Who requests their sperm donor's identity? The first ten years of information releases to adults with open-identity donors

Fertil Steril. 2017 Feb;107(2):483-493. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2016.10.023. Epub 2016 Nov 22.


Objective: To report findings from 10 years of requests from adults eligible to obtain their open-identity sperm donor's information.

Design: Analysis of archived family and donor data. Semistructured interviews at information releases.

Setting: Not applicable.

Patient(s): A total of 85 DI adults requesting 43 donor identities; program data on 256 DI families.

Intervention(s): None.

Main outcome measure(s): We identified [1] demographic predictors of requesting donor identities, [2] information release timing and length, and [3] request motives.

Result(s): Just >35% of eligible DI adults requested their donor's identity. Adults ranged from 18-27 years, requesting at median age 18 years. More women than men requested. Proportionally fewer adults requested when they had heterosexual-couple parents, and proportionally more when they had one rather than two parents. In interviews, the common theme was wanting to know more about the donor, especially about shared characteristics. Most adults planned to contact their donor. More than 94% of adults had donors who were open to contact; adults expressed modest expectations about this contact.

Conclusion(s): In 2001, the first adults became eligible to obtain their open-identity sperm donor's information. Ten years of identity requests at one program indicates that information about one's donor is important to a significant proportion of these DI adults. Most requested their donor's identity soon after becoming eligible, suggesting some urgency to wanting the information. Interview data highlighted the role of donor information in helping adults better understand themselves and their ancestry. Findings hold important implications for practice and policy.

Keywords: Open-identity donation; information sharing; sperm donors; third-party family building.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Adult Children / psychology*
  • Age Factors
  • California
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Heredity
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination*
  • Live Birth
  • Living Donors / psychology*
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Pedigree
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted / psychology*
  • Sex Factors
  • Sperm Banks
  • Spermatozoa*
  • Tissue Donors / psychology*
  • Truth Disclosure*
  • Unrelated Donors / psychology*
  • Young Adult