Children conceived through open-identity sperm donation are interested in contacting the donor but do not want to intrude in his life, researchers said on Thursday.
Scientists from the University of California, Davis, questioned children conceived through open-identity sperm donors and found they were curious and eager to learn about their origins.
“What this study has done is indicate that when youths are told of their conception origins early and have the option to learn more about their donor when they reach adulthood, they express a normal, healthy curiosity about the donor that reflects an interest in learning more about themselves,” said Dr Joanna Scheib.
But Scheib, who headed the research team, added that the stereotypical concern of sperm donors that the children would show up on their doorstep was unfounded.
“They are not looking for a father in their donor. If anything, they want something like an ’older friend’ relationship.”
Open-identity programs enable adults conceived through donor insemination to contact the donor if they have questions about their genetic background.
With more programs offering open-identity sperm donation and countries such as Sweden and the Netherlands making it obligatory, Scheib and her colleagues emphasized the need for more research into how it affects both the donors and the children.
They studied 29 young people aged 12-17 who had been conceived through an open-identity program at The Sperm Bank of California. The research is published in the journal Human Reproduction.
Most of the children grew up knowing how they had been conceived. All had been told by the age of 10.
Thirty-eight percent of them had single mothers, just over 40 percent had lesbian parents and 21 percent had heterosexual parents.
“Although this is a small study, its findings are reassuring in relation to the youths’ well being and also reassuring for the donors,” said Scheib.
Nearly all the children had no problem in discussing how they had been conceived with other family members or close friends.
The presence of two parents, either heterosexual or lesbian, seemed to diminish interest in learning about the donor.
“While it appeared that the children were very curious and eager to learn more about their donor, they were also concerned about respecting his privacy and not intruding on his life,” said Scheib.