One of the biggest misconceptions I often hear is that sperm donors are not interested in the offspring. That they do their bit and walk away from it. No doubt there will be men who feel like that and as long as they’re committed to being available to the donor-conceived 18 years down the line, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s however not my experience through talking to donors, the clinicians who work with donors and reading all research.
Most men coming forward are curious. They do want to know what has happened with their sperm, they do want to be assured that it’s used for ‘nice and kind people’ and they do realise that what they’re helping to create is another human being. That’s good to know for recruitment purposes but it should also be reassuring for the donor-conceived from any era.
Many donors registered on the Donor Conceived Register are disappointed that there’s been no match with their donor-conceived as they would be happy to fill in the gaps in their knowledge if they feel they have some. This has nothing to do with replacement fatherhood and everything to do with understanding the needs of the people conceived.
Although I should be careful comparing data of significantly different donation cultures, this quote from Wendy Kramer of US based Donor Sibling Registry an organisation with almost 45,000 members, supports UK findings:
“The biggest misconception about donors,” Kramer told me, “is that they all want to be anonymous. Wrong. Wrong!” In the 2012 survey, which Kramer co-authored, 94 percent of donors were open to contact with their offspring. Of those, 86 percent would make themselves available for any questions their bio-children might have; 83 percent would share medical information; and 80 percent would be happy to carry on an email relationship and share photos.
As positive as this sounds I can imagine that it might worry some donor-conceived parents. Let me assure you, when treatment took place in an UK licensed clinic, donors have very few rights. They can find out the gender and birth year of any child but that’s it.
And that’s how it should be.