Answer from: Becky Kearns
I’d like to talk about the types of donors based on the amount of information you have about them. So there is the option, which is becoming more common, for a known donor. If you have a family member or a friend who is willing to donate to you, that is something you can explore with your local clinic. The advantages of that are that you know them, you have that constant medical history and the child can also get to know them and form a relationship with them. Although that can come with its own difficulties if you are still grieving the loss of genetics. The other option which is the law in the UK is to have a donor that is open-minded when they are eighteen. That means you will get information about a donor that is non identifying and the level of information can vary depending on the clinic you use. That also gives the child the option to find out the identity of the donor at the age of eighteen. The other option is anonymous donation. Some people decide to go abroad (this isn’t legal in the UK), countries such as Spain, Greece, the Czech Republic are quite common for donor treatments and the laws there are that the donor is completely anonymous. So you have a basic criteria and information about that donor.
What that does mean is that the child won’t have that option to contact them when they’re older. I think deciding on your type of donor is the first question that you should really be considering, and it can be a really scary one, especially in those early days. I know from my own experience, we went through this six years ago, there wasn’t that much information out there. For a variety of reasons we decided to go abroad. It worked for us in terms of time scales, cost and if i’m really honest, at the time, a donor that I really didn’t know much about, being in the grief of my own genetic loss I felt more comfortable with. Now I’ve shifted on that and I’m in a position and I share my reflections where I do wish I had more information about her. I really wish that if our girls wanted to know more about her, I could give them that information. And that, through a variety of things, Is becoming more comfortable in my role as their mom and knowing that what we have, cannot be replaced, is a big part of it. But also hearing the experiences of people who were donor conceived themselves, who do wish to know half of their genetics and where that came from. I’ve heard those voices and I understand that actually most of the time they just want to know a little more about where they get certain features from or certain characteristics, not necessarily to form a relationship or to have another parent in their lives.
Many donor conceived people believe they have the right to know that information. So I believe that it’s a really important thing to consider at the very beginning and there can be many different factors that are pulling you in different directions and what type of donor to use. But I would encourage you to maybe put yourself into the future a little bit, which can be really hard to do when you’re so focused on having a baby. But think about having those conversations with your child who’s coming up to age ten, eleven or twelve, when they start asking you, why can’t I know more about this person and I want to know more about this, they become more curious. What’s the level of information you want to provide to them. I would definitely say it’s really worth working through and talking with a counsellor about what is the right decision for you and your family, because it will form part of that narrative as to what you’re going to give to your children.
What are the types of donors?
Apart from phenotypic matching, donors can be distinguished between anonymous, open and known only to children when they turn 18. Legislation can be different in each country and also might change in the future.