Recent News (full news list is available to DSR members only)

2021

I write to echo the sentiments of Steve Inskeep’s moving article about the rights of adoptees to their birth and genetic information, and to make the same argument for donor-conceived people. What Mr. Inskeep writes of adoptees is equally true of donor-conceived people, who equally deserve access to information about their identity and genetics.


As a donor-conceived person, I particularly relate to Mr. Inskeep’s point that he was never able to tell a doctor his family medical history when asked. Donor-conceived persons in the United States have no way to obtain comprehensive information about their genetic background, and when they are given information it is only as accurate as the donors themselves were when providing the information.


Donor anonymity and a lack of comprehensive and accurate record-keeping have deprived donor-conceived people of access to their identifying information for too long. We need to do better for adoptees and the donor-conceived communities. Thank you, Mr. Inskeep, for shedding light on this important issue.

Molly McCafferty
Orinda, Calif.
The writer serves on the board of directors of the Donor Sibling Registry, a nonprofit organization that connects and supports donor families.

New Podcast: Championing the Donor-Conceived Community 

This week Kallie sits down with Wendy Kramer, Co-Founder and Director of the Donor Sibling Registry (DSR), a network of over 72,000 members worldwide, united by their shared experience as individuals conceived as a result of egg, sperm, or embryo donation and their mutual desire to be connected with others who share their genetic ties.

Wendy launched the DSR in an effort to help bridge some of the ancestral gaps for her own son Ryan, who was conceived via sperm donation. A prolific speaker and writer, Wendy is a tireless advocate for the donor-conceived community and a strong proponent of regulations that prioritize the needs of the children born of third-party reproductive arrangements.

Besides health concerns, there is another important reason for limiting donor’s fecundity. The children of sperm and egg donors, like those who are adopted, often want to trace their blood relations. But it is difficult to forge strong relationships when vast numbers of children are involved. Wendy Kramer of the Donor Sibling Registry, which helps connect members of donor families, says this is an example of how the contract between clinics and would-be parents has ignored the interests of the children it produces. She established the group in 2000 when her then ten-year-old son, conceived using donor sperm, became curious about his wider family. Last month he learned of the existence of two new half-siblings, bringing the tally to 22. Ms Kramer had been told her sperm donor would father no more than ten children, a limit she considers sensible.

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.”

February: New York Times

The Case of the Serial Sperm Donor

One man, hundreds of children, and a burning question: Why?
 

2019

December: Washington Post

Does sharing a sperm donor make us family?

May: Podcast with Ryan & Wendy Kramer

Family: Where YOU Come From

May: Boulder Weekly

Redefining family

April: Prospect Magazine

The donor detective

February: Chicago Tribune

It's a Wild Ride

January: CBS This Morning

Woman Uses DNA Test, Finds Sperm Donor