June 2016, the Editor-In-Chief of Human Reproduction finally says publicly what we have been telling donors since 2005:
Many thousands of people worldwide have been conceived with donor gametes but not all parents tell their children of their origin. Genetic testing will make this impossible. Over three million people have already used direct-to-consumer genetic testing. The rapidly increasing availability of cheaper and more detailed tests poses numerous challenges to the current practice of sperm and egg donation: 1. Whether they are donating in a country that practices anonymous donation or not, donors should be informed that their anonymity is no longer guaranteed, as they may be traced if their DNA, or that of a relative, is added to a database. 2. Donor-conceived adults who have not been informed of their status may find out that they are donor-conceived. 3. Parents using donor conception need to be fully informed that their children’s DNA will identify that they are not the biological parents and they should be encouraged to disclose the use of donor gametes to their children. All parties concerned must be aware that, in 2016, donor anonymity has ceased to exist.
JLH (Hans) Evers, Editor-in-Chief Human Reproduction
No matter what type of contract you signed with your sperm bank - you always have the right to make yourself available for mutual consent contact on the DSR!
Thinking about becoming a Sperm Donor? Read this first!
Selling your sperm means much more than paying for a spring break vacation. This kind of irresponsible advertising (from a NY sperm bank), only goes to show the lack of proper education given to prospective donors about decisions made now for a quick buck, that can affect them (and their families) for the rest of their lives. Are You Thinking of Donating Sperm? This Huffington Post contribution should be read by all those considering selling their sperm.
Wendy's Huffington Post page. A must-read for sperm donors
- July 2016: Sperm donor reunited with some of the children he fathered
- February 2016: Cosmo: What It's Really Like To Be A Sperm Donor
- January 10, 2016: CBS Sunday Morning: DSR Story- watch a donor meet his biological children for the first time
- September 2014: The Daily Beast: Today's Sperm Donor Isn't a Broke 20-Something
- May 2014: Courthouse News Service. A great article on clarifying the rights and responsibilities of sperm donors.
- December 2013: NY Times: Emailing a Sperm Donor, You May Want to Sit Down...
- October 2013: NPR: Lost, then found. Ryan and his biological father Lance talk about their connection.
- March 2013: LSU's Daily Reveille: Why College Males Shouldn't be Trusted for Sperm Donations. It is a rarity for a college newspaper to acknowledge sperm donation, so although a bit crude (hey, it's a college newspaper), the writer makes some good points, so we thought we'd link to it here.
- February 2013: BBC News: Should sperm donors have parental duties?
Research on Sperm Donors
2015: Facts, Views & Vision in OB/GYN (the Scientific Journal of the Flemish Society of Obstetrics, Gynaecology & Reproductive Health): Sperm Donors Describe the Experience of Contact with their Donor-Conceived Offspring. Facts Views Vis Obgyn, 2015, 7 (2): 91-100
"This study explores the attitudes and experiences of 57 sperm donors who responded to a survey posted online in the United States and indicated that they had had contact with their donor-conceived offspring or the parents of their donor-conceived offspring. On average, 18 years had elapsed since the respondents donated sperm. In the interim between donating and having contact with offspring, most had become curious about their offspring. Most made contact through a bank or online registry. Most respondents had communicated with at least one offspring at least once and most had exchanged photos with offspring.
Approximately two-thirds had met in person once; the same proportion had communicated over email or text. Other forms of communication were less common. Almost half of the respondents now considered their donor-conceived offspring to be like a family member. At the same time, donors are respectful of the integrity of the family in which their offspring were raised. Donors with contact are open to having their partners and children know their donor-conceived offspring. Although contact is generally positive, donors report that establishing boundaries and defining the relationship can be very difficult. Some donors also urge those who are thinking of donating to consider the consequences and some suggest avoiding anonymity. There were no significant differences in attitudes and experiences between those who donated anonymously and those who had been identity-release for their offspring when they turned 18."
2013: Advances in Reproductive Sciences: Genetic and Health Issues Emerging from Sperm Donation: The Experiences and Views of Donors. Ken Daniels and Wendy Kramer. A second paper on the 164 Sperm Donors looking at medical, genetic and recruitment issues was accepted for publication in July of 2013. .
Overall, donors indicate that they see donating as involving responsibilities to the offspring and families. The study highlights however that their ability to act responsibly is limited by some of the interactions or lack of them with the facilities where they donated. The obligations and responsibilities of donors need to be matched with those of the clinics.
2010-2012: This is research that we presented as both a talk and a poster to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in 2010 and to the British and Irish Fertility Societies in 2011. The first paper was published in 2012:
- Paper: Reproductive BioMedicine Online: Semen donors who are open to contact with their offspring: issues and implications for them and their families
Authors: Ken Daniels, Wendy Kramer and Maria Perez-y-Perez
This study investigates the motivations, views and experiences of semen donors willing to have contact with their offspring. Contact in donor insemination has usually been thought of and seen as a coming together of the donor and the offspring – just two people. The results of this study show that there is a need to think of offspring and donor linking as a coming together of two families.
Sperm Donor's Stories
- January 2017:
...in my experience, not only have there been zero negatives associated with meeting these offspring, but the upside is broader and fuller and more positive than I could have imagined. I, too, have been gratified to know my “selfish genes” are scattered and the offspring were benefiting from what I believe is my healthy stock. Equally, I benefited from feeling generous in having helped folks who’d been struggling to conceive. I’ve always been comfortable with the idea there may be children and their parents who, for whatever reasons, might have no interest in meeting me. But I’d ask you to think now about those children (and perhaps their parents) who have interest in meeting you.What relationships and the depth of relationship which may or may not ensure from connecting will be up to you and the others in your life, but the children who call you dad and those who don’t yet know you are siblings. Watching those relationships develop among the offspring I’ve met has been wonderful. Even without having grown up in the same household, each quickly sees bits of themselves in the others, and each now has someone else (or several others) who seemingly “click” in those ways siblings do but without the competition young siblings often experience. There is a centeredness/groundedness/
sense of history some of these children describe associated with learning about to whom they are biologically related.Each of your offspring (like mine) are likely now in their twenties, so they’ve figured out (at least to some degree) who they are and are leading their own lives. I wish I could better express more of the joys associated with connecting, but I’ll leave it for now by saying it’s been a thoroughly joyful experience on all fronts for me and it’s my perception there has been no downside at all to connecting with my offspring and introducing them to one another.
- August 2016: As a donor in my 20s, the notion of eventually meeting my "offspring" was a mixture of scientific obligation and amusement. I was informed by the center that the children would not be able to contact me until they were 21. I was not much older then, so I naively thought, "Cool, they would be fun to hang out with."
The reality as a more mature father has been far more profound. Four weeks ago, I was contacted by my first child (arranged by the center). Reading his eloquent words and seeing pictures of his life immediately solidified a paternal bond. I immediately felt a connection and a wave of love for him as my son. Our communications were quick, easy and warm. After only a few hours of chatting he informed me of a family that was looking to connect on donorsiblingregistry.com. I quickly got online and joined the organization and reached out to them. Within hours, I was connected to the mom of the 2nd and 3rd of my children.
WOW! Within 24 hours, my family of 1 daughter, turned into a family of 4. Since my wife had already been informed long before, I had to share the news with my 9 year old daughter. We were out hiking, just the 2 of us, and I began to explain the situation. Suffice it to say, I oversimplified the science, but shared the news she had brothers and a sister. Her face lit up like the sun and she stated, "I am not an only child." As brilliant as a child can be, her first question, "Will she teach me algebra?" She has been thrilled to share the news with her friends (most disbelieving the tale), but also asking every day, "When can I meet them?"
Tonight (4 weeks after finding each other), we had both families get together for a barbecue. It was fantastic. Amazing children, Amazing mothers.
Life is beautiful!
- January 2016: I donated several hundred times from 1981 through 1988 and look forward to making contact with my progeny. Thank you for all you have done to help fill in a void that has been on my mind for many years.
- December 2015: My decision to be a donor was inspired by the blessed gift of my children. They and their half-siblings (I only know of a son and daughter) have the right to know each other. With humility, I can say that I've never had misgivings about being a donor and continue to desire contact without any presumptions. I sent an inquiry and personal letter to [my sperm bank], and, having since discovered the DSR, will trust the universe in this quest. As a parent of children who are the light of my life, I already feel an affinity with the parents of these children conceived in trust and love.
- June 2015: Former sperm donor meets his biological daughter and grandson for the first time.
- 2015: From a donor: One thing is crystal clear for me. That is that the interests and well being of the children – all of them – are paramount. Regardless of what the legal framework was at the time of my being a sperm donor, I believe that I do have responsibilities to the children born as a result of my sperm donations. At the very least, those children have a right to know what my part of their genetic heritage is... I will be more than happy to get in touch, if and when they do desire. I think about them often and wonder who, where and how they are, and what is happening in their lives. I think, that if one day some of my unknown offspring do make contact with and meet me it might be – for them primarily and for me too – a wonderful "jigsaw" experience !?! I only donated for a period of about eight months! All of that said, the prospect of it actually happening is a little daunting, in some ways. What if they do not like me, or I them ? What if they feel unhappy with my having contributed to their creation, but then taken no responsibility for them, –- especially if they have had an unhappy life ? How will my own family react to and view them ? On and on my thinking goes. However, at the base of all of this I am quite clear in my mind, that these wonderful children do have a right to know, what they want to know about me - because in them, there is a part of me.
- I know that many of you are curious about how donors feel years after donating. And many assume that the donors have no desire for contact. Here is a letter the DSR received in 2015 that gives some insight (this donor did just add his posting to the DSR):
I just wanted to thank you for making the Donor Sibling Registry possible. I donated sperm in 2000 and 2001. I've never been embarrassed about it, for the most part - I told my mom and close friends at the time. But it never occurred to me that any biological offspring of mine would be even want to contact (let alone meet) me. I don't know exactly how this came in to my consciousness 15 years later, but here I am! Your website, and the interviews you've done on NPR, which I've researched in the past few days, really opened my eyes. I don't know if it will ever come to be, that I meet someone who I helped to bring in to this world. But now I know that's a possibility thanks to you and your son.
Thank you for educating me about the role I may have played in someone's life. I definitely don't remember the sperm bank ever talking to me about this stuff;)
I hope you and your son are happy and well!
- 2015: From a donor: But at any rate, my own sons and daughters: wake up, endure, whatever. Just as long as you also accept this apology: not for my having helped conceive you, of course, but for my not having helped raise you. And also for your not having ever known me in person. And also, now, for my not knowing you at all.
- Paul's Story Paul gives an eloquent and heartwarming perspective from a former donor.
- Artificial Insemination from the Donor's Perspective An article by a former donor about searching and connecting with a daughter.
- Richard Hatch's Story The first winner of TV's Survivor tells his story of finding a son and a daughter on the DSR.
- Knowing about your biological origins is a basic right, April 2012, The Age, written by a former sperm donor.
Experiences of Donors Connecting on the DSR
As a donor in my 20s, the notion of eventually meeting my "offspring" was a mixture of scientific obligation and amusement. I was informed by the center that the children would not be able to contact me until they were 21. I was not much older then, so I naively thought, "Cool, they would be fun to hang out with.” The reality as a more mature father has been far more profound.
Four weeks ago, I was contacted by my first child (arranged by the center). Reading his eloquent words and seeing pictures of his life immediately solidified a paternal bond. I immediately felt a connection and a wave of love for him as my son. Our communications were quick, easy and warm.
After only a few hours of chatting he informed me of a family that was looking to connect on donorsiblingregistry.com. I quickly got online and joined the organization and reached out to them. Within hours, I was connected to the mom of the 2nd and 3rd of my children.
WOW! Within 24 hours, my family of 1 daughter, turned into a family of 4. Since my wife had already been informed long before, I had to share the news with my 9 year old daughter. We were out hiking, just the 2 of us, and I began to explain the situation. Suffice it to say, I oversimplified the science, but shared the news she had brothers and a sister. Her face lit up like the sun and she stated, "I am not an only child." As brilliant as a child can be, her first question, "Will she teach me algebra?”
She has been thrilled to share the news with her friends (most disbelieving the tale), but also asking every day, "When can I meet them?”
Tonight (4 weeks after finding each other), we had both families get together for a barbecue. It was fantastic. Amazing children, Amazing mothers.
Life is beautiful!
I donated in the late 70s and early 80s, and was always curious about whether any of my children would find me. In 2006 two of my daughters, full sisters, found me through the DSR. I had no children of my own, and I am absolutely thrilled to now have two grown daughters. I have a good relationship with my daughters and communicate with and see them often, and I am very very happy about this. And I owe it all to Wendy and her work putting together the DSR.
Since I was a toddler my family had the tradition of spending at least 1 week every summer up at Bass Lake in the Sierra Mountains of California, near the southern entrance to Yosemite National Park. I was continuing that tradition with my friends and family in my adulthood.
Thanks to Wendy and the DSR that tradition has grown to include 6 of my biological sons and 2 daughters, plus their parents and siblings. In 2008 one of my sons joined us. In 2009 it was four kids. Flash forward to this year and we had 26 people in a huge extended family reunion. 13 kids, 8 of them biologically mine plus cousins and nieces and nephews.
We had to rent 4 cabins this year to accommodate everyone. I must say when I am participating in the swimming, hiking, boating, horseback riding or s'mores making it all feels so organic and normal to be surrounded by so much energy and love. The siblings and their cousins have all bonded so naturally.
Now that I'm back at work and my "real life" it seems clear to me how amazing and unexpected this miracle truly is. Thanks to Wendy and Ryan and all of their work to connect us. We appreciate it so much. I can't adequately express how much you have enriched our lives. I am so grateful to be of part of all these families' lives and to make them a part of mine.
I'm a donor who has had the great fortune of meeting four of my offspring so far (and three of their parents). All contact has been wonderful and awe-inspiring. The first couple of kids I met directly through DSR -- the others through various online channels. There are more kids out there still, some of whom I've heard about, and others who are still a mystery. I welcome all of them into my life and my heart.
I'm a donor who recently found the wonderful woman who chose me from a list 16 years ago. She took the plunge into the unknown a second time and contacted me after finding me on the DSR. I was lucky beyond words to meet her and become acquainted with my daughter and their family and friends.
She had questions. Would I respect her privacy? Did her daughter really want to know her donor-dad at this point in time? Was it too disruptive to their family life?
We're still in the first couple months of knowing each other, but the doubts have given way to trust and the fear has subsided, thanks to humor. It is pretty funny to find out some of our personal quirks and watch our families mix for the first time.
I am sort of shy so it hasn't been that easy. It seems like all of us--my partner included--thrive on learning new things and meeting new people. This may be a secret deeper than the genetic relationship that brought us together. It feels like the farthest thing from science because the outcomes can't be predicted and controlled.
It may sound like I just stepped out of a cave and joined the human race :-) but I guess I'm learning what the mother(s) and dad(s) who raised the children knew from day one: how much people want to show love and celebrate each other.
Legal: Sperm Donor Rights/Responsibilities by State
A sperm donor has no rights or responsibilities for any children that are born as a result of his donation. The children born from your donations have no legal or financial rights to you or your money. The court cases to date have all included known donors- arrangements that went sour.
The following came from the Human Rights Campaign - it is several years old, so there might be updates to this information.
"In all 50 states, men who provide sperm as an unknown donor assume no legal responsibility for any resulting children born. In some states, however, if a man is known to the woman or couple to whom he provides sperm, he may be required to assume the legal responsibilities of a parent.
In California, Ohio and Wisconsin, a known donor releases himself from legal responsibility if the procedure is performed with a physician's involvement. In Colorado and New York, a known donor may be able to assert parental rights; however it is unclear whether a court would impose any responsibilities on a known donor in these two states. In Pennsylvania and Utah, the law is unclear and a known donor may be assigned some parental responsibility. In the remaining states, there are no laws or cases that assign or allow a donor to assert parental responsibilities."
CA: Under the California Uniform Parentage Act, a sperm donor providing sperm to someone other than his wife, via a licensed physician or surgeon, is not legally or financially responsible for any resulting children and is deemed not to be the natural father of such children. Additionally, you are further protected under the terms of contracts which are signed by both you and the recipients.