When donor-conceived offspring obtain the identity of their donor
Couples and single women can nowadays become parents with the use of donated oocytes and sperm. In Sweden, donor-conceived offspring have the legal right to obtain identifying information about their donor. What does this mean for the offspring, their parents and the donors? The present project investigates the psychological aspects of donor-conceived individuals’ receipt of their donor’s identity.
The objective of the project is to investigate the long-term psychological consequences of donation treatment with identifiable donors. We follow up the situation when donor-conceived individuals in Sweden exercise their legal right to information about their donor’s identity. The results from the project will be able to contribute to development of information and psychological support to donors and donor-conceived families.
The project is conducted in collaboration with clinics at all university hospitals (in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö, Uppsala, Linköping, Örebro and Umeå) that offered donation treatment since the 1984 legislation on identifiable gamete donors. During 2016-2021 we recruited 60 donor-conceived offspring who had requested information about their donor, 23 parents and 14 donors whose identity had been requested. These groups have completed questionnaires and/or participated in individual interviews about their experiences.
In 1984, Sweden was the first country in the world to abolish the use of anonymous sperm donors and grant donor-conceived offspring the legal right to obtain identifying information of the donor. The present project is one of the first to investigate the long-term outcome of such legislation. Who requests information about their donor, and why? How do offspring, parents, and donors think and feel about potential contact? What are the experiences of this new situation for all involved parties and how are family relations affected?
The first results from the project have been reported in a publication that describes parents’ experiences of their children’s search for information about their sperm donor (Widbom et al., 2021). This situation was experienced as complicated by the fathers, who could feel threatened in their parental role and wish to keep the donor at a distance, while the mothers generally were understanding and positive towards their child’s interest in the donor.