DSR Research


Current DSR Research

Published DSR Research

Speaking Engagements


Current DSR Research

2013-2015 Collaboration with the University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge in the UK, in coordination with the New School in NY, have completed face-to-face interviews with DSR families to obtain more in-depth information about the experiences of contact amongst families and how relationships develop over time. Look for papers in 2016. 

In Press

Children And Society: Adolescents conceived through donor insemination in mother-headed families: A qualitative study of motivations and experiences of contacting and meeting same-donor offspring.

"This study was undertaken by the Centre for Family Research (CFR) at the University of Cambridge in collaboration with the Donor Sibling Registry (DSR). Twenty-three donor-conceived adolescents aged 12-19 years living in single mother or dual parent lesbian households in three US states (New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut) were interviewed about their experiences of contacting and meeting other donor-conceived offspring sharing the same donor but raised in different families via the DSR, their motivations for making this contact, and meaning they make of these relationships."


Published Research

12/15: EC Gynaecology: Commentary: The Need For Comprehensive Genetic Testing of Gamete Donors

2015: Reproductive Biomedicine and SocietyEmerging models for facilitating contact between people genetically related through donor conception: a preliminary analysis and discussion. M. Crawshaw, K. Daniels, K. Bourne, D. Adams, J.A.P Van Hoof, L. Pasch,  W. Kramer, P. Thorn http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.rbms.2015.10.001

2015: Social Science and Medicine: Gendering gametes: The unequal contributions of sperm and egg donors. Margaret Nelson, Rosanna Hertz and Wendy Kramer

2015: The Journal of Law and the Biosciences: Gamete Donor Anonymity and Limits on Numbers of Offspring: The Views of Three Stakeholders.

2015 Facts, Views & Vision in OB/GYN (the Scientific Journal of the Flemish Society of Obstetrics, Gynaecology & Reproductive Health): Sperm Donors Describe the Experience of Contact with their Donor-Conceived Offspring. Facts Views Vis Obgyn, 2015, 7 (2): 91-100  Pdf of paper

"This study explores the attitudes and experiences of 57 sperm donors who responded to a survey posted online in the United States and indicated that they had had contact with their donor-conceived offspring or the parents of their donor-conceived offspring. On average, 18 years had elapsed since the respondents donated sperm.  In the interim between donating and having contact with offspring, most had become curious about their offspring. Most made contact through a bank or online registry. Most respondents had communicated with at least one offspring at least once and most had exchanged photos with offspring.

Approximately two-thirds had met in person once; the same proportion had communicated over email or text. Other forms of communication were less common. Almost half of the respondents now considered their donor-conceived offspring to be like a family member. At the same time, donors are respectful of the integrity of the family in which their offspring were raised. Donors with contact are open to having their partners and children know their donor-conceived offspring. Although contact is generally positive, donors report that establishing boundaries and defining the relationship can be very difficult. Some donors also urge those who are thinking of donating to consider the consequences and some suggest avoiding anonymity. There were no significant differences in attitudes and experiences between those who donated anonymously and those who had been identity-release for their offspring when they turned 18."

2013 Contemporary Perspectives in Family Research: Making Sense of Donors and Donor Siblings:  A Comparison of the Perceptions of Donor-Conceived Offspring in Lesbian-Parent and Heterosexual-Parent Families.  Our Chapter is in Volume 7, 1-42, Theme: "Visions of the 21st Century Family: Transforming Structures and identities". (pdf of paper) (Note: We are not allowed to distribute finale edited chapter, so the pdf is our submitted paper.)

2013 Reproductive BioMedicine Onine: A SURVEY OF 1700 RECIPIENTS OF DONOR SPERM: the views of women who formed their families using donor sperm. Reproductive
BioMedicine Online (2013), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.rbmo.2013.07.009 (pdf of paper)

"This paper reports the results of an online survey of 1700 recipients of donor spermatozoa conducted by the Donor Sibling Registry, aiming to understand the perspectives of respondents who had used donor spermatozoa. The survey examined: choice of sperm bank and donor; reporting of births and genetic disorders; disclosure; contact with donor and half-siblings; regulation of sperm donor activity and genetic testing; and access to medical information. The respondents formed three groups: single women; women in a same-sex relationship; and women in a heterosexual relationship. Some differences between the three cohorts were observed: preinsemination counselling; acceptance of donors without medical records or with chronic or late-onset diseases; awareness of choice of bank and type of donor; and views on the right of offspring to know their genetic origins. However, important areas of common ground were identified: the wish by those who had used an anonymous donor that they had used an open-identity donor; support for, and willingness to pay for, comprehensive genetic testing of donors; and desire for access to their donor’s family health information. The implications of these results for policies concerning the use and management of donor spermatozoa will be discussed."

2013 Advances in Reproductive Sciences: Genetic and Health Issues Emerging from Sperm Donation: The Experiences and Views of Donors. Vol 1, No. 3, p. 15-20,  November 2013. Ken Daniels and Wendy Kramer.  This paper looks at medical, genetic and recruitment issues.  (pdf of accepted paper).

"Overall, donors indicate that they see donating as involving responsibilities to the offspring and families. The study highlights however that their ability to act responsibly is limited by some of the interactions or lack of them with the facilities where they donated. The obligations and responsibilities of donors need to be matched with those of the clinics, with more attention on the health and well being of the families being formed with donor conception."

2013 The Journal of Family Issues, DOI 10.1177/0192513X13489299 May 2013: A New Path to Grandparenthood: Parents of Egg and Sperm Donors. Diane Beeson, Patricia Jennings, Wendy Kramer. (pdf of paper).   Online version: http://jfi.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/05/22/0192513X13489299

"...third-party reproduction has implications not only for the donor, recipients, and offspring, but also for the parents of donors, who in increasing numbers are learning that they are the biological grandparents of one, or sometimes many, children born outside of their family.  In this article we examine this new path to grandparenthood by reviewing some of the social processes that have led to the emergence of this phenomenon."

2013 Social Science and Medicine: Donor-Conceived Offspring Conceive of the Donor:  The Relevance of Age, Awareness, and Family Form. Rosanna Hertz (Wellesley College), Margaret K. Nelson (Middlebury College), Wendy Kramer (pdf of paper).

This paper discusses how the age at which offspring learned about their donor conception and their current age each make a difference in their responses to what they want from contact with their donor. Family form (heterosexual- two parent families and lesbian-two parent families) also affects donor terminology. The role of the genetic father is reconsidered in both types of families. The donor, an imagined father, offers clues to the offspring’s personal identity. The natal family is no longer the sole keeper of identity or ancestry.

2012 Reproductive BioMedicine Online: Semen donors who are open to contact with their offspring: issues and implications for them and their families (pdf of Paper)
Authors: Ken Daniels2, Wendy Kramer and Maria Perez-y-Perez2  10.1016/j.rbmo.2012.09.009. 25,670-677.

This study investigates the motivations, views and experiences of semen donors willing to have contact with their offspring.
Contact in donor insemination has usually been thought of and seen as a coming together of the donor and the offspring – just two people. The results of this study show that there is a need to think of offspring and donor linking as a coming together of two families.

2012 Reproductive BioMedicine Online: Perspectives, experiences and choices of parents of children conceived following oocyte donation (pdf of paper).
Authors: Eric Blyth6, Wendy Kramer, Jennifer Schneider
10.1016/j.rbmo.2012.10.013 [EPub ahead of print]. February 2013.

This paper reports on and discusses the findings of an online survey initiated by the Donor Sibling Registry of 108 parents of children conceived following oocyte donation.
Around half of the parents … subsequently wished they had used an open-identity donor.
The survey revealed considerable variations in respondents’ experiences of clinic practices regarding the availability of counselling, information provided about choice of donor type, advice regarding disclosure and the reporting of births, indicating keys areas for improved professional practice.

2012 Asia Pacific Journal of Reproduction: Donor type and parental disclosure following oocyte donation (pdf of Paper)
John Stephenson6, Eric Blyth6, Wendy Kramer, Jennifer Schneider
(2012) 39-45. Volume 1, Number 1

This study explores the attitudes of parents of children conceived via oocyte donation regarding disclosure of the nature of their conception to their children.

Parental use of an anonymous or open-identity donor … makes very little difference to the timing of parental disclosure to their donor-conceived child about their conception. The median age of children at disclosure is about 3½ years; UK/Australian parents seem more ready to tell their children at an early stage …  than North American parents … , although about three quarters of all children have been told by the age of six years. Considerable ambiguity among parents who intend to disclose to their children as to the optimal age of disclosure is evidenced.

2012 Reproductive BioMedicine Online: Forming a family with sperm donation: a survey of 244 non-biological parents (pdf of Paper)
Authors: Lucy Frith4, Neroli Sawyer5, Wendy Kramer
(2012) 24, 709–718 

This paper discusses the issues of selecting a donor, attitudes towards anonymity, disclosure to the donor-conceived child, and policy recommendations.

This paper reports the results of a survey of non-biological mothers and fathers. … Certain issues and concerns associated with not being genetically related to their offspring were experienced differently by men and women. However, there were many important areas of common ground: a concern for getting a healthy donor, the importance of matching the donor to the non-biological partner, and the amount of thought that went into selecting the donor.
This [study] found that ‘health items’ were less important than physical attributes, character descriptors and donors’ physical and psychological match to the recipient’s partner when choosing a donor.

2011 Human Reproduction: Offspring searching for their sperm donors: how family type shapes the process (pdf of Paper)  Authors: Diane Beeson3, Wendy Kramer, Patricia K. Jennings3

This study examines the findings from the largest survey to date of donor-inseminated (DI) offspring and focuses on respondents’ learning of the method of their conception and their desire to contact their donor.
Offspring of lesbian parents learned of their DI origins at earlier ages than offspring of heterosexual parents. In the latter families, disclosure tended to occur earlier in single-parent than in dual-parent families. Disclosure was most likely to be confusing to offspring of heterosexual parents, particularly when it occurred at an older age. The vast majority of offspring in all types of families desired contact with their donor; however, comfort in expressing curiosity regarding one’s donor was lowest in dual-parent heterosexual families, with about one-quarter reporting an inability to discuss their origins with their social father.

2010 Human Reproduction: Sperm and oocyte donors’ experiences of anonymous donation and subsequent contact with their donor offspring (pdf of Paper)
Authors: Tabitha Freeman1, Vasanti Jadva1, Wendy Kramer and Susan Golombok1
(2011) Vol.26, No.3 pp. 638–645, 2011

This study examined the motivations and experiences of anonymous donors who decide to make themselves open to contact with their donor offspring.
Donors’ main reasons for donating were financial payment and wanting to help others. … The majority of sperm donors and more than one-third of oocyte donors expressed concerns … about the well-being of any children conceived using their gametes and not being able to make contact with them. Most sperm and oocyte donors felt that it was important to know how many offspring had been born using their donation …  All of the donors who had contact with their donor offspring reported positive experiences and the majority continued to have regular contact.

2010 Reproductive BioMedicine Online: Experiences of offspring searching for and contacting their donor siblings and donor (pdf of Paper)
Authors: Vasanti Jadva1, Tabitha Freeman1, Wendy Kramer, and Susan Golombok1
(2010) 20, 523– 532

This paper was nominated for the 2011 Robert G. Edwards Prize Paper Award
This study looks at the experiences of donor-conceived individuals who are searching for and/or contacting their donor and/or donor siblings. The paper focuses on searching for genetic relatives, telling others about their search and the reactions to that information, reasons for searching, and the frequency and experience of contact.

Differences were found according to family type and age of disclosure. Fewer offspring from heterosexual couple families had told their father about their search when compared with offspring from lesbian couple families who had told their co-parent. Offspring who had found out about their conception after age 18 were more likely to be searching for medical reasons, whereas those who had found out before age 18 tended to be searching out of curiosity.

2009 Human Reproduction: The experiences of adolescents and adults conceived by sperm donation: comparisons by age of disclosure and family type (pdf of Paper)
Authors: Vasanti Jadva1, Tabitha Freeman1, Wendy Kramer, and Susan Golombok1

This study examines the views of offspring who are aware of the nature of their conception. It reveals the differences in the experience of those who were told during childhood compared to those who found out during adulthood.

Offspring of single mothers and lesbian couples learnt of their donor origins earlier than offspring of heterosexual couples. Those told later in life reported more negative feelings regarding their donor conception than those told earlier. … Offspring from heterosexual-couple families were more likely to feel angry at being lied to by their mothers than by their fathers. The most common feeling towards fathers was ‘sympathetic’.
Age of disclosure is important in determining donor offspring’s feelings about their donor conception. It appears it is less detrimental for children to be told about their donor conception at an early age.

2009 Human Reproduction: Gamete donation: parents’ experiences of searching for their child’s donor siblings and donor (pdf of Paper)
Authors: Tabitha Freeman1, Vasanti Jadva1, Wendy Kramer and Susan Golombok1
(2009) volume 24, issue 3, pages 505-516; doi:10.1093/humrep/den469

This study investigates the experience of parents of donor offspring searching for and contacting their child’s donor and/or donor siblings.

Parents’ principal motivation for searching for their child’s donor siblings was curiosity and for their donor, enhancing their child’s sense of identity. Some parents had discovered large numbers of donor siblings. ... Most parents reported positive experiences of contacting and meeting their child’s donor siblings and donor.
This study highlights that having access to information about a child’s donor origins is important for some parents and has potentially positive consequences. 

2009 Human Reproduction: US oocyte donors: a retrospective study of medical and psychosocial issues (pdf of Paper)
Authors: Wendy Kramer; Jennifer Schneider and Natalie Schultz
doi: 10.1093/humrep/dep309 

First-person reports of oocyte donors, years after their donation, can give valuable information about medical complications of oocyte donation, as well as changes potentially required in procedures and priorities of US-based in vitro fertilization (IVF) centers.
Many, who did not report [updated medical] information, did not realize they could or should. Donors said that they frequently had not sought information about pregnancy outcomes because of confusion about the definition of ‘anonymity’ or ‘confidentiality’.

Collaboration with:

1 University of Cambridge, UK
2 University of Canterbury, NZ
3 California State University, East Bay
4 University of Liverpool, UK
5 University of Ballarat, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
6 University of Huddersfield, UK

Other Research: 

2010-2014 Collaboration with the University of California San Francisco Human Genetics Institute 
A study was undertaken that investigated the hereditary and environmental factors that influence physical, behavioral and medical traits among relatives in the DSR. Paper to be submitted. Read Dr. Lee's dissertation from the study: Quantitative Genetics in the Postmodern Family of the Donor Sibling Registry.


Speaking Engagements

Click here for a listing of our upcoming Speaking Engagements.