After donor conception

I am a donor

Whether you donated sperm, eggs, or embryos, your generous gift has given people with infertility 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.

You, your donor offspring, or their parents may apply to find out more information about each other. All parties involved can apply for either identifying information (name, date of birth, donor code, contact details) or non-identifying information (medical history, physical features, interests, hobbies, personality). With the appropriate consent in place, information can be released. If any party involved would like to be connected, 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
  • whether you would like to connect or not.

Rights and responsibilities

Regardless of when you donated, you as a donor have no legal rights or obligations to a child born as a result of your donation. You are not the legal parent 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?

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.
  2. Add your information to VARTA’s Voluntary Register.
  3. Contact the fertility clinic you donated to. Clinics may be able to release non-identifying information such as the number of women treated, number of donor offspring, their gender and year of birth.

Once you have decided that you would like to connect with your donor offspring or their parents, VARTA can assist you with the donor linking process. Donor linking is the exchange of information or meeting between people connected via donor conception treatment. VARTA will support you throughout the process of getting started, using the registers and contact options.VARTA will make all reasonable efforts to notify you of any release of your information before it is released.

  Voluntary Register Central Register

About

Free matching service for those connected through donor conception treatment.

Apply to add your information to 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. Application fees apply. VARTA is not always able to make contact with the person you are trying to connect with.

Central Register

What information can I find out?

Information already lodged by a previous applicant. 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:

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

Is consent required?

Yes.

All parties must consent prior to information being released.

 

Yes.

Donor-conceived person (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.

After you have made an application to VARTA, you may be contacted about receiving the information. Notification and/or consent will be required prior to release of 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 (children under 18) can apply for your non-identifying information (medical history, appearance, interests, hobbies, personality) without the need for your consent. Depending on when you donated, there are small differences of access to your identifying information (name, date of birth, donor code, contact details) based on consent.

I donated before 1998.

You may have donated under the conditions of anonymity and thought that you would never be contacted again. 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 (under 18 years). Your consent is required for the release of identifying information to parents of young children.

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) released. Your donor offspring are entitled to this information once they turn 18 years (or younger if a counsellor finds them to be sufficiently mature and have parental or guardian consent).

If a donor-conceived person or their parent (children under 18 years) applies for information about you as their donor, you will be contacted by VARTA staff who can provide you with information and free advice and support. Your family members can also access free support services.

Lodging a contact preference. The contact preference may include:

  • being contacted in a specified way by the applicant such as email, phone or letter
  • corresponding via the VARTA letterbox or email, or using a VARTA counsellor
  • If you have children younger than 18 years, you can also express wishes in relation to contact with your children.

Pre 1998 donors can also specify to not be contacted by the applicant. If ‘no contact’ is specified, contact details will not be provided to the applicant.

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 expire. You will be given the option to extend it.

DNA testing

You can find out more about DNA testing here.

Personal quotes

"I look back now and I wonder why I had some hesitations because it has been one of the best things that I have ever done. It is a fabulous experience when it works. I think that if someone feels that they can do it, that they should give it serious consideration." Kylie, an egg donor.

"I made the decision to make myself available to any offspring if they wanted any information about me. One of those chose to find out more about me after he turned 18. One of the first things he said was thank you for what you did those 18 years ago.  That was one thing I didn't expect but it was very nice... people have asked us about the sort of relationship we now have. There are no words in the English language... we haven’t got words for this yet." Roger 

“The most important consideration for both of us was ‘how did I feel about all this’ and we definitely did not want this person to become an unexpected member of our family. We were helped very much by the excellent counselling service available once we made the decision to go ahead.” A donor’s partner

Personal stories

Experience the stories of real people. View all stories
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Welcome to Varta

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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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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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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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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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.

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.

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