When you’re considering building your family through egg donation, one of the biggest questions you’ll need to answer is whether the donor will be known to you and your family. While anonymous egg donations have historically been the more common route, there’s a growing trend towards disclosed relationships. In this day and age, there is no such thing as an anonymous donation. What’s more, anonymity is not in your child’s best interest. We do, however, offer you the opportunity to enter an undisclosed donation. Below I explain how we define undisclosed donations and how they differ from anonymous donations.
Your disclosure options with Cofertility
With Cofertility, you can opt for a disclosed or undisclosed donation. Both intended parents and donors indicate their disclosure preferences upfront. In most cases both parties will agree on their disclosure status before the match is official.
In a disclosed donation, you and the donor exchange contact information and can communicate directly.
In an undisclosed donation, you and the donor do not exchange contact information and all communication will come through Cofertility. With an undisclosed donation, you could arrange to have the information available to your child down the road (this is sometimes called Open ID).
We highly encourage disclosed donations. Studies show that it’s best to be open with your child about his or her donor conceived origins. With disclosed donations, you may get more information about your donor’s genetics that you can share with your child when the time is right. We’ve also listened to the voices of donor conceived people who believe it is their right to have access to their donor’s identity.
The extent of the relationship that you have with the donor, including the point at which your contact information is shared and the frequency of communication, is up to both parties and will be determined during the agreement phase. You may, for example, share contact information so that your child may reach out to the donor down the line, but agree to minimal communication today.
As with any relationship, this may evolve with time and as you and the donor get to know one another. In either case (disclosed or undisclosed), you can choose to meet the donor during the matching period without sharing contact information.
How is undisclosed different from anonymous?
When someone enters an anonymous donation, they are led to believe that identifying information will never be revealed and neither party will ever be in contact with the other.
While identifying information, such as full names and date of birth, are not revealed from the outset in an undisclosed relationship, we cannot - and do not - guarantee that the parties will never be in contact. Instead, we require that every donor and intended parent affirms the point that anonymity cannot be guaranteed. Moreover, we make each person aware that there is a chance that the donor conceived person has questions about his or her genetics down the line and tries to reach out to the donor.
Advances in commercial DNA testing and the ever-widening scope of the internet has voided the promise of anonymity. With access to products like 23andMe, there’s a good chance that at some point, someone - whether it is your child, a member of your family, or a member of your donor’s family - will take a DNA test and find out that your child was conceived using donor eggs. This is part of the reason why we highly encourage you to be open with your child about his or her conception story rather than them learning it secondhand through other channels.
Shifting laws around anonymous donation
The legal landscape around anonymous donation is also changing. In most of Europe and Australia, anonymous egg donation is already illegal. Within the US, a 2020 California law states that once a donor conceived person turns 18, the bank that collected the gametes will have to provide the child with identifying information of the donor. Even if the donor signed a declaration saying they want to remain anonymous, the gamete bank still has to make a good faith effort to notify the donor to see if they will agree to release the information.
In June 2022, Colorado signed new legislation banning anonymous sperm and egg donation. Beginning in 2024, donor conceived people can find out their donor’s identity and medical history when they turn 18. Individuals cannot donate unless they agree to have their identity released when the donor is of age. While this particular legislation is limited to Colorado for the time being, other states are expected to follow suit.
While anonymity is neither possible nor advised, we are confident that you and the donor can align on disclosure status and a relationship that meets both of your needs and satisfies the curiosity of your child. Although it is important for both parties to feel comfortable, it is also critical to keep the needs of your future child in mind and maintain realistic expectations around what and how much information can be made available.
Lauren Makler is the Co-Founder and CEO of Cofertility, a human-first fertility ecosystem rewriting the egg freezing and egg donation experience. Previously, as an early Uber employee, Lauren founded Uber Health, a product that enables healthcare organizations to leverage Uber’s massive driver network in improving healthcare outcomes through patient transportation and healthcare delivery. Under her leadership, the business helped millions of patients get to the care they needed. Prior to that, Lauren spent the early years at Uber launching the core business throughout the east coast and led the company’s first experiment in healthcare, national on demand flu shot campaigns. After a rare disease diagnosis, Lauren’s fertility journey led her to believe that everyone should have the opportunity to freeze their eggs–and that there should be better access to egg donors. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their miracle baby girl. She was named one of Fast Company's Most Creative People in Business in 2023 and recieved her BA from Northeastern University in Organizational Communication.
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