Law will let young people find sperm donor parents

by | Sep 29, 2023 | Health

By Tink LlewellynPresenter, My Sperm Donor & MePeople born using a sperm or egg donor in the UK, who turn 18 after Sunday, will be able to find out the identity of the donor because of a change in the law.Matthew and Phoebe Betts have known since they were two that they were conceived by a sperm donor. The 16-year-old twins have spent their lives wondering who he is. When they turn 18 next year, they will be able to apply to find out his name and last-known address if they want to try to find out where they came from.The twins know their donor dad’s build, his eye and hair colour and some of his hobbies, such as photography, swimming and the guitar. They also know he has a masters degree in business. ‘My mum’s meeting my dad for the first time’The millennials choosing friends as sperm donorsSperm donor who fathered 550 children told to stopUp to now, the twins have been able to ask the UK fertility regulator for some basic details about their donor.Their parents had used sperm from a UK clinic to conceive, so they were surprised to be told the donor was Colombian. Their newfound partial South American heritage is something the twins, from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, have embraced. Phoebe, who is a keen dancer, has since researched Colombian dances and recipes. She also thinks it explains why she has curly hair. “I think it’s really cool that part of us is from a different country,” she said.Matthew and Phoebe are among a number of people who – like me – were donor-conceived. I interviewed them for a new BBC documentary, My Sperm Donor and Me. Sarah BettsMore than 70,000 donor-conceived children have been born in the UK since 1991. In 2005 legislation came into force, removing anonymity for anyone donating sperm, eggs and embryos after that date.The first group of young donor-conceived people affected by the change will be turning 18 from 1 October. At that point, they will be able to find out “identifiable information” about the donor – their name, last known address, date and place of birth.Matthew and Phoebe’s parents, Sarah and Shaun, deliberately waited until the 2005 law change before starting fertility treatment, so their children could eventually access this information.”We just really felt it wasn’t fair on any children we might have had to deny them that opportunity,” said Sarah.Sarah BettsThe twins grew up knowing the facts about their conception. “It’s just something that’s always been very natural to talk about,” said Phoebe.Matthew and Phoebe are also hoping to track down and meet some of their 10 half-brothers or sisters, known to have been born from their donor’s sperm between 2006 and 2008.”We know there are half-siblings as they are recorded,” said Shaun.My Sperm Donor & MeThere are thousands in the UK conceived using sperm, eggs and embryos – and they want to be heard.Watch reporter Tink Llewellyn’s journey on My Sperm Donor & Me now on BBC iPlayerBy the end of 2024, about 766 young people will have become old enough to be able to request identifying information about their donor from the UK’s fertility regulator. By 2030, this will rise to almost 11,500.For donor-conceived people like me, this is amazing to hear.However, it’s also bittersweet – because those of us born before 2005 won’t benefit from the change in the law.’My children found me through a home DNA test”I have fathered 800 children’Online sperm donation ‘felt more personal’If we want to find our donors – and I know not everyone does – our only hope is to upload information from home DNA testing kits and cross our fingers that our donors have done the same.We can also ask the regulator, Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), just in case the donor has voluntarily come forward to ask for their anonymity to be lifted.My sperm donor story I was 17, pregnant and living in south Wales with my dad, Derek, when he sat me down on …

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