Gamete donation: parents' experiences of searching for their child's donor siblings and donor

Hum Reprod. 2009 Mar;24(3):505-16. doi: 10.1093/humrep/den469.


Background: This study investigates the new phenomenon of parents of donor offspring searching for and contacting their child's 'donor siblings' (i.e. donor offspring conceived by the same donor) and donor.

Methods: Online questionnaires were completed by 791 parents (39% lone-mother, 35% lesbian-couple, 21% heterosexual-couple, 5% non-specified) recruited via the Donor Sibling Registry; a US-based international registry that facilitates contact between donor conception families who share the same donor. Data were collected on parents' reasons for searching for their child's donor siblings and/or donor, the outcome of these searches and parents' and their child's experiences of any resulting contact.

Results: Parents' principal motivation for searching for their child's donor siblings was curiosity and for their donor, enhancing their child's sense of identity. Some parents had discovered large numbers of donor siblings (maximum = 55). Most parents reported positive experiences of contacting and meeting their child's donor siblings and donor.

Conclusions: This study highlights that having access to information about a child's donor origins is important for some parents and has potentially positive consequences. These findings have wider implications because the removal of donor anonymity in the UK and elsewhere means that increasing numbers of donor offspring are likely to seek contact with their donor relations in the future.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Directed Tissue Donation
  • Disclosure
  • Female
  • Germ Cells / pathology*
  • Homosexuality, Female
  • Humans
  • Insemination, Artificial, Heterologous
  • Male
  • Oocyte Donation / methods*
  • Oocyte Donation / psychology*
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parents
  • Patient Access to Records
  • Sibling Relations
  • Single Parent
  • Spermatozoa
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tissue Donors