It’s good to be able to report some progress in getting information about donors from some Spanish clinics. Following my post on 31st January https://oliviasview.wordpress.com/2012/01/31/spanish-fandango/ and then again on 2nd February where I wrote about how Spanish law allows all non-identifying information about donors to be given to recipients, two women at least have been successful in squeezing further info out of their clinics. It was, as one described, like pulling teeth, but she says, “after the zillionth polite email they gave me the donors’ occupations…yet they have refused to release the donors’ level of education, for reasons I cannot fathom”. On asking them why they would not release the same level of information as Hospital Quiron (which follows the UK model) as it was obvious that this latter clinic would not do so openly if it were against the law, the clinic replied that, “Hospital Quiron does what suits them and we do what suits us, both legally”. And this must be the nub of the matter. The law allowing disclosure of all non-identifying information exists but no-one makes sure that it is enacted. And, I suspect, for many Spaniards and women coming from other European countries where awareness has yet to be significantly raised about the needs of donor conceived people, recipients are only too happy not to know too much about the donor, other than she ‘fits’ in terms of approximate physical likeness to the recipient and is healthy. I suspect also that it suits the clinics, in terms of administration etc. to keep control of both donors and recipients and, as we know from UK experience, clinicians are usually the last ones to understand about the needs of the children. I’ll be generous when I say, first make babies, then make money.
A family building model, like the one Ken Daniels will be talking about next Tuesday at the Nuffield Foundation, is key to taking into account the needs of all members of the donation triangle…and extended family as well. The UK is definitely ahead of European colleagues in bringing this sort of thinking into practice in some places – sadly not universally – but behind New Zealand and Australia when it comes to clinic involvement in bringing together donors and offspring and legislative support for retrospective lifting of donor anonymity. I suspect it will take Spain and many other European countries many years to even think about lifting anonymity prospectively but being prodded by Brits into thinking about what a donor conceived person might need to know is a very good start. Have a look at the comments on the Spanish Fandango thread for details about some of the information prised out of clinics and a list of the different levels of info available at a number of European clinics. If you already have a child conceived there, use this list as a starting point for asking for more details. If you are contemplating using a European clinic for egg donation you may want to re-consider – particularly in the light of egg donors becoming more and more available in the UK (The CARE group have had a particularly successful recruitment campaign) or going to Hospital Quiron in Barcelona.
I really can’t say often enough that we as parents can never ever know how our kids will think and feel about being donor conceived. Choosing an identifiable donor and/or having lots of information is keeping a door open for children that closes when other adult choices are made. It’s tough, but in the end it’s your needs or theirs.