Disclosure and the Use of Donor Gametes

When considering the use of donor gametes, it is important to think about and to discuss the full scope of how this decision will effect all those involved, especially the child(ren) being created. Establishing a dialogue and discussing these issues in advance is essential.

Children conceived using donor gametes (sperm or eggs) are genetically related to the egg or sperm donor. Gamete donors relinquish their parental rights to all subsequent embryos or children created using the donated gametes. Listed are some questions you may want to discuss.

1. If you won’t be the genetic parent of the child, will that affect how you feel about yourself or the resulting child?
This is a complicated issue to think about and discuss with your partner. The importance of genetic heritage is different for everyone.

2. Who, if anyone, should we tell?
A psychologist shared with us at a recent conference that non-disclosure to your child might mean non-disclosure to everyone. Many patients, who told family or friends of their
plans to use donor gametes, later regretted that decision if they were not planning to tell the child.

3. What about medical issues? What do or don’t you tell the pediatrician/doctor?
Some patients have taken on the medical background of the donor (if available) to create a more accurate picture of the child’s genetic background. Modern technology is moving further toward genetic testing, and at some point a medical question may bring up the need to disclose the truth about the child’s genetic parentage.
Although ultimately the sole decision is the parents’, there has been a trend by psychologists and other professionals encouraging disclosure and openness. To date the closest model to guide us on this topic is that of adopted children. Studies have shown that children who are informed of their adoption early in life, at an age where they can understand the concept, are usually are not adversely affected by the knowledge of their adoption.

The ethics committee for ASRM (American Society for Reproductive Medicine) has stated that disclosing the use of donor gametes, and available nonidentifying characteristics, may be in the best interests of the child(ren). Studies have shown that it is best to introduce this information earlier rather than later in a child’s life so that they can assimilate the information over time. Studies have suggested that disclosure of this information later in life may be disruptive to the child.

For more information about oocyte or sperm donation or disclosure you may contact CNY Fertility Center by phone at 800.539.9870, or email Pati Breh, one of our Egg Donor Coordinators at pbreh@cnyfertility.com or explore the resources listed below.