Pros and Cons of Anonymous vs Known Donors

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Starting a family can be a long, tough process. There are many hard decisions that you will need to make. If you have decided to conceive using a sperm or egg donation, one of these decisions is whether to pursue a known or anonymous donor.

Using a Known Donor

Using a known (or open) donor is a popular option for parents hoping to conceive a child. When IVF and artificial insemination were first being used, using a known donor was very rare since it was thought that this would harm the child’s upbringing or lead to complications with the parents. These ideas have become pretty outdated and this option is now much more popular.

The best option for a known donor is to find a friend or family member that is willing to donate their egg or sperm. If you don’t have a willing family or a sperm bank that allows a known sperm or egg donation process, services such as Modamily can help you find the right donor.

Advantages of Known Donors

There is More Information Available

An anonymous sperm or egg donor’s information is limited by the fertility clinic to things such as height, weight, ethnicity, skin and eye color, blood group, and perhaps family history. Some clinics offer more information for an additional fee. Using a known donor can give you far more information about the donor that can help you make a more informed decision.

Having a known donor can allow you to see things such as hobbies, career, personality, and other traits that you would not see in an anonymous donor. You can also choose to have a screening process that is more in-depth.

Less Expensive

Finding a family member or friend that is willing to donate can save you thousands of dollars in fees. Using a donor concierge service can also save you these costs. This may be especially important if you plan on conceiving through in vitro fertilization (IVF), which can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

You Can Use Similar Genetics

If one of the parents is infertile or you are in an LGBT couple, a known donor allows you to use the genetics of the parent that is unable to have a child. For example, if the male in the partnership is infertile you could have his brother donate sperm. The biological father would then be almost identical to the parent. If you are a lesbian or gay couple, you could use the sperm or egg of one of the partners’ siblings to have a child that carries the genetics of both parents.

The Donor-Conceived Child Can Know Their Identity

Research has shown that donor-conceived children often wonder about their parents. Even if the child is not told that they are donor-conceived, they may notice differences between them and one of their parents. If they do know, they may long for a sense of understanding.

Conceiving with a known donor can give the child have a sense of identity. This can help their mental health and ultimately improve the future child’s life. 

The Donor, Parents, And Child Can Have a Healthy Relationship

As the parents, it is up to you how much to include the egg or sperm donor in you and your child’s lives. During the sperm or egg donation program, you can create legal guidelines to plan your child’s future. 

You may choose a number of options. The donor may only have contact with the parents, he/she could have limited contact with the child, or you may choose to bring the donor in as a sort of third parenting figure.

Whatever you choose, having the donor at least have some contact with your future child can help the child avoid a lot of confusion in their life.

Disadvantages of Known Donors

Conflict Over Parenting Decisions

Although the donor has no legal rights over the kid, they may still disagree with how you parent. They may not be able to intervene, but this doesn’t mean there won’t be some conflict. 

The Donor May Feel Pressured

If you choose to ask a family member or friend to be a donor, they may feel pressured to accept. This could cause them to be uncomfortable or reluctant to have a connection with the child. It could also harm your relationship--especially if the sperm or egg retrieval process is unpleasant.

The Donor May Change Their Mind

If you expect the donor to interact in some way with you or the child, they may decide after the child is conceived or born that they no longer want to participate or that they want to participate more or less than planned. This could lead to unplanned complications.

Using an Anonymous Donor

Until recently, most couples chose to have a donor who remains anonymous. Total anonymity seemed appropriate for this situation. The donor is unable to contact the child or the parents and vice versa. This offers many benefits, but it also has some drawbacks.

Advantages of Anonymous Donors

Peace of Mind For the Donor and Parents

If the donor and parents know they can’t contact each other, there is some security in knowing that there will not be any unforeseen changes. The donor can be sure that the child will never show up at their doorstep for help and the parents can be sure that their child will not go behind their back to another parental figure.

Avoiding Conflict

Not having the donor involved means that they can’t interfere in the parenting of the child. It also means that the donor cannot seek any further compensation. Although rare, donors have sued over parental rights before.

Less Shame For The Parents

If you keep the donor anonymous, you don’t have to reveal to anyone that you conceived with a donor. Although it is sort of an outdated idea, some couples may feel ashamed that they conceived with a donor. Keeping the donor anonymous can prevent this.

Disadvantages of Anonymous Donor

The Costs

Many anonymous donors can charge thousands of dollars for the service. If a known family member or friend is used, these costs can be avoided.

Future Communication is Impossible

If you, the donor, or the child decide to change their mind, there is no way to get in touch. If the child knows that they were donor-conceived, they may want to seek closure. If you use an anonymous donor, this would not be possible. 

If the parents decide that they want to meet the person that helped them start their family, they would not be able to reach out to the donor. Similarly, if the donor decides that they want to see the child or learn about their life, they would not be able to.

Genetic Testing Technologies

With the development of advanced genetic technologies, it is now possible to find lost or forgotten relatives. This also means that a donor-conceived child could identify their donor-parent and seek them out. The child may also discover that they were conceived using a donor without their parents’ knowledge. This could lead to an unpleasant situation for everyone.

Semi-Open Donors

If neither of these options are right for you, you may want to consider a sort of hybrid. In a semi-open donor relationship, communication is often restricted until the child turns 18. After this, the child may write a letter to the donor or opt for more regular communication.

The parents and donors may communicate through an intermediary such as a doctor, lawyer, or clinic. If both the parents and the donor choose, they may also upgrade to an open relationship. A semi-open donor relationship allows you flexibility and the chance to change your mind down the road.

Finding a Donor

There are countless egg and sperm donors out there who want to help you start your family, but finding the right one isn’t always easy. If you want to find an anonymous donor you should contact a sperm/egg bank that can help. However, they often severely restrict the amount of information you can receive about the donor. For this reason, you may want to seek out a donor concierge service.

If you are looking for a known donor, you should first contact friends and family. If you don’t want to involve them, there are services that can help you find a donor that meets all of your criteria. 

One of the leading surrogate and donor search services is Modamily. With Modamily, you can enter all of your desired characteristics of a donor or surrogate and we will help you find the one that works for you. Known or anonymous, we’ll help you find the donor with a fast and easy process. Schedule a consultation today.