Your Child's Rights
Since October 2009
Clinics must take account of “the welfare of the child” when providing fertility treatment, but will no longer have to include in this the child’s “need for a father”
Since April 2005
In April 2005, amendments to the HFEAct 1991 gave children born following treatment in licensed UK clinics the following rights:
- Donors must provide basic information and may also write a ‘Letter’ to any child born from their donation, although it is not mandatory for a donor to write such a document. This information is available to parents at the time of treatment or any later stage on request, and to the offspring from age 16.
- The HFEA will also provide information (number, gender and year of birth) of any other children born from the same donor to applicants who can show they were the recipients of donated gametes.
- from age 16, if ‘intending to enter an intimate relationship’, any young person can check with the HFEA (or whoever takes over this function on its demise) to find out whether they were conceived with donor gametes, and whether their intended partner was conceived from the same donor
- at age 18, young people will be given their donor’s name and last known address on request. If they wish to try to contact the donor, they should be offered guidance and support.
There are a small number of exceptions to this, as some pre-2005 anonymous donations were allowed to be used, for instance in the case of families which already had one child, so younger siblings could have the same donor. The HFEA will be able to confirm whether this was the case for any applicant.
August 1991 – April 2005
Children conceived between August 1991 and end of March 2005 do not have a right to identifying information about their donor at 18 unless that donor has re-registered with their clinic or the HFEA that they are 'willing to be known'. This possibility came about following the change in law in 2005. Young people conceived in this era can apply at age 16 to find out if they are indeed donor conceived (if that information has been witheld from them) and to discover how many other children were conceived with gametes from their donor, their years of birth and gender. Parents can apply for this information at any time up to their child's 16th birthday. At age 18 young people can put their names on a register held by the HFEA to indicate interest in having contact with half-siblings by mutual consent. There is no right to information about the children born into the donor’s family, and they have no right to apply for information from the register.
Before August 1991
Before the HFEAct 1990 came into force, there was no national legislation or regulation except for general guidelines on testing, record keeping etc set by professional bodies such as the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists. There were no centralised records. NHS services had to abide by the local rules, but private practitioners kept their own records and could destroy them whenever they wished. People born of donated sperm or eggs before this date have no right to any information about the treatment or their donor or half-siblings.
There are however two organisations that hold information about some donors and offspring from this era.
The first is UKDonorLink (up until March 31st 2013) or as from April 1st the Donor Conceived Register, an independent Dept. of Health funded organisation which provides a register, information exchange and advice, support and counselling. Ex-donors and donor offspring may register and provide information, including identifying information and DNA samples if they wish, in order to share and connect with their donors, offspring or half-siblings.
The second option is the Donor Sibling Registry, set up by Wendy Kramer and her donor conceived son Ryan in 2000 in the USA. This is an online register which includes many UK-conceived children as well as UK based families that used imported sperm from the USA or travelled to the USA for treatment. Although the data on UK donors and offspring is limited, there are active discussion boards which can be informative and inspiring, if you are interested in this area. The DSR is a charity with a fee if you want to contact anyone on the register, but viewing the Registry and the discussion boards is free.