Many hopeful parents initially balk at the thought of using a known egg donor and/or known sperm donor for IVF. They have a number of understandable fears:
“Are there known sperm donor legal issues that I should consider? Would/could he ever try to gain legal parental rights?” “Would the donor try to intrude on our lives or want some sort of relationship with my child?” “That sounds emotionally complicated. It’s just not for me.”
But fears of known egg donors and sperm donors are often put to rest with a better understanding of three important things:
- The legal contracts for donors
- The intentions of people who donate their eggs or sperm
- The potential benefits of using a known sperm donor or egg donor for donor-conceived children
When a person donates eggs or sperm through a cryobank, fertility clinic, or similar professional, they’ll usually already have signed a donor contract surrendering future parental rights, and you’ll be able to review that. If you personally know your donor (a friend, acquaintance, etc.) they’ll need to sign a contract with your attorney to the same effect.
Please note that laws by which these contracts must be established and the steps that are taken to secure your parental rights can vary from one state to the next, which is why it’s so important that you always work with an experienced ART attorney.
Your Donor’s Intentions
Like the women who become gestational surrogates, the people who are willing to be known sperm donors or egg donors are doing so primarily because they want to help people who hope to have a family. Of course, there’s also the added benefit of compensation for donors.
When a donor offers to make their information known to a family, it’s because they know how that information can be helpful to people conceived using donated gametes — not because they hope to co-parent your child. They also realize that choosing between being a known vs. unknown donor is less optional in this day and age, but we’ll touch on that shortly.
Benefits for Your Child
Similarly to adopted children, people who were conceived using donated gametes often have questions about the people they’re genetically connected to. Research has long confirmed the benefits of open adoption for adoptees, and the harmful effects of closed adoption.
Like adopted children in open adoptions, known donor-conceived children can benefit from access to medical information, a stronger sense of identity, potential connections to biological half-siblings or cousins and more. By using known donor sperm or eggs, your child can request access to information about their donor should they ever wish to know more one day. With an anonymous donor, you might be limiting their ability to make that choice.
Remaining Anonymous is No Longer Realistic
Before at-home DNA kits and widely-used genealogy websites, anonymity in gamete donation was common. Today, people who were conceived using anonymous donors can swab the inside of their cheek and find out who their donor was. Some donors are now being contacted without their consent by biological relatives.
As a result, many donor clinics are making the switch to exclusively identified egg and sperm donors, because they know there’s no way to guarantee that your child won’t identify their donor someday. Most donor clinics will likely follow suit.
When it comes to having a child through any “non-traditional” means, true anonymity is a thing of the past. This can be an understandable source of fear for some intended parents early on, but your path to parenthood is unique, and it takes a village! Try to welcome the people who want to help you achieve your dream, and foster healthy relationships when possible.
If you need guidance in navigating those relationships — whether with your child’s known sperm donor, egg donor, or gestational surrogate, you can always reach out to your American Surrogacy specialist at 1-800-875-BABY(2229).