Donor Families

This page is for donor families. It includes stories, advice, articles, research, and other resources related to donor families.

Success Stories — Donor Family Connections!

Twins boys with their half-sister

"Half-siblings Jacob and Addison (Addie) met for the first time in 2020. Jacob is a senior in high school and Addison is a junior. They are both 16 years old and 3 month apart in age. The photo shows from left to right Jack (Jacob's dad), Jacob, Addison, and Katie (Addie's mom). We spent a very pleasant afternoon together and the kids were very happy to have met. They are now connected by phone and text, and plan to see each other again since they both drive and live only 200 miles apart."

These half-siblings met in Rye, NH, in August 2020. From left to right: Kayla (she drove from Iowa City); sisters Alyssa and Olivia; and Emilee (from Rockport, MA).
"Thanks so much for creating the DSR!!! We have found 7 siblings and they all keep in touch!!!"

A Disney half-sib meet-up!

Half-siblings Jaden (16) and Kaiden (17)

JoAnna and her older half-sister Chelsea. "We found each other on your website about a year and a half ago, and I just recently asked Chelsea to be a bridesmaid in my wedding next year! We are just so excited that we were brought together! Our moms are even friends now — I included a picture of them as well [bottom photo]."

Half-sisters Zoe and Kati. "I still find it hilarious that the two of our families were originally in Brooklyn when the two of us were born and eventually came to western Massachusetts, independently of each other." —Kati

A donor's hand with two of his donor offspring's hands

A donor and his child compare their hands to 4 donor offspring's hands

"Pics of our meeting in Feb. 2013, in Magic Kingdom, Disney World. My son, Alan (who was 6 y.o. at that time), is on the left, and his sibling, Tucker (2 y.o.), is on the right. We are from Brazil and Tucker's family is from South Carolina!"

"I would really like to say THANK YOU for helping my kids find their siblings! What you and your son have done is simply amazing! I remember watching you and wondering if my kids had siblings, and then joining the DSR. We are so blessed to have the registry and the ability to find the link to others. My older daughter and her siblings are very close and have met up many times. Thanks for making it happen!"

"With the exception of one, we all met through the DSR!"

"1st time meeting for our Donor Siblings in Wisconsin. Thank you Donor Sibling Registry! All the kids say it was an Incredibly Transforming Weekend!"

Donor Mike Rubino with 13 of his 19 known donor children, in 2017

Stacked Siblings!

Donor Todd Whitehurst meeting up with some of his donor children, in 2016

"Sibs from different cribs"

Siblings meet!

"My [half] brother Jason and I have the same donor and were born 8 months apart. He found my DSR profile on New Year's Day of 2014, and we met each other in person shortly after. We felt an instant connection, and feel so lucky to have found each other. This picture is from my wedding in September 2015. You can see how close we've become! All thanks to you and the DSR. :)"

"I'm 43 and I just found out that I am donor conceived this past year. My sister is 42. This picture is from when we got to meet this past September."

Experiences of Donor Families

2020
2019

December: Washington Post

Does sharing a sperm donor make us family?

Tales of sperm banks and donor-related families usually focus on the kids or the donor himself. But what about the mothers? 

October: From a mom

"I am thrilled to say that my daughter has been talking and texting to her paternal grandfather via messenger for hours this afternoon. He is providing family tree information, her father's information, and welcoming her into the entire family. They found us through Wendy and the DSR. My daughter's brother is one of two families who were matched on Ancestry, but they didn’t receive a message (junk) and she says the system is quite complicated they had no idea it was this close. I was able to reach them and they also connected today. Thank you Wendy, you made 2 children from 2 different families very complete today. They are looking forward to meeting their father, siblings, paternal grandparents, aunts, and uncles soon."

by Meredyth Capasso
"If you are the parents of a donor-conceived child, I urge you to tell that child about his or her conception early and often. Celebrate that birth story! Whether we like it or not, the age of secrecy, and anonymity is over. Between the Donor Sibling Registry and at-home DNA kits, increasing numbers of donor-conceived children and adults are finding their donor siblings — and their donors — every day. With a simple swab of a cheek, you can get your DNA and upload it onto sites for the fun of finding out your ethnic makeup ... only to get a message from another person saying, 'Hello, we’re a genetic match — I’m your half sister.' Or 'I’m your son.' For those who know nothing of their true genetic origins, that news can be devastating."

February 2019: From a donor's wife (and former egg donor)

People often don't understand why 40, 75, or 100 kids for a single donor might be problematic. This perspective from a donor's wife (and former egg donor) needs to be included in that conversation.

"My husband told me on our first date that he was a sperm donor. I asked him if any children had been born, and he said the clinic wouldn't share that information with him.

Seven years into our marriage, we agreed to the clinic's request for pictures and medical information for the very reason of giving kids who came forward a sense of coming from someone — not a vial. We graciously opened our lives as we recognized the psychological needs of others. The clinic still would not share how many children there were. I would also like to point out that at this point my husband could have asked to remain an anonymous donor — that would have been his right — but he/we didn't. Yes, he said he would be open to contact if the child showed interest in meeting him — because we had children of our own at that time and could understand why knowing the person who contributed might prove healing. Again, he was thinking of the donor-conceived kids. Up to this point, we were both operating under the false assumption that it would be a handful of kids. Help me understand what 'moral responsibility' my husband or I failed to recognize.

Three years after providing the pictures and medical information, a dozen and a half come forward. Today, there are now 40 (that we know of). Over two dozen of those were born before the birth of our first child. When we agreed that my husband would be open to meeting children who came forward, this is how we thought that would play out based on what we were told by the clinic: Child/parents/family would contact the clinic expressing a desire to meet their donor. Clinic would contact us to see if we were comfortable with that. After three, maybe four, we could have decided that was enough and would not welcome further contact from any additional offspring. We would have been able to control the impact this had on our lives. But it didn't happen that way at all. Social media, person searches, and genetic testing companies have made boundaries and protection of privacy virtually non-existent.

My husband wasn't 'shirking any duties.' He didn't 'forget he was a sperm donor.' He didn't donate for 'easy money' as one poster suggested, and he absolutely thought about his actions. And I am not 'jealous.' He did not bring the donor-conceived into the world. He brought our four children into the world. He stood by my side as I birthed each one of them. The families of the donor-conceived are the ones who brought their children into the world. Let's not muddy this important distinction — that we create our children with intent and love, that sometimes assistance is needed to make that happen, but as parents, we bring our children into being. From their first breath, we belong to our children and our children belong to us. Our children absolutely do not matter more as people, but they matter more TO US and their emotional health is more important TO US because they came from my body and were created out of our love. Wouldn't any one of you say the same thing ... that your children rise above all others for one reason — you carried them, you raised them, you protect them? Who would we save first in a burning building? Exactly. Our own. But I guess in our case, I am made to believe that if my husband's forty-four biological offspring were in that burning house, he would be expected to simply choose a child at random for they are all the same, right? They are all his biological offspring so he should treat them all the same. That is what is being asked of me, of us, of our children. Does anyone see the hurt and pain here?

Please don't blame this completely life-changing event on the fact that my husband donated, and as such, he should have been prepared. Please don't tell me, that by marrying him, I agreed to let any and all families into our lives. Or that my children's needs don't count or are overshadowed by those of the donor-conceived because our kids got to live with their 'bio-dad' all these years and the donor-conceived didn't get to. We should not be made to feel guilty or indebted because we made our family a different way, and that yes, four people have the privilege of calling him dad or daddy. (We never refer to him as our kids' bio-dad.)

As far as what number is acceptable, what would it be for you? Five? Ten? Twenty? Thirty? More than that? What difference does it make what the donor's family feels comfortable with? We weren't told how many births had happened. We didn't control that number; the clinic did. And I agree with the poster who suggested this clearly demonstrates the need for regulation and more education for all parties.

Nobody is saying donor-conceived people don't matter. I am saying that the best we can do with so many varying needs and wants in the sperm donation community is to respect each other and support each other to the extent that we are able. My experience is my experience. You haven't lived it, so how can anyone pretend to know what learning of 40 offspring has been like for our family? And on the flip side, how can I possibly begin to understand what it feels like to grow up without that sense of coming from an actual person? I think we can all agree that the starting point is changing the process of sperm donation. So let's do that rather than pummeling each other in posts, placing blame where it shouldn't be, and making statements about families and people we know next to nothing about. We have the numbers to make change. Until the industry changes, stories like ours will continue to happen and some donor-conceived individuals will continue to be met with rejection and silence.

On an ending note, stories of poorly mismanaged sperm banks will continue to come forward. At what point will enough experiences and opinions be shared that men no longer want to put themselves in these complex and sticky circumstances because they don't want to deal with what other families have gone through? There will come a time at which monetary compensation for the donor will not be adequate for giving away total lack of privacy for the rest of their lives. How much money does my husband deserve for all the hurt feelings this situation has caused us over the years? And how sad will it be when a single woman or a couple who wants to have a baby can't because men no longer donate?

Thank you to those who expressed empathy and understanding. Thank you for sharing your feelings when finding out your daughter had four half-sibs. Shock, anger, betrayal, and bewilderment were your words. And she conceived with donor sperm. The fact that this woman could relate to these feelings when she herself carried a donor-conceived child warmed my heart. It tells me that our two sides of this situation are not that far apart. There is a chance to work together to bring about change ... for everyone.

And here's a little something for thought ... when I donated eggs after we were married, I was required to provide an extensive medical background and pictures even before the process could begin. The recipient was also required to write a letter of appreciation, thanking me for my donation. It was a symbolic way of recognizing that what had once been mine was now hers. I understand when a man donates, there are millions of sperm, and when a woman donates, there might be twelve eggs. But I don't see why the same standards don't apply. I still have that letter. My recipient has never reached out, and the clinic shared that there was more than one birth. But if she did want to reach out, she would be required to do it through the clinic as she signed a contract to that nature. So clearly I don't have a problem with the fact my husband donated. I have a problem with the numbers we were forced to digest, after the fact, and the complete lack of oversight on the part of the clinic to address boundaries in a more organized way. I am not disrespecting the 40 children. I am disrespecting the government and state bodies that think assisted reproduction is a business rather than the art of bringing families into being, and time and time again, operate without any regard for the humanity behind it all.

So let's show them that there is no doubt — our families matter."

2018

December: From a mom

"I have to express even more thanks from the bottom of my heart, to you and your son for creating and maintaining the DSR. I can't begin to tell you what good you have done for my son, for me, and for the sibling families with whom we now share an extraordinary bond and friendship."

2017

September: Words of wisdom from a DSR mom

"My daughter has always had some curiosity about her donor, but not having knowledge has not affected her life as a child. But now, as a young adult, she has been more than curious. With 2 half-sisters coming into her life, she is more interested in knowing where they all came from ... what ties them together. And she wants to know if those parts of her that are decidedly not ME are from him. THE MAN who donated.

If you have the important talk with your donor-conceived child early enough, you might tell them there was "a nice man" who helped mommy have a baby. So there's always the idea of a nice man somewhere who has something to do with your being born.

I am sure most donors back in the 90s did not imagine a DNA path to their identity. Without that key, they was only a tiny chance of finding anyone. But they had to realize that there would be children out there with questions, who only existed because of their donation. Maybe they only donated knowing they would never be contacted. Maybe they had no picture in their mind of their donation becoming flesh and blood. THEIR blood.

I have thought a lot in the past 19 years, about the mind of the donor. As a mother, I DID see his specimen as more than a vial. I saw it as a person, and knew there was more to him than what was written on the papers, or said on the audiotape. Maybe the whole industry has to focus on the personal aspect of donating, and make it less of a clinical scientific solution to a medical need. We might lose some donors, but we may gain a lot more in the way of honesty, acceptance, openness, and recognition."

One sperm donor, 18 kids.

2016

Donor Todd Whitehurst met up with several of his offspring. He was a sperm donor while in graduate school at Stanford, and now many of his kids are college-age themselves. "People who are ultimately desperate to go to a sperm bank, want kids badly. They've gone through a lot of trouble, a lot of effort, a lot of paperwork and expense, and you know they are going love those kids and take care of them. And I thought, 'Why wouldn't I want to help families like that'," said donor Whitehurst.

March: Advice for parents from Dan, a donor-conceived adult

"My advice: tell them as early as possible and make it normal for them. There are a lot of nontraditional families and there always have been. This is just one more. Don't make it out to be something strange or shameful. Telling them later, in my opinion, is more damaging because of a long-established sense of identity. Finding out at 29 really turned my world upside down. I think, for some, there's an idea that the sperm that was donated is an irrelevant part of the family's tapestry but that's really just denial of the truth. It's not just a single cell. It's medical history, ancestry, appearance, mannerisms, disconnected and unknown family. That cell carries a lot of baggage with it. The simple fact is that genes matter to a lot of people. They don't matter exclusively but they matter. This might be tough for non-bio parents to hear but I think the non-bio parents need to accept the choice they entered into and be open and honest with the child. In the end, it will lead to a closer relationship. By not saying anything you risk deep resentment from the child if/when they find out. It also allows you to control the narrative."

From a mom

"My daughter Kiana was conceived with a donor. I have always told her about why she doesn't have a dad, as she noticed at around 3 that other kids had dads and she didn't. I explained that her dad was a special man who loved her, a long way away in America (she thinks that's cool) and that she was made with 'magical baby stuff' that got mixed with mummy's eggs to make her. She knows that 2 embryos were implanted and she was the result."

From a mom

Marcia with her donor-conceived son. "It never occurred to me NOT to tell Bryan (I practiced the 'script' with him from the first day home from the hospital)."

2014

(written by a DSR mom)
"That was the day I learned about the Donor Sibling Registry (DSR), an online resource for donor offspring, parents of donor offspring and donors themselves. As soon as I finished reading the article, I walked toward my computer. Eddie was outside shoveling snow. One tentative click, and I was on the site. I entered the name of the sperm bank and the number of our donor. Part of me hoped Number 11 had also read the article, had walked over to his computer, taken a great, trembling breath and revealed who he was. “Happy Mother” had apparently just put down her copy of the New York Times and added Number 11 to the registry, sharing a donor profile that was identical to the one we had. She noted that her donor-conceived son was 12 years old, and she was looking for possible half-siblings. I could hear the scraping of Eddie’s shovel on the sidewalk. I could hear a song by Phish drifting from Max’s bedroom. I tried to keep my hands from shaking as I began to type. Hello! I am Photo Mom."

2013

"There's a thing called the Donor Sibling Registry, and you can register with your code and share notes and ask things like 'Anyone else suffering from hay fever?' Luckily, most of the other donor families are in the US — all except for one family, who I literally bumped into at the supermarket down the street from my house ... You can put pictures on the website. But yeah, I'm 20 yards from my front door at Waitrose, and this woman comes up to me and says, 'Are you Maggie?' It turned out that she lived two blocks down from me, and at one point her child was scheduled to go to the same school as mine, in the same class even..."

A story about donor Mike Rubino's DSR connections, including amazing portraits that he's created of his donor kids.

March: Dame Magazine

Eleni Mandell and the New Family

"One sperm donor, two grandparents, two toddlers and an ex-boyfriend/nanny/uncle. How one single mother redefined 'family.'"

2012

The process of defining family, when donor conception is involved.

A compilation of writings and quotes from parents, donors, and donor-conceived adults.

Donor Sibling Registry

John's Story

A 53-year-old donor-conceived man tells his story.

Donor Sibling Registry

Paul's Story

Paul gives an eloquent and heartwarming perspective from a former donor.

Donor Sibling Registry

David's Story

David tells about connecting with a donor daughter.

American Fertility Association Newsletter

Ryan and Anna, Two Half Siblings Meet

Wendy Kramer recounts her son Ryan’s experience meeting Anna, his half-sibling.

Videos

All DSR Media Videos are on the DSR Video Library page (for members only).

2020
2019

Julia always knew her mums used a sperm donor. She didn’t know that meant she had 19 siblings — until now.

2016

Many Canadian donor-conceived kids turn to the Donor Sibling Registry to connect with half-siblings. "Now the online resource boasts more than 51,000 members and claims to have helped unite more than 13,000 half-siblings and donors. [Wendy] Kramer said the website has become an essential resource for children conceived through sperm donation around the world. The site is managed and operated with the help of membership fees. 'For Canadians, I think it's really important to be on the Donor Sibling Registry, as that's the one point of contact,' Kramer said. 'U.S. sperm banks ... claim on their websites that they ship to 40, 50, 60 countries around the world.' Kramer said she's tried to get government agencies to pay attention. 'We've gone everywhere and asked for help. We've gone to senators, legislators, the National Institutes of Health. We've gone to the Surgeon General, U.S. Federal Drug Administration, everywhere. And nobody wants to help.'"

Wendy Kramer and her son Ryan started the Donor Sibling Registry after Ryan began asking questions about his origin.

January: CBS Sunday Morning Show

One sperm donor's extended family

Watch a donor connect with several donor children!

2014

Wendy Kramer talks about the DSR, who we are and why we do what we do, and what we have learned over the years, as well as issues with regard to moving the industry forward in a more ethical and responsible manner, and how to create healthy and happy families.

2013

An MTV six-part series documenting the journey of Breeanna, a 17-year-old only child, connecting with many of the 15 half-siblings she met on the Donor Sibling Registry. Watch the DSR's Ryan Kramer walk Bree and half-brother Jesse through the steps to possibly locate their biological father. Order Generation Cryo on Amazon.

2012

Two donor-conceived boys inherited a potentially fatal aortic defect from their donor. This video is a photo montage of their first meeting and subsequent photoshoot for an article.

University of Manchester Research Project

Legal cases involving donor conception

What happens when donor agreements break down? Professor Carol Smart from the University of Manchester informs viewers about her research on lesbians who have conceived using a known donor. She discusses the sociological and (British) legal factors that come into play.

2011

We worked very hard to make this DSR documentary a thoughtful and thought-provoking show. We hope that viewers will be able to consider the perspectives of the offspring, the donors, the parents, the grandparents, and the partners of the donors. We hope that people can understand why meeting a half-sister might be important to a donor-conceived person. As we all redefine family on the DSR, it's important that those embarking on creating their family in this way, as well the industry, and the public, consider and ponder the issues about how families are redefined through using donor conception. This show was nominated for an Emmy in 2011.

(sorry, link is broken)
A New Zealand couple donated their frozen embryo to another couple and have now been denied contact with the child.

Articles on Disclosure

Articles on disclosure and a child's right to know the truth about his/her conception.

DSR Blog

Huffington Post Articles

Donor Conception: Old vs. New Thinking

Choosing a Sperm Bank...What to Know

Sperm/Egg Donation: Genetics & Mental Illness

Half Siblings from Sperm and Egg Donation

Sperm & Egg Donation: Telling is the First Step

One Week of News About the Sperm Donation Industry

FDA Citizen's Petition: The Need for Sperm Bank Regulation

Sperm And Egg Donation: 10 Things Your Doctor, Clinic Or Sperm Bank Won't Tell You

Finding Our People: Wendy and Ryan Kramer's Story by Ellen Glazer

The Ambiguity of "Open" Sperm Donation

There Are No Laws Prohibiting Donor Recipients From Reaching Out To Donors

"Donor Babies" Are Sometimes Grandparents!

A Multi-Billion-Dollar Unregulated Industry With No Oversight — What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

A Brief History of Donor Conception

The Donor Sibling Registry Reaches 50,000 Members!

Sperm Donation Needs Federal Regulation

Egg Donation: Reporting Discrepancies & Medical Issues

Thinking About Selling Your Sperm or Eggs?

Donor Conceived People Searching — One Central Registry

An Open Invitation to All Sperm Banks

The New "Check Box" That Needs to Be On Pediatrician's Forms

DNA = Donors Not Anonymous

NBC Story: 48 Donor Siblings and the ASRM

Biology and Birth Certificates: Our Right to Accuracy

Donor Families Connecting: Love or Fear?

30k-60k US Sperm and Egg Donor Births Per Year?

Grandparents via Donor Conception

Donor Conceived People and The Reproductive Medicine Industry Disconnect

The Voting Booth of Sperm and Egg Donor Anonymity

Sperm Donors Who Wish to Remain Anonymous Just Shouldn't Donate.

Roots and Wings for Donor Offspring

The Ethical Sperm Bank: An All-Open Sperm Bank. An Idea Whose Time Has Come

2020

"The longitudinal research that I and my colleagues conducted at the University of Cambridge Centre for Family Research has shown that children born to heterosexual couples through assisted reproduction show high levels of psychological well-being, and that children benefit from being told about their origins at an early age. Our more recent studies on families with gay fathers who adopt or turn to surrogacy, families created by single mothers by choice, and families with transgender parents have produced similar findings. Contrary to the expectation that they would experience problems, we found that these families are just as likely to flourish as traditional families, and sometimes more so."

2019

July: My Rainbow Tribe blog site

Donor Sibling Registry Success

2017

March: New York Post

How I never met your father

"Child psychologists agree that while keeping quiet may eliminate a problem in the short term, it creates far greater and longer-lasting ones later. 'It can damage trust between family members,' explains Wendy Kramer, director of Donor Sibling Registry, a worldwide nonprofit organization that supports and educates donor-conceived people. 'Some donor-conceived people who found out (or who were told) later in life say that they always felt different within their families. Not only in regard to physical characteristics, but also with academics, talents, interests, temperament, and even with some personality traits, like being outgoing, funny, or introverted. In the studies that have been completed with donor-conceived children, many reported a powerful sense that some valuable information was being withheld from them.'"

2014
2013

November/December: Psychology Today

A Conception Conundrum

2012

by Kris Probasco, LCSW, LSCSW and Megan Fabian, B.A.
Some practical tips for talking to your child about the nature of their conception.

2009

by Naomi Cahn
This article argues for the creation of a gamete database in the United States, to track the donations and resulting offspring, and to end anonymity in the process.

2008

The Human Life Review

"Donor Offspring" Redefining Family

by John Burger
This article approaches the redefinition of family largely from the offspring perspective. In addition, there is discussion about the Church's perspective, and the future of Assisted Reproductive Technology.

2006

A guide from the DSR, "designed to help take the shame, secrecy, and fear out of talking to your child" about their origins.

The Center for Adoption Support and Education

Should I Tell, and When to Tell?

by Ellen Singer, LCSW-C
An article drawing parallels between the evolution in what has been considered best practice for disclosure regarding adoption, and the process for parents talking to their donor-conceived children.

Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Donor gametes: anonymous or identified?

by Ken Daniels
This piece discusses the research looking at the evolution of attitudes (especially of secrecy and shame) towards talking about donor-conception from the point of view of doctors, donors, recipient families, and offspring.

Donor Sibling Registry

Non-Bio Parent Issues

by Wendy Kramer
A note from Wendy summarizing the reports she gets from non-biological parents about their reluctance in disclosing the facts of donor-conception to their children.

Research On Donor Families


Make sure to report all births to your sperm bank or egg clinic!

According to DSR research, approximately 75% of all surveyed donor offspring would recommend that parents use a known or willing-to-be-known donor!

California State University: Anonymity, Disclosure, and Contact with Donors: How Experiences of Donor-Conceived Offspring Vary by Family Type. The DSR conducted the largest survey to date on donor offspring. We presented this research as a poster to The American Society of Reproductive Medicine in 2010 and as a talk to The British and Irish Fertility Societies in 2011. This research was also published in the journal Human Reproduction in 2011.

See our DSR Research page for many more published articles.

Interesting Facts

DSR Family Stats: 49% are single mothers by choice; 33% are LGBTQ families; 17% are heterosexual couples.

For more interesting facts about DSR families, see the DSR's Our Members page.

Books

WENDY KRAMER'S MEMOIR! In January 2020 we published Wendy's memoir: Donor Family Matters: My Story of Raising a Profoundly Gifted Donor-Conceived Child, Redefining Family, and Building the Donor Sibling Registry. This is the story of Wendy Kramer and her donor-conceived child, Ryan, who eventually found his biological father and 19 half-siblings. Wendy and Ryan created the Donor Sibling Registry, the world’s largest platform for mutual-consent contact of sperm, egg, and embryo donors, donor-conceived children and adults, and their parents. Order on Barnes & Noble or Amazon!

BOOK FOR DONOR KIDS! In 2018 we published a book for young donor-conceived children: Your Family: A Donor Kid's Story. This book goes beyond the simple question of "Where did I come from?" to address donors and half-siblings. Order on Amazon, or mail a check for $17 (which includes shipping) to PO Box 1571, Nederland CO, 80466.

BOOK FOR DONOR FAMILIES! In 2013 we published a book for donor families: Finding Our Families: A First-of-Its-Kind Book for Donor-Conceived People and Their Families. It covers everything from disclosure, to donor offsprings' curiosities, to connecting with donors and half-siblings, to redefining these new relationships. Order on Amazon!