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Types of Donors

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There is a lot of confusion even within the community of people who have conceived via donor insemination about what the different labels regarding anonymity of donors actually mean. This is especially frustrating for me as a donor conceived person. If people do not even have a full grasp of the terminology, how can they make a fully informed decision? So just in case you’re stumbling across this post and could use a better understanding of all the labels and options, here you go…

Two types of donors are typically available from cryobanks.

  • Anonymous donors have no ID or contact options. Unless, at some point the donor contacts the bank and wants to allow for contact (this is rare), the only information ever available to offspring will be the profile information from the bank.
  • Willing-to-be-Known (WTBK) Donors, also known as ID Release Donors, have agreed to contact from offspring. Typically this option becomes available when the child turns 18.
  • Some people choose not to go through a cryobank. Most of the time, donors found through a registry or known previously by the family are referred to as Known Donors regardless of the actual level of contact or how well they’re actually “known”. These arrangements go from biological relatives of the non-biological intended parent to the equivalent of a one night stand and everything in between.

    The last possibility that comes to mind is a co-parenting arrangement. This is when there is an agreement in place for the donor to be a parent to the child whether legally or otherwise. This is the only time you should even remotely assume that it would be okay to refer to a child’s donor as the child’s dad.

    I know it can get confusing, but using the right terminology, especially when discussing the effect of anonymity on the donor selection, is critical.

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    About Momma

    Back in the late 70s, my parents used donor sperm to conceive. The product was me. I did not know until the month that my own son, carried by my wife, was born, that I had been conceived any way other than the "old-fashioned way". So, here I am, the non-bio mom to a little guy who was conceived with the help of donor sperm having been conceived through the use of donor sperm myself. This is surely an unusual family dynamic, but I am certain that it is not entirely unique. I reside in the Midwest with my wife "Mommy" and our son "Little Man".

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