If you’re hoping to grow your family through egg donation, you may have started to consider the type of relationship that you — and any donor-conceived children — will have with your donor. We want to help you understand the difference between a disclosed and undisclosed match so that you can ultimately make a decision that’s best for you and your family.
Defining disclosed and undisclosed matches
In a disclosed relationship, you exchange contact information and can communicate directly. The scope and degree of communication (both during and post-match) is what both parties make of it. With an undisclosed donation, you could arrange to have the information available to your child down the road (this is sometimes called Open ID).
In an undisclosed relationship, you do not exchange contact information and only communicate through Cofertility.
Regardless of the relationship post-birth, if both parties are interested, we can facilitate a phone or video meeting between you and the donor during the matching period. This can be done with or without sharing contact information.
What do these relationships entail?
Although we provide these relationship categories, every relationship is unique and depends on the desires of all parties involved: you, the donor, and any future donor-conceived children. Truly, your relationship options range on a broad spectrum that can be determined in your legal agreement with the donor.
For instance, in a disclosed relationship, you may decide to share an annual holiday card with your donor, communicate around milestone events, from first steps to graduations, or even facilitate direct communication between the donor and any donor-conceived children. On the other end of the spectrum, you may also decide to keep direct communication to a minimum, but keep the lines open if a need or issue arises.
While an undisclosed relationship may not have any direct communication, you may still communicate through Cofertility and do things like share a photo of the baby when s/he is born, communicate meaningful updates such as first words, or ask about medical questions if they arise.
Also, if new information comes up about the donor’s own medical history, we ask her to let us know so that any relevant information can be shared with your family. This is the case regardless of the relationship you maintain.
Who decides on the disclosure status?
When a woman applies to our Split program, she indicates the types of relationships she may be open to. Her preferred status will then be made visible on our platform so that you can match with a donor whose desires are in line with your own. We find that a lot of donors are open to a wide range of options and then determine the specifics after getting to know you and your family.
How should I weigh the pros and cons?
At Cofertility, we want to honor the perspectives of all parties involved in the family-building process. This includes intended parents, donors, and especially any future donor-conceived children. While the fertility industry has historically relied on secrecy and anonymity, more research shows the benefits of being open with children about their donor-conceived roots and any available donor characteristics. As such, we encourage you to be open with your own children about their conception story.
Also, as noted in Our stance, in a world of ubiquitous genetic testing, no gamete donation can be guaranteed to be anonymous. We work with everyone involved to build a relationship that feels right for them, and we encourage both donors and intended parents to consider the donor-conceived child’s best interest.
Birth via donor conception shapes the donor conceived child’s identity. And as your children grow up, they may want to reach out to their donor with their own questions. This is something that we make our Split members aware of. We are also upfront with donors about the fact that it’s now impossible to guarantee anonymity in egg donation. With widely available genetic tests and more state laws giving donor-conceived children access to information about their donors, it’s increasingly likely that a donor’s identity and shared genetics can be discovered.
If you have concerns about how any future children’s relationship with their donor will affect you, rest assured that you are not alone. But most importantly, remember that you will always be their parents and they will always know that you brought them into this world and raised them with love.
If this is sounding like a lot to decide, we’re here to help you parse through what communication options feel right for you at this point in time. If you have any questions or want to talk through your personal situation, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Dr. Saira Jhutty is a licensed clinical and industrial organizational psychologist in private practice specializing in fertility. She is also a Founding Medical Advisor for Cofertility, and has spent the last 11 years focusing on assisting people build their families using third-party reproduction. Dr. Jhutty’s expertise lies in the evaluation of and consulting with potential surrogates and egg donors, and meeting with intended parents to discuss their decision to use alternative methods to build their family. In the past, Dr. Jhutty worked as Director of Surrogacy and Egg Donation at Conceptual Options, previously leading all gestational carrier and egg donor assessments there. Through her work with Cofertility, Dr. Jhutty provides guidance to ensure Cofertility remains at the forefront of ethical standards, including egg donor screening, intended parent counseling, and support for donor conceived children and families. For all members of Cofertility’s Freeze by Co egg freezing programs, she also makes herself available for office hours, through which members may ask questions directly within our private community.
View all articles