I am a parent of a donor-conceived person
Using a donor is becoming an increasingly common way to have a child. One in six couples experience fertility problems and one in 20 babies born in Australia have been conceived through IVF. However, choosing the donor treatment path is a big step. It has implications for you, your family and, of course most importantly, for your child.
Any form of fertility treatment can be stressful. Donor conception presents you with additional decisions and issues to consider both now and in the future.
Rights and responsibilities
As the parent(s) of a donor conceived child, you are the legal parent(s) and appear on the birth certificate.
In Victoria it is mandatory to record all birth resulting from donor conception treatment by a doctor or clinic on the Central Register. You must notify your clinic about the birth of your donor conceived child and the clinic will notify VARTA. VARTA will use this information to create a record of the birth on the Central Register including your details and those of the donor(s) used in your treatment.
For details regarding the information recorded in your childs birth record with Births, Deaths and Marriages, birth certificates and what information is included see here.
What information can I find out about my child(ren)'s donor?
If you had donor treatment in Victoria, you can make an application to the Central Register for identifying information (name and date of birth) about your child(ren)’s donor. You can also apply for non-identifying information about the donor. This can include information about the donor’s background, interests, physical characteristics and family medical history known at the time of donation. If your children were born as a result of treatment using different donors, you will receive information about each donor.
You can also make an application to the Central Register for non-identifying information about your child(ren)’s donor siblings. You will receive the total number donor siblings born to each person treated, and each sibling’s gender at birth and month/year of birth.
If you would like to obtain identifying information about your child(ren)’s donor siblings or other people you are related to through donor treatment (ie. other parents, descendants), VARTA recommends that you apply to the Voluntary Register. If you match with another person(s) on the Voluntary Register who share the same donor code, any details you agreed to sharing will be exchanged with them.
What information can others find out about me or my child?
Donors can find out more information about you through the Voluntary Register. Donors are also entitled to both identifying and non-identifying information about their donor offspring. Consent is required prior to the release of identifying information. As a parent of a donor-conceived child (under 18 years), you can lodge a contact preference.
Those who are connected to you via donor conception can also lodge information on the Voluntary Register. If there is a match, all matched parties will be notified.
Helpful resources & support
Find additional support, including private counselling and support groups here.
Why, when and how to tell children about donor conception: literature review
Age when learning about mode of conception and well-being among young adults conceived with ART
Donor Conception Register Services
Contact between the parties; what the research is beginning to tell us
"It’s a real journey when you start wanting to have a child so we decided to tell our immediate family, because we knew we would need that support, especially if we did get pregnant and something happened." Eve
"We kept IVF very close to our hearts along the same lines as straight people. They don’t talk about their sex lives and whether they’re trying to have a baby so we didn’t want to do that either." Helga
"My immediate family knew we were embarking on it [surrogacy] so we had a full and frank discussion with them." Vien
"I’m delicately balancing the situation with my family and I think I need to give them the space to talk to me about things, but I have also set up some limits as to what I will accept in conversations." Maria
"Both our mothers asked who was going to be the bio-dad and it was quite apparent they wanted to know because there was a sense of ownership over the grandchild. Our response was always the same: the child has two fathers; the biology is not important." Rodney
"When we were approached by the registry to make potential contact by the donor family, it was a difficult decision. Both of us felt quite positive about it right from the start. There wasn’t anything negative about it. We just had to consider how we would link the donor family into our lives". Adrian
"I know in biology or health at school whenever we got kind of on the topic I was like, ‘oooh, oooh let me tell my story’ and so I got to tell my story and people weren't negative, they were just really curious about the whole thing." Sarah
"So many people I think go through treatment really quickly and don't feel comfortable ... it makes it difficult to speak openly about it. Then they can't tell their kids, their family, their friends. It's all got to do with the very beginning - just accepting what's happened and finding a place for it". Angie & Greg
''The journey to parenthood is different for everyone. To some it comes easily. For others, the journey is fraught with hardship. I actually see Jacob’s beginning as something special. Yes, being conceived via a donor egg does make him different …but in a wonderful way". Alison
The surrogacy experience
The value of having information about your donor
Telling their son about donor conception
Journey to parenthood using donated sperm
Meeting your donor / donor-conceived person
Single mother's perspective using sperm donation to become a family
Experiences of donor conception - Riley's story
Experiences of donor conception - Ross' story
Experiences of donor conception - Chantele's story
Experiences of donor conception - Louise's story
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some of the common things donor-conceived people ask about?
- Medical history
- Who am I related to?
- What does my donor look like?
- What is their personality like?
- Are we alike?
- Why did they donate?
When can my child find out about the donor themselves?
Once they reach 18 years, a donor-conceived person can apply for information held on VARTA’s donor conception registers. Donor- conceived children can also access information earlier if a VARTA counsellor considers them to be sufficiently mature or if they have parental consent. They may also be able to find out if they have any donor siblings and potentially connect with them via the Voluntary Register
Does the donor have any legal responsibilities for my child?
Regardless of when the donor donated, the donor has no legal rights or obligations to a child born as a result of a donation. Donors are not the legal parent and do not appear on your child’s birth certificate. Donors are not responsible for maintenance or any financial responsibility towards your child.
Donor-conceived people do not have a legal claim on a donor’s estate.