Donor-Conceived Children—Telling Your Child’s Birth Story: Why, When, and How

Colorado passed a law in June, 2022 that will take effect in 2025 in which it was determined that donor-conceived children have a right to learn the identity of their donor(s). This means that at facilities in Colorado, only donors who agree to have their identities revealed (upon request) to offspring conceived of their donations when said offspring turn 18 years old are accepted as donors.  This effectively banned anonymous sperm and egg donation in Colorado. 

Donor-conceived people played a key role in shaping and advocating for the law, which captured a debate about the rights of donor-conceived people to information about their genetic backgrounds vs. the rights of donors to privacy. 

Since 2005, a number of European countries have also passed laws requiring that donor identities be revealed to donor-conceived offspring upon their request after they reach adulthood. 

For parents of donor-conceived children, emerging research suggests that the earlier that children are provided age-appropriate information about their birth stories, the better. The Ethics Committee of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine strongly encourages parents of donor-conceived children to share the child’s origin stories for several reasons:

  • Many feel that children have a fundamental right to know about their biological origins.
  • It’s important to have accurate information about genetic medical history.
  • Intentionally sharing the information prevents the child accidentally learning it from a relative, family friend, or at-home genetic testing kits.
  • Sharing the information encourages honesty, trust, and openness in the family, whereas keeping secrets can be stressful and damaging.

If you’re still considering whether to use an identified (known) or un-identified (anonymous) donor, please check out this article for a good place to start.

Below are a number of resources to assist parents in talking with their children about being donor-conceived

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