Is your donor conceived child turning 18 this year?

2023 will see 18 year olds, conceived through donated sperm, able for the first time to request identifying details of their donor.

Up until 2005, donors were able to choose to be anonymous. However, with greater awareness and acceptance of IVF it was considered that it was in the child’s best interest to be able to find out about their heritage, which can be done through the HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority). The law cannot be back-dated so this only applies to those conceived from 2005 onwards, unless their donor has chosen to reveal their identity.

donor conceived children can request details of their donor

Requesting information if you are donor conceived

Applying through the HFEA is the official way to request details, and is to be recommended.

The donor will be notified that the child is seeking information and they will be prepared. The donor may not be aware that they have children following donation and may not have discussed this with their partner or children. Having contact via the HFEA will give them time to have these conversations and be more likely to be receptive to your child.

The donor has no moral, legal or financial responsibility for any child resulting from their donation.

One of our donors described their feelings as being like that of a midwife or a teacher: you have a concern and interest in the child but may not want any involvement in their lives.

If your child is donor conceived, they can apply for information through the HFEA

Concerns over using DNA tests to find donors

Since the law was introduced the availability of DNA testing has increased, so many people are finding out about their donor and half-siblings through these tests without applying through the HFEA. In a 2020 survey from We Are Donor Conceived, 78% of respondents reported that they had successfully identified their donor through Direct-to-Consumer DNA testing.

However, people who have not been told about their donor origins can take a DNA test and accidentally find out they were donor conceived. The We are Donor Conceived survey revealed that only 21% of people had been told how they were conceived as children and 34% found out through testing.

Furthermore, neither the donor nor the donor-conceived person necessarily needs to have taken a DNA test. Discoveries can be made inadvertently because of other close relatives testing. For example, a DNA test can reveal that your parent was donor conceived even if the parent was unaware. There are some age restrictions in place for the tests, but these are difficult to enforce so it is possible for under 18s to do the test.

The most common tests are:

  • FamilyTreeDNA
  • Living DNA
  • AncestryDNA
  • MyHeritage
  • 23andMe

Preparing your child

At Bourn Hall everyone using donated eggs or sperm for treatment (and everyone considering sharing or donating) are given counselling. This includes a discussion of when and how to tell your child that they have been conceived through donation.

It is generally agreed that openness and transparency is in the child’s best interest so they don’t discover this information accidentally.

Donors write a message to the child which can be shared with them at a young age and at 16 they can request non-identifying information.

There also organisations that can provide advice and support for you and your children:

  • The HFEA has a register of all fertility treatments from 1991 and has a dedicated support service for donor-conceived people who are considering, or are actively getting in touch with, their donor or donor conceived siblings – more information.
  • The Liverpool Women’s Hospital also has a register of treatments from before 1991 – more information.

More information

There are lots of helpful resources – videos and Facebook groups – on this page

The donor conceived register was originally intended for anyone who donated in a UK clinic or was conceived following treatment in a UK clinic before August 1991, but anyone can use the service more information: Donor Conceived Register

The HFEA donor sibling link supports half siblings.

Apply for information through the HFEA.

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