Despite the fact that some people are still resisting telling their children about being donor conceived, there is beginning to be a real shift in thinking by those of us who have been around the donor conception world for some time that the donor needs to become a real person in the life of recipient families. In the UK the first children conceived with gametes from identifiable donors are around 9. In just another 9 years they will be eligible to ask the HFEA for the name and last known address of their donor. When this happens the HFEA will attempt to contact the donor to let them know that a young person is interested in information and/or contact. The intermediary organisation recently appointed by the HFEA will also be alerted. But how will the parents feel? They may or may not have felt comfortable with donor identifiability at the time of their treatment. Many will have put the possibility of contact to the back of their minds, not wanting to acknowledge or admit that a real person is behind the material that helped them have their family. And that this person could potentially play a part in their lives from their child’s 18th birthday.
Those parents who have followed the success of the Donor Sibling Registry or watched Generation Cryo last year may be closer to understanding what donor/offspring/half-sibling connections might look like, but hey, they were all in the US, so it might be different in the UK, right?
Keen never to avoid addressing the difficult questions, the main topic at DC Network’s National Conference on Sunday 19th April is Thinking About our Donor. A panel of parents have volunteered to talk about what was in their minds when they chose their donor(s), how they feel about the donor now, how they feel about their child being able/or not being able to have information and contact at age 18 and what their child feels about the donor, if they are old enough to have an opinion. There will also be a late-told donor conceived adult, who has recently become a mother herself, talking about her feelings about her donor. The parents represent those who have a donor from within the family, egg donation abroad, a single woman who has a child by double donation, a mum in a lesbian couple who considered a known donor before opting for an anonymous donor from a clinic and a dad from an ethnic minority who had great difficulty finding an appropriate match.
The session will be filmed and audio taped, a transcription will appear in the next DCN Journal coming out in June and clips will be on the website.
Slowly, slowly, the donor is coming out of the shadows.