18 August 2014
Nowadays at IVFAustralia, all our donor programmes are based on the principle of openness and respect the right of every individual who has been conceived following treatment with donated eggs and sperm to know the identity of their biological parents if they choose to do so once they have turned 18. This is because it is now clear that many young people who have been conceived in the past from anonymous sperm donation have experienced great distress from not knowing where they have come from. In some cases, this has had a profound effect on their lives.
We are regularly approached by young people who have been conceived from past donor programmes looking for information about their donor. When we receive an approach of this sort, we do our very best to assist and support the person who is seeking the information.
Our donor team will go back through whatever records we hold of past donor programmes to identify which donor is involved. We will work in association with the NSW voluntary sperm donor register to assist in collating as much information as we can. We will provide the donor-conceived individual with all the non-identifying information that we have about their donor.
We will then strive to obtain current contact details of the donor. If successful, we then contact the donor to see if he is willing to provide identifying information or to have contact with the donor-conceived individual. Sometimes, the end result of all of this is that we are able to provide identifying information about their donor to the donor-conceived individual and sometimes further contact follows. We have had a number of very moving instances of donor-conceived individuals getting to know the man whose sperm donation enabled them to be conceived.
Sadly, however, that is not always the outcome. Sometimes the donor is not willing to release any identifying information. In the past, unlike today, donors provided sperm to help other people have a family, on the basis of a promise of anonymity. If the donor does not wish his identity to be disclosed, we will respect this wish. Some donors need time to consider the full implications of all of this. The donors, themselves may need support and counselling before they decide how to proceed. Even if they are not willing to provide identifying information, they may agree for us to provide more detailed non-identifying information about themselves and their family medical history.
Sometimes, as a result of the passage of many years or incomplete records, we may be unable to identify who the donor was or to locate where he is today. This means that despite our best efforts, we may be unable to provide complete answers to the very important questions that donor-conceived individuals may have.
As a consequence, the search to identify a donor may often be a difficult and traumatic experience for a donor-conceived individual. We are here to help and support the people involved in this through every step. Our counselling team is available to provide free counselling to any donor-conceived individuals, recipients or donors to support them in dealing with this situation.
If any donors, recipients or donor conceived offspring have questions regarding donor conception please call 1800 111 483 and ask for the donor team. We will be pleased to assist.