This is one in a series of Q&As I conducted with members of the donor sperm industry in 2010. The goal was to help educate Choice Moms-in-the-making about important policies that should help inform their decision about which bank to work with, even before choosing a donor.
Note: The 2015 Choice Mom E-Guide: About Sperm is a 37-page compilation of articles like this one, including a comparison chart of prices, website links and some policies of more than 10 sperm banks, including spotlight features with four of them.
The series started with this question about how banks recruit and qualify their donors. I have also explored limits on offspring born to donors, the importance of tracking live births, genetic testing options, and much more.
Featured here are responses (as of Fall 2010) to the question about how the policy with an open identity donor works at various banks. This is one area in which banks differ quite a bit, and a policy that evolves over time, so be sure you are clear on up-to-date policy before you work with a sperm bank. Reminder that I am merely reporting what they sent to me in response.
The Sperm Bank of California
The Identity-Release® Program at TSBC is the oldest, most thoroughly researched open-identity program in the world. Donors in our Identity-Release® Program agree to release their identity and contact information to donor-conceived adults who request it from TSBC. We maintain periodic contact with donors in our Identity-Release® Program and also ask them to notify us if their contact information changes. Prior to their first offspring turning 18, we have more extensive contact with the donors to provide them with resources and information about what it means to have contact with donor-conceived adults. We are available to speak with them and their partners about any specific concerns they may have at any point in the process. We have done an extensive needs assessment to develop protocols that provide the best outcomes for donor-conceived adults and their donors. We continue to do ongoing research in this area to make our program the most effective it can be and to raise awareness about open-identity options for people who are considering donor-assisted family building. While we do not guarantee that all our Identity-Release® Program donors will be open to contact with donor-conceived adults, we know that most of them are not only expecting to be contacted but are also looking forward to it.
Seattle Sperm Bank
Donors agree to be involved in the open donor program during the initial application process. The donor’s understanding of the program is documented on several occasions during the collection of marketing materials available on the website (audio interview and extended profile). Seattle Sperm Bank is the only bank that is all open-access donors.
When a child turns 18, they are able to contact the bank to request contact with the sperm donor. The bank will facilitate an exchange that is appropriate for both parties. After which it is up to the child and donor to determine future contact and exchange information.
Once a donor retires from the program, they are contacted every year with a request to update medical history along with contact information. Donors are encouraged to join the Donor Sibling Registry (DSR) at the time of retirement.
Open Donors agree to one contact with any offspring who makes the request through CCB after they turn 18. We are very clear with the donors that when they select to be Open, it is a matter of “when” they will be contacted, not “if.” In general, it takes a lot of time and energy to make it as a CCB donor. While many donors are initially attracted to the financial aspect of donating, those who make it through the extensive screening tend to have a very altruistic side and are excited by the chance to help people who want to have a family.
We have only had the Open Donor program for about eight years, but we have always offered (and continue) to contact Anonymous Donors whenever requested by offspring. Anonymous Donors have been very receptive to contact with their offspring. We contact ALL retired donors for information updates: 2, 5, 10, 15 and 20 years after retirement.