Donor Families

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

August 2018: Nineteen half-siblings met up for 3 days in Colorado (also pictured are 8 of the 10 parents who attended)
 

Success Stories
Experiences of Donor Families
Videos
Articles on Disclosure
     DSR Blog
     Huffington Post Articles
     Other Articles
Research on Donor Families
Books

 

Success Stories

Donor Mike with 13 of his 19 known donor children

Stacked Siblings!

Donor Todd with a few of his donor children

"Sibs from different cribs"


Experiences of Donor Families

February 2019: 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."

December 2018 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."

September 2017 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."

 

  • May 2017: People Magazine One Sperm Donor: 18 Kids.  From sperm donor to part of the family. 
  • March 2016: 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."
  • July 2016: Five half-siblings meet up with donor, Todd Whitehurst. 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 sperm bank, want kids badly. They've gone through a lot of trouble, a lot of effort, a lot of paper work 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.

      

  • My 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.
  • 2014 Kansas City Star: Donor 11 Gave me my son and changed my life (written by a DSR mom).

    Excerpt: 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.

    Read more here

  • My daughter Kiana was 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, along 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.
  • 2015 Visiting with DSR family in San Francisco: Sophia, her grandma Connie, and us! Sophia, her grandma Connie and us!
  • 2016 Mom Lynnette and her two sons, and a picture of her sons with their half sister and the donor's picture - at the same age!
  • 2013 The Hairpin: Interview with a Woman Who Had Two Kids by Anonymous Sperm Donor

    Excerpt: "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." "That's nuts. How'd you recognize them?" "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..."

  • 2013 Dame Magazine: When a Sperm Donor Seeks out his Kids Donor Mike's DSR Connections including amazing portraits that he's created of his donor-kids.
  • 2013 Daily Mail: Middle-class motherhood in crisis The single career women who wish their donor babies had fathers
  • 2013 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.”
  • 2013 Yahoo Video and Mail Online: Sperm donor mum tracks down her son’s ‘global family.’
  • Donor Siblings, A New Kind of Family

    A narrative in the NY Times about the process of defining family, when donor-conception is involved.

  • Voices of the Donor Conceived, Donors and Parents

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

  • John's Story

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

  • Paul's Story

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

  • David's Story

    David tells about connecting with a donor-daughter.

  • AFA Newsletter: Ryan and Anna, Two Half Siblings Meet

    Wendy recounts Ryan’s (DSR Co-Founder) experience meeting Anna, his half-sibling.


Videos

 


Articles on Disclosure

 


     DSR Blog
     Huffington Post Articles
     Other Articles

 


Research on Donor Families

 


Books

 

 

 

Make sure to report all births to your sperm bank!

Approximately 75% of all surveyed donor offspring would recommend that parents use a known or willing-to-be-known donor!

April 2018 Guest Blog from Marilyn Drake, a former egg donor:  Parent: A Noun and a Verb

New Book for Young Children!  

Videos

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

Additional Videos

 

  • 2016: CBC: Many Canadian Donor Conceived Kids Turn to the Donor Sibling Registry to Connect With Half Siblings

    "Website has helped connect 13K siblings, donors. Now the online resource boasts more than 51,000 members and claims to have helped unite more than 13,000 half-siblings and donors.

    Ryan and Wendy Kramer

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

    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."

  • 2016 CBS Sunday Morning Show: Watch a donor connect with several donor children!
  • 2014 Watch the video webinar we did for the Family Equality Council! Wendy talks about the DSR, who we are and why we do what we do, and what we have learned over the years. Also, issues in regards 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 on Amazon

  • 2011 Documentary aired in Fall of 2011 on the Style Network: We worked very hard to make this 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. Click here to watch!
  • A mother's video: When my son met his first half-sibling

    Both boys inherited a potentially fatal aortic defect from their donor. This video is a photo montage of their meeting and subsequent photo shoot for a new article.

  • University of Manchester research project: What happens when donor agreements break down?

    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.

  • TVNZ: Embryo donors warn of lack of rights

    A New Zealand couple donated their frozen embryo to another couple and have now been denied contact with the child.

 

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

March 2017 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."

‘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.’

“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.”

Wendy's Huffington Post/DSR Blog!

 
 

Experiences and voices of those in donor families

Research

  • 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 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 Research page for the link many more published articles.

 

Books

BOOK FOR DONOR FAMILIES! In 2013 we published a book for donor 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!

Finding Our Families Book

 

BOOK FOR DONOR KIDS! In 2018 we published a book for young donor-conceived children. 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.