After donor conception

I am a donor

Whether you donated sperm, eggs, or embryos, your generous gift may have given somebody the chance to start a family.

It is normal to be curious. You may be wondering if children have been born following your donation, and if so, how many, their age, and their gender. You may also be wondering if they resemble you or share personality traits with you.

If you donated through a Victorian clinic or a Victorian doctor, you can apply to find out information about your donor offspring. They in turn (as well as their parents or descendants) may apply to find out information about you. All parties can apply for identifying information (name, date of birth, donor code, contact details) and/or non-identifying information (medical history, physical features, interests, hobbies, personality).

In addition, if any party involved would like to be connected with another person/s, a separate application and consent process is involved. It is important to think about your preferences, including your views on:

  • access to your information
  • access to their information; and
  • whether you would like to connect or not.

Rights and responsibilities

If you donated through a registered Victorian fertility clinic or a doctor, you are not the legal parent of any child born, and do not appear on your donor offspring’s birth certificate. You are not responsible for maintenance or any financial responsibility towards your donor offspring. Your donor offspring do not have a legal claim on your estate.

Finding your donor offspring or their parents

What information can I find out about my offspring?

If you donated through a registered Victorian fertility clinic or a doctor, you have the right to request both identifying and non-identifying information about your donor offspring. Depending on what you are looking for, there are three options for you to access information:

  1. Make an application to VARTA’s Central Register for identifying or non-identifying information about your donor offspring.
  2. Add your information to VARTA’s Voluntary Register and connect with your donor offspring, their parents, relatives and descendants who match with your donor code.
  3. Contact the fertility clinic where you made your donation. Clinics may be able to release non-identifying information such as the number of women treated, number of donor offspring born, their gender and year of birth. They can also release certain kinds of medical information.

Can I connect with my donor offspring?

If your adult donor offspring (or their parents if they are minors) have agreed to share identifying information with you or to have contact, VARTA can assist you with the donor linking process and provide you with appropriate information and support. Donor linking is the exchange of information or meeting between people connected via donor conception treatment and may occur via email, phone calls or in person.

 

Voluntary Register

Central Register

Aboutt

The Voluntary Register records information provided to VARTA on a voluntary basis by donors, donor offspring and other relevant parties in Victoria.

The Central Register records mandatory information which must be recorded by law about donors, donor offspring and other relevant parties in Victoria.

Application

On application, information of your choosing can be recorded in the Voluntary Register. If your donor offspring, or their parents have also added their information, VARTA will contact all linked parties.

Voluntary Register

On application, VARTA will conduct a search and outreach to the subject of your application (where possible). Application fees apply.

Central Register

What information can I find out?

Information already lodged by a previous applicant on the Voluntary Register. This could include:

  • Medical history
  • Physical features
  • Cultural and family background
  • Hobbies
  • Photos

Identifying information (consent required):

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Contact details

Non-identifying information (consent not required):

  • The number of women treated, the number of offspring born to each woman, their gender and year of birth.

Is consent required?

Yes.

All parties must consent prior to information being released.

Parties can share contact details or access VARTA’s donor linking services.

 

Yes.

Donor offspring (18 years or older) can lodge a contact preference, specifying if they want to be contacted or not. They also need to consent to releasing their identifying information.

Parent(s) of donor-conceived children (under 18 years) need to consent to release of identifying information.

 

What information can others find out about me?

Knowing where you come from is important for many people. Family history investigations and searching for genetic relatives through DNA testing has become increasingly popular. More donor-conceived people are finding out about their donors through third party DNA testing. Some donor-conceived people want genetic or medical information only. Some are also interested in personality, and interests and whether they share any with people with whom they are connected by donor treatment. Some wish to correspond. Some wish to meet.

It is likely to be a big step for them to have come forward and they may be feeling anxious about your response. VARTA’s experience has been that donor-conceived people are respectful of your wishes, sensitive to you and your family’s privacy, and clear that you will not have a parental role in their life.

Donor offspring and their parents can apply for your non-identifying information (medical history, appearance, interests, hobbies, personality) without the need for your consent.

I donated before 1998

You may have donated under the conditions of anonymity and thought that your identifying information would never be released to your donor offspring. However, amendments to the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 2008 mean that your donor offspring can apply for identifying information (name, date of birth, donor code, contact details) about you as the donor. This will be released four months after VARTA has notified you, or earlier with your consent. Parents can also apply for information on behalf of their donor-conceived children. Your consent is required for the release of identifying information to parents.

Lodging a contact preference

Pre-1998 donors can lodge a contact preference if an application is made for the disclosure of identifying information. If this applies to you, your contact preference may state that you:

  • Do not wish to be contacted; or
  • Wish contact to occur in a specified way (such as by email, phone or through VARTA’s donor linking services).

If you are a pre-1998 donor who has children younger than 18 years, you can also express wishes in relation to any contact with your children.

A copy of any contact preference will be provided to the applicant and will last for a period of five years. This contact preference may be amended or withdrawn at any time during that five year period (unless there has already been contact between parties). If you have lodged a contact preference, VARTA has a responsibility to communicate with you before the five years expires and you will be given the option to extend it.

I donated after 1998

If you donated after 1998, you would have already consented at the time of donating to have your identifying information (name, date of birth, donor code, contact details) being released to your donor offspring. Your donor offspring are entitled to this information once they turn 18 years (or earlier if a counsellor finds them to be sufficiently mature or if their parent or guardian has consented to the application).

If a donor-conceived person or their parent applies for information about you as their donor, you will be contacted by VARTA staff who can provide you with information and support. Your family members can also access free support services.

DNA testing

You can find out more about DNA testing here.

Personal stories

Experience the stories of real people. View all stories
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Prof Daniel Roos - DNA testing and the end of donor anonymity

Professor Daniel Roos, shares his experience as sperm donor who was contacted by his donor offspring as a result of DNA detective work at VARTA's 2019 Twilight Seminar, T...
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When a sperm donor tells his family about his donation

Headline: When a sperm donor tells his family about his donation Twenty years after donating sperm at the Queen Victoria Hospital in Melbourne, Carl* learnt that he...
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When a sperm donor applies to find his offspring

In 1979, when Aaron* answered a call for volunteer research participants at Melbourne’s Royal Women’s Hospital, he was surprised to find himself signing up to a sperm...
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We were sperm donors

Read Carolyn's story about her experiences as a donor's wife.
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Graham and Kelly’s story of donor linking and advice to others

Donor Graham, and donor-conceived Kelly, met eight years ago once they both expressed interest in finding out information about their donor/offspring. They were matched w...
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A donor's wife's perspective

I have always known that my husband was a sperm donor while at university in the 70s. It was undertaken on a strictly confidential basis and over the years we really d...
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Sperm Donors Anonymous

Following are extracts from 'Sperm Donor Anonymous' an ABC documentary about the effects of anonymous sperm donation on donor-conceived children, their families and on th...
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Sperm donor meets the family created from his donation

Listen to this interview with Adrian, a sperm donor for single mother, Dianne. “When we were approached by the registry to make potential contact by the donor family...
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Talking to children about being a donor

Listen to this interview with Stewart and his children talking about being a sperm donor. “My advice would be to tell. Certainly it’s never as bad as it seems to giv...
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Meeting your donor / donor-conceived person

Riley and his donor, Roger, talk about what it was like to meet each other.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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My partner and I haven’t had children. What will the donor linking process mean for us?

For donors and partners who have not had children, applications from donor offspring may prompt uncomfortable emotions. For those unable to have children, painful feelings of loss and grief about not being able to be a parent may resurface. However, some people may view a connection with donor offspring as an opportunity to develop a positive new relationship.

For donors and partners who plan to have children but have not yet done so, it may be challenging for the partner to know that any future child they have will not be the first or only child genetically related to their partner.

What type of information do donor- conceived people typically want to know?

We asked Australian donor-conceived people what they would like to know about their donors. Here is what they said. The top 10 results were:

  1. medical history
  2. physical features (photograph)
  3. personality traits
  4. family tree/history/heritage
  5. interests/hobbies/passions
  6. if the donor has a partner and/ or child
  7. reasons for donating
  8. career and job history
  9. philosophy for life
  10. one message to provide to your offspring.

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