Expanding Transparency in the Donor World: Understanding the Donor Sibling Registry

Should a child have to wait till they are 18 years old to learn about their ancestry? To meet their biological relatives? To understand their identities? 

Wendy Kramer thinks not. 

Kramer established the first and only existing registry for donor-conceived children (DCC), donors, and parents of DCC in 2000. Known as the Donor Sibling Registry, this organization now consists of over 88,000 members and is responsible for connecting over 24,000 DCC with their half-sibling(s) or donor(s) with mutual consent. 

Her son, born from using a sperm donor in 1990, began wondering about the missing presence of a father at the age of two. He came home from preschool questioning if his father was alive or not after viewing many parent couples at school. While attempting to find her son’s half-siblings and donor, Wendy noticed a lack of transparency within the donor industry and a high desire for connection, especially relating to sperm donation.

While Wendy’s son began asking questions at a younger age than most donor-conceived children, it is common for children to be curious about their relatives/ancestry. Some parents, especially heterosexual parents, of donor-conceived children hide this status from the children. According to Kramer’s research and experience, this dishonesty is almost encouraged by some clinics and doctors by painting images of overbearing, money-seeking parents to donors, and suggesting that children may prefer donors over their parents to parents of DCC. From this, non-biological parents of donor-conceived children are frequently fearful of connecting with their child’s donor and/or half-siblings. This results in many donor-conceived children being completely unaware of their history until later in life when it can be quite traumatic, as opposed to them finding out as they grow and it is part of their creation story. 

Companies such as 23 and Me and other DNA testing companies have resulted in people uncovering their histories

Because of this, there are some online communities whose members solely consist of angry DCC who were lied to throughout their upbringings. 

On the opposite side, there are many DCC who connect with their half-siblings and/or donors: frequently using the Donor Sibling Registry. They often describe this experience as gaining new family members. The founders of our agency, Lauri and Kathryn both have donor-conceived children and note their children’s interest and excitement about meeting half-siblings. Many other parents of DCC note the happiness and community gained through meeting their children’s half-siblings. The DSR has connected half-siblings worldwide. 

Kramer encourages parents of DCC to be transparent with their children and to view finding half-siblings and/or donors as gaining new family members rather than being fearful of that experience. She mentions that access to medical history is one of the many benefits of transparency with donors. Kramer recommends taking it slow when meeting these new family members, concerning everyone’s comfort levels. Susan Hollander, a member of the DSR, notes that it is essential to ask your child what they want and to allow yourself to redefine what it means to be a family. 

Some people criticize Kramer for charging a membership fee ($99 yearly, $199 lifetime), however, that is the only way she can bring in money to continuously fund and maintain the website as well as to fund her working 7 days a week to connect people.

Overall, we perceive the Donor Sibling Registry as an extremely helpful tool that can aid transparency and help donor-conceived children connect with biological relatives. 

Check out the Donor Sibling Registry’s website to read an abundance of positive reviews and success stories.

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Since 2004, The Fertility Agency has helped bring over 1100+ babies into the world. We work with all intended parents, surrogates, and egg donors no matter their sexual preference, relationship status, ethnicity, location, etc. Our personal experiences and years of expertise provide us with the perfect balance of business and passion. Contact us for more information.

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