Should I go for an anonymous or known donor?
Whether it is a donor egg or donor sperm, on your donor conception journey one of the major decisions you will have to make is whether to opt for a known or an anonymous donor. There is clearly no right or wrong answer. But we have learnt that parents feel differently after having their baby than they did beforehand. This blog aims to give intended parents food for thought, with the hope of minimizing any later regrets.
The laws pertaining to donor anonymity vary. If the option is open to you, spend time making the decision whether to use an anonymous or known donor.
In the most recent Donor Conceived Survey 70% of respondents believe they have been harmed by not knowing their donor’s identity and 80% believe they have been harmed by not knowing their donor’s medical history.
Sali, Founder of Sensitive Matters: “10 years into an IVF journey, the thought of using a donor egg was daunting. At the time I was wrestling with my own grief and so the thought of using a known donor would have been very intimidating and threatening to my role as mother. But now my son is nearly five, I feel differently. Back then, I wish I could have known how I would think now. I hope these points help inform your choices:
- Now, I wish I knew the egg donor. I want to thank her and hug her and show-off my beautiful child to her. She is not a threat to me. I am his mother, but she gave him her genes. She is a part of our family and I feel only love for her.
- Now I am sad that it is possible my son will never meet her. I hope she will choose to make herself known on the Donor Sibling Registry. If not, I will help him find her.
- Had I known how I would feel as a parent of a donor conceived child, I would have asked the clinic if our donor was willing to be known, or asked about known donors. At the time, I was thinking about me and how threatened my role felt (understandable when you are living the stress and drama of infertility). But once the baby comes, you become a parent and your focus is all about what’s best for him. What would be best for him is that he could at least know the wonderful woman who helped us to have him.
I know I am not the only mother of a donor egg conceived child that feels this way.”
Maran and Carole, Let’s Talk About Egg Donation: “The majority of intended parents wish they had met their donor. Parents often look for their donor on the internet, hoping to make some sort of connection. Embarking on an anonymous egg donation cycle is a very common regret.”
How your child might feel about the donor
Take a moment to think about what your child will want to know about your donor, how they will refer to this person . . . If it was you, what would you feel / want to know? Accept that if you feel a genetic loss, your future child might too.
Emma, @NZDonorConceivedAdults: “The focus is so much on getting a baby, remember it’s good to also think about what it will be like actually raising that baby. Parents should be made aware that when their child grows up they may consider the donor as a biological parent. You can’t pretend the donor conception never happened. Think long term about your child as a teenager. Don’t minimize the role of their biological parent. What your child looks like, their tastes, how they act, can be attributable to their biological parent – you need to be comfortable with that.”
Genetics have a big influence. Try and see it as not taking anything away from you, but instead that your child, in addition to your family, has a biological parent - they have more, rather than you have less.
Gather as much information about your donor as you can
If your donor is anonymous, be sure to gather as much information about them as you possibly can. Carole LieberWilkins, Marriage and Family Therapist: “Details matter, because every shred of information was helpful years later when I started talking with my son.”
If you have the choice about anonymity, put yourself in your future child’s shoes . . . and then make a considered decision . . . and then follow a no regrets policy.
That said, Nancy Block @privatelabelsurrogacy points out: “If you used an anonymous donor, but later decide you do want to get in touch with them, then ask your agency. I’ve found that most donors are willing to have contact through a third party or even direct. By the time you do want to get in touch, many are moms themselves so feel very differently about it all.”