A donor offspring
, or donor conceived person
, is conceived via the donation of sperm
) or ova
), or both, either from two separate donors or from a couple. In the case of embryo
donation, the conceiving parents are a couple.
Donor conceived people may never learn of their true birth origins as information about their true biological parent(s) is not recorded on the birth certificate. This is compounded by the fact that only a small proportion (av. 10%) of donor conceived people will ever be informed of the nature of their conception by the recipient parent(s). Donor conceived people may have many half siblings as a result of the same person's donations.
With the significant increase in the numbers of donor-conceived individuals (38,910 live babies were born in 2005 as a result of 134,260 ART cycles performed at reporting U.S. clinics in 2005, compared with 20,659 babies born as a result of 64,036 ART cycles in 1996), many have questioned the "ethics" surrounding the technologies and human decisions surrounding donor conception, and there has been plenty of controversy. For example, the term "Snowflake babies" was coined in reference to unused frozen embryos (left over from other couples' attempts to conceive through in vitro fertilization) that have been "adopted" by families (Pro-life advocates tend to support such adoptions).
Psychological and social
The psychological and social impacts of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) on donor-conceived children and their families has gained a great deal of interest in recent years as this population has continued to grow. An increasing number of family-support organizations strongly encourage parents to openly discuss their children's origins, whether through donor insemination or following treatment with donated gametes. Studies suggest that the parents' level of comfort with their use of donor conception positively influences the mental health of their donor-conceived offspring.
Donor conceived people have fewer adolescence problems than children of divorce.
Donor & sibling tracking
There are donor sibling registries matching genetic siblings and donors. However, with modern information technology, there are other ways of getting information.
A donor registrations facilitate donor conceived people
, sperm donors
and egg donors
to establish contact with genetic kindreds. They are mostly used by donor conceived people to find genetic half-siblings from the same egg- or sperm donor.
Some donors are non-anonymous, but most are anonymous, i.e. the donor conceived person doesn't know the true identity of the donor. Still, he/she may get the donor number from the fertility clinic. If that donor had donated before, then other donor conceived people with the same donor number are thus genetic half-siblings. In short, donor registries matches people who type in the same donor number.
Alternatively, if the donor number isn't available, then known donor characteristics, e.g. hair, eye and skin color may be used in matching siblings.
However, even sperm donors who have not initiated contact through a registry are now increasingly being traced by their offspring. In the current era there can be no such thing as guaranteed anonymity. Through the advent of DNA testing and internet access to extensive databases of information, one sperm donor has recently been traced. In 2005 it was revealed in New Scientist magazine that an enterprising 15-year-old used information from a DNA test and the internet to identify and contact his genetic father, who was a sperm donor. This has brought into question the ability of sperm donors to stay anonymous.