February 18, 2020

Anonymous Embryo Donation Doesn't Work

In the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program, anonymous or closed placements are not available, and the reason is simple—it's no longer feasible. The prevalence of at-home DNA testing kits and the accessibility of information on the internet make it easy for individuals to discover if they are donor-conceived and even identify their donor.

The Donor Sibling Registry serves as an online resource for donor-conceived individuals seeking half or full siblings and for donors attempting to connect with potential offspring. Some search results reveal startling realities, such as a sperm donor fathering over 130 children. The advent of assisted reproductive technologies necessitated the creation of registries like the DSR.

In 2018, the DSR conducted a study involving 485 adult donor-conceived individuals, examining their desires to find their egg, sperm, or embryo donor. The study aimed to understand the methods employed in their searches and, if successful, the outcomes of potential relationships between the child and donor.

Many individuals contemplating embryo donation to another family have not disclosed to their children how they were conceived. This secrecy complicates the decision to donate embryos and often prevents the establishment of open communication with the adopting family. Fear of the potential revelation of the conception's secret shapes decisions, sometimes at the expense of the children's best interests.

Fortunately, 85% of survey participants were informed about their conceptions by their parents. The remaining 15% either sought the information independently or were informed by someone else.

Participants utilized various methods to locate their donor:

  • 6% used a record search
  • 1% used DNA testing
  • 2% contacted the fertility clinic/doctor/sperm bank
  • 6% used the Donor Sibling Registry
  • 6% hired a genealogist
  • 9% employed other search methods

The Snowflakes Program adheres to best practices in adoption, focusing on the best interests of the children born to both the donor and the adopter. Key practices include encouraging open communication between placing and adopting families, mutual agreement on the level and frequency of communication, respecting privacy, avoiding support for secrecy, completing a family evaluation, and agency-permanent records storage.

There are numerous ways for children to discover the truth about their conception, and the Snowflakes program emphasizes that being the source of that truth allows parents, who love their children the most, to handle these delicate matters. To learn more about embryo donation through the Snowflakes Program, visit Snowflakes.org.

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