The shifting profile of sperm donors

Think most sperm donors are in their 20s and strapped for cash without a thought of the kids who might result from their donation? Think again. Today’s sperm donors increasingly wonder about the health and well-being of their offspring, and many are open to being contacted by these children in the future.

According to Wendy Kramer, co-founder of the Donor Sibling Registry, it is a misconception that donors want to remain anonymous. In a 2012 survey of 164 sperm donors recruited through the Donor Sibling Registry and co-authored by Kramer, the primary reasons for donating were to help families who wanted to have children (78%), to make money (61%), or to pass on their genes (41%). The survey found that 97% of the donors wonder about the health and happiness of children created with their sperm. They also wonder about how much their genes are apparent in the physical features of their donor offspring. A large majority (94%) were open to later contact if initiated by their offspring. Of those, 86% said they would make themselves available to answer any future questions, 83% would share medical information, and 80% would share photographs and be open to communicating via email.

Not all sperm donors feel a sense of responsibility to their offspring and see their donation as more of a “business transaction”. Yet a growing number of donors appear to share some sense of moral obligation to their offspring. In the words of Matt, a sperm donor:

“Once I opened that door by joining the DSR [Donor Sibling Registry], I felt I should share pictures, a genetic history of me and my family, and I’ll tell them anything else they want to know about me—but I don’t feel an obligation beyond that. That said, I’m open and I’ll take it on a case by case basis.”

Read more about today’s sperm donors here.


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