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A donor conceived person is someone who has been conceived with the assistance of donated eggs, sperm, or both. The numbers of donor conceived people are growing in many regions of the world, thanks to the increased acceptance of reproductive assistance in the process of conception, and as a result, donor conceived people are attracting interest from the media, society, and members of the medical community. There are a number of issues unique to a donor conceived person which have provided interesting and fruitful avenues of exploration in a wide variety of fields, from psychology to ethics.
There are a variety of reasons for parents to choose to use donated eggs, sperm, or both in conception. In the first and perhaps most obvious case, parents use donated material when one or both parents is unable to produce viable sperm or eggs due to infertility. Gay and lesbian couples also use donated eggs or sperm, as do some couples who may be concerned about passing on genetic predispositions for disease and other health problems.
By convention, the names of the recipient parents are usually printed on a donor conceived person's birth certificate, typically without any indication that the child is the result of donor genetic material. As a result, it is possible for a donor conceived person to live out his or her life entirely unaware of the genetic truth, which some people view as potentially harmful. The information could slip out, for example, causing emotional distress about the prolonged concealment of the truth, or a donor conceived person could unwittingly marry a half-sibling.
Parents who choose to disclose the origins of their donor conceived children usually do so out of a desire to be honest with their children about their genetic heritage and past. They may also believe that it is important for a donor conceived person to be aware of the fact that he or she may have half-siblings. In cases where information about the donor is available, the parents may choose to provide it, so that their children can learn more about their genetic history, and in the case of anonymous donors, the parents may provide a donor number which the donor conceived child can use to join a donor registry.
Elective registration in donor registries is open to any donor conceived person who wish to connect with other people conceived with the assistance of donors. Though such registries, children can sometimes identify half siblings, assuming that they have registered as well, and sometimes they can get more information about their donors, as well. The ever-growing size of the donor conceived community has encouraged a proliferation of such registries, and in some regions, there has been a push for centrally based registries to ensure that the information is gathered in a central and secure location.