Questions

Donor Conceived Adults

I have just discovered (or known only for a short while) that I am donor conceived and am looking for information/support/connections to others.  How do I go about this?

Finding out as an adult that you are donor conceived is often a very big shock…something that may have shaken your world and possibly your trust in others. You may feel in need of personal support, information or just want to be able to talk with others in a similar situation.

Conceived before August 1991

If you were conceived in the UK before August 1991 when the register of fertility treatments, donors and recipients held by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) came into being, then records of your parents’ treatment will have been held by the doctor or clinic they consulted about their fertility problem.  Many of these records have since been destroyed, sometimes deliberately by doctors who felt it was in everyone’s best interest that no-one knew about donor conception.  Experience has led us to understand that identifying information, or even a description of the donor whose sperm was used, is unlikely to be contained in these records, even if the files exist.  Donor conceived adults do not have an automatic right to see records of their mother’s treatment, even if the actual files exist.  Access to these files for parents is discretionary and dependent on the policy of individual clinics or doctors. The HFEA holds files from one or two clinics that closed down during the 1990s and it is possible for parents to have a copy of the record of their treatment if held there.

The organisation that can best help you with personal support and guidance around making connections to others you may be genetically related to or simply other donor conceived people is the Donor Conceived Register (UK Donor Link prior to March 2013).  The DCR runs a voluntary register of people who were conceived and men who donated sperm before August 1991 and can potentially bring together offspring, donors and half-siblings via DNA testing.  They have a number of counsellors located around the country who are available to support donor conceived adults and donors in thinking through the implications of registering and generally in relation to their situation.

You may also like to read the stories of other donor conceived adults or buy or borrow books that contain accounts from donor conceived people.

If you are under 30 you are also very welcome to join our Donor Conceived Young Person’s Group.  If you are over 30 you may want to speak to other dc adults and we can help with that via the DCYP group. See below or contact DCN for further details.

If you want to be in touch with DC adults overseas, as well as the UK, you may want to contact People Conceived Via Artificial Insemination (PCVAI), a Yahoo group originating in the US but with members from all over the world.

See our page with Links to other organisations for possible sources of support.

Conceived after August 1991

If you were conceived in the UK after August 1991, then information about your mother’s treatment, any donor used in that treatment and your existence will be recorded on the register held by the HFEA.  If you are 16 or over you are entitled to have non-identifying information about your donor and may find that identifying information is available if he or she has re-registered as ‘willing to be known’ to offspring from age 18. However, very few donors have re-registered in this way, partly because there is no publicity about their ability to do so.  You can also know how many half-siblings you have, their years of birth and their gender and, if you are 18 or over, register your interest in being in touch with any of these people by mutual consent.  If you are under 16 your parents can obtain the information about numbers, gender and years of birth of half-siblings.

However, if you feel in need of support the HFEA does not currently have access to the counsellors contracted to UKDL/DCR and can only refer you to general counselling organisations. If you are in this position we invite you to contact either UK Donor Link/DCR or DC Network for further guidance.

You may also like to read the stories of other donor conceived adults or buy or borrow books that contain accounts from donor conceived people.

You are also very welcome to join our Donor Conceived Young Person’s Group.  See below or contact DCN for further details.

I have just turned 18.  Do I have any right to information about my donor and/or half-siblings?

If you were conceived in the UK after August 1991, then information about your mother’s treatment, any donor used in that treatment and your existence will be recorded on the register held by the HFEA.  You are entitled to have non-identifying information about your donor and may find that identifying information is available if he or she has re-registered as ‘willing to be known’ to offspring from age 18.  You can also know how many half-siblings you have, their years of birth and their gender and register your interest in being in touch with any of these people by mutual consent, ie. if they too wish to be in touch with others.

You are also very welcome to join our Donor Conceived Young Person’s Group. See below or contact DCN for further details.

I am not yet 18 but would like to be in contact with other donor conceived young people.  How do I go about this?

If your parents are members of DC Network and you are 13 or over then you can become part of our Donor Conceived Young Person’s Group.  See below for details.

You may also like to read the stories of other donor conceived young people or buy or borrow books that contain accounts from donor conceived children and adults.

I think I may be donor conceived but my parents won’t admit to this/I don’t want to ask them/are now dead.  Can I find out this information by myself?

If you were conceived in the UK after August 1991 and are 16 years or over, you can contact the HFEA to find out if your mother’s treatment and your birth is recorded on their register.  It can be helpful but not essential to know where your mother had donor conception treatment. You can also find out non-identifying information about your donor, any half-siblings you may have, their years of birth and genders.

If you were conceived before August 1991, there is no official way of finding out whether or not you were conceived with the help of a donor, unless your parents or some other person party to the information, tells you.  The people at the Donor Conceived Register may be able to support you in thinking through your thoughts and feelings about this and any further action you may want to take.

See our page with Links to other organisations for possible sources of support.

I know that I am donor conceived.  Is there anything DC Network can offer me?

Donor conceived adults are welcome as members of our organisation, although we are primarily there to support parents, prospective parents and families. We offer membership at a greatly discounted rate to encourage more dc adults to join and dc adults are represented on our steering group. We have a young persons group (see below) which dc adult members can be part of and you would be welcome at our local group meetings and conferences. We are always happy to offer telephone support and information at the office.

As a donor conceived adult who feels comfortable with their origins, either because you have been told early or because you have now adjusted to this knowledge, you can be very helpful in spreading the word about the importance of early telling and sharing your own story of growing up donor conceived.  The most popular speakers at our national meetings are donor conceived adults, who sometimes then go on to speak or appear in the media.  We always give considerable support and guidance to any donor conceived person who has agreed to speak on our behalf in any context.

I am the parent of a donor conceived adult and am wondering if/how/when to tell my daughter or son about their origins.  What help is there for me?

Thinking about ‘telling’ your adult child about their origins by donor conception makes most parents feel very uncomfortable, whether or not they really want to do it or find themselves forced by circumstance into this position.

Our Telling and Talking booklet for parents of people over age 17 was written especially for you.  The author, Olivia Montuschi, the Network’s Practice Consultant, is always happy to talk on the ‘phone or have email correspondence with parents personally in this situation.  You can contact her via the Network's email address.

See our page with Links to other organisations for possible sources of support.

Donor Conceived Young Persons Group – for donor conceived people between the ages of 13 and 30.

This group, which is divided into age appropriate sections, meets occasionally face to face but usually communicates via email.  Members of this group sometimes choose to speak at DC Network conferences or do publicity to help further understanding of donor conception families, but most people just enjoy being able to chat with each other.  Young people between 13 and under 18 will need their parent’s consent to be part of this group.  Contact DC Network for more information.