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.
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.
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:
- Make an application to VARTA’s Central Register for identifying or non-identifying information about your donor offspring.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
On application, VARTA will conduct a search and outreach to the subject of your application (where possible). Application fees apply.
What information can I find out?
Information already lodged by a previous applicant on the Voluntary Register. This could include:
Identifying information (consent required):
Non-identifying information (consent not required):
Is consent required?
All parties must consent prior to information being released.
Parties can share contact details or access VARTA’s donor linking services.
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.
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 . 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 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 support services.
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 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.
What to do if you receive a letter from VARTA about your contact preference
If you are a pre-1998 donor and you receive a letter from VARTA, please do not ignore it. The letter will set out your rights and our obligations under Victorian law. Most significantly, the letter will include information about your right to lodge (or extend) a contact preference.
A contact preference is a form that you lodge with VARTA detailing your wishes about being contacted by an applicant. Applicants submit an undertaking to the Secretary of the Department of Health stating that they will comply with your contact preference (as lodged) before your information is released. It is an offence for an applicant to contact you in breach of your contact preference.
If you do not respond to the VARTA letter and do not lodge (or extend) your contact preference, your information will be released four months after VARTA notified you (in accordance with the ). In this context, the information release will not contain any conditions regarding your wishes about being contacted by the applicant. This will mean that the applicant will not be legally bound by an undertaking to comply with your contact preference and that they may contact you by any means. It is not possible to lodge a new (or extend an expired) contact preference once any contact has taken place.
A contact preference is effective for 5 years after it is lodged (or extended). VARTA is required to notify you that your contact preference will expire and may be extended. Therefore, it is important that you open all VARTA correspondence, even after you lodged an initial contact preference. If VARTA does not hear from you after you have been notified that your contact preference will expire, your contact preference will lapse. VARTA is then required by law to notify the applicant accordingly.
Helpful resources & support
Frequently Asked Questions
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:
- medical history
- physical features (photograph)
- personality traits
- family tree/history/heritage
- if the donor has a partner and/ or child
- reasons for donating
- career and job history
- philosophy for life
- 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.