When intended parents set out to find a sperm or egg donor, they have many choices to make. What physical traits will the donor have? What will his or her educational and professional background be? What interests and hobbies will he or she have?
One of the most important decisions intended parents will make about their donor is whether the donor is anonymous or open-identified.
There are many factors to consider when deciding whether to work with an anonymous or non-anonymous egg or sperm donor. Below, learn more about the benefits of working with an identified egg donor or identified sperm donor.
What is an identified donor?
To find an egg or sperm donor, intended parents will likely first begin reviewing anonymous donor profiles. These profiles often include basic, non-identifying information about the donor’s appearance and background and may include baby pictures of the donor. These profiles often also note whether the donor is anonymous or willing to be identified.
If you choose to work with an anonymous donor, you will likely not receive any more personal information about the donor beyond what is stated on his or her profile. Similarly, the donor will not receive any information about you or your child.
However, non-anonymous donors, also called identified or known donors, may be willing to provide identifying information, exchange contact with the intended parents, and receive information about the intended parents and their children. Many donation programs keep this identifying information on file and allow the donor-conceived child to access it when he or she turns 18.
Identified egg and sperm donors are often also friends or family members of the intended parents.
Why use a non-anonymous donor?
The relationship between a donor-conceived child and his or her sperm or egg donor can be compared to the relationship between a child who was adopted and his or her biological family. It has become clear through the increase in open adoption arrangements that knowledge of one’s genetic history can be very important to identity development, self-confidence, and more.
The same is true for donor-conceived children. While it may seem simpler to choose an anonymous sperm or egg donor, there are many benefits to seeking out an identified donor. Here are some of the top reasons to consider working with an open-identified egg or sperm donor:
- Family medical information: You will receive a fairly substantial amount of family health history information for your egg or sperm donor — however, that information is frozen in time. If your child later develops a medical condition and your donor is open-identified, you can reach out to the donor and ask if there have been any new medical developments in their family. Identified donors create a lifeline so that intended parents always have access to up-to-date medical and health information for their children.
- Siblings and genetic relationships: It is possible for children created through donor conception to have many half-siblings — and even more cousins. If donor-conceived people have a direct way of knowing about their half siblings, either through the Donor Sibling Registry or direct contact with their donor, they don’t have to wonder about their genetic relationships.
- Sense of identity: All children have questions about where they come from and who they are. For children conceived through anonymous sperm or egg donation, these questions can be difficult to answer. Having information about your child’s donor gives him or her access to information that can help him or her develop a healthy sense of identity.
The Donor Sibling Registry
The Donor Sibling Registry (DSR) is an organization designed to help donor conceived-people connect with their genetic relatives, including half-siblings and, in some cases, their sperm or egg donors.
The founders of the DSR firmly believe that donor-conceived people have a “fundamental right to information about their biological origins and identities.” The DSR averages around 12,000 visitors and 1 million hits per month, evidencing the desire of donor-conceived people to understand and connect with their genetic roots.
To use the DSR, intended parents or donor-conceived adults register for membership and provide as much information as possible about their donor and birth. Members will then receive notifications if and when a match with a potential half sibling or donor is found.
Signing up for the DSR is completely voluntary and does not obligate donors, intended parents or donor-conceived people to maintain an open relationship. However, by putting these parties in contact with one another, the DSR helps to address the issues associated with anonymous egg and sperm donation; it is giving the donor-conceived access to important information about their genetic relationships and medical history, as well as improving their overall sense of identity.