Most Kids OK With Sperm Donor Origins.

teenagersA 2004 study shows that most teenagers conceived by open-identity sperm donation programs are typically comfortable with their birth origins and plan to contact their biological fathers out of curiosity.
The study contradicts popular belief. Most infertility programs that accept sperm donations maintain anonymity for fears that allowing donor identification would lead to problems for the children or for their biological fathers. The findings, published in the journal Human Reproduction, may help calm fears that stripping anonymity from sperm donations might spawn future problems.

There is increasing interest in open-identity donor programs, in which donors allow their identities to be given to adult offspring. Yet little research is available about the experiences of donor insemination families who have open-identity sperm donors. Also, no study has included adolescents who near the age at which donor-identity release can be done.

For the small study — the first to look at the mindset of kids born from open-identity sperm donation — kids from 29 households answered questions regarding their conception and interest in their sperm donor’s identity. The majority of participants were boys about 15 years old.“While it appeared that the children were very curious and eager to learn more about their donor, they were also concerned about respecting his privacy and not intruding on his life,” says researcher Joanna Scheib, Ph.D., of the University of California, Davis, and The Sperm Bank of California. “They are not looking for a father in their donor. If anything, they want something like an ‘older friend’ relationship,” she noted, in a news release.

Children from single-mother households had the most positive response to their birth origin. Most youths (76 percent) reported always knowing about their conception origins and were somewhat to very comfortable with it. Those raised by two parents, whether lesbian or heterosexual, appeared less interested in their sperm donor. Other study findings included:
• Most children were told about their birth origin by age 10.
• All but one of the participants reported neutral or positive thoughts about their being conceived by sperm donation.

• None of the children wanted money from their biological father.
• “What is he like?” was the top question kids had about their biological father. Approximately 25 percent of the participants asked whether their donor resembled him or her.

• More than 80 percent were at least moderately likely to request his identity and pursue contact. Of those who might contact the donor, most would do so to learn more about him, and many believed that it would help them learn about themselves.

• The number-one thing kids wanted from their donor was his photograph.
• Although most planned to contact their donor when legally allowed, they would not necessarily do so at age 18. Most preferred to contact the donor indirectly, through mail or email.

Open-identity sperm donations are optional in the United States, but a number of countries require or will soon require that all sperm donors release their identity. Sweden now has that requirement, and the United Kingdom. will follow suit in 2005. For that reason, the study’s researchers say, further study is warranted. They plan a larger study focused on the thoughts and feelings of adolescents and donors who meet each other.

SOURCES: Scheib, J. “Adolescents with open-identity sperm donors: reports from 12-17 year olds,” Human Reproduction. News release, European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. 2004


13 thoughts on “Most Kids OK With Sperm Donor Origins.”

  1. I have just formalised the decision to be a SMC. I will be undergoing IVF with donor sperm in the coming months – YAY!

    I have been backed into a corner, so to speak, because I am 39 in less than a month and have elevated FSH. Basically it is now or never.

    I have been mulling this over for about a year now and the primary reason that I delayed was the notion that I was being selfish. Even though I desperately wanted a child and know that my child would be loved – was it the right thing to deliberately bring a child into a single parent arrangement.

    The posts on this site are really helpful in this regard. Thanks everyone. Keep them coming 🙂


  2. J-bird, I wouldn't worry too much about those studies of the children of single mothers and bad outcomes. Most of those women are not "really" SMCs–the key difference being that the majority of SMCs actively choose to parent alone, even if they conceived the child in a relationship . . . which is a different position than that of a woman who "winds up" parenting alone.

    As near as I can tell as the mother of a teenage DI child, from conversations with other SMC mothers of teenage and/or adult DI children, our children are, socially, like the children of intact two-parent families. They have low rates of smoking/drinking/drug use, criminality, and other negatives. They're going to or graduated from college, they have jobs, etc.

    In my lay opinion, the difference is that SMC children do not, for the most part, perceive their families as "lacking" or "broken." Their families, like two-parent families, are "intact."

    As far as father-figures are concerned, I have found that thinking about "male role models" puts a better spin on things. And my daughter has had a number of positive male role models in her life, from my father (now deceased) and brother to teachers, family friends, and even the guy who used to run the local pizza parlor, who "fathered" all the kids who came in.

    I know that lots of women worry about the "emptiness" of the SMC life, but, again speaking personally, my daughter and I don't experience any kind of emptiness. Our lives, in fact, are very full, with friends, family, and community.

    Best of luck with your thinking. I don't in any way mean to make light of the thinking process. But 14+ years into the mothering part, I know that what seem like mountains when you're thinking or a new parent are just molehills when you look back later.

  3. In response to some of the info I've read, many of the donor children either lived hard lives filled with financial struggle or found out very late (adolescence or later). The majority were conceived with non-ID donors. The biggest issue with them is that they felt an emptiness not unlike that felt by children whose fathers abandon them or whose parents divorce. The hardest part for these children, even if they were able to locate their donor through message boards or databases, is accepting that this donor does not want to be a father to them. I worry if I'll be able to love my child enough or ever provide them with a father figure. Will we (the child and I) be able to overcome that emptiness together? Then there are your traditionally skewed reports of "research" that show that SMC children are more likely to end up drugged up, promiscuous and generally unlucky. But I put much less stock in those.

  4. I agree – things have changed in many ways over the years, and the changes have made it easier for the donor-conceived children to feel more comfortable with their origins. But the one thing which is key, in my mind, is the parents' ability to discuss the issues with their children.

  5. If you look carefully, a lot of the negative things about donor conceived children come from those who learned about having a donor late in life, not in infancy/early childhood, as is common for SMCs. Also, kids who are old enough to be posting now would have primarily had anonymous donors, with very little info as ID release and detailed profiles/videos/pictures, etc was before their time. You can find a little more balanced perspective on donor sibling registry listservs. They also have conducted several studies on donor conceived children that are worth reading.

  6. Single Mothers by Choice has been around since 1981, so many of our members have grown children by now. We have seen very very little deep discontent from the children. Most seem well-adjusted and fine. This is anecdotal, of course. The problem is that there is very little money available to do a real study of those children.

  7. I'm curious about this too, I'm a thinker doing research too and almost everything I find on the internet coming from DI grown ups is negative. Is good to read this. Where can I find experiences from DI grown ups that are positive?

  8. This gibes pretty much with my kid's attitude, at 14. She has no major trauma about being a DI kid; she has at times wished she knew what her donor looked/looks like, but mostly the whole DI issue is, well, a non-issue.

    She has a non-ID-release donor. It should be remembered that the vast majority of donors are ID-release; it's only recently that ID-release has become even relatively commonplace. I'd would be surprised if most of the negative reactions were all from non-ID-release offspring . . . but I'm equally willing to bet that most of the positive comments were from non-ID-release offspring.

  9. Jbird-I am curious is most of the negative comments came from kids with non ID release donors?

  10. Thank you for this post. I am currently a "Thinker" and have been doing tons of research to make sure that this is the best choice for my child. The last thing I would ever want is resentment from them for my choice. I've read many articles and interviews by/regarding Donor Children and this is the first positive one I've come across. Thank you again.

  11. Thank you for this post. I am currently a "Thinker" and have been doing tons of research to make sure that this is the best choice for my child. The last thing I would ever want is resentment from them for my choice. I've read many articles and interviews by/regarding Donor Children and this is the first positive one I've come across. Thank you again.

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