Fairfax Cryobank Welcomes Donor-Conceived Children
As a child or adult conceived with the use of donor sperm, you likely have many questions. Our team wants to answer some of your questions about our donor sperm program.
About Fairfax Cryobank’s Sperm Donor Program
Fairfax Cryobank is the trusted source for donor sperm since 1986. Over that time we have observed many changes and advancements in the industry. In the early days before sperm banks were available, it was not unusual for a doctor to offer fresh semen from a donor he selected on behalf of an infertile couple. Information on the donor was often kept secret and little was known about his medical or personal history.
Today things are very different. Sperm banks make every effort to select healthy, educated donors who share many health-related and personal details about themselves. Our sperm bank will receive some 200 applications for each donor we ultimately select. It is more difficult to become a sperm donor than it is to be accepted into Harvard! Donors undergo many blood tests, semen tests and reviews of their family social and health history.
The typical family who uses donor sperm is also changing. Originally donor insemination was only offered to married couples who were experiencing infertility. Today, infertile couples are only one of the many diverse family types we serve. Single women are increasingly choosing to have children on their own with the help of donor sperm. Same-sex couples too.
Donor-conceived children are learning about the circumstances of their conception in ever-increasing numbers. We estimate that now about 4,000 to 5,000 children a year are born in the US as the result of Non-ID donor insemination.
In 2005, Fairfax Cryobank started a new donor category called ID. In this new program, donors agree to release identifying information. We created this category because of the increased interest by families to have this option available. Identifying information, such as donor name and address, is shared with donor-conceived children by an ID donor, whose mother already registered their birth, then requests the information themselves after age 18. About 45% of our current donor list is ID. The others are Non-ID donors that chose to keep their contact information private. Before 2005, all our donors were Non-ID. The first children eligible for this ID information will reach the age of 18 in 2023.
Today, we ask all new donors if they want to be known. If they agree, they become an ID donor. If they decline, they will be Non-ID. All donors who began donating prior to 2005 signed an agreement with us in which we agreed to keep their identifying information private. Many families were created with the understanding that their specific donor would be anonymous forever, and they very much want this information to stay private. We have very specific understandings with donors and families that we will protect the information of not only the donor’s identity but also the identity of the families who used that sperm donor. Our policy is that once a donor is designated as a Non-ID donor, his status cannot be changed, e.g. from a Non-ID donor to an ID donor. Therefore, for our Non-ID donors, we are not mediating contact between families and their donors.
There is a considerable amount of information we do have on our donors, both Non-ID and ID, that is extremely valuable in learning about the donor as a person. Donors today have audio interviews recorded, childhood photos, some have adult photos, and all have detailed medical and personal histories. Their ethnicity, talents, interests, and even their favorite color and song are presented. Donors who are no longer donating also have information saved.
In addition, half-siblings who are interested are able to connect with each other via various sites third parties set up for this purpose on the web. Although the donor may be unknown, half-siblings often find shared traits that they determine are likely from their biological fathers. This discovery of sibling relationships, along with the extensive information already available on the donor, may help some children as they seek to learn more about their genetic heritage.
You may have questions about your donor’s reasons to be in our program. Typically donors are college students or recent graduates who have an interest in helping others. Some are married and may even have children of their own. They do receive reimbursement for their time and effort. They must visit the laboratory on average 1-2 times a week for at least 6 months to donate sperm and agree to take dozens of blood draws over the course of their commitment. In addition, they must have regular physical examinations and agree to several face-to-face interviews with our staff. Donors are selected because they have shown us that they are dependable, responsible, trustworthy people.
We do not inform donors if pregnancies result from the use of their sperm. Donors often move on to other life events and stop donating after about 6 months to a year in the program, although some continue longer.
Donor sperm from one donor usually results in several pregnancies over many years. Some families store units from the same donor in order to have biologically full siblings, so the age range of all the children from the same donor may be considerable. You can read more about our policy of limiting donor pregnancies. Since donor sperm is shipped worldwide, the donor usually sells out before he reaches our distribution limit. It is highly unlikely you would ever meet another one of your half-siblings randomly.
Questions or Comments?
We are gratified and proud that we have been participating in helping families have wanted children for over twenty years. We hope you have been able to address some of your concerns.
Thank you for visiting Fairfax Cryobank.