The question of releasing identifying information about sperm donors is widely debated and has been so for many years. This means that some countries only allow either ID Release or Non-ID Release Donors, while others allow both types.
At Cryos, we let you decide for yourself if you wish to be an ID Release or Non-ID Release Donor – in short, whether you agree to let Cryos reveal your name, date of birth and address to children conceived with your sperm donations.
However, today’s DNA testing and heritage research services have given donor-conceived children a new opportunity of finding out more about their genetic origins. Keep reading to understand what this means to you as a donor and how to react if a child reaches out to you someday.
The difference between being an ID Release or a Non-ID Release Donor
When you become a sperm donor at Cryos, we ask you to decide whether you want to be ID Release or Non-ID Release. This is a decision that requires some consideration. If you choose to be an ID Release Donor, children born with help from your sperm donations can contact Cryos when they turn 18 and receive identifying information about you. They can use this information to try and contact you if they would like to learn more about their origins.
As a donor, you will not be able to get identifying information about potential donor-conceived children, so it is up to the child to decide whether to initiate contact. Being a Non-ID Release Donor means that your identity will not be revealed by Cryos. Some donors are curious or wish to give children the option of learning more about their genetic origin, while others are happy to give life and help others fulfil their dream of parenthood, but do not wish to know anything about the children that they help bring to life.
Can donor-conceived children find their donor?
Before you choose to be a donor, consider the possibility that, whether you choose to be a Non-ID Release Donor or ID Release Donor, there is a chance that a child conceived with your donation will contact you in the future. If this is not acceptable to you, then you should probably give some more thought to your consideration of becoming a donor.
New possibilities to find genetic relatives
Even though information about Non-ID Release Donors is never released by Cryos to any donor-conceived children or their parents, there are ways for these children to learn more about their donors.
The advances of modern technology pose new possibilities for DNA search, facial recognition, and heritage research. Services such as Google Face Recognition, My Heritage and 23andMe can be used in different ways to learn more about an otherwise anonymous sperm donor and ultimately lead the donor child to his or her donor.
At the same time, Cryos delivers sperm to couples and singles in over 100 countries across the globe, so it is not very likely that a donor-conceived child will suddenly be ringing your doorbell.
Cryos safeguards your personal data as a donor
At Cryos we do not help or encourage any donor-conceived children or their parents to seek out information about a Non-ID Release Donor. Furthermore, when purchasing donor sperm from a Non-ID Release Donor at Cryos, the client(s) sign an agreement not to seek information about the donor in the future. In short, we take every possible step to ensure the safety of your personal information and confidentiality and to safeguard your anonymity as a donor. Still, with some donor-conceived children, the desire to know more about your genetic origins is so strong that they take steps to learn more about their donor, even if he is a Non-ID Release Donor.
Remember to talk to your partner about being a donor
Another thing to consider when choosing to be a sperm donor is to inform your current and future partners about the fact that you are a donor. This will keep matters less complicated if you are contacted by a donor-conceived child in the future.
In the following we provide some advice on what to do if you are contacted by a donor-conceived child.
What should I do if a donor-conceived child contacts me?
Whether you are an ID Release or Non-ID Release Donor, there is a chance that one or more children will try to reach out to you in the future.
We have made a list with some recommendations to help make it the best possible experience for both of you:
- If a donor-conceived child contacts you, you should consider what type of relationship you would want to have with the child going forward. Are you open to a close relationship, or do you prefer a casual relation? Or perhaps you only want to meet the child once?
- Listen to what they have to say before making any decisions on your future relationship or replying to them.
- Tell him or her how you feel about being contacted and that it may or may not have come as a surprise for you that your identity is now known to them.
- Even though it might be surprising and unexpected to you, remember that the child most likely has given it a lot of thought before contacting you. If you want to understand the mindset and thoughts of a donor child contacting a donor, you can learn more in this blog post from the Donor Sibling Registry.
- Tell him or her about your wishes and expectations regarding future contact and a possible relationship between the two of you.
Why some children seek contact with their sperm donor
Research shows that a donor-conceived child who wants to contact his or her donor is rarely looking to invade the donor’s privacy or cause a disruptive change in the donor’s life. Nor is the child looking for money or an active parent. Instead, most donor-conceived children are:
- Curious to know more about their genetic heritage.
- Interested in knowing what their biological origin looks like.
- Looking to establish a casual relation.
- Hoping to form a closer bond.
- Interested in asking a few questions and seeing what you look like.
In any case, many donor-conceived children are advised to let the donor set the terms, decide the level of commitment to the relation, and generally take things slow when establishing contact with their donor. You can read our advice to parents who wish to help their child get in contact with their donor here. This might give you an idea of the thoughts and preparation process that goes on in the family of the donor-conceived child before you are contacted by them.
It is also worth noting that far from all donor-conceived children have the need or desire to know more about their sperm donor. For many donor-conceived children, knowing that a nice man once helped to give the greatest gift by donating his sperm is enough to satisfy their needs.