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At Cofertility, we pride ourselves on guiding our members through the journey of egg donation, ensuring a supportive, transparent, and ethical process for all parties involved. One aspect of this process involves helping our members understand the various terms used within the realm of egg donation, and pros and cons of each type of disclosure status. 

Each relationship is unique and depends on both the desires of you and family, as well as what’s best for any future donor conceived children. 

This guide is meant to aid you in making informed decisions that align with your personal beliefs, comfort level, and the best interest of any potential donor conceived children.

Let’s dive into the terms:

  • Anonymous egg donor: an outdated term used to describe someone whose identity is not shared with the family. In today’s age of social media and genetic testing, we think “anonymous” is a misnomer. 
  • Non-anonymous egg donor: an outdated term used to describe when an egg donor and intended parents have each other’s contact information.
  • Known egg donor: usually used to describe an egg donor who knows the intended parents, like a family member or friend.
  • Unknown egg donor: an egg donor that does not know the intended parents, and vice versa.
  • Disclosed donation: the intended parents and egg donor exchange contact information and communicate directly. This does not mean they have an ongoing relationship, just that they have the names of one another. 
  • Undisclosed donation: the intended parents and egg donor do not exchange contact information.
  • Open ID: the intended parents and egg donor do not exchange contact information, but the egg donor agrees to have her identity disclosed to the child born from her donation once the child reaches a certain age, typically at 18 years.
  • Identity-release: another term for open ID.

The fallacy of the "anonymous" egg donor

Back in the day, egg donations were often declared "anonymous," meaning the identities of the egg donor and the intended parents were kept secret from each other. However, the concept of total anonymity seems antiquated in an era of advanced genetic testing and omnipresent social media. So, if someone promises you complete anonymity, treat that claim with skepticism.

Read more about why we don’t believe in anonymous egg donation.

Disclosed and undisclosed egg donation

Disclosed and undisclosed are the terms we prefer to use at Cofertility to describe the two types of disclosure agreements possible. 

In a disclosed donation with Cofertility, you and the family will exchange contact information and can communicate directly. We highly encourage this model as it promotes transparency and aligns with feedback from donor-conceived community.

In an undisclosed donation, you do not exchange contact information and only communicate via Cofertility. Although we recommend disclosed donations, we respect the individual's choice for undisclosed donation after understanding the potential implications for donor-conceived child.

Regardless of your donation disclosure status being disclosed or undisclosed, you may choose to meet the family during the matching period without exchanging contact information. 

The scope and degree of communication in a disclosed donation (both during and post-match) is what both parties make of it and can be outlined in your legal agreement. Communication can range from sharing an annual holiday card to direct, regular communication between you and the family. 

Your disclosure status does not necessarily dictate the relationship with the family or child. For instance, you may opt for a disclosed donation, where you share contact information, but decide against maintaining regular communication.

Undisclosed egg donation with Open ID

For those who choose an undisclosed donation, open ID (sometimes called identity release) is an option. This model allows any child resulting from the donation to receive your contact information once they reach a certain age, typically 18 years. 

This option safeguards the child’s right to learn about their genetic history, should they wish to. The open ID agreement is often structured based on the comfort and consent of all parties involved and takes into consideration the best interest of the donor conceived child.

Disclosed egg donation arrangement has varying degrees of interaction 

Here are a couple of questions you might consider asking yourself in defining your preferences for a disclosed donation:

  • How do I feel about the possibility of the intended parent’s future child reaching out to me when they turn 18 or another age? 
  • Do I envision myself forming a lasting connection with the intended parents and their child, or am I more comfortable with a limited interaction?
  • Am I open to receiving or sharing updates, and if so, what frequency feels right to me?
  • What boundaries or personal limits do I want to establish regarding communication and relationship with the intended parents vs. their child?
  • Can I envision scenarios where my level of involvement might change over time?

You don’t have to have all of the answers. It is only natural that your needs and preferences will evolve with time. To help you gauge your current preferences, consider the following scenarios illustrating a disclosed donation at various degrees of engagement.

Lower engagement scenarios:

  • Medical updates only: You are comfortable with exchanging contact information but agree with the intended parents not to send or receive any social updates. The intended parents can reach out directly with any medical/health questions, and you agree to inform the family of any new medical information that arises.
  • Occasional updates: You and the intended parents agree to exchange occasional updates through email, letters, or text. An example of this is receiving an annual holiday card. This approach maintains a sense of connection without imposing an ongoing commitment.

Moderate engagement scenarios:

  • Virtual check-ins: You and the intended parents opt for occasional video calls, perhaps once or twice a year. This allows for more personal interaction and a chance to see the child's growth, fostering a stronger bond while keeping the relationship primarily digital.
  • Scheduled visits: You and the intended parents might agree to an in-person visit, perhaps once every few years, providing an opportunity for face-to-face interaction. 

Higher engagement scenarios are rare, and generally occur between donors and families with a pre-existing relationship. That being said, in some cases, if you (and the parents) want more involvement, it is possible. 

The power of choice: respecting cultural preferences & unique circumstances

While we advocate for disclosed or undisclosed open ID donations, we respect the cultural needs and unique circumstances of those who prefer undisclosed donations. At Cofertility, we strive to connect egg donors with research and experts, aiding in informed decision-making, and respecting cultural considerations.

Understanding these terms and the principles behind them can make your journey through egg donation smoother and more transparent. We are here to support and guide you, ensuring a process that honors all parties involved.

Learn more about becoming an egg donor: