Open vs Closed Egg Donor Arrangements

Posted in Egg Donation on December 8, 2010 by Gail Sexton Anderson

At the most recent American Society for Reproductive Medicine the topic of open vs. closed third party arrangements was discussed in three of the lectures/symposiums I attended.  It was discussed as a subset of a Post Grad course for nurses, the feature talk for one of the afternoon symposiums with a panel of professionals taking sides and once more as a subgroup for a mental health group on ethics.

At the conference the topic most discussed revolved around the need for a national donor registry.  My overall impression from each of these discussions is that we as fertility professionals from whatever walk we come from there seems to be a leaning toward open.  The issue being focused on having the child’s best interest in mind and their right to information, and does that supersede the parents right to privacy and the donors right to anonymity. So that children born through gamete donation might be able to access information about their genetic relative (the donor) in the future.

More and more of the parents I help are interested in working with egg donors who would be willing to have some kind of contact with the future child.  Intended parents are realizing that they need to think beyond meeting their own desire to parent and thinking about their future child’s needs.  They realize that it is natural for a child, who will not always be a child, to be curious about their genetic heritage and the individual who help make it possible.

Studies have shown that in countries were donors now have to registry the number of egg donors initially dropped.  As donors became educated to the fact that they will not be held financial or morally responsible for the child they are helping to create child but rather being social responsible for future questions that might arise.  In most cases the number of donors went right back up and in fact improved in many cases.  New Zealand was mentioned as an example of this.

My experience is that most egg donor are not worried about keeping their anonymity so much as not wanting to interfere with the families they are helping to create.  If a donor is overly worried about maintaining her anonymity it raises a red flag that she may have issues of attachment and egg donation is probably not a good choice for her.  But I find that most donors are aware of the contribution they are making and willing to be “socially” responsible.  To do their part even after the donation, not to act as parents since they are not the parents but to answer questions and in some cases to even meet the offspring of the couples they have helped.

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