If you have a donor-conceived child, you have probably told them that there is a nice man out there, who once gave life to the dream of a child by donating his sperm. For some children, this story may have added a few more details and may be enough to satisfy their need for knowing about their origins. For others, their curiosity will result in many questions, and perhaps a desire to one day meet the sperm donor.
My child wants to meet the donor – what do I do?
Some children are curious to know more about their donor, beyond the information on the donor profile. Here is some advice for you on how to react as a parent, when your child wants to meet the donor.
- Let your child know if contact is a possibility
When your child expresses a wish to meet the donor, the first step is to let them know if and when this might be possible. Is the donor ID Release or Non-ID Release? And is your child old enough to reach out to him? At Cryos, we can release ID Release donor information once the child turns 18 years old. Some children will ask early on if they can meet their donor, and a simple “yes” or “no” will probably do at that point.
- It is okay to have mixed feelings – but keep them to yourself
If you feel weird, nervous, or maybe even a bit anxious about the thought of your child meeting the donor and other genetic relatives, you are not alone. Obviously, as their parent, it is your job to worry about your child’s happiness and well-being. But many parents of donor-conceived children worry that their child is looking for something in the donor that they cannot find in their parents. They also worry what their child may or may not discover, and what this will do to the child and to the parent/child relationship. However, you must remember that this is not about you. Your child is looking to know more about themselves. To find answers related to their own identity and understand more about their origins and maybe their medical background. Try to put your own feelings aside and make sure that your child feels comfortable talking to you about this. You may risk that your child will avoid opening up to you if their curiosity feels like a betrayal or is hurtful to you.
- Help your child prepare for the contact
Reaching out to the donor will probably be just as scary as it is exciting for your child. As their parent, you can help them prepare by talking openly about how to approach the donor and asking your child about their expectations and what they hope will come from it. You should also talk to your child about the possibility that the donor is not reachable or does not wish to engage in further contact. Below we list some of the possible outcomes when contacting a donor.
- Make sure that your child knows that you are there – whatever the outcome
When your child wants to contact the donor, you basically have two options: to support them or not. It may sound a little harsh but think about it. If your child is keen on finding the donor, chances are that he or she will do it with or without your help. And you would probably prefer to be there for them when they talk to or meet their donor for the first time. It will likely be an emotional rollercoaster for them, and they might not find what they are looking for. They may even risk being rejected by the donor or his family, and in these situations, they will need comfort and support - and preferably from their parents. A rejection is about the donor - his family situation, his insecurities, or a lack of understanding. It will definitely not be about the child, but the child will probably need to be reminded of this by the people who love them.
How to get in contact with the donor
So, how does your child get in contact with the donor? And is this even possible? That depends on whether he is ID Release or Non-ID Release.
Contacting an ID Release donor
If the sperm donor is ID Release, your child can contact Cryos at the age of 18 and get identifying information about him. The information is provided by the donor at the time of his donations and include his full name, address given to Cryos and date of birth. With this information, children can try to get in contact with the donor if they want. To get the information from Cryos, your child must show a Donor Child Certificate. Please contact our Customer Care to get a Donor Child Certificate for your child.
If the donor is Non-ID Release
Some donors are happy to help others achieve their dream of a child, but at the same time have no intention or wish to know about the children that are conceived with the help from their donations. These are the Non-ID Release donors. They can have a Basic or an Extended Sperm Donor Profile. What they have in common is the decision that they do not wish to be contacted by donor-conceived children. This means, that Cryos will never give up any more information about these donors than what is already accessible in their profiles.
However, with today’s DNA-testing services, there is a possibility that children and donors will find each other, despite him being Non-ID Release. Children from the same sperm donor might also be able to find each other across families, and you should prepare yourself – and your child - for this possibility.
What to expect when contacting your sperm donor
When your child has questions regarding the donor, a general advice is to be as open and supportive as possible. But as their parent, you should also prepare your child for the possible outcomes if they decide to investigate their genetic origins further. Hopefully, the donor will be open to contact and will help your child by answering the questions that they may have. But there might be less fortunate outcomes as well that your child should know and consider before reaching out to the donor or other genetic relatives.
- The donor might not be what your child imagined or hoped for. A lot can happen in 18+ years, and he may have a completely different life now than at the time of his donations. Talk to your child about their expectations and the possibility of the donor being someone completely different. No matter what happens, he is an amazing person for having helped your child into the world – but he is (probably) not a superhero.
- There are unfortunately no guarantees that the donor is still alive and well when your child becomes old enough to seek contact with him.
- The donor might not be interested in talking to or meeting his offspring. While an ID Release donor has agreed to be contacted by donor-conceived children in the future, a Non-ID Release donor has not. And there is a risk that – if being contacted – he chooses to reject any type of contact. This also includes ID Release donors who might have had a change of heart since agreeing to be contacted. Remember that he has agreed – but has not committed – to being contacted by genetic offspring.
- Using genetic testing or engaging in certain groups or communities on social media may lead to the discovery of other children from the same donor. And there may be more than expected. However, some of them might not even be aware that they are donor-conceived. Also, the donor might not have told his close family members about his donations. Hence, reaching out to other people who are genetically related to the donor should be done with the utmost care and discretion to avoid revealing family secrets.
Not all donor-conceived children want to meet their donor
On this page, we focus on the possibilities and considerations when contacting a donor. But do all donor-conceived children wish to meet their sperm donor? The answer is no. An example of this is Emma who was conceived with the help of a sperm donor, has no desire to meet with her donor. Many donor-conceived individuals are perfectly happy knowing that an altruistic man helped their parent(s) bring them to life and have no desire to meet or know more about the donor. You can learn more about thoughts, considerations and advice from donor-conceived children here.
Worth to consider before contacting a sperm donor
Some parents are curious to know more about the donor, and some donor-conceived children might think they have a right to know who he is. However, there are two sides to this.
When purchasing sperm directly from Cryos, you agree not to search for the donor’s identity or any information that can lead to the disclosure of his identity or the identity of other offspring related to him. This is regardless of whether you have chosen an ID Release or a Non-ID Release donor.
Remember that this person donated his sperm to help you and others based on the condition that his identity would only be released, if he agreed to be ID Release, and only to donor-conceived children after turning 18. Any other attempts to seek information or contact violates this agreement and his privacy. However curious you might be, the advice is therefore to refrain, to respect the agreement and to be grateful for the gift that this man donated.