Over the past several months there have been a couple of Donor Sibling Registry “copycat” sites. These sites offer some of the same capabilities that the DSR has offered for years. Both sites initially swiped our entire clinic list which took 7 years and hundreds of members to assemble and one that I know of emailed DSR members without permission (lots of angry DSR members).
There are repercussions of creating these new small DSR types of sites. They dilute what has been a single focused searching capability. I hear all the time from adopted people who wish they they too only had one source to search at. The more “registries” the less likely people are to find one another. When pressed on this, these sites responded with messages like “the more the merrier.” These people haven’t a clue.
From Bill Cordray, one of the most outspoken donor conceived people in the US: “I think it is a bad idea to undermine the reputation of Wendy’s work by setting up a competitive registry. Although it’s a free Internet and you can do what you want, it will just weaken the value of DSR if several similar registries are set up and you’d have to go to all of them to do any cross-checking. As far as the fee goes, it is more than reasonable.”
Creating more “donor sibling registries” only does a dis-service to donor families around the world. If the focus is taken off of us, it makes it harder for people to know where to post themselves so that they have the best chances for being found. Ultimately, people will not have the chance to connect that they have now, through the DSR. These new sites boast that they are free. Well, it’s easy to be free while you have a few dozen members. We were also free for the first five years of operation. When we hit more than 7000 members, it became clear that I would need help from members to continue growing. We grew into much more than a yahoo group, or simple database. No one is denied membership for financial hardship, and site site is still free for browsing. The $40 membership fee is only for people wanting to post their information or make contact.
The sperm donation industry is having a meeting on March 28th of this month. In their announcement letter, the fact that there are “registries” gave them license to minimize what the DSR has accomplished: “These lay registries have emerged without public discourse, public accountability, multidisciplinary expertise, uniformity or oversight.” The more “registries” the more it takes away from the thousands of people we have helped and the important work that we have accomplished in educating, connecting and supporting donor families.