Preparing to access identifying information about your donor
Accessing information about your donor can raise unexpected feelings, so before you decide whether to go ahead it’s important to think about what effect this could have on you and your family.
Things to consider
Is this a good time in your life to get information about your donor or contact them?
Where you are in your life at the moment may affect how well you can cope with the possible ups and downs of this process, especially if you have recently been through a major life event such as a relationship breakdown, birth, or death.
What else is going on for you? What are your reasons for wanting information at this time?
Are any of your siblings also donor-conceived?
- Do you share the same donor?
- Are any of them too young to access the information themselves; will you pass it on to them?
- If you’ve told them, how do they feel about you applying for this information?
- What impact could this have on them and on your relationships with them and with your family as a whole?
Including your family in this process and being as open and honest as possible may help them and you feel more at ease.
However, some family members may prefer you not to go ahead. Will this make a difference to your decision? How will you handle it either way?
What is the importance to you of ‘nature versus nurture’?
You may have inherited some characteristics from your donor – is this genetic connection important to you? The significance of what we inherit from our genetic parents is different for everyone, which means your donor may view it differently to you, as might your family members.
What if your donor wants to meet your family and vice versa?
Meeting your donor could change relationships within their family and yours, and both families may need time to adjust.
What about donor-conceived genetic siblings?
Your donor may know the identity, and may be in touch with, one or more of your donor-conceived genetic siblings (someone who was also born from their donation) and may/may not be willing to share this information, or let you know anything about their own children.
In the same way, you might be in contact with donor-conceived genetic siblings who don’t want their identity disclosed to your donor and do not want information about, or contact with, them.
What if you discover the donor is someone known to you and/or known to your parent(s)?
You may discover your donor is (or was) known to your parent(s) and possibly to you too. It could be a family member or friend though not necessarily someone now in regular contact. The donor might have been found in another way such as via an online matching/ introduction service.
The intention may have been for them to have either a limited or active role in your life, or no role at all. There could have been disagreements around this or the donor may not have wanted you to know about them for their own personal reasons. How might this affect you and your relationship with all involved?
Who do you have to support you?
Who else knows about your application and how supportive are they?
What are your expectations about making contact and what are your hopes and fears?
There are many possible outcomes. Your donor may not live up to your expectations or they may exceed them.
They may or may not have children of their own, be it out of choice or otherwise, and this may affect your expectations and theirs. What are your best/worst case scenarios in the short and longer term?
How might your request for information or contact impact on the donor and their family (if they have one)?
Your donor might need time to get their head around what’s going on. Their family might not know that they donated eggs, sperm or embryos.
They may not respond or wish to meet you; they might want limited contact or much more contact than you want. You should bear in mind that they do not have any legal obligation to meet you. It’s also possible that you might discover they have died or are in poor health.
What if your donor is totally different to you?
You may not have anticipated your donor’s lifestyle and circumstances and they may not have anticipated yours. For example, you may not have considered each other’s sexual orientation or family set up (for example, single parent or divorced/separated family).
You may not share the same social/educational/cultural background, you could have very different life experiences and lifestyles, and your first language may not be the same.
How might you feel about your donor and vice versa?
There is the potential for intense physical and emotional feelings on both sides following any face–to-face contact. This can sometimes include sexual feelings or what is known as genetic sexual attraction.
If this happens to you, it’s important to be aware of such feelings and remember the roles and boundaries of any relationship with your donor.
Find out more
We strongly recommend that you talk about the implications of obtaining your donor’s identifiable information with a professional. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 020 7291 8200 for details on how to access our independent and confidential specialist support and intermediary service.
If you decide to go ahead with asking for your donor’s identifying information, we will first try to let your donor know that a request has been made for their identifying details (we will not provide them with any information about you).
However, even if we are not able to get in touch with them, you will still receive their identifying information. This is provided by registered post.
Even if you have not already used our specialist support and intermediary service to talk about your decision, you can still use them to act as an intermediary if you decide to contact your donor. Your donor will also be offered these services. However, if, when, or how you make contact will still remain your choice.
Whether contact is eventually made and whether this happens with or without the help of an intermediary, it’s important to go slowly, especially when the rush of emotions may be greater than you expect and the desire might be to hurry ahead. This will give you, and others around you, time to adjust to the new information and prepare for what lies ahead.
Information from our partners
Support for donor conception families - Donor Conception Network
Professional association for infertility counselling - British Infertility Counselling Association
A directory of registered counsellors - British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
A database of UK counsellors and psychotherapists - Counselling Directory
Review date: 9 November 2020