Donor linking outcomes: as unique as the people involved

Recently, ABC Radio National ran a lovely story on donor linking. It examined the relationship formed between Adrian, a sperm donor, and his family with two of his biological daughters, conceived via donor treatment, and their mother Dianne.

The connection formed between Adrian and his biological daughters was initially facilitated by the Infertility Treatment Authority (ITA) which became VARTA in 2010. After the families had been linked and their relationship had settled, VARTA interviewed Dianne about her decision to have donor treatment as a single mother and then her experience of connecting with her daughters’ biological father, Adrian and his family (Adrian was also interviewed about the connection). For staff at VARTA, it was delightful to see the way in which the relationship between the families has developed.

While it is fascinating or even heart-warming for people to share the stories of positive ‘modern family’ arrangements like this one, it is also important to remember that no donor linking story is the same.

For example, the story of Kelly, a donor-conceived woman, and her donor Graham, illustrates the way in which the outcomes of donor linking can vary. Graham and Kelly were also connected by the ITA and have now been in contact for eight years. Their relationship, as you will see from these videos, is very different from that of Adrian and his biological daughters, but all parties agree that the overall outcome has been positive.

Each contact and outcome is unique and determined by the people involved, their personalities, personal histories and circumstances - some connections are confined to polite exchanges of photos or emails, while others develop into lasting relationships like the one between Adrian’s family and Dianne’s. The process of donor linking is still in its infancy, but VARTA is an international leader in helping to establish the preferred processes and etiquette to be followed in order best to support the linking of people connected by donor treatment.

Lived experiences of donor linking

The majority of connections that VARTA has supported have seen positive outcomes. VARTA encourages people who have questions or concern about changes to Victorian donor conception laws or about donor linking to speak to one of its Donor Registers Service staff who will provide professional, sensitive, and unbiased support and information.