Donor Anonymity - What do you think?
This is a topic that I have devoted a good deal of thought toward. Many years ago when I ran my own donor program, I encouraged intended parents (IP) and donors to meet prior to going forward with a match. I facilitated hundreds of these meetings and found that all of the parties involved including me enjoyed them and felt better moving forward with the cycle after the meeting. The meetings were always semi-anonymous the parties exchanged first names only; they could talk about what type of work they did with out naming their employer etc.
It was a time not just for the intended parents to have the opportunity to meet their donor but for the donor to understand who she was helping and why. I would ask both the intended parents and the donor to bring additional pictures along as an icebreaker. Then I would start with asking the intended parents to talk about their families of origin, how they met and how they came to this point in their life. Sharing what ever they felt comfortable sharing. I found the intended parents to be more than willing to share their journey.
The donor would also share a bit about what she was like as a child the kind of things she liked to do, what kind of relationship she had with her family etc. They were free to ask each other questions and to get to know each other a bit. I found that 99% of these meetings went beautifully. The intended parents felt much more certain of their decision to move forward with their cycle and the donor was even more committed because she knew who she was helping and was cheering them on.
Through these meetings some couples and donors mutually decided to stay in touch and have an “open” or non-anonymous relationship. I am still in touch with some of these couples as well as some of the donors. The end result has really been uneventful. They respect each others privacy. They don’t have regular contact just the occasional card here and there usually initiated by the IP but occasionally a happy announcement from the donor. It has not been the Pandora’s box it has been made out to be. There is more fear and anxiety in the unknown. Simplifying and demystifying the process by making the avenues clear has not created identity crisis for either the intended parents or the children of donor conception.
Though as suggested by my post yesterday, creating a myth for ones children can leave lasting scares. Even when the intent was to protect the child it is not the child that has the problem in accepting their unique conception.