donors? Do donor-conceived people become donors themselves? John Rushing, Dana R. Siegel, Wendy Kramer, Jeanelle Sheeder Cassandra Roeca Fertility and Sterility Published on 01 Sep 2021
3. The age and by whom a donor-conceived person receives information significantly affects their experience. Dana R. Siegel, Jeanelle Sheeder, Wendy Kramer, Cassandra Roeca Fertility and Sterility Published on 01 Sep 2021
"Being an only child my whole life and knowing there might be some siblings out there was always in the back of my mind, but I never knew there was a chance to connect with anyone from my father's side of the DNA strand. Now that I have, it's a lot like having siblings without the sharing the bathroom and clothes aspect of actually living with them, and I love it. I talk to at least one sibling every day; there's just too many to talk to all of them every day. It's a good thing. I thought it was cool to meet and have more sisters. My mom didn't want more than two kids all by herself so this was her way of giving us more. It's sooo cool!"
"Don't be nervous; we're not trying to replace you, we're trying to find us."
"I don't think that children could forget about or have a lesser opinion of their parents after meeting their donor. Kids know that the people who are important in their lives are the people who have always loved them. I think that knowing a donor can only add to the number of loving adults in a child's life. The donor will never substitute anyone. I feel that by meeting my donor that I have added to the wonderful family that I already have. And the parents will always be there to support the child if meeting the donor was disappointing in some way."
"There's nothing to be afraid of! Just because your child has expressed interest in discovering more about themselves doesn't mean they'll love you any less. In fact they will most likely be very grateful to you for supporting them in this desire."
"Not having a father, especially as a boy, was tough at times. I definitely feel like I could have benefited from having a father figure and would have liked one, but I had the benefit of Big Brothers which helped."
"I've been curious as to what it would be like to have a father, but I do not feel like I have missed anything."
"I was always envious of my friends who depended on their fathers. Though I didn't have a father, I think my relationship with my mom is stronger than others."
"My mom was married when I was conceived but was widowed before I was born. It's been a life journey to discover how to be a man on my own. From big things like how to handle masculinity, how to behave toward girls, and attitudes about life, to practical things like how to shave or tie a tie. I couldn't be happier with my life or who I am, but yes, it's taken a lot to come into my own as a man."
"When I was much younger, I was certainly confused about my nontraditional family. I was also just told that I 'just didn't have a dad' until about age 13 and was certainly curious, but I've never felt like there was something missing. Even after hearing from my donor and seeing his photo, I'm so obviously the product of solely my mother (internally and externally) that I've never needed to search for where some strange, inexplicable part of me came from. I have a far better relationship with my mom than many kids have with either parent, and I think much of that came from her being a single parent."
"Girls are supposed to be close with their fathers. I see fathers walking their daughters down the aisle, fathers threatening potential boyfriends, father-daughter bonding times, and I can't help but feel like I missed that."
"I have had four (female) parental figures since age eight, so I have always felt very supported and loved. There was a short period during my childhood when I wanted a father figure, but in general I have not felt something was missing."
"I feel all my needs are met by my two moms. I would just like to know more about him and his family and would like for him to know that I exist."
"Be open about it from day one with the child and it will just seem normal to them. I'm a strong, successful, happy, loving man with a beautiful life and beautiful family. This doesn't define who I am any more than my hair color does. I do think a healthy family life is important (whether donor-conceived or not) so that shouldn't be in doubt, but being donor-conceived isn't a problem at all. I personally believe that children are best raised by a mother and father, but I'm an example of a child of a single (widowed) mom. I've had some challenges because of that, but I'm still thriving and very happy. As far as I'm concerned, I have a family that loves me just the same as anyone else."
"Think about how this will affect your CHILD, not just you. You are making a choice for them. Try to have a father-figure or mother-figure for them to guide them or set an example of what their expectations of men and women should be. Come to terms with the fact that your kids may want to meet their donor one day and that you need to be supportive of their desire to do that. Otherwise, consider other possibilities for having children."
"Just be honest with your child from the get-go. I've known my whole life and though it's been painful at times it has never been a really big issue for me. In fact, I frequently 'forget' for weeks or months."
"I think it would be good for those considering donors to be able to talk to children who were conceived via sperm/egg donation and get their opinion on it. They may say they love their parents but they all admit when they meet their biological parents, they feel complete."
"The matter of using a donor for conception goes much deeper than a matter of conceiving and genetics. People carry a great deal of meaning from their origins, family, and genetics, even though it may not seem logical to you when you want a child so badly. If you do plan to use a donor, please raise that child with honesty about their origins. Finding out as an adult is very painful and difficult; however, knowing your origins is a matter of dignity and should be available to all."
"I would say please, please, please be honest with your child about their origins from day 1. It is the right and best thing to do. My parents never told anybody that they'd used a sperm donor but the truth still came out eventually. I can't tell you how big a shock it was to discover at the age of 25 that the man I think of as my dad isn't my biological father."
"I would tell them if it is at all possible to please use a known or willing to be known donor. I wish so much that I could meet and know my biodad, or at least have a photo of him."
"I would advise them not to hesitate to use donor conception, and that a family can be just like any other. I would advise them to be open with their child about their origins from a very early age — so early that they have no memory of being told and it is just a simple fact of life. I would encourage them to communicate to their children how special and wanted they are. I would also suggest that they have at least minimal medical, family, and ancestry information in case the child wanted it in the future. Photographs would also be nice. I would encourage them not to be threatened or worried about providing information to the child as they get older. They should understand that not everyone wants a relationship with biologic parents, but that information about one's origins is essential to identity."
2014: Survey responses from 305 donor-conceived people, in response to the question "What would you like other people considering using donor gametes or donated embryos to know that you have learned?"
Average age of all offspring currently listed in DSR posts: 15.1
Average age of offspring when they are first posted to the DSR: 13.1
Number of children posted per DSR family: 75% families have one child posted, 21% have two children posted, 3.5% have three children posted, 0.5% have four children posted, and around 0.1% have more than four children posted.
Typical age of donor offspring who post on the DSR, as of April 2019:
10 and under: 4,244
For more interesting facts about DSR offspring, see the DSR's Our Members page.
WENDY KRAMER'S MEMOIR! In January 2020 we published Wendy's memoir: Donor Family Matters: My Story of Raising a Profoundly Gifted Donor-Conceived Child, Redefining Family, and Building the Donor Sibling Registry. This is the story of Wendy Kramer and her donor-conceived child, Ryan, who eventually found his biological father and 19 half-siblings. Wendy and Ryan created the Donor Sibling Registry, the world’s largest platform for mutual-consent contact of sperm, egg, and embryo donors, donor-conceived children and adults, and their parents. Order on Bookshop, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon!
BOOK FOR DONOR KIDS! In 2018 we published a book for young donor-conceived children: Your Family: A Donor Kid's Story. This book goes beyond the simple question of "Where did I come from?" to address donors and half-siblings. Order on Bookshop, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon, or mail a check for $17 (which includes shipping) to PO Box 1571, Nederland CO, 80466.
BOOK FOR DONOR FAMILIES! In 2013 we published a book for donor families: Finding Our Families: A First-of-Its-Kind Book for Donor-Conceived People and Their Families. It covers everything from disclosure, to donor offsprings' curiosities, to connecting with donors and half-siblings, to redefining these new relationships. Order on Bookshop, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon!